Ignore your Mom: 10 Summer Myths Debunkedby Carissa - May 28th, 2014
Every kid across the globe has heard a few summer myths slip out of their parent’s mouths – some with the intent of scaring the pants off of you. In fact, I’m certain we’ve all grown up with a few doozies. To start your summer off on a lighthearted foot – we’re going to debunk a few of those myths and give you some we deserved clarity.
Myth #1: Wait 30 minutes after eating to go swimming.
There is no set rule for how long you need to wait before swimming. The idea was that your body diverts too much energy into digestion, leaving your body vulnerable to fatigue – and possibly drowning. However, there is no evidence to substantiate such a claim that your body can’t handle doing both. In reality, if you’re up for a swim right after a meal, go ahead and enjoy yourself.
Myth #2: Too much air conditioning will make you sick.
This one seems pretty obvious, but yet the myth lingers. Bacteria and viruses cause colds, not the air conditions – warm, cold, or otherwise. So feel free to stay cool this summer by turning your air conditioning on whenever its needed.
Myth #3: Poison ivy is contagious.
As gross as the rash can appear to the casual observer, the pustules are not at all contagious. In fact, by the time the rash has appeared (some 24-48 hours after exposure) you are likely far away from the offending location. Only the oil secreted from the plant itself is poisonous – so be sure to wash all clothing and even your shoes worn when coming into contact with the leaves of three.
Myth #4: Grilled BBQ meats will cause cancer.
This one is mixed with half-truths. While grilling meats won’t cause cancer, some of the effects caused by grilling might. A carcinogen known as Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form in protein-rich foods like your yummy homemade burger when they are cooked at high heats – like those coming from your backyard BBQ. At the same time, another carcinogen known as Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) forms when fat drips and burns on the grill, creating smoke. The longer your burger is surrounded by this smoke, the more of the PAHs you ingest. Your best bet is to pre-cook your meats indoors and sear them on the grill for a shorter period of time to get the “grilled" flavor.
Myth #5: Any drink can hydrate you.
Not all drinks are created equal. Certain drinks – namely caffeinated beverages, sugar-laden sodas, or alcoholic drinks can be a diuretic, and can subsequently cause dehydration. If you’re looking to hydrate, stick to good old-fashioned water to do the trick.
Myth #6: Wearing makeup with SPF is just as good as putting sunscreen on.
While it’s true that some makeups offer a minimal SPF, there is no substitution for a true broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your face. Makeup will wear thin and crack as the day goes on, leaving your skin vulnerable. Not to mention, most makeup does not protect you from UVA rays. Your best bet is to put your broad-spectrum sunscreen on before your makeup for true protection.
Myth #7: Watermelon is tasty, but not at all nutritious.
Who isn’t thrilled to know this one’s false? Even though watermelon may be watery and pretty dang low in calories (only 46 per cup), it actually packs a nutritious 1-2 punch. In addition to a healthy dose of vitamin C (20% of your daily value per cup), watermelon also delivers lycopene—the antioxidant also found in tomatoes that has been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers. So go ahead and load up on some watermelon this summer knowing it’s tasty and nutritious.
Myth #8: Sunburn will fade into a tan.
Any sun exposure damages your skin – sunburns and tans alike. Sunburns are one way your body alerts you that you’ve endured skin damage. In addition, not all burns will fade into a tan. Many will simply blister and peel, leaving your skin exposed and raw. Remember that any amount of sun damage increases your risk of skin cancer down the line. Your best bet is to find a good sunscreen and use it regularly.
Myth #9: Mosquitoes bite only sweet-smelling people.
There is evidence that certain people are more likely to get bit by mosquitoes, but it has nothing to do with your blood being sweet. Instead, research is showing that it really has more to do with an odor your body emits – a combination of carbon dioxide, heat, and lactic acid. Research also suggests that people with O blood types tend to be the meal of choice for these little bloodsuckers. In order to ward them off, try wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors. When that’s not possible consider bug sprays containing DEET to enjoy a mosquito-free outdoor excursion.
Myth #10: Older people don’t need to worry about sunscreen.
As we age, our skin’s natural ability to protect itself slowly diminishes, leaving it more vulnerable to skin damage and cancer. Aging skin no longer has the ability to attract T cells to boost immunity where they are needed. Because of this vulnerability, it’s as important as ever to protect your skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays. Be sure to protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply often when you’re out in the sunshine.
So now that you’re a bit wiser this summer, we want to ask you – did you learn anything new? Were any of these a surprise? We’d love to hear from you. What other myths have you been told throughout the years?
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.
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