Weird Myths Your Grandma Told You

Old wives tales are usually just that – tales.

But, believe it or not, some of these weird myths have turned out to be scientifically true. I guess it’s time to start believing your Grandma…

1. Using peanut butter to get gum out of hair

It’s the age old problem – gum stuck in your hair. And from sticking your head in the freezer and attempting to scrape it off to cutting your hair off, it’s a seriously sticky situation. It just won’t budge, and then you remember your Grandma’s determination when she told you to try peanut butter. Peanut butter?

It may sound ridiculous – peanut butter is gooey and pretty sticky itself – but, believe it or not, peanut butter actually helps. And why? It’s the oil…

Gum won’t come out in the shower because it is a hydrophobic substance, so, you guessed it, it won’t dissolve in water. BUT it does dissolve in oil, and peanut butter is full of oil. You can use olive oil too, but people say peanut butter is easier to work with than trying to rub liquid oil all over your hair. So get stocked up for your next gum disaster of 2015.

2. Old people can predict the weather

On an almost daily basis, you hear an old person say, “it’s going to rain today, I can feel it” with absolute certainty. And when watching the weather report you find adamantly them disagreeing with the predictions.

Since we had words for the weather old people have been predicting it. Most of us dismiss these mystical claims of meteorology – how can they possibly know?

Well, science has proved how: it’s because of arthritis. When a storm starts to form, there is a change in air pressure. And elderly people can sense it drop when it starts messing with the fluid in their joints, it literally makes their limbs swell up. It causes aches and pains that elderly people then associate with a change in the weather, as usually low air pressure means rain, and don’t you know it!

3. Sleeping on your problems

It could be mortgage problems or something smaller like which nail polish to wear to your best friend’s wedding, and most of your elderly relatives will tell you to simply “sleep on it”. Don’t discuss it or weigh up the pros and cons, just sleep on it. As far as the modern person can see sleeping is just a waste of time when you could be awake to resolve these important issues.

But, it turns out that both science and Grandma win again. After a scientific study at Lancaster University, scientists found that those who slept on their problems performed much better than those who didn’t. But why?

Sleep enables you to “access information that is remote to the initial problem” or see the bigger picture. When you are awake you focus on the minutiae too often and forget to see your problems with perspective. Resting your brain cells allows you to rethink and reassess situations much better than staying awake and mulling over your problems. So sleep on it, it’s science!

4. Eating bananas when you are pregnant means you will have a boy

When you are pregnant, you hear so many old wives tales, like men and women wholeheartedly declaring that it’s a boy just by the shape of your bump or the glow in your cheeks. But is it really true that if you eat bananas you will have a baby boy?

The origins of this myth come from the idea that the more phallic the food the more chance of a baby boy. But how?

Scientists at Oxford University and Exeter University got together to see if this was the case and found it to be true! Out of 740 pregnant women, they discovered that “women who consume more calories around the time of conception, and, in particular, eat more bananas, are more likely to have sons.” So it’s true then, more bananas, more boys!

Apparently the reasoning is to do with the potassium levels in bananas, increasing the male birth rate to 55% – so in actuality it only increases your chances a little bit more, phew!

5. Having heartburn while you are pregnant means you will have a hairy baby

What?! You may or may not have heard this crazy myth. Where does this come from and can it really be true?

Another group of scientists this time at John Hopkins University looked into the matter in great detail and instead of proving it false, as was their intention, they actually proved it to be true. Impartial witnesses studied babies from mothers with and without heartburn during their pregnancies and found the results to be decisively hairy!

The scientists think it has something to do with high levels of oestrogen, which in turn causes heartburn by relaxing the oesophagus and hairier babies!

By Charlotte H.