The Truth Behind Common Old Wives’ Tales about Health

Old wives’ common health advice may be well-meaning but not necessarily accurate. These tales have been passed from generation to generation which makes most people wonder how one could believe in such stuff. However, when it comes to health, it’s important you differentiate the myths from the actual truth. Some tales on health are taken literally as facts, for example, we all know that sitting close to the TV ruins your eyesight. Old wives’ tales like this become so rooted that nobody can question their validity. Below are some common old wives’ tales with some science behind the statement.

Eating Carrots Improves Eyesight

This old wives’ tale originated from world war II. In fact, it might have some truth in it since carrots are rich in vitamin A which is important for good vision. But, it doesn’t mean that carrots provide vitamin A directly. They contain beta carotene which is converted by the body into a retinal, a type of vitamin A essential for good vision

However, you should note that unless you are vitamin A deficient, eating beta-carotene-rich foods won’t help you. The reason being that if your body has enough beta carotene, it will stop converting it into vitamin A. Other foods like milk, cheese, liver and egg yolk contain vitamin A.

Lack of Exercise Turns Muscle into Fat

Exercise helps you maintain your lean muscle. Alternatively, if you don’t exercise, your muscle will shrink and ultimately transform into fat. According to the American Council on Exercise, if your muscles aren’t exercised they begin to break down as part of the normal cycle of tissue turnover. The process of muscle wasting away is called muscle atrophy. Muscle burns fat, hence when your body is lacking muscle, your metabolism slows down. As a result, fatty tissue starts to develop around your muscle which leads to weight gain.

Knuckles Cracking Causes Arthritis

Knuckles cracking can be annoying and irritating at the same time. This myth was probably created to prevent such habit since there isn’t evidence that cracking knuckles causes arthritis. Cracking that comes with pain can be a sign of inflammatory condition like tendinitis and bursitis. Furthermore, cracking happens when gas bubbles form in the fluid between your joints which can be relieved by a sudden movement and is assumed to be harmless.

Your Mouth is Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat

This sounds super gross, but there may be some truth to it. You can’t exactly measure the number of bacteria in your mouth which is more than the average toilet might have on its rim. Almost all the time, except a few minutes after brushing, teeth are permanently covered in a thin layer of bacteria called plaque. These bacteria multiply really quick because the mouth is warm, wet and has enough oxygen supply. In addition to that, almost everyone in their lifetime has some degree of gum disease. The gum can slowly rot away leading to tooth decay and bad breath. Meaning your mouth harbors a rotting flesh most of the time.

Sitting in a Hot Tub Can Reduce Sperm Count

One study by the University of California found that men who spent about 30 minutes per week soaking in hot tubs or hot baths showed signs of infertility with impaired sperm production and motility. On the contrary, spending a few minutes in the hot bath will not affect a man’s fertility, only prolonged exposure to the hot tabs will affects your sperm count. In the same study, half of the men who avoided soaking in hot water experienced a mean increase in total motile sperm count by 491 percent after three to six months. You’re advised to stay off hot baths if you’re trying to conceive.

Chicken Soup Cures a Cold

Chicken soup has been used for centuries by the Jewish scholars to relieve a cold. This old wives’ tale has been praised for its health-restoring ability. The truth behind it is that chicken soup contains bones which have been cooked for hours releasing zinc, calcium, and magnesium into the liquid. Drinking it hot clears blocked noses, zinc shortens cold and hot water keeps you hydrated. Also, it contains several anti-inflammatory substances useful in eliminating cold. When making the soup, you can add a broth of fresh vegetables.


Not everyone can relate to all old wives’ tales. Some are just created to scare little ones into avoiding misbehaving. Every community believes the tales from these old wives’ stem from somewhere, which by accepting them, brought some sense of control over certain situations. Old wives were valued midwives and healers who were believed to know everything and anything that involves health science. Therefore, any tale they gave about health was believed to be the truth which still applies in our world today.

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