Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?

old wives tales apple a day
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Dr Kathryn Basford busts old wives' tales:

Feed a cold, starve a fever

While eating is important to provide you with energy to help you fight a cold, it’s actually far more important to drink plenty of fluids. Water, juice, and hot liquids, like soups, along with food (if you feel like eating) will help fight cold infections by keeping the body well-hydrated and nourished.

It’s not uncommon to lose your appetite when you’ve got a fever, but starving yourself is nota good idea, as it can deprive your body of the necessary energy needed to fight a virus. Particularly in the early days of infection, the body needs as much strength as it can get to overcome a fever, so if you feel up to eating, it is advisable.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Apples have plenty of health benefits - they are rich in fibre and can act as prebiotics, helping to feed the good bacteria in your stomach. There’s also some evidence that an apple a day can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer. But sadly it’s unlikely that apples alone will be able to protect you from all medical conditions.

It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet, getting a good amount of other food groups like protein and carbohydrates to be healthy.

Carrots help you see in the dark

It may sound surprising, but eating carrots can actually help improve your sight. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which contributes to the pigment in your eyes that helps them see in low-light conditions. A deficiency in vitamin A can make seeing in the dark tricky for some people, so to that extent, carrots can help you see in the dark.

However, the idea that eating carrots can help you see in complete darkness is unfortunately a myth. Making sure that you have a balanced diet, including vitamin A rich foods, like carrots, can help you to maintain normal healthy vision.

Chocolate gives you spots

Chocolate’s impact on skin is heavily debated. While there is some evidence that chocolate can cause breakouts in people with acne-prone skin, there may be other reasons behind spots, such as the high sugar or lactose content.

It’s unlikely that those with clear skin will experience spots as a result of indulging in chocolate, but if you have existing issues it might be a good idea to keep an eye on factors that might be causing flare-ups. For those with acne, there are also several forms of treatment available, which can help reduce spots.

Chicken soup cures colds

It sounds like a movie cliche, but there is evidence that a warming bowl of chicken soup can help when you have a cold.

Some studies have shown that chicken soup could ease the symptoms of the cold because it contains anti-inflammatory agents such as garlic which can help the immune system fight germs, while the heat of a bowl of soup can act as a decongestant for a blocked nose or cough.

Eating before booze soaks up alcohol

Before a big night out you may have been told to “line your stomach”, to limit alcohol’s effect and reduce the chances of a hangover. And there’s some truth to it. Eating before drinking alcohol can slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, to avoid getting drunk.

Food can help keep your blood alcohol concentration low, and may reduce the effects of a dreaded hangover. But there are certain foods that are more effective than others. To ward off the effects of excessive drinking go for slow-release foods like bananas and yoghurts, or things with a high-protein content like hummus, meat or nuts.


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