“Wear your coat so you don’t catch a cold.” – Mom
Let’s do some Mother’s Day mythbusting on a topic near and dear to the hearts of mothers: health. Mom’s prescriptions for prevention, like wearing a coat so you don’t catch cold, may make you roll your eyes, but there’s medically sound truth behind some of that advice. So don’t make that face, or it’ll get stuck like that! (Okay, not really – that one’s a myth.)
Here are five great examples of why you should listen to your mother:
1. Don’t go out without your jacket or you’ll catch a cold.
The myth that cold exposure causes the common cold was debunked in the 70s. But your mom was onto something anyway. It turns out that some infectious organisms, like the flu virus, spread more easily in cold, dry air. There is also research that suggests cold can actually suppress your immune system, and cold researchers in Great Britain hypothesize that cold air in the nasal passages can increase the risk of infection by reducing your immune response there. Maybe Mom should insist you wear a scarf!
2. Drink ginger ale for an upset stomach.
Ginger has been used to treat nausea for more than 2,000 years, and it’s been around so long because it’s effective. Doctors may recommend ginger to help treat mild stomach upset, nausea or vomiting due to morning sickness, motion sickness, chemotherapy, or even to treat osteoarthritis inflammation. For an upset stomach, most forms of ginger seem to work (including ginger ale, as long as it has real ginger in it). Carbonation can irritate the stomach lining so it’s best to let ginger ale go flat before drinking. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t give ginger to children under the age of two.
3. Chicken soup will help you get over a cold.
Warm, soothing chicken soup is a time-honored remedy – but why chicken, and why soup? Chicken is a cold-fighting champion thanks to the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine helps to thin mucus, and mucus is a major cause of discomfort in respiratory infections. And soup? Well, warm liquid soothes an irritated throat, and a nice steamy broth can help temporarily alleviate congestion. Just take a few deep breaths of steam from your piping hot soup to help open up those nasal passages. Staying hydrated is important for recuperation, and a big bowl of brothy chicken soup fits the bill. Chicken soup may not cure the common cold, but it just might provide some temporary relief while your immune system works its magic.
4. Drink tea with honey for a sore throat.
Not only is honey-sweetened tea or hot water with lemon a tasty way to soothe a sore throat, it may help suppress coughs as effectively as some medicines. Two teaspoons of honey proved to be as effective as cough suppressant dextromethorphan in a study of children aged 2 and older with upper respiratory infections. (Very important note: don’t give honey to any children younger than one year due to risk of infant botulism.) Honey is also well-known for its antibacterial properties, though research on its therapeutic applications is still being conducted.
5. Eat your carrots to improve your eyesight.
Well, strictly speaking, you should eat your carrots to improve your eye health. Carrots are high in beta carotene, which the body processes into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, but it can’t actually improve your eyesight. If your vision is 20/20, no amount of crunching on carrots will change that. But preventing eye diseases and disorders certainly helps your vision in other ways, so don’t be shy about adding beta carotene to your menu. You don’t have to limit yourself to just carrots: spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and apricots are just some of the fruits and veggies that are full of beta carotene.
See? You should listen to your mother.
Keeping yourself healthy means that’s one less thing Mom has to worry about, and you don’t want to worry her sick. Remember, Mom’s health is important, too. Help make sure Mom is keeping up with her regular exams and screenings. After all, she gave you life. Give her the gift of health.