10 Old Wives' Tales You Believed But Aren't True At All

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10 Old Wives' Tales You Believed But Aren't True At All

How many of you grew up believing that if you go out with wet hair you will get sick or that you should wait at least an hour after eating before you go for a swim?

We were all so gullible when we were young. We just believed everything our elders told us, even if they didn't bother to explain why.

While a lot of what they used to tell us have been proven to be true, there are also a lot that are false.

In fact, if you really think about it, some of the superstitions and myths don't even make sense at all.

Here are 10 old wives' tales that we believed but turned out to be false:

1. Feed a cold, starve a fever

This one stems from the belief that by eating more when you have a cold your body will generate warmth, and by eating less when you have a fever, your body will cool down.

Of course, this isn't true. Medical experts say you should always eat a balanced meal when you're sick, and drink a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration.

2. Pee on a jellyfish sting


Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon to hear someone suggest putting urine on a jellyfish sting to relieve the pain. Well, this is a big no-no.

Peeing on the injury will only worsen the pain by making the stingers release more venom. Even using water to wash the sting will do more harm than good. According to several studies, the best thing you can do is apply vinegar to the affected area as it will deactivate the venom.

3. Eat a watermelon seed and the fruit will grow in your stomach

Once as a young girl, I made the mistake of eating a watermelon seed, then spent the rest of the day crying because I so convinced that a giant watermelon would grow in my belly.

I'm still traumatized, so I now only eat seedless watermelons, and still give my parents grief for letting me believe this insane myth, even though I'm sure they knew it was not true...maybe?

First of all, like all plants, watermelons need oxygen to grow, and the gas can't be found in your stomach. Secondly, the seeds take between three and five days to germinate, which means that by the time they're ready to start growing, they've already left your system. Phew!

4. Wait an hour before you go swimming

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This one was universally accepted by all because it made sense that you could cramp up and drown if you swim on a full stomach, but like all the others on this list, it's just a myth.

Sure, it can be uncomfortable to swim right after you eat, but it won't kill you. The digestive process does divert blood away from the muscles, but it shouldn't affect your ability to swim.

5. If your right palm is itchy, you'll come across money

I must admit that to this day whenever my palm starts to itch, a part of me secretly hopes that I will be getting some money.

Of course, if that ever happened it would be nothing more than a coincidence because this is just another superstition that is believed to have originated from a German tribe known as the Saxons.

They believed that if you rub diseased hands on silver it will cure them. Eventually, different cultures came up with their own variations of the myth. Also, "itchy palms" is an idiom for greed or a desire for money.

6. Going out with wet hair will make you catch a cold

You've definitely heard this one a lot from your mom or grandma as you rush out the door after a shower.

Here's the thing: going outside while your hair is still damp is not very comfortable, especially in the winter, but it definitely shouldn't make you sick.

Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, and the only way you could get infected is if you come into contact with them. The flu and cold season overlaps with cold weather, so that's most likely how this myth came to be.

What could happen to you is hypothermia or frost bite if you go out in below-freezing temperatures with wet hair or inadequate clothing.

7. A sunburn will fade into a tan


They do say there is no beauty without pain, but when it comes to sun tanning, there should be no pain involved. Anyone who has ever told you need to burn before it turns into a tan has lied.

A sunburn is an actual burn caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. The damage to the skin will cause pain, tenderness, and redness before eventually peeling. This certainly isn't a perquisite for tanning.

8. Swallow gum and it will stay in you for seven years

You were definitely warned about the danger of swallowing gum, which is that it will stay inside you for seven years. A little too specific, no?

Anyway, you can breathe a sigh of relief and stop telling your own kids this warning because it is unfounded.

Your stomach does have a harder time breaking down gum, but it won't let it linger for too long. The piece of gum will eventually be emptied into the small intestine and it will come out through your normal bowel movement.

9.  Carrots will improve your vision

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I started wearing glasses at the age of four, so my parents telling me that my eyesight will get better if I ate all the carrots on my plate was a surefire way to get me to eat the vegetable. Turns out, it was all a lie.

Although carrots are rich in lutein and beta-carotene, both of which can benefit your eyesight by preventing things like cataracts and macular degenration, eating it daily won't give you 20/20 vision.

10. Eating spicy foods will cause an ulcer

For the longest time, medical experts told us to avoid eating a lot of spicy foods because they could trigger a peptic ulcer.

It's easy to believe this because if something burns your mouth as much as hot peppers and certain spices do, you would think it would wreak havoc on your insides too. However, modern research has found the opposite to be true.

Contrary to popular belief, capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot, can actually prevent and help heal ulcers by stimulating secretions in the stomach.

The majority of ulcers are actually caused by the bacteria heliobacter pylori, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Stress, smoking, and overuse of inflammatory drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can also lead to ulcers.

Are there any other old wives' tales you believed but turned out to be false? Share it in the comments!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.