As kids, we were truly gullible. Many of us were freaked out at some point by a mean older sibling telling us of "Bloody Mary" in the bathroom mirror or of how someone once died drinking soda with Pop Rocks. But nothing stuck with us more than the words of our mothers -- because guys, why would our mothers lie to us? Whether they truly believed the tall tales they told us, which they were probably told as kids themselves, or if they were just trying to scare us into good behavior, many old wives' tales have stuck with us all the way to adulthood. Now we always make sure to wear a hat in the winter, because you were told body heat is lost mostly through the head, or avoid razors and opt for wax, because supposedly shaving makes the hair grow back thicker.
1. Eat a watermelon seed and you'll soon find the fruit growing in your stomach.
Relax. Watermelons need oxygen to grow, which you won't find in your stomach. Plus, experts say it takes about three to five days for them to germinate, by which time they'd already be out of your system. Still, the thought of growing an enormous melon in our tummies freaks us out enough to opt for the seedless variety. Thanks for ruining a perfectly delicious fruit.
2. Itchy palms mean you'll soon come across money.
If this were true, well, we'd all run out and find ourselves some poison ivy. Bubble burst.
3. Swallow gum and it will stay in your system for years.
Whether you swallowed a wad of Bubblicious to hide it from your teacher or accidentally had it slide down your throat, anyone who has ever chewed a piece of bubblegum has inevitably swallowed a piece at some point. In some variation or another, we'd heard that it will either stay in your system for a certain number of years ... or worse... eternity. False, say gastroenterologists. The Scientific American did some in-depth research on the topic and found that the tale is completely untrue. While the gum base is mostly undigestible by the body, doctors say gum would hardly stay in your system for a week or more.
4. You have to wait at least an hour to swim, if you've just eaten.
While it's true your body pumps extra blood to your stomach after you eat to help it digest your food, it's not so much that your limbs wouldn't be able to function in the water. You might, however, get a cramp in your stomach, doctors say.
5. Wet hair in the cold will make you sick.
While testing this theory is probably a bad idea, most experts agree that this just isn't true. Colds are caused by viruses -- not wet hair. But you swear there was that one time you didn't blow-dry all the way before running out the door and you got sick, right? Doctors say that viruses can be present without having visible symptoms, but being cold can weaken your body's virus-fighting defenses. Whatever the case, we're not risking it.
6. Carrots will improve your eyesight.
Yes, Bugs Bunny's favorite food is chock full of nutrients that are good for your overall eye health, like beta carotene. But bingeing on the orange stuff or guzzling carrot juice likely won't improve your vision, especially since many eye problems are genetic or are related to other diseases like diabetes. That's not to say that carrots aren't good for your eyes... but your parents' claims that carrots would magically give you 20/20 vision so you could ditch the coke bottle glasses? Probably just a smart way to get you to eat your veggies.