Carrots help you see, cheese causes nightmares
The old wives’ tales that are actually true: Carrots DO help you see in the dark, cheese CAN cause nightmares and a long labor may mean it’s a boy
- While old wives’ tales are often born from hearsay and ill-informed theories, some have actually proven true
- Perhaps one of the most surprising is that carrots help you see in the dark — but it is backed by science
- Chemicals in vegetable play a crucial role in keeping our eyes healthy, helping maintain good vision generally
- One of the longest standing old wives’ tales is that a dab of honey in tea can serve as a cough medicine
- And for good reason – studies show honey coats throat and soothes mucus membranes, getting rid of tickle
- Fish oils are wonderful for the brain from childhood to senior years – and even have benefits in the womb
We know now that eating bread crusts won’t make your hair curly and cracking your knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis — but not all ‘old wives’ tales’ are nonsense.
The phrase comes from the fact older women would pass down medical advice to younger generations long before textbooks. While many of them turned out to be bogus, we’re now discovering that some are actually true.
Perhaps one of the most surprising old wives’ tales is that eating carrots can help you see in the dark — but it is at least partially backed by science.
Chemicals in the vegetable play a crucial role in keeping our eyes healthy, which helps maintain good vision generally.
And eating cheese just before bed has been shown to cause nightmares. It’s thought that amino acids in cheese disrupt sleep, which in turn can lead to vivid dreams.
One of the longest standing old wives’ tales is that a dab of honey in tea can serve as a cough medicine, and for good reason. Studies show honey coats the throat and soothes mucus membranes, getting rid of a tickly throat.
Meanwhile, it’s easy to forget that the health benefits of fish were once an old wives’ tale. But a mountain of research in recent decades has linked oily fish to a lower risk of everything from heart disease to dementia.
So which old wives’ tales really are true?
Perhaps one of the most surprising old wives’ tales is that eating carrots can help you see in the dark — but it is at least partially backed by science. Chemicals in the vegetable play a crucial role in keeping our eyes healthy, which helps maintain good vision generally. And eating cheese just before bed has been shown to cause nightmares. It’s thought that amino acids in cheese disrupt sleep, which in turn can lead to vivid dreams. One of the longest standing old wives’ tales is that a dab of honey in tea can serve as a cough medicine, and for good reason. Studies show honey coats the throat and soothes mucus membranes, getting rid of a tickly throat
It was long believed that having cheese an hour before you go to bed can cause nightmares.
Chemicals in cheese can cause a person to start dreaming if they are consumed just before bed, and the type of cheese eaten can impact what type of dream they have.
Cheese, like many other dairy goods, contains the amino acid tryptophan. Previous research has found that consuming high amounts of tryptophan can significantly increase time a person spends dreaming.
Having a boy really IS tougher! Brains age quicker in parents who have sons, scientists find
It will come as little surprise to many parents — but having a boy really might be tougher work.
Scientists say having a son seems to age your brain quicker.
A study of more than 13,000 over-50s in the US found that parents with at least one son experienced faster cognitive decline, compared to those without one.
And those who had more than one son lost their cognitive abilities faster than those who had only daughters.
The researchers, from the US and Czechia, did not investigate what was to blame for the effect.
But they suggested it may be down to daughters being more likely to look after their parents in their elderly years and offer emotional support, helping to keep them healthier as they age.
Meanwhile, those who have boys may be less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle.
For example, studies show parents of daughters are less likely to drink alcohol, take drugs and smoke — while mothers of sons are more likely to weigh more.
The team, from Charles University in Prague and Columbia University in New York, gathered data from the ongoing study monitoring more than 30,000 over-50s and their spouses.
Some 13,222 parents, who were followed for around 14 years, were eligible for the current study.
They reported the number of children they had and their gender.
Parents also completed regular cognitive tests which assessed their mental skills, such as memory, concentration, thinking and understanding.
These included remembering a list of 10 words, counting down from 100 in sevens and counting backwards for 10 continuous numbers.
A total of 10,872 participants had male children, with 4,862 having one son, 3,523 having two and 2,487 having three or more.
Among those with no sons, 891 had one daughter, 905 had two daughters and 554 had three or more daughters.
The results, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, show that parents with at least one son had a faster rate of cognitive decline compare to those who had no sons.
The speed of mental deterioration was similar for both fathers and mothers.
The researchers noted the effects were ‘modest compared to the overall decline overtime’.
But Katrin Wolfova and team said they were still visible even after accounting for sociodemographic and health factors that could have skewed the results.
Their analysis also revealed that the downturn in parents’ mental abilities was faster if they had multiple sons, compared to parents who only had daughters.
As the effect was the same among mothers and fathers, an aspect of parenting sons ‘might play a role in cognitive ageing’, the researchers said.
The mechanism behind their finding was not investigated.
But they suggested that the parents of sons may be more likely to be ‘disadvantaged later in life as daughters provide more social support than sons and more often become informal caregivers’.
A child’s biological sex may also ‘influence’ parental behaviours, with mothers of sons weighing more, on average, than those who have daughters for ‘a long time after pregnancy’.
This combined benefit on physical and mental health among parents of daughters ‘may contribute to lower risk of dementia’, the team said.
The researchers noted that they accounted for all children had by the participants, regardless of whether they were biological, adopted or step-children.
If biological mechanisms are behind the brain deterioration among parents to sons, then this may have biased the result, they said.
The body metabolizes tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates a person’s behavior and overall mood.
High levels of serotonin are linked to more satisfaction, overall happiness and a generally more positive outlook on life, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says.
Serotonin has not been directly linked to an increased frequency or vividness of dreams – but anecdotal evidence suggests that people who use drugs that boost serotonin do dream more than peers.
Participants in a 2005 study by the British Cheese Board consumed 20grams of cheese just before bed, and two-thirds reported having a dream they could remember when they woke up.
Oddly, the type of cheese seemed to matter as well. Nigel White, who served as secretary of the board when the research was performed, told NPR that different reactions depended on what cheese they had.
He said that people who ate blue cheese were more likely to have vivid dreams. Red Leicester cheese, produced in Leicestershire in England’s Midlands, caused people to experience nostalgic dreams.
Cheddar cheese, which is most popular in America, lead to eaters having dreams featuring prominent figures and celebrities. Oddly, Cheshire cheese, from a northwestern English province, lead to no dreams at all.
Mr White’s team was not able to specify why certain cheeses caused these specific reactions, but tied the overall findings towards tryptophan.
Honey IS a natural cough medicine
Sweet honey just before bed can reduce a cough, mothers have long believed while caring for an ill child.
Just a few drops of honey in boiling water or tea can relieve a person’s symptoms of cough, according to multiple studies.
A 2002 paper by the University of Illinois found that the sweet substance could reduce mucus secretion and increased the release of cytokines – which are cells discharged by the immune system to fight off threats.
These cytokines signal the body’s immune response and help fight off virus’s, bacteria and other germs that can cause significant harm.
While honey can help fight illness in all people, the affect is especially pronounced among children.
In 2007 researchers at Penn State University found that kids two through five given a 2.5milimeter (mL) dose of honey had their symptoms improve more than those of children who did not use any treatment.
Researchers in Israel in 2012 gave 10grams of eucalyptus, citrus or Labiatae honey to children suffering from a cough and compared their symptoms to those who received a placebo.
The children who received honey reported better sleep quality and improved symptoms when compared to the other groups. Each type of honey was effective.
Mixing honey with milk can provide benefits of its own as well. An Italian research team in 2014 mixed wildflower honey with with milk and used it to treat children with a nonspecific acute cough.
Their symptoms and reaction to the treatment were then compared to a placebo group and to other children treated with popular over-the-counter cough medicine.
Among the 134 children included in the study, 80 per cent who were treated with honey had a decrease in symptoms, compared to 87 per cent in the cough medicine group.
Only half of the children in the placebo saw their symptoms lessen, signaling the effectiveness of the honey.
But carrots can boost your eye health
Eating carrots each day can provide a boost to your sight and even help you see in the dark, some have long believed.
Carrots providing a boost to a person’s eyesight was initially believed to be a myth – until scientists came around and proved it to be true years later.
In World War II, English soldiers were using newly developed radar technology to detect and shoot down German planes.
Not wanting to reveal their secret, the British Air Ministry started to put out false information that carrots would help a person see in the dark, and that the carrot-filled diets of their soldiers was giving them a tactical advantage.
Scientists would later confirm that a diet loaded with a root vegetables can be beneficial to a person’s vision and eye health – though they may still not develop cat-like night-vision.
They are loaded with beta-carotene, the pigment that gives them their distinctive orange coloring
When a person eats foods high in the substance, which also includes spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli, among others – their body converts it into vitamin A.
The vitamin is crucial for keeping a person’s cornea clear – the transparent filter in-front of the eye that keeps out dirt and dust.
It is also a component of rhodopsin, as photopigment in a person’s eye-rods that helps them see in low-light conditions.
Vitamin A deficiency can also lead to eye dryness, cataracts, clouding of the cornea, and macular degeneration, where the center of a person’s vision is blurred – each of which can impair vision or lead to blindness.
Always losing your keys? Try getting a loved one to jangle them next to your head while you SLEEP
There is now hope for people who are always losing their belongings.
It may be unorthodox, but jangling a set of keys next to someone as they sleep could help them remember where they have put their own house or car keys.
Playing the sound of footsteps could help them remember where they left their shoes, and hearing a car engine could help them figure out where they parked when they got home last night.
Experts believe hearing sounds linked to objects helps reactivate the memory of where those objects are, storing that knowledge more efficiently in the brain.
A small study of five people tested the theory by showing people objects like shoes and cars on a screen while playing them related sounds.
When they were played the same sounds as they slept, they remembered the location of the objects far better the next morning.
Their memory of where things were was 36 per cent better on average when they were played a sound prompt in their sleep compared to a random sound.
Brain scans showed activity in the hippocampus and cortex, as people were played the sounds, which suggested their memory was being resurrected and strengthened.
Professor Ken Paller, senior author of the study, from Northwestern University, said: ‘Whereas this method helped people remember locations of things — cars, shoes, and various other objects we’ve used in prior studies, like keys — the evidence is that sleep helps people with remembering all sorts of facts and events.
‘That is because memories are revisited when we sleep, even though we wake up not knowing it happened.’
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at five people with epilepsy, who had electrodes implanted in their brain to investigate their seizures.
This showed the effect on the brain of trying to re-trigger memories with sounds at night.
Generally, people forget things after several hours have passed, which is why it can be so hard to locate an item the next morning after putting it down at night.
Indeed, people asked to remember where objects were on a screen were accurate within 4.4cm after learning their position at night, but accurate only within 5.1cm on average the next morning.
However people replayed sounds linked to the objects, like the sound of shoes, saw a three per cent improvement on average in their memory of where those objects were the next day.
That compared to a 33 per cent reduction in memory, on average, when played random sounds as they slept.
The researchers played 10 to 20 sounds quietly, so as not to wake people up.
They found an increase in brainwaves within the gamma frequency, suggesting these brainwaves play a crucial role in helping sleeping people remember where they have put their belongings.
The research was conducted to understand how important sleep is for consolidating memories and making them stronger and longer lasting.
A long labor can signal it’s a boy
Having a boy means a longer, tougher, delivery day for pregnant mothers, some have long said.
A pregnant woman who is giving birth to a boy will likely have a longer period of labor than if they were having a girl, studies show.
While there is no significant difference between the birth weight of baby boys and girls, boys are often born with bigger heads, which makes delivery more difficult.
In 2017, Persian researchers tracked time between the start of labor and dilation, and then the time it took for women to reach each stage of dilation.
There are generally considered to be three stages of labor. First, early labor, when a woman’s water first breaks and her cervix dilates three to six centimeters (cm).
It is followed by the active phase – the point where where a woman’s contractions begin to occur more often and last longer. It is at this point where a woman is advised to seek medical care at a hospital. The cervix reaches up to 7cm.
The final stage is the transition phase, where the woman will proceed to give birth, and fully dilates from 8cm to 10cm.
The study gathered data from 1,527 women – 797 of which were giving birth to a male. Researchers timed the duration between each stages of pregnancy.
In total, it took 38 per cent longer for women giving birth to boys to go from the active phase until full dilation – when is the point where the pregnancy stage changes to the transition phase.
It also took 21 per cent longer for their cervix to dilate from 4cm to 6cm, 12.5 per cent longer to go from 6cm to 8cm and 17 per cent more time to go from 8cm to 10cm.
Women who gave birth to boys were not more likely to suffer complications or other negative health .
A 2003 study performed by the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin had similar findings, but also noted an increased need for painkillers among women who birthed boys.
Oily fish is a wonder drug for the brain and heart
Fish food can give you a brain booster.
Eating a lot of fish and fish-oil products can do wonders for a person’s brain health and memory, a multitude of studies finds.
Seafood like salmon and tuna are rich with omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have linked these substances with reductions to cognitive decline in older people, better memory and mental heath.
A 2021 study by Boston Medical Center found that two of the fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) improved cognitive function in elderly adults with coronary artery disease.
People who suffer from the condition are already at a severely increased risk of suffering cognitive issues. The study found that those whose blood streams had higher levels of the acids were less likely to suffer decline.
The benefits of the fatty acids begin well before a person’s elderly years – and the benefits can be gained even in the womb.
A Norwegian study from 2003 found that infants born from pregnant women who used fish-oil supplements in the months preceding delivery had stronger early life cognitive development.
At four years of age, University of Oslo researchers found that these children scored higher on mental processing tests than their peers.
University of Connecticut researchers found in 2002 that mothers who used omega 3 fatty acid supplements while expecting had children with more consistent sleeping patterns.
This is because exposure to the acids in the womb lead to the children having a more developed fetal central nervous system.
Experts at the National Library of Medicine also recommend using omega 3 fatty acid supplements to help manage symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A 2014 Oxford University study of 395 children also found that a 600mg supplement of DHA could drop sleep disturbances in young children and increase their average nightly sleep time by an hour each.
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