RFT Gets to the Bottom of Those Old Wives Tales on Staying Healthy

They look trusting, but old wives are not to be believed.
They look trusting, but old wives are not to be believed.
Sweat out a cold.


Cross your eyes and they'll stay that way.


If you go outside with wet hair, you'll catch a cold.


Cross your eyes and they'll stay that way.


These are but a few of the old wives tales about one's health that are certain to live on until hell freezes over. Learned in infancy, they linger till they close the pine box shut.

Daily RFT readers, of course, know full well that these ancient pronouncements are nothing more than hooey, flapdoodle piles of tommyrot. Still, your favorite news source decided to check in with a leading health professional to help us debunk such gibble-gabble.

Her name is Dr. Margaret Lewin. She is a Manhattan-based internist, affliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a renowned expert in primary and preventative care. She also serves as medical director of Cinergy Health in Miami.

"The most common myth I hear is that you'll get the flu from flu shots," Lewin begins. "This is not true at all. Those who do, probably were coming down with it before they got the shot."

OK, how about that old chestnut: never swim after eating?

"There is not one documented case of someone drowning because they ate just before they went swimming," says Lewin.

Sweating out a cold?

"No, no, no. Exercise only make you more dehydrated."

What about the often-repeated, "Most of your body heats escapes from the head?"

"That's because when it's cold, people are fully-clothed, so where else is the heat going to escape from?" replies Lewin. "Now if it's cold, and you're legs are exposed, most of your body heat will escape from your legs."

Another blarney-laden wives tale: Don't swallow your gum and fingernails. They'll stay in your stomach for seven years.

Lewin takes aim and fires: "There's has been just one reported case of something like this, a boy with a growth found in his stomach from all the gum he'd swallowed."

On Dr. Lewin goes, swatting them down one old wives tale after another:

Coffee won't sober you up.

Cross your eyes all you want and they won't stay that way.

Getting warts from handling a toad is sheer hogwash.

And cold, wet weather has really nothing to do with coming down with a cold, other than the fact that it drives people inside, where viruses are more prone to fester.

OK, doc. Does an apple a day keep the doctor away?

With a chuckle, Lewin answers: "Now, there's one that actually makes sense."

That, and chicken soup.