Everyone has heard those health ‘facts’ that are actually old wives’ tales. But how do you know which stories are false and which bits of medical trivia should actually be heeded. Let’s take a closer look.

Ensuring that your knowledge of healthcare is up-to-date and accurate is an important part of staying healthy. Yet many of us still succumb to the misinformation spread by rumours, fear-mongering and old wives’ tales. Despite being seen as funny, charming and harmless, some of the advice given by these tales can actually be harmful.

“Cracking your knuckles gives you arthritis.”

According to research by Arthritis Research UK, there is no evidence to back up this classic claim.

That’s because when you crack your knuckles, the sound you hear isn’t actually your bones cracking, but rather tiny cavities of gas collapsing with a “pop”.

“We only use 10% of our brains.”

This is a myth perpetuated by fictional stories like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Lucy starring Scarlet Johansson, which explore the question of “what would we be capable of if we used 100% of our brains?” Well, the answer is about as much as we are now.

Every part of the brain has a specific role – even if it has nothing to do with intelligence or memory function. Brain scans have shown that no part of the brain actually goes completely unused as is often portrayed in fiction.

“Chewing gum stays in your system for 7 years.”

While it is true that chewing gum contains a synthetic resin that cannot be broken down by the digestive tract, it still gets moved along with the contents of your stomach and passed through just like everything else you eat. You’ll be rid of your chewing gum in a matter of days.

“Open cuts heal faster.”

Many people believe that open air helps wounds dry up and therefore heal faster, but research has found that the opposite is true.

Moist, closed conditions help cells surrounding the wound grow at a faster rate, encouraging the wound to heal cleanly. In contrast, dry air often leads to scabs which make it harder for new cells to grow.

Covering up a wound also reduces your risk of infection or suffering further injury.

“Muscle turns to fat when you don’t exercise.”

Muscle and fat are not interchangeable. They are two different kinds of tissue and cannot transform into each other.

This piece of misinformation gets spread because a lack of exercise causes you to store more fatty deposits and develop less muscle tissue. Without exercise, muscle mass deteriorates as a normal part of tissue turnover.

“Sugar causes hyperactivity in children.”

Despite numerous studies being carried out, there remains no evidence to suggest that sugary foods and drinks have a significant impact on children’s behaviour.

The confusion may stem from the fact that certain E numbers and additives have been found to cause hyperactivity in children, and these are found in many sugar-heavy food items.

It’s important to point out, however, that this is no excuse for overindulging in sugar. Significant spikes in blood sugar do impact on the body’s normal function in a number of ways and can place extra strain on organs of the body. Peaks and troughs in sugar intake will also impact on energy levels.

“Tip your head back to stop a nose bleed.”

Leaning back might stop the blood from dripping from your nose, but it also means more blood travels down the back of the throat where it could cause stomach irritation.

The best way to deal with a nose bleed is to pinch the soft area beneath the bridge and lean forwards whilst breathing through your mouth.

“Waking sleepwalkers can give them a heart attack.”

Although it’s true that you probably shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker abruptly and should instead gently guide them back to bed, this is merely to avoid disorientation and embarrassment. There is no evidence to suggest that waking someone up whilst their sleepwalking can do them any significant psychological damage.

For a clearer picture on healthcare, don’t hesitate to contact Express Pharmacy. You can use our discreet Live Chat tool or call us on 0208 123 0703.