14 Old Wives’ Tales That Are Completely True

December 19, 2022 People's Tonight 913 views

Carly Carano

Everyone knows at least one old wives’ tale (or 75). These superstitions are both doubted and depended on, but because there is a decent amount of skepticism surrounding old wives’ tales as a whole, it’s worth a closer look into which are true, right? Right. As it turns out, there are a surprising number of true old wives’ tales.

For instance, look at Galileo! His ideas about space were doubted for 300 years before they were adopted as facts. Now, throwing a noodle against the wall to determine its readiness isn’t as insightful as the layout of our solar system, but somebody’s great-great-great grandma deserves some credit for the perfect pasta. And while eating bread crusts won’t give you curly hair and putting salt in water won’t make it boil any faster, not everything you were told as a child was false. Here are a few old wives’ tales you can count on. (Spoiler alert to the gossips: itchy ears didn’t make the list).


• Eating Right Before Bed Causes Vivid Dreams

Eating1Photo: Mary Smith / Flickr

You slam that last piece of pizza as the credits to Stranger Things roll. You brush your teeth, slip in your retainer and begin to doze off. Next thing you know you’re running down the corridors of Hogwarts, late to the most important meeting of the year, wearing no pants.

Is this nightmare a result of the Upside Down, or something a little harder to digest? According to Livestrong, eating right before bed is directly correlated to an increase in brain activity. Your metabolism is working overtime and your brain is too, causing a notable spike in the vividness of dreams. One study by Nature Education focused solely on the effects cheese had on participants’ dreams. Because this type of dairy contains an amino acid associated with peaceful brain activity, the scientists broke down the different types of cheeses and their respective effects on those being studied. Take a feta look at the results here.

• • Red Skies at Night, Sailor’s Delight

SkiesPhoto: Nick Kocharhook / Flickr

This tale might be the oldest in the books. It is referenced in the Bible, after all. This adage has been used for centuries to alert sailors of incoming weather conditions, though it’s only practical in areas where weather systems travel from west to east. Here’s how it works: when dust particles get captured in the atmosphere by high pressure, the blue light dissipates, leaving the red light to paint the sky. If those particles cause a red sky in the morning, the sailors know that a low-pressure system, or storm, is likely to follow. A red sky at night indicates that the sinking air and potentially dangerous weather has passed.

• • Heartburn While You Carry Means Your Baby’s Hairy

BabyPhoto: karenwarfel / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

There are approximately one trillion pregnancy adages to go around, but this one happens to be true. In 2007, researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study in an attempt to cut the tall tale down, but they were met instead with an overwhelming amount of evidence proving its validity. Eighty-two percent of the women with severe heartburn during pregnancy gave birth to especially hairy babes. It turns out the hormones that are known to cause heartburn in pregnant women are the same ones thought to affect fetal hair growth.

• • A Wooden Spoon on a Pot of Water Prevents It from Boiling Over

SpoonPhoto: Scott Ackerman / Flickr

Like cooks in the kitchen, some bubbles are more stable than others. According to a study done at the University of California, Berkeley, different materials create bubbles with membranes of varying thickness. This thickness determines the stability level of the bubble. The bubbles in a pot of boiling water are quite unstable, so when they meet the wooden spoon, which is a hydrophobic (or water resistant) material, the bubbles pop, and the water level falls back into the pot. The second reason it works is because of the temperature of the spoon. When the bubbles, which are filled with steam, come into contact with something below 212° F, they re-condense into water and weigh the rising bubbles down.

• • Hot Baths Cause Infertility in Men

BathPhoto: Kevin O’Mara / Flickr

Yup. Consider this a PSA. Before a study was conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, this claim was widely known but highly criticized. Now the results are in, and it’s true: wet, hot temps can really kill the little guys’ grooves. It does appear to be reversible, however. About 50 percent of the impotent men in the study were later able to conceive. The study recommends men avoid hot baths mainly when they’re trying to conceive and found that several other factors (such as tobacco use) played a role.

• • Peanut Butter Removes Gum from Hair

PeanutPhoto: Asim Bharwani / Flickr

Gum stuck in someone’s hair is like a bad breakup. It leaves the person feeling sad and sticky, as though so much of this could have been avoided, and generally ends with one party taking a pair of scissors to a valuable possession. But never fear, there’s a way outta this one. Gum is a hydrophobic substance, meaning it cannot be broken down with water. One of the only ways to defeat a hydrophobic substance is combining it with another one – peanut butter! Peanut butter is also hydrophobic which, when combined with the gum, breaks down its base, releasing its victim from a horribly sticky fate. No news yet on the break-up cure. Sorry, guys.

• • Eat Your Veggies Now and Your Baby Will Like Them Later

VeggiesPhoto: Brad Greenlee / Flickr

As far as nature vs. nurture goes, studies show that our eating habits err on the side of learned. They also show that we start priming those preferences in the womb. Lettuce take a closer look: the amniotic fluid is a nutrient rich—and flavorful—introduction into the sensory world, so the chemical makeup is likely to influence a baby’s inclinations in the future based on familiarity alone. This means that a fetus exposed to fruits and veggies is less likely to turnip his or her nose at them in the future.

• • Walnuts Remove Furniture Scratches

WalnuutsPhoto: Pauline Mak / Flickr

Light scratches on wood floors, furniture, and siding are removable with a walnut! Simply take the nut and rub it over the scratched surface until the imperfections magically disappear. There are countless videos on YouTube that demonstrate this very miracle. The oils, texture, and color of the walnut allow it to fill in the scratch, leaving the piece good as new. Go nuts!

• • Carrots Help Improve Your Eyesight

CarrotsPhoto: Dave Gunn / Flickr

Carrots contain vitamin A, which plays a significant role in the eye’s ability to register light and translate it into something the brain understands. This process is what allows us to see, even in dim lighting. While it is a common misconception that reading in low light will result in blindness, a vitamin A deficiency will directly affect our eyesight. When this vitamin is absent, the cornea can physically retreat until nothing is left. This deficiency is what causes over 250,000 blindness diagnoses in children annually. So, next time mom pushes you to finish those last few bites of steamed carrots, try to see where she’s coming from.

• • Drinking from the Hot Tap Makes You Sick

DrinkingPhoto: Nic McPhee / Flickr

Originally this claim held true because most pipes were made with lead. Higher temperatures caused the contaminants to filter into the water, resulting in serious health risks. Today, even the fanciest of pipes aren’t excused from this rule. There is a compound called ETBE, which is occasionally added to petrols, and it has been found in even the newest pipes. These chemicals are found in PEX pipes (plastic tubing which is used in place of copper) at a startlingly higher rate in the hot tap than in the cold.

• Ice Removes Carpet Dents

IcePhoto: Colin Harris / Flickr

Carpet dents are a bummer, but thanks to the old wives, the Divots of Doom are conquerable. People all over the internet are recounting their miraculous carpet resuscitations with this simple trick: ice. Place ice cubes about two inches apart over the divot (the amount of ice needed simply depends on the size of the dent), and then wait. Once the ice melts, a quick vacuum or pat down with a rag will finish the job! The fibers rise again, renewing the carpets. If the carpet isn’t fully re-puffed after this, take a fork to the follicles and give them a little extra help by pulling up on them gently.

• • An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

ApplePhoto: mploscar / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

An overwhelming amount of medical evidence has been released over the last decade confirming this old wives’ tale. Apples are full of antioxidants, responsible for boosting our defense systems against free radicals, linking apple consumption and cancer prevention. Lung cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the most notable conditions that apples are believed to ward off. In one study involving 40,000 women, approximately 8,800 who consumed an apple a day saw a decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.

• • Baby Boys Mean Longer Labor

LaborPhoto: PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

There are more old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy than any other topic. Most of them fall on the falser-than-fiction end of the scale. This is an old wives’ tale that came true, however. Studies show that a large percentage of longer, more difficult labors were the deliveries of baby boys. This, they discovered, is because the boys tended to weigh more. They also had larger heads in general.

Basically, they’re just little pains from the start – and grandma would know.

• • Raw Garlic Helps Fight Colds

GarlicPhoto: AJ Cann / Flickr

Garlic contains antiviral and immune-strengthening properties along with a slew of other vitamins and nutrients that help ward off illnesses. In comparison to several other supplements, garlic dominates. One study showed that individuals who consumed raw garlic daily were less likely to get a cold than those who did not, and when they did, the length of their illness was generally shorter. The effects of garlic on the immune system are even greater than that of top-brand flu medications. Tamiflu, an expensive, one-time treatment, has the exact same effect on the flu as consuming garlic regularly – for about $100 less.