The Truth About 12 Health Myths
You’ve Always Heard That…
Eating Fish Makes You Smart.
The truth is: For kids up to age three or four, this is indeed the case. Fish, especially oily ones, such as salmon, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). “DHA is particularly beneficial in the first two years of life for brain development, cognition, and visual acuity,” says Beverly Hills pediatrician Scott W. Cohen, the author of Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year ($16, amazon.com). And a 2008 study in Clinical Pediatrics showed an increase in vocabulary and comprehension for four-year-olds who were given daily DHA sup-plements. Omega-3 options for the fish-phobic? Try avocados, walnuts, and canola oil.
You Shouldn’t Swim for an Hour After Eating.
The truth is: Splash away. “After you eat, more blood flows to the digestive system and away from the muscles,” says Cohen. “The thinking was that if you exercised strenuously right after eating, that lack of blood would cause you to cramp up and drown.” But that won’t happen. Sears concurs: “You might have less energy to swim vigorously, but it shouldn’t inhibit your ability to tread water or play.”
Every Child Needs a Daily Multivitamin.
The truth is: Children who are solely breast-fed during their first year should be given a vitamin D supplement. After that, a multivitamin won’t hurt anyone, but many experts say that even if your child is in a picky phase, there’s no need to sneak Fred, Wilma, and company into his applesauce. “Even extremely fussy eaters grow normally,” Cohen says. “Your kids will eventually get what they need, even if it seems as if they’re subsisting on air and sunlight.”
Warm Milk Will Help You Fall Asleep.
The truth is: Milk contains small amounts of tryptophan (the same amino acid in turkey), “but you would have to drink gallons to get any soporific effect,” says Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, who specializes in sleep disorders. “What is effective is a routine to help kids wind down,” he says. And if a glass of warm milk is part of the process, it can have a placebo effect, regardless of science.
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