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6 Myths Your Parents Told you: Were they right?

1. If you don’t wait 30 minutes before you swim after you eat, you will get stomach cramps and drown

False! I truly believed this when I was a child. The only time I ever swam immediately after I ate, I had an unfortunate accident and was convinced it was because of this myth. For some reason parents were under the impression that because your blood moves to the stomach to help digest food, there will not be enough blood to circulate through your arms and legs to keep them working properly. In truth we have enough blood to keep all of our parts functioning just fine after we eat. This myth was probably created to allow parents to rest after eating before having to be on the watch over their children at a pool without lifeguards.
2. If you swallow your gum, it will take 7 years to digest
False! Perhaps our mom’s got confused somewhere down the line when the gum packages read “indigestible”. Indigestible means that the components of gum can’t be broken down by your stomach acids. The same thing that happens to corn happens to your gum – you will find it intact upon exiting the body.
3. Don’t crack your knuckles – it will give you arthritis
False! For those who are avid knuckle crackers, this is good news. According to research, there has been no solid proof that there is a link between cracking your knuckles and developing arthritis. It is believed that when the bones are pulled apart, they release a gas bubble and break the adhesive seal in the joints and many people thought that this can inflame the joints and cause arthritis. The truth is that although many people in the US partake in frequent knuckle cracking, it probably isn’t the healthier habit out there. Cracking your knuckles can decrease your grip strength and weaken the fingers.
4. Having candy before bedtime will give you nightmares
True! Studies have found that going to bed on a full stomach can increase brain stimulation, therefore triggering nightmares. Apparently unhealthy foods create even scarier nightmares. A study conducted in 2000 found that after feeding ice cream, sandwiches, and candy bars to participants 30 minutes before going to bed, seven of the participants had nightmares while sleeping. The next night, the nightmares dramatically diminished for four of the participants. This may have been a way for your parents to scam you out of dessert though – sleeping on a full stomach (no matter the sugar content) can have the same effect.
5. Coffee will stunt your growth
False! I actually believed this up until the time I met someone who is 6 foot 1 and apparently started drinking coffee when he was a toddler. Research proves that height can only be affected by genetics – no matter how much coffee you drink or don’t drink, your height is predetermined. The reason the myth was created was probably another way to keep kids under control – the caffeine in coffee is a very strong stimulant. In adults, coffee can actually be a good thing for your body – there are recent studies that have found a link between coffee and diabetes prevention.
6. Going outside with wet hair or without a jacket will make you sick
False! This is more to keep you feeling comfortable outside than anything. The only thing that can make us sick is exposure to a virus. By inhaling airborne viruses released by the cough or sneeze of a sick person is the most common way to catch a cold. Its more likely that you will get sick indoors where viral particles are trapped than outside.
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