19 Strange Old Wives’ Tales That Some People Still Believe

You probably learned them from your parents and grandparents, but these 19 old wives’ tales are myths or exaggerations of the scientific truth. Modern research and knowledge have disproved many of the stories we grew up believing, especially when it comes to our health.

Eating Carrots Improves Night Vision

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While carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, they do not enhance night vision. The BBC says, “To prevent the Germans finding out that Britain was using radar to intercept bombers on night raids, they issued press releases stating that British pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them exceptional night vision.” 

A Cat on the Bed of a Sick Person Brings Death

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Historically, cats have been seen as spiritual animals that have a connection to the afterlife. This led to the belief that they could predict or cause death. In modern times, cats being near loved ones is seen as comforting and beneficial to those suffering from illnesses.

Swallowed Gum Stays in Your Stomach for Seven Years

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Contrary to popular belief, swallowed gum does not stay in the stomach for seven years. While it is indigestible, it passes through the digestive system relatively intact and is expelled as normal within a few days. This myth may have stemmed from parental advice.

Cracking Knuckles Leads to Arthritis

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According to Harvard Health, “Cracking your knuckles may aggravate the people around you, but it probably won’t raise your risk for arthritis.” The popping sound is caused by the bursting of gas bubbles within the joint fluid and may reduce your grip strength over time.

Hair and Nails Continue to Grow After Death

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It’s likely that this myth stems from the fact that the skin dehydrates after death, which can make hair and nails appear longer as the skin recedes. In reality, however, your hair and nails won’t continue to grow after your body stops functioning.

Toads Give You Warts

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Some people believe that touching the skin of a toad can cause you to develop warts, but this is inaccurate. Most likely stemming from the fact a toad has bumpy skin, warts are actually caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which cannot be contracted from toads or other animals.

Eating Bread Crusts Makes Your Hair Curly

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Used for generations to encourage children to eat the whole slice of bread, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that eating bread crusts affects hair texture or growth. There are benefits to eating the crust, however, as it does contain more of certain nutrients and fiber compared to the rest of the bread, which are beneficial for overall health.

Drinking Milk When You Have a Cold Worsens the Symptoms

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Many people avoid milk and other dairy products when they have a cold because of the common misconception that the thickness of milk increases mucus production and worsens cold symptoms. Scientific studies have not found a direct link, and it is generally considered to be beneficial to most people due to the nutrients it provides.

Sitting Too Close to the Television Damages Eyesight

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Originally, there were concerns about the radiation emitted from televisions and the New York Times says, “Before the 1950’s, television sets emitted levels of radiation that after repeated and extended exposure could have heightened the risk of eye problems in some people.” Modern TVs, however, are much safer; just be aware that watching for too long can cause eye strain and discomfort.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever

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While this common saying suggests eating lots of food may help cure a cold and fasting may cure a fever, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. Instead, doctors and scientists recommend maintaining a normal level of hydration and food intake during your illness if you can to support your immune system.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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Originating from a 19th-century Welsh proverb, this common saying has promoted the health benefits of apples for generations. While apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants, which contribute to overall health, they should form part of a varied diet and regular medical checkups.

Reading in Dim Light Ruins Your Eyesight

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While reading in dim light can cause temporary eye strain, it doesn’t cause permanent eye damage. It’s likely that the discomfort felt when eyes are strained is what caused this myth to be popularized. It’s best to have proper lighting while you’re reading to make yourself comfortable and prevent short-term eye fatigue.

Chicken Soup Cures Colds

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Chicken soup has long been touted for its supposed healing properties when sick. However, while it can keep the body hydrated and comfortable during a cold, it cannot cure the illness. The soup does provide you with great nutrients and can help soothe symptoms well.

Don’t Swim After Eating

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It’s common for people to wait for their food to go down before swimming, as there is a widespread belief that it can cause cramps and drowning due to blood being diverted from the limbs to the stomach. Vox says, “If you did get a muscle cramp, experts say it’d be extremely unlikely to disable and drown you.”

Rubbing a Wart with a Coin Will Remove It

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Some people believe that rubbing a wart with a coin and then burying or discarding the coin can transfer the wart from the skin to the coin. As easy as this would be, it unfortunately won’t work, as warts need to be treated with salicylic acid application, freezing, or medical removal.

Sleeping with Wet Hair Makes You Sick

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This old wives’ tale claims that going to bed with wet hair can lead to colds or other illnesses. This likely stems from the fact that wet hair can be cold, but scientists have shown that temperature itself can’t cause illnesses. While colds are caused by viruses, not wet hair, you may find that drying your hair before bed can prevent scalp problems like dandruff.

Spicy Food Causes Ulcers

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Another common misconception that many people believe is that eating a lot of spicy food can cause stomach ulcers by irritating the stomach lining. However, most ulcers are actually caused by infections with H. pylori bacteria or long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

You Can Catch a Cold from Cold Weather

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It is a widespread belief that being out in cold weather, especially with wet hair or without a jacket, can cause a cold. This is untrue, however, as colds are actually caused by viruses, not weather. It is true that colds are more common in the colder months, though it is generally due to spending more time indoors with others rather than the weather itself.

Eating Spinach Gives You Super Strength

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Popularized by the cartoon character Popeye, many people still believe that spinach dramatically increases your physical strength. While it is nutritious due to its high levels of iron and vitamins, it can really only support your general health rather than give you sudden increases in strength.

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As society evolves, so does our approach to spirituality. This article looks at the subtle yet profound shift from traditional religious adherence to a more personal, evidence-based belief system.

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17 American Attractions That Not Even Americans Want to Visit

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The United States of America—land of the free, home of the brave, and the location of some of the most ‘unique’ tourist attractions you’ll ever lay eyes on.

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17 Fairy Tales That Are Now Considered Racist

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While fairy tales weave magical narratives that span generations, many emerge from historical and cultural contexts tinged with biases. Hiding in many of these tales, racial undertones can be found. Let’s look at 17 fairy tales that have deeper implications.

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18 Common Traits Found in Adults Who Had Unhappy Childhoods

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Being a parent is a hard job, so even those who are truly trying their best will often miss the mark on creating the best environment for their children. Unfortunately, this means that many of us grow up with far-from-perfect childhoods that affect us into adulthood. Here are 18 common traits found in adults who had unhappy childhoods.

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18 Things Old People Just Can’t Get On Board with Today

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Over the past few decades, society has evolved, and with it, so have a few things that older generations find it uncomfortable to get the hang of. While younger generations are easily able to adapt to these changes, some of which are drastic, others may be struggling slightly. Here are 18 things the elderly may have difficulty learning.

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