Myths, and old wives’ tales
As I was sitting with a group of Panamanian friends discussing everything from the recent Panamanian presidential election to favorite r...
As I was sitting with a group of Panamanian friends discussing everything from the recent Panamanian presidential election to favorite restaurants, the conversation somehow got around to another group of subjects that none of us could agree upon either? what we learned from our parents.
In today’s age of high technology, modern medicine and instant communication its surprising how many of us still embrace a multitude of so-called ‘cures, remedies and beliefs’ that we grew up believing to be true. The more my friends and I explored some of these common Panamanian and American beliefs the more fascinating our conversation became. Because I rarely go anywhere without a pen and pad, I was the designated scribe to record our favorite ones. Note: this is presented solely for its entertainment value. If you have questions whatsoever regarding the validity of the health related information please consult your local physician.
IT TAKES SEVEN YEARS TO DIGEST SWALLOWED GUM: We all know that gum sticks to everything, particularly to the sole of our shoes. Experts say that the human body cannot digest gum, but it successfully passes through the digestive track at a normal rate. Therefore, instead of seven years it takes only around 24 hours.
SITTING TOO CLOSE TO THE TELEVISION WILL RUIN YOUR EYES: I was also warned that the same damage would take place if I sat too close to the big screen in a movie theatre. This can also be said for computer screens. According to WebMD.com none of these situations will harm your eye sight, but frequent breaks away from these screens can prevent eye fatigue.
EATING BEFORE SWIMMING CAUSES CRAMPS: I certainly remember my mother rigidly following this rule. However, the Red Cross says that eating a light meal or snack prior to swimming does not increase the risk of cramping. They do recommend waiting for digestion to begin if you’ve eaten a heavy fatty meal, not because of cramping but that it may make you sleepy.
CHOCOLATE CAUSES ACNE: Happy news! According to the American Academy of Dermatology chocolate is not bad for your skin. In fact, it may actually help your complexion. Acne is not caused by any specific type of food. Rather it's linked to the levels of testosterone in your body.
CRACKING KNUCKLES CAUSES ARTHRITIS: This nervous habit can eventually cause swelling and even reduce the strength of your hand, but it does not cause arthritis. John H. Klippel, MD, Arthritis Foundation President and CEO, recently stated that he doesn't "know of any evidence that suggests that cracking one's knuckles actually can cause arthritis." However, it does sound cool especially if you are a macho kind of guy.
STARVE A FEVER, FEED A COLD: The reality is when you’re sick your body requires plenty of nutrients, fluids and sleep. So the best thing to do is to eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of liquids when with a fever or a cold.
EATING LATE INCREASES WEIGHT GAIN: The fact is your body can’t read time, so eating your dinner at 5 p.m. or 10 p.m. doesn’t have a bearing on how your food is processed. The important thing is to eat healthy food when you’re dining late to ease digestion and improve the restfulness of your sleep.
AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY: As it turns out, this is partially true. Apples are a good source of Vitamin C, but eating one apple a day is not sufficient to keep the doctor away. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising and getting plenty of rest are far better rules to follow.
So, where did our parents get this stuff? Probably the same place our kids will get it from.. us. That’s the beauty of wives’ tales and superstitions. They pass the test of time.