5 Old Wives’ Tales and Food Myths for Summer – 80 Twenty Nutrition

5 Old Wives’ Tales and Food Myths for Summer

Summer is finally here – and with it comes a whole slew of old wives’ tales and myths about nutrition and food. Should you really wait 30 minutes after eating before you go swimming? Does eating bananas attract mosquitoes? Test your knowledge with our nutrition trivia – perfect for quizzing company around the campfire or on the patio!

True or False:

  1. Eating tomatoes helps prevent a sunburn.
Do Tomatoes Prevent Sunburn? Old Wives Tales and Food Myths for Summer - Christy Brissette media dietitian, 80 Twenty Nutrition
Photo credit: Vladimir Morozov via Flickr

Somewhat True.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage from pollution, aging and more.

A study of 20 women found that eating 3 tablespoons of tomato paste a day for 3 months helped protect against sun damage compared to not eating tomato paste. Why did they eat tomato paste and not fresh tomatoes? Cooking and processing tomatoes to make tomato sauce or paste increases the amount of lycopene by up to 400%!

So should you toss out that sunscreen and bring on the pizza? Not exactly. While these results are exciting, tomatoes are no replacement for protecting yourself from the sun by using sunscreen, sitting in the shade, covering up with a hat, and wearing the right clothing and sunglasses. Think of tomatoes as a bonus for sun protection, not one of your main strategies. They won’t prevent sunburn on their own.

 

  1. You should wait 30 minutes after eating before you go for a swim.
Should you wait half an hour after eating before swimming? Old Wives Tales and Food Myths for Summer - Christy Brissette media dietitian, 80 Twenty Nutrition
Photo credit: Ryan Tir via Flickr

False.

Your mother probably made you wait after eating before jumping in the water, warning you that you might sink. It turns out, she was wrong!

The thought behind this was that after a meal, all of your blood and oxygen will go to your stomach to digest your food, leaving your arms and legs unable to do the breast stroke or doggie paddle. The fact is, it’s not an all or nothing thing. You should have enough oxygen to go around to your stomach, your limbs and the rest of your body. At the worst, you might get a cramp if you eat too much before a swim.

If you’re doing competitive swimming, that’s a different story. Eating a heavy meal before training or a race will slow you down. Doing any kind of exercise after a huge meal is uncomfortable, so eat a lighter snack before a swim and leave the larger meals for afterwards.

Keep in mind that drinking alcohol before swimming should be avoided. Studies looking at drowning deaths have found that in adults, 41% involved alcohol, and 25% of teenagers who drowned were intoxicated.

 

  1. Eating bananas makes you attract more mosquitoes.
Does eating bananas make you attract more mosquitoes? Old Wives Tales and Food Myths for Summer - Christy Brissette media dietitian, 80 Twenty Nutrition
Photo credit: Mauro Cateb via Flickr

False.

There is no evidence to show that bananas make you more likely to be mosquito bait. So why do some people seem to be mosquito magnets and others are left alone? These blood-thirsty pests are attracted to warmth and dark colours. They also like carbon dioxide, so they’re more likely to attack when you’re exercising. Larger people and pregnant women have higher metabolic rates and produce more carbon dioxide, so they’re prime targets. Apparently mosquitoes are also attracted to you after you drink a beer, maybe because you produce more heat afterwards or breathe harder.

So what can you do to keep mosquitoes away? Wear light-coloured clothing and cover up to keep the bites to a minimum. There’s some evidence that the smell of garlic might repel mosquitoes, but also people! Avoiding sweet-smelling perfumes and lotions can help keep bugs away.

 

  1. Oats help soothe bug bites.
Old Wives Tales and Food Myths for Summer - Christy Brissette media dietitian, 80 Twenty Nutrition
Photo credit: Jacqueline via Flickr

True.

Oats contain phenols and other antioxidants that help soothe irritation, lower inflammation and provide relief from itching for a variety of skin conditions. For a spot treatment, mix oatmeal with equal parts water to create a paste. Apply the paste to your bites and leave on for about 10 minutes before rinsing.

If you’ve been bitten over larger areas, soothe your skin with an oatmeal bath. Draw a warm bath and add 1 cup of rolled oats. Soak in the tub for at least 15 minutes, gently applying the oats to the itchy areas.

 

  1. If you swallow watermelon seeds, a watermelon will grow in your stomach.
If you swallow watermelon seeds, will a watermelon grow in your stomach? Old Wives Tales and Food Myths for Summer - Christy Brissette media dietitian, 80 Twenty Nutrition
Photo credit: Lars Ploughman via Flickr

False.

Even though your stomach isn’t the ideal growing environment for a watermelon, mom was right in trying to get you to avoid swallowing watermelon seeds. There is a very small risk that the larger, dark seeds could irritate and even damage your intestines. It’s best to avoid swallowing sharp, non-digestible objects as a general rule. Points for mom for caring!

Don’t let this prevent you from enjoying this delicious and nutritious fruit. Isn’t a juicy slice of watermelon one of the best parts of summer?

Buy seedless watermelon (the white or clear seeds are fine) or make a game out of who can spit out the most seeds. How’s that for a fun afternoon?

 

This article was originally published in the 2016 Spring/Summer issue of Eat In, Eat Out Magazine. I’m the Nutrition Editor!

 

 

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