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Surprising Health Myths

Updated on September 2, 2011

We've all heard them a million times. The sayings and old wives tales our mom's and grandmothers told us as kids have lived on for generations. Some are so old we don't even know where they originated from. We hear something enough, we start to believe it. Now, studies and scientific evidence have laid some of the most popular health myths to rest.

Cold weather makes you sick. Many studies have concluded that being in the cold in no way makes you more vulnerable to catch a cold. The truth of the matter is that germs are what cause people to get sick. And germs don’t linger in the cold anymore than they do in other settings. Bottom line: Feeling cold just doesn’t affect your immune system.

Gum stays in your stomach for seven years. The truth is that most gum will pass through the body within a couple of days. As with most nonfood objects that kids swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, out of the body. It may not be easily broken down in the digestive system, but the body will get rid of it fairly quickly.

Drink eight glasses of water a day. Water is great, but people tend to forget that juice, tea, milk, and fruits and vegetables also have water properties that are beneficial in keeping you hydrated. You should definitely drink as much water as you can during the day, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t drink 8 glasses. Chances are, drinking water throughout the day, coupled with the foods you eat and other drinks you drink, you are probably getting enough water to stay hydrated and flush toxins from your body.

Double dipping is ok: Not so much. In fact, on average, three to six double dips transferred about 10,000 bacteria from an eater’s mouth to the dip. Salsa tends to pick up the most germs from double dipping.

The five-second rule and food on the floor: Scientists have put the commonly cited five-second rule to the test. They have concluded that food dropped to the floor does pick up large amounts of bacteria. Wood and tile floors pick up large amounts of bacteria, but carpet doesn’t seem to transmit as many germs.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. While there’s no doubt that apples are healthy and beneficial to you, they aren’t as good as other fruits or vegetables. A handful of blueberries a day will keep the doctor away more effectively. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and fiber, so they pack more of a punch in the nutrition department.

You shouldn’t swim for an hour after eating. The truth is that more blood flows to the digestive system and away from the muscles. The thinking behind this old myth is that exercising strenuously right after eating causes cramps from lack of blood, and those cramps could make you drown. You may have less energy to swim, but it should not inhibit your ability to tread water or play.

You lose the most heat through your head. Not true. Whichever body part you have exposed will cause you to lose the most heat. The truth is that your face and head are more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, but you do not lose anymore heat from not wearing a hat than you do from not wearing gloves.

If you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way. An assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine sites “there is no harm in voluntary eye crossing.” There is no evidence or cases that show that crossing of the eyes makes them stay that way.

Warm milk will help you fall asleep. Actually, it is the routine of drinking warm milk and the “placebo effect” of thinking it works, that actually has positive effects of helping you sleep. The truth is that milk contains only small amounts of tryptophan (the amino acid that makes you sleepy like turkey), but you would have to drink gallons of it to get any noticeable effect.

Check out some popular summer myths, debugged!


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting topic for a hub--good job! While there is an element of humor here, you share important info. Thanks!

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 6 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Another great article! Not only do I give you an awesome and vote up but I also give it a Google +1 and I tweet it to many people. Although Huff Post has an article of 6 serious benefits of apples including nutrition, weight loss, heart health, exercise extender and prevents metabolic syndrome.

      Also another article was about a study that showed that eating apples prevent strokes. But that is actually mentioned under the slide on heart health. Also I read another article saying that white foods like apples, celery and cucmbers prevent strokes.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Thanks for debunking the myths - I really believed that about GUM..LOL I'm so stupid..I read on your profile about the loupus, they tried to say my wife has that and RA around a couple of years ago and doctors really messed her up..she is doing better now thank GOD, I will be writing a hub about it soon, I KNOW you will want to read it because the truth is def stranger than fiction.


    • Ashley Gray profile image

      Ashley Gray 6 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks so much!! I know, some of them are sorta common sense! Thanks for reading!

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 6 years ago from Savannah GA.

      You did a great job on this...even though some of these I knew were not true I did learn something!

    • Ashley Gray profile image

      Ashley Gray 6 years ago from Colorado

      Haha!! Thanks so much Frank! Nice to meet you!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 6 years ago from Shelton

      Very useful :) up and awesome and useful LOL FRank

    • Kimberly Turner profile image

      Kimberly Quevedo 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Love your article! This myths are not only old-age ones, but the ones that have always mad me laugh the most. I also love the way you presented it. Thanks!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Too cool! Voted up and awesome. I didn't know the thing about not swimming after eating. The rest I sort of knew due to common sense, though many people don't know these things. I enjoyed it. :)

    • moncrieff profile image

      moncrieff 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Nice truth facts! Voted up! I didn't know about the warm milk putting you to sleep or the gum staying for seven year (naasty!) inside your body. About the five-second rule, it all depends what falls down. A sandwich would be lost for good, but an apple can be easily cleaned due its glossy surface. Thanks!