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15 Popular Old Wives Tales That Are Completely Untrue

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Jan. 28 2020, Published 2:42 p.m. ET

There are old wives tales, myths about everyday life, that we've repeated throughout our whole lives. These are adages our parents  repeated from what their parents said that actually affect the way we live our lives. But some of those old myths just aren't true! And it's time to put the kibosh on perpetuating ideas that hold no weight when it comes to like, actual science and stuff. Here are the everyday myths you might still think are true that definitely are not. 

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Feed a cold; starve a fever.

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Source: iStock Photo

Until, well, today, I thought it was totally true that you should starve a fever and feed a cold. But that's not the case! Not eating when you're sick just makes you weaker when you're already lacking strength. If you can muster it, you should eat any time you're sick. Bland foods like toast, crackers, or chicken soup are best.

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A penny dropped from the top fo the Empire State Building can kill you.

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Source: iStock Photo

I've always been concerned that a penny dropped from the height of the Empire State Building can drill through your head and hill you instantly. Fortunately, that's not true. They're flat, which means they tumble as they fall, so they can't gain enough speed on the way down to do any significant damage. Unfortunately, this says to me that something that's not flat, like a round pebble or something does have the potential to be very dangerous when dropped from that height.

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Drinking coffee will stunt your growth.

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Source: iStock Photo

Growing up, I always heard that if kids drank coffee when they were too young, it would stunt their growth. But there's no truth to that. That being said, it's probably not the best idea to give small children that much caffeine, which can cause jitteriness, nervousness, stomach problems, and trouble sleeping.

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Being cold causes colds.

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Source: iStock Photo

How many times did your mom yell, "Put on a coat! You don't want to get sick!" when you were little? There's a pervasive idea that being too cold causes colds, and it's just not true. The reason people get sicker in the winter is likely due to the fact that we spend more time indoors in close quarters with other people, so germs are spread more easily.

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Eating carrots improves your eyesight.

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Source: iStock Photo

I have terrible eyesight, and I've definitely eaten carrots and then looked out in the distance to see if things were any clearer. But that was not a smart thing to do because eating carrots cannot improve your eyesight. They do contain a good amount of Vitamin A, which is good for maintaining eye health, but eating carrots isn't going to bring back any eyesight you've already lost. Sorry.

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If you swallow a piece of chewing gum, it stays in your stomach for 7 years.

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Source: iStock Photo

No, you will not be stuck with a piece of gum in your guts for seven years if you accidentally swallow it. Yes, there are some parts of gum that are impossible to digest, but it will only take a week or so for you to pass those parts of it. So it's not a big idea if you accidentally let swallow a piece every now and then. Still, it's not the best idea to repeatedly swallow gum, as it can, over time, lead to a bowel obstruction

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Humans only use 10 percent of our brains.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

I don't know where we got the idea that humans only use 10 percent of our brains, but it's totally untrue, and now I have to use some of my brain to explain that. It's just simply completely false. We use our entire brains. All the time. Even while we're sleeping. So stop with the 10 percent nonsense.

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Eating chocolate causes acne.

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Source: iStock Photo

Oh thank goodness. I was worried that eating chocolate causes breakouts, but it doesn't! That being said, if your preferred chocolate is super high in fat and sugar, this can have an effect on your skin. But chocolate itself? Definitely not the culprit. So snack away, my fellow chocolate-loving friends!

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If a pregnant person is carrying high, it's a girl. Low, it's a boy.

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Source: iStock Photo

Basically everything about pregnancy that vaguely sounds like a witch in the woods whispered it to your great-great-grandmother 100 years ago is false. You cannot tell the gender of the baby based on how the person is carrying it. According to Dr. Adina Holan Keller, who spoke with Reader's Digest, "If a woman looks like she is carrying high or low, it is based on the size and position of the baby and the shape of her pelvis." Not the baby's genitals.

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If you cross your eyes, they'll get stuck that way.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

Your eyes will not get stuck in a cross-eyed position if you do it too much. It just won't happen. Kids think it's fun or funny to do, but they can't maintain it for too long, and it's not dangerous, says Dr. Stephen Kronwith. "Just ignore it, and they'll stop doing it," he told Reader's Digest

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The "five-second rule" is valid for eating food off the ground.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

What about the five-second rule? We've all dropped food on the floor and then contemplated if it was still safe to eat after picking it up again. Unfortunately, your speed in retrieving the dropped food has nothing to do with its safety. The five-second rule does not exist. Any food that's fallen to the ground for any amount of time can pick up bacteria that is known to cause food poisoning. So...the risk is there. What you do with this information is entirely up to you.

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The "hair of the dog" is an effective hangover cure.

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Source: iStock Photo

For the love of all that is holy, do not drink more alcohol if you are already hungover. That idea that the "hair of the dog" will cure you is complete nonsense. The only thing you should be drinking to climb your way out of a hangover is water. Or maybe some Gatorade. Or Pedialyte. 

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Shaving hair makes it grow back thicker.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

I totally believed this myth when I was younger, and I just realized how silly that is. If hair truly grew back thicker when you shaved it, all people who shave their legs regularly would have monstrously bushy leg hair. The truth is, you only have so many hair follicles. Hair can feel thicker when it grows back just because it starts out as stubble and your hairs haven't started tapering yet as they grow longer. But it's not actually thicker; don't worry.

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Wait an hour after eating to go swimming.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

One of the most pervasive myths is that you should wait for at least an hour after you eat before you go swimming. Consequences range from stomach aches to drowning. The worst thing that can happen to you if you swim right after eating is that you could develop a tiny cramp. That's it. 

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Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

debunked myths
Source: iStock Photo

Cracking or popping your joints doesn't cause arthritis. Harvard says so. However, some people have injured themselves while popping their knuckles, and if you do it repeatedly for years, it can lead to reduced grip strength. So arthritis may not be on the table, but there are other risks.

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