8 Old Wives Tales that are Actually True


Image: Mycael

Old wives’ tales exist in every culture and are often so pervasive that we take them as the truth. Lately, science has shown that most are no more than legends, while surprisingly, others have turned out to be true. With tales covering everything from fertility to teeth to cranberries, learn some of the ones your mother taught you that you should be listening to!

Image: Andrew Magill

1. Drinking warm milk makes you sleepy

Not just because it contains the chemical Tryptophan, the same one found in turkey – which explains why everyone wants to take a nap after a turkey dinner – but because of the nice feeling, surprisingly enough.  There really isn’t enough tryptophan in milk to make you sleep, trace amounts only, yet there is evidence that the psychological effect it gives you can make you sleepy. Andrew Klein says:

“Infants often go right to sleep after breastfeeding. When an adult enjoys a warm glass of milk, they may just be taking an unconscious, nostalgic trip back to this ‘happy place.'” Who doesn’t enjoy a good suckle?

A study published in a recent issue of Neuroendocrinology Letters found that infants go to sleep faster after feedings. While no research has yet examined this phenomenon in adults, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that milk-guzzling grown-ups are unconsciously reminded of an infantile state, which causes them to drift off.” Enjoy your warm milk with some honey or a tot in it, relax and drift off to dreamland.


Image: Abhijit Tembhekar

2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Not only can apples keep the doctor away by helping your immune system with healthy food, but studies at the University of Ulster have found that apple phenols protect the DNA in colon cancer cells: “Our results indicate that a crude extract of apple phenolics can protect against DNA damage,” we’re told.

Researchers at Cornell University have found that up to six apples a day can prevent breast cancer in primates and believe this can be extrapolated to humans. “Consumption of apples may be an effective strategy for cancer protection,” say the researchers. So have a glass of juice or eat one or two apples a day just like your mother told you!