MYTH: Chicken soup cures a cold
Chicken soup may be warm and comforting but there's no evidence it can actually cure a cold. Although there have been reports of chicken, ginger and some spices being therapeutic, a cold is a virus that just needs to take its course. The fluid in soup can help to replace lost fluid if you have a high temperature but, unfortunately, there are no magical cold-curing properties. Nutrients such as iron can help with immune function but you wouldn't get a significant amount from a bowl of soup, no matter how hearty it is.
MYTH: Carrots help you see in the dark
Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness and first manifests itself as night blindness. It can be easily prevented by a reasonable diet with some vitamin A. Carrots are packed with beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. However, to say you will see better in the dark if you eat lots of vitamin A is a bit twee. You will see normally if you have an adequate amount of vitamin A, not better. This was World War II propaganda as the Germans wondered why the British pilots were so good at attacking their planes at night. The RAF said it fed its pilots carrots to cover up the invention of radar, used to guide its planes.
MYTH: Chewing gum will stay in your system for seven years if you swallow it
Although chewing gum is indigestible, once swallowed it loses its stickiness and passes through your body much the same as all food, and at the same rate. But it’s not a good idea to swallow chewing gum. It can be a choking hazard, regardless of age.
MYTH: Reading in dim light will damage my sight
Reading in dim light can make your eyes feel tired but it’s not harmful and cannot damage your vision. However, it can cause eye strain so it is important to have your eyesight checked regularly.
MYTH: Sitting on a cold floor gives you piles
An old wives’ tale. Piles (haemorrhoids) are swellings made up of enlarged small veins that can occur in the anus and lower rectum. They may develop for no apparent reason, but constipation and pregnancy are main risk factors for causing piles.
MYTH: Rubbing oil of cloves on the gums can bring relief from toothache
Oil of cloves has been used for centuries as a remedy for toothache. However, the benefits are tough to assess scientifically. When you do a medical study, the patient and doctor shouldn’t know which product they are testing. As cloves taste so strong, they are able to recognise the product. It has a placebo effect and therefore it’s difficult to know what’s a real effect and what’s mind over matter.
TRUE: An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Perhaps the most obvious benefits from eating apples is that they are low in calories (about 95 for an average apple) yet are high in soluble fibre (about four grams per average apple). Soluble fibre helps to prevent gut conditions such as constipation, piles and bowel cancer, and may help to lower your cholesterol level. Regular apple eaters seem to have a reduced risk of developing some cancers and heart disease, too. This is attributed to the rich source of chemicals, called antioxidants, in apples. They are also a good source of vitamin C.
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