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What's Up Magazine

The Science Behind the Clichés

Nov 09, 2012 06:36PM ● By Anonymous


Chicken Soup for the Soul.
More than a series of heartwarming non-fiction books, chicken soup really can soothe that cold you’ve been fighting. Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, which abate sore throats, as well as dry up mucous by inhibiting white blood cells known as Neutrophils.

It didn’t seem to make a difference whether the soup was store-bought or homemade. Additionally, doctors say the extra dose of liquid can help you get better, while the salt content helps replenish the electrolytes you might have lost.

Feed a cold, starve a fever.
Or is it feed a fever, starve a cold? No, the first version is correct, despite the public’s general confusion about the order of the idiom. This folkloric wisdom dates back to the 1500s, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when we tell you it’s likely to be hogwash. The only potential scientific backup to this cliché is a very small 2002 study published in Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology, which found that eating increased an immune response against a cold. The research only involved six patients, though, suggesting that the validity of the cliché still hasn’t been proven.

Mental Health

Never go to bed angry.
It seems pretty straight-forward—if you head to bed after a squabble with your significant other, resentment could build. However, plenty of disenchanted lovers claim that sleeping on it lets them re-evaluate their dog in the fight. Two separate studies, published in The Journal of Neuroscience and Psychological Science, found reason to stay awake and work it out. Going to sleep after being exposed to negative emotions preserves or stores the memories. If you have a hard time going to sleep after fighting, it just might be your body’s way of avoiding storing that memory or emotion.

He died from a broken heart.
The aptly named “Broken Heart Syndrome” is more than stuff of romance movies and novels. A fi ve-year study involving more than 2,000 people, published in the January 2012 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that the day after a loved one dies, the risk of a heart attack is 21 times as great. This held true even for those without risk markers or a history of heart disease.

Similar research in the The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that severe emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, can cause your body to release large amounts of stress hormones into your body, with the potential to damage the heart muscle. It’s not actually a heart attack, but mimics the symptoms so closely that, while treatable, it is quite dangerous.

Reproductive Health

You’ve got baby fever.
This could be positioned right next to any sort of phrase including the words “biological clock.” It assumes that any woman of child-bearing age who makes eyes at a toddler under age three must be going gaga for onesies. Well, in some ways, it’s true, and it’s not limited to just women. A 10-year study found that people—women or men—who have positive exposure to babies (such as cuddling them versus seeing them cry) are more likely to experience baby fever. It varies in intensity over time, but it turns out that after having children, women are less likely to have baby fever, while men often have more. Now the question is: Who’s doing the work when it comes to taking care of that baby?

Eating for two.
When pregnant, stick to eating for one unless you want to cause harm to your growing baby. It’s tempting to indulge in your favorite treats with the justification that you’re just helping your child develop, but recent research published in Obesity Reviews found that babies born to obese and overweight mothers were more likely to suffer from everything from attention deficit disorder to a lower IQ. A pregnant woman only needs about 300 extra calories a day, so stick to a healthy diet, gaining anywhere from 15-40 pounds based on your pre-pregnancy weight.

Nutrition & Fitness

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
An apple a day might not prevent you from picking up the occasional cold or bout of strep throat, but it does do quite a bit to keep you healthy and illness-free. Ursolic acid, a compound found in apples, could be labeled a wonder-compound— it’s reported to do everything from help build muscle mass, reduce body fat, and reduce blood sugar levels. That last one means it could help with diabetes, as well. When you add this to the amount of flavanoids and levels of fiber in an apple, you’ve got yourself a winning snack.

A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.
The bane of dieters everywhere, this catchy phrase has solid footing, according to a team of researchers in Sweden. They divided study participants into two groups: One that gorged on food and stopped exercising for four weeks and another that ate and exercised normally. On average, the first group gained 14 pounds, though they mostly all lost the weight within six months. However, when researchers checked back a year later, the binge-eating group had an increased body fat mass compared to the others. Two and a half years later, the difference between the two groups was even larger, showing that it’s harder to lose and keep off weight, even if the “moment” of gluttony was relatively short.