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Wives’ tales explained

If a woman is carrying low, it’s a boy

People love to speculate about the sex of an unborn baby. There are many wives’ tales relating to this, but perhaps the most common one links the baby’s position in the uterus with its sex. If a baby is positioned lower in the uterus, it is often predicted it will be a boy, while a higher positioned baby is thought to be a girl. This theory has been dispelled by obstetricians and gynaecologists who assert a baby’s position is not dependent on its sex, but it size – a larger baby will be more highly positioned, causing the mother’s belly to protrude more, while a smaller baby will sit lower in the uterus.

Chicken soup makes your cold better

Your grandmother’s advice to slurp down her soup when you had the snottiest of colds was not misguided. Chicken soup has been scientifically proven to reduce upper respiratory symptoms and helps clear mucus. Hot fluids in general are good for mucus movement, but studies have found chicken soup works particularly well. If you still think it’s more placebo effect than science, there are more bonuses: vegetables are packed with nutrients and the soup helps with hydration.

Chewing gum or bread while cutting onions reduces tears

When you chop an onion, you damage its cells and it releases a number of gases that burn your eyes. There are many theories that suggest chewing gum or bread while chopping onions will prevent the gases from making your peepers water. The issue here is that putting something in your mouth is unlikely to affect the degree to which an onion burns your eyes. Instead, try wearing goggles, having a fan to blow away the gases, or chilling the onion to slow the release of gases.

 

Plucking grey hairs will make more grow

“NOOOO! Don’t pull it out,” he screams as I point out the silver strand that basically waves to me from a sea of black hair. “Even more will grow back in its place if you pull it out,” he exclaims. This one really is a wives’ tale, dispelled by trichologists (hair and scalp specialists), who explain that we cannot increase the number of hair follicles we have. It’s actually quite the opposite. Plucking hair causes trauma to the follicle and can send it into ‘rest’, slowing (or stopping) the hair production. If you’re really concerned either carefully cut it or dye it.

 

Eating carrots helps you see in the dark

Carrots contain vitamin A, which is important for maintaining eye health, but they don’t really help you see in the dark. This myth originates from World War II, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) claimed their pilots’ accuracy at night time was because they ate carrots. Their accuracy was perhaps more to do with the new radar system the RAF had developed to shoot down German bombers than their diet. The RAF’s attempt to keep their new technology on the down low has led to generations of confusion. While eating heaps of carrots won’t make you see in the dark, it can turn your palms orange because of the carotene it contains.

 

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