Sage advice usually inaccurate

The recent arrival of our twin grandchildren has started my thinking about what sage advice I can give them as they grow. I remember hearing plenty of interesting, though often inaccurate, maxims. Here are some of my favorites.

Wait an hour after eating to go swimming. I was told I might get cramps as blood moves from my extremities to my stomach to help with digestion. Science says that shift in circulation is not significant.

Toads give you warts. That’s not the reason I have always hated to pick them up. They will likely pee, and I don’t like their squishiness. It’s like they don’t have any bones.

Your face will freeze that way. This caution usually followed a “look” I gave my sister.

No 16 seed can ever beat a one seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. Four letters: UMBC.

That watermelon seed you swallowed will germinate and grow. So, that explains the increase in the size of my belly. Actually, unless you also swallow a bag of potting soil as well, germination is not likely.

Eating carrots will improve your eyesight. I have never seen a rabbit with glasses, but that doesn’t prove anything. There is some truth to this one. Beta carotene, found in carrots, is good for your eyes and other parts of your body. But, it’s not significant.

Chocolate eaters are more likely to develop acne. Doctors say there is no correlation.

If you go out with wet hair, you will catch a cold. I still hear this one all the time, but that doesn’t make it any more true. Viruses cause colds, not rapid temperature changes, and most of them are spread by casual contact with other humans. So, transversely, you are more likely to catch a cold staying inside.

Ingesting hot peppers will make an ulcer worse. Actually, scientists say, downing spicy food might help, thanks to something called capsaicin, which is found in peppers.

To relieve someone’s earache, my grandpa used to blow cigar smoke into the person’s ear. Not only does this not work, according to doctors, the second-hand smoke is harmful. I never saw my grandfather smoke anything, except maybe some sausage.

It is a good idea to place butter or ice on a burn. Cool water, perhaps. But, butter will retain the heat and increase the damage. Ice will also add to the negative effects by further injuring the skin.

Caffeine will stunt your growth. I know a lot of tall coffee and Mountain Dew drinkers.

Finally, we humans only use 10 percent of our brains. Though this may apply to regular readers of this column, and apparently to the writer, scientists say this is not true. Even simple tasks, such as typing, use multiple sections of our minds.

It is often said that women are better multi-taskers than men. While it may be true that females are capable of balancing more activities, it only appears they are doing several jobs at once. Some people are good at switch-tasking, but according to “Psychology Today,” true multi-tasking doesn’t exist for men or women.

Will cracking your knuckles give you arthritis? Nope. The “crack” is the sound of air bubbles passing through the synovial fluid. It is true, however, that constantly popping your joints can lead to swelling, so moderation is advised.

Swallowed chewing gum will stay in a stomach for seven years. Your gut is a cauldron of acid. No Wrigley’s spearmint can survive, and you will eliminate it, that is, poop it out in due time.

Sugar causes children to be hyperactive. The myth comes from the belief that, since sugar is converted into a rush of calories, the extra boost has to be burned off somehow. Caffeine, which is found in chocolate, does actually increase hyperactivity.

Shaving causes hair to grow back thicker. While this isn’t true, or men would look like werewolves, removing hair from a new area can stimulate more growth in that patch, so be careful where you shave.

Dog saliva can help our wounds heal. There is some evidence that certain bacteria in pet spit may stimulate skin repair. But, veterinarians and doctors alike caution that fecal matter (poop again) can transfer harmful germs into open wounds. Not like we have ever witnessed a dog licking his back end or eating droppings, right?

Sitting too close to a TV will ruin your eyes. Actually, staring at any electronic screen, regardless of the distance, is confirmed to cause strain, headaches and fatigue, but will not lead to blindness. So, it’s a good idea to take a break, which will also improve relationships with your friends and family.

Bob Woelk teaches English and journalism at Hillsboro High School.

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