Last updated: August 23. 2013 12:48AM - 104 Views

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LIMA — Wear a coat or you’ll catch cold. Don’t swim after eating. Stand on your head to cure the hiccups.Is this sage advice or just something silly our mothers used to say to us as kids — old wives’ tales with little or no merit? Actually, with all due respect to the mothers of the world, the above advice is indeed bunk. Sorry, Mom. Author Brian Udermann debunks these myths and more in “25 Ways to Cure the Hiccups: Uncovering the Truth Behind 101 Common Myths and Misconceptions.” Udermann is a professor in the department of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, and after teaching the topic in class and as a speaker, he collected his myth material into a book. Many of the myths he covers are health-related and ones most of us have heard in one form or another throughout our lives.But before we go on, let’s cut Mom some slack. Many people believe a plethora of myths and are steadfast in that belief. At one time in medical history — the past few hundred years or so — some of these myths might have been actual advice from doctors. Throughout time, they’ve been proven wrong, Udermann said. The old advice has just stayed with us and sometimes people want to hold onto the myth even after being taught the truth.Take, for example, the coat as protection against a cold. Not true. Neither a lack of a coat nor having wet hair while outside will cause you to catch cold. To catch a cold, you must catch a virus that causes the cold, Udermann said. With or without the coat, it depends on the virus. And as for swimming after a meal, it’s also not true. Your body might supply more blood to your stomach instead of your muscles after eating, but you’re in no real danger if you decide to take a dip after lunch, he says. How does Udermann bust these myths? How does he know more than Mom?Research, and lots of it. Udermann pored over scientific journals and academic articles to found the truth behind each myth. He said people interested in myths should find reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control or your family doctor. If you just go to the Internet and Google a topic, you might get far more than you bargained for in terms of misleading information.But Udermann doesn’t debunk all of the myths in his book. Some he found to be true, like the claim that drinking beer in moderation is good for your health. Yes, it is, but the key word is moderation. Studies show drinking alcohol in moderation results in a 20 to 30 percent decrease in risk for cardiovascular disease, he said.Some of Udermann’s other favorite myths include:• Muscle turns to fat if you stop exercising. False. Muscle and fat are two separate tissues in the body. One won’t spontaneously convert into the other.• It‘s healthier to be 25 pounds overweight and physically active then at your optimal weight and sedentary. True. Research studies show that heavier individuals who were active and fit had mortality rates at least as low than inactive people at normal weights.• Americans have less free time today than in 1965. False. Between all the time we spend watching TV and the time we save by using a snow blower instead of a shovel, Americans actually have more time on their hands than decades ago.• Shaving makes hair grow back thicker. False. Shaving doesn’t change the diameter or thickness of hair. Udermann said one reason why it might appear true is that stubble contrasted against the skin might appear darker.• Feeding kids sugar makes them hyper. False. But what about those kiddie birthday parties where the tykes eat cake and bounce off the walls? Any parent of a 4-year old can testify to that one, can’t they? Udermann said scientific studies have been conducted that prove this one wrong. There’s no correlation between sugar consumption and hyperactivity. Apparently, kids are just excited to be at a party … before the cake, during the cake and after the cake.As far as hiccups go and the numerous suggestions on how to cure them, Udermann’s research turned up nothing. Hold you breath, stand on your head, drink vinegar — there are plenty of so-called cures out there, but there is surprising little research on the topic, Udermann said.“There are a thousand ways … many people have many different ways to cure them,” he said.So even though it might be a little disheartening to find out that Mom wasn’t always right when it came to some of those myths, not everything she said was wrong. Take the one about wearing clean underwear in case you’re in an accident. Now despite whatever research says, that one just might be good advice no matter what.


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