Mother knows best (Part 1)


These days it seems like everyone has an answer for everything. With all the noise out there it’s hard to figure out which road we should take and which answer is right. Sometimes a bit of mom and dad or grandma and grandpa’s sagely advice can go a long way. This is no truer than some “old wives’ tales” about how to stay healthy and fend off getting sick. Here are a few I’ve found that are truer than you would first expect:

1. Apples and Doctors

As a doctor myself, I could never really figure out why people would want to keep me away. Yeah, I know – staying out of my office means that you don’t need to see me, fair enough. Yet people sometimes underestimate just how powerful eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can be. A recent study found that less than 4 ounces of apples (an average apple weighs about 5 or 6 ounces) could help in stopping the growth of colon and liver cancer cells.

Other foods to consider include: whole grapes, asparagus, fresh peaches, cauliflower, strawberries, spinach, and blueberries. So go ahead and eat your apples (and spinach and blueberries) – they really can help keep the doctor away!

Eberhardt, M. V., Lee, C. Y., & Liu, R. H. (2000). Nutrition: Antioxidant activity of fresh apples. Nature, 405(6789), 903-904.

2. Gifts from Above

Once you get to the point in your life when you want to start a family (or know someone who has already started) you start hearing some interesting tidbits of wisdom floating around. A particular piece of advice that always stuck with me is that: “babies are more likely to be born on a full moon than any other day”. Most folks would typically write this off as mere superstition (myself included) – but what does science tell us?

While soon-to-be-born children can “choose” any day to be welcomed into the world, statistically speaking full moon nights are busier days than most. While many have tried to figure out if there was some other factor involved nothing else has come to light. I’ve always heard children referred to as “gifts from above” – I’d like to think of this as a gentle “nod and wink” at that being true.

Ghiandoni, G., Seclı̀, R., Rocchi, M. B., & Ugolini, G. (1998). Does lunar position influence the time of delivery? A statistical analysis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 77(1), 47-50.

3. Soup for the Soul

Whenever you’re feeling down and out a little something from home always manages to brighten the mood. Be it a picture, a phone call, or something made from “back home” – it always seems to turn around any cloudy day. But why is that?

As it turns out while change really is a good thing for people – remembering where you came from is just as important. A 2011 psychological study found that comfort foods, like homemade chicken soup, really do touch a part of “the soul” that helps people cope with change (and makes the transition easier). So the next time you’re stuck in a rut whip out that old recipe book – your soul will thank you later!

Troisi, J. D., & Gabriel, S. (2011). Chicken Soup Really Is Good for the Soul “Comfort Food” Fulfills the Need to Belong. Psychological Science.

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