The Truth About 12 Health Myths
You’ve Always Heard That…
Gum Stays in Your Stomach for Seven Years.
The truth is: Your Little Leaguer’s wad of Big League Chew won’t (literally) stick around until high school graduation. “As with most nonfood objects that kids swallow, fluids carry gum through the intestinal tract, and within days it passes,” says David Pollack, a senior physician in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network. And even though gum isn’t easily broken down in the digestive system, it probably won’t cause a stomachache, either.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.
The truth is: A handful of blueberries a day will keep the doctor away more effectively. Blueberries are a nutritional jackpot, rich in antioxidants and fiber, and they’re also easy to toss into cereal and yogurt. That said, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important to prevent many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, down the road. (To find out how much earth-grown goodness your child should be getting, enter his or her age, sex, and level of physical activity at fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.)
You Lose 75 Percent of Your Body Heat Through Your Head.
The truth is: “This adage was probably based on an infant’s head size, which is a much greater percentage of the total body than an adult head,” says Pollack. That’s why it’s important to make sure an infant’s head remains covered in cold weather. (This also explains those ubiquitous newborn caps at the hospital.) But for an adult, the figure is more like 10 percent. And keep in mind that heat escapes from any exposed area (feet, arms, hands), so putting on a hat is no more important than slipping on gloves.
To Get Rid of Hiccups, Have Someone Startle You.
The truth is: Most home remedies, like holding your breath or drinking from a glass of water backward, haven’t been medically proven to be effective, says Pollack. However, you can try this trick dating back to 1971, when it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine: Swallow one teaspoon of white granulated sugar. According to the study, this tactic resulted in the cessation of hiccups in 19 out of 20 afflicted patients. Sweet.