Eat your vegetables. Sleep eight hours a day. Exercise.
There are several truisms about staying healthy that we sometimes do not use due diligence in determining if the advice given to us is true. Then there are the old wives’ tales, passed down from one generation to the next, that often disregard the difference between fiction and fact. Below, you’ll find a list of 10 of the most common health clichés out there.
Weighing in at just over 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds), the human mind is home to almost 100 billion neurons. They transmit information to each other across gaps called synapses, of which the mind has almost 1 quadrillion.
The brain is sectioned into three primary parts-the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum composes roughly 85 percent of the organ and is responsible for much of the higher-level functioning we associate with being human. Seated below it, you will discover that the cerebellum, which controls basic coordination and balance. And finally, you’ve got the brain stem.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if all this processing is only making use of 10 percent of their brain’s bandwidth?
Alas, this “fact” is utterly wrong. We’re not sure in which the claim that we only use 10 percent of our brains came out, but it seemed to percolate from the late Victorian era. In the late 1890s, Harvard psychologists William James and Boris Sidis used the latter’s wunderkind (his IQ was almost 300) as proof that all humans have to have the capacity to be that smart. We just have to try harder.
Further research at the start of the 20th century discovered that rats with cerebral damage could be retaught particular tasks. This was used to bolster the already weak case that our brain is full of untapped potential. Alas, this factoid is completely ridiculous with no basis in modern science. Just reading this paragraph uses over 10 percent of your brain. Oh well.
After consuming a particularly large piece of bubblegum, a lot of you may remember being horrified to hear that your digestive tract would spend the next seven years trying to digest it. If your seven years isn’t up yet, you may be relieved to learn that this “reality” is complete crap.
Although the origins of this myth are elusive, it’s borne out a comparative truth about chewing gum. The Food and Drug Administration defines gum as a “nonnutritive masticatory substance.” (Translation: It’s not food.)
While it’s not a good idea to swallow your chewing gum, what happens to it isn’t all that exciting. Excess ingredients like sweeteners could be digested, but the majority of the gum is an elastomer that gets moved through your digestive tract without being broken down. Then the gum comes out the other end through the excretory system and is usually unscathed.
Foreign, inedible objects have to be roughly larger than a United States quarter to get stuck in your digestive tract. Otherwise, they leak like junk down a stream, right out the other end.
As if puberty, high school, and those teenage years aren’t hard enough, many of us grew up learning that our chocolate intake had a causal relationship with breakouts. Pretty awful that chocolate, the 1 thing that makes adolescence bearable, lights up your face with ugly zits.
Well, we’re here to let you know that this old wives’ tale is false. Eating chocolate won’t cause you to break out. However, eating foods high in sugar and fat can raise your body’s natural sebum production, making your skin oilier. What’s more, those unhealthy foods contribute to higher levels of skin inflammation.
However, will chocolate-or any food for that matter-make your skin break out? The answer to that is a resounding no. Eating high levels of fatty foods will definitely trip up your blood glucose, which can indirectly impact breakout levels. But no single food item is the golden ticket to avoiding teenage pimples.
Carrots Improve Eyesight:
To be fair, carrots are amazing sources of beta-carotene, an inactive retinol that is transformed into vitamin A during digestion. Vitamin A provides all kinds of benefits to the body, for example, protection of eyesight.
However, does it really improve one’s nighttime vision?
No. The British Ministry of Information ran a campaign during World War II that suggested pilots in the Royal Air Force were eating huge amounts of carrots, explaining their uncanny ability to shoot down German fighter pilots under the veil of darkness. Truth is, all of the carrots in the world couldn’t give you the gift of nocturnal sight.
British troops were warding off German bombers with novel technology at the time-airborne interception radar. It is unlikely that German intelligence bought into the idea that British pilots were fueled by high-octane carrots.
Yet, in the almost century since, the Western world’s overall public has stayed firm believers that if they eat enough of the orange stuff, their eyes will thank them. We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but you are not likely to have night vision anytime soon.
We Have Five Senses:
This one ought to be simple, right? The belief that we have five senses dates back to the time of Greek philosopher Aristotle, who was the first to discern the five distinct senses of the human body. You probably learned them in elementary school: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.
Yes, these are five of your senses. But they are not the only ones.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a “sense”? Well, it is something with a detector that could perceive a given stimulus. Every sense is activated by a special phenomenon.
In actuality, the sensation of touch is actually much more complex than just a single sensation. Many neurologists break down “touch” into divergent senses, including perceptions of pressure, temperature, and pain.
Depending on whom you ask, humans have as many as 33 senses. These include some senses, such as blood pressure and balance that you knew you had but didn’t count as a “sense.” So, next time someone says they have a sixth sense, you could respond by saying you’ve 33. They may not know what you mean by that, but you will know!
Rolling Your Tongue Is Genetic:
Many people can remember being taught, by a biology teacher no less, our ability to roll up our tongues was straightforward genetic fate. If either of your parents could do it, so can you. Or so we were told.
In fact, it is not that simple. Unlike a number of these body myths, we have a fantastic idea from where this one came. In 1940, American geneticist Alfred Sturtevant published a study that concluded that your tongue-rolling ability was a hereditary trait according to a dominant gene.
But, Sturtevant’s exuberance over his finding was short-lived. People realized quickly that there were identical twins where one could roll his tongue and the other couldn’t. Because of this, Sturtevant’s findings were quickly debunked, with the guy at the helm conceding defeat.
And yet, decades later in classrooms throughout the world, this falsehood has been spread anew. Now that you know the truth, you can stop the madness from spreading the next time someone unveils this unique parlor trick.
Heating Escapes Through Your Head:
Between the myth that we only use 10 percent of our brains and the prevailing notion that we lose the majority of our body heat through our heads, it feels like our craniums can’t catch a break. A prevailing hypothesis on the origin of this myth: Scientists conducted research in the 1950s in which subjects were exposed to low temperatures and dropped a good chunk of their heat through their noggins.
The problem with this research is that the subjects were bundled up in coats and only their heads were exposed to the elements. So yes, if every part of your body is insulated and your mind isn’t, you’ll lose a disproportionate quantity of body heat through your head.
However, more recent research finds that, all else being equal, an inordinate quantity of heat doesn’t escape from your head. You lose approximately 7 percent of your body heat through your head, which makes sense because your head is approximately 7 percent of your body’s surface area. [
So, treat your mind like every other part of your body. When it is cold, bundle it up and everything will be OK.
Hair And Fingernails Keep Growing After Death:
This “reality” about the human body is kind of creepy, isn’t it? The idea that protein shards of keratin keep growing at our extremities in the days and weeks after we die is freaky. Well, we’re here to let you know that it’s not really correct.
Our bodies dehydrate rather rapidly once we die. At these times, our skin starts wrinkling and pulls inward. This gives the illusion that our hair and nails are still growing. On the contrary, the rest of the body is merely shrinking. For this reason, morticians will frequently snore corpses in moisturizer to keep them out of pruning up.
Arthritis can be debilitating or mild.
Obviously, if you’re able to stay away from activities associated with arthritis, you should. For many health-conscious people, this includes a seemingly straightforward request-don’t crack your knuckles. However, we’re here to tell you that cracking your knuckles doesn’t make the list in your struggle to prevent arthritis.
But first, what is “cracking” the knuckles? That popping sound is connected with bubbles bursting on your synovial fluid (the stuff that greases your joints).
That said, you still might want to give up the habit. Chronic knuckle cracking is connected to weaker grip power.
Shave Your Beard, And It’ll Grow Back Darker:
Who hasn’t heard this one? You can shave your beard-or for girls, the hair on your legs-but your efforts will be in vain. Not only will the hair grow back, we’re told, but it will grow back faster and darker than before.
This is absolutely false. In fact, we have known this isn’t true for quite some time. One of the earliest modern studies on the issue took place in 1928. The engaging men all shaved in precisely the same manner with the identical brand of shaving cream. Then their subsequent new hairs have been examined for increased rates of growth.
A whole lot of this myth comes down to perception. As our hair grows back, we may be influenced by our preexisting biases. Additionally, when you wax or shave hair off, it’s like chopping down a tree and leaving the stump.
Alas, any changes in growth rate may result from underlying hormonal changes. But otherwise, it is all in your head!