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Sunday Magazine
You use only 10% of your brain

You use only 10% of your brain

This one is a favourite for many motivational speakers and writers. People who are highly intelligent and those who claim to have psychic abilities are often thought to be able to access and utilise more of their brain than most of us. This myth is often attributed to Albert Einstein, who supposedly used it to explain his intellect. However, PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans and fMRIs (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) have shown that the entire human brain is constantly active...even when sleeping. Although all the brains regions can’t fire concurrently at any given time, just like our muscles, most of the brains regions are continually active throughout a normal 24-hour period.

You need 8 glasses of water a day

This is one myth that people particularly hold on to, because it does sound plausible. While we can’t deny that staying sufficiently hydrated plays a key role in health, it turns out that there’s no need to count glasses or to constantly guzzle down gallons of water. This myth is thought to have originated in a 1945 American Food and Nutrition Board recommendation which said that most people require about 2.5 litres of water a day. However people totally ignored the rest of the text, which went on to explain that most of this water is found in the foods we consume... from your morning coffee to your piece of fruit. Therefore, you definitely don’t need to drink eight glasses of water. Just pay attention to your body, eat healthy water-rich foods such as soup, vegetables, fruits, and drink beverages like juice, coffee or tea. You might need to drink a little bit more water if your urine is dark yellow, if you have irregular bowel movement, are active, or live in a hot climate.

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Cracking joints causes arthritis

Some people have the annoying habit of cracking their joints, especially when nervous or bored. If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably been told that cracking your joints can lead to arthritis. But other than annoying the people around you, cracking your joints does no harm. Studies have shown that people who have this habit have pretty much the same risk of developing arthritis as those who don’t. The sound is made when gas bubbles which form between your joints pop, not from your bones rubbing each other. But if you feel regular or severe pain when you crack your joints, you might have to consult your doctor for a check up.

Humans have five senses

You probably learned this one in school, which makes it seem all the more plausible. They are taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch. But these five senses are just the beginning. Your body has many other senses which provide your brain with information on things such as balance, time, direction, and proprioception -- the sense of where things are in relation to your body so you don’t bump into things such as walls all the time. Actually, researchers say we have as many as anywhere between 22 and 33 different senses.

The five-second rule

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You’re just about to have a bite of a delectable snack when it slips out of your hand and falls to the floor. 
What do you do? If you’re like most people, you probably grab the snack right back and comfort yourself that “the germs barely had time to touch it”. The five-second rule is a myth that it takes longer than five seconds for food to be contaminated when it falls to the ground. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific backing for this rule and there’s no magical window where dropped food can be safely recovered. In fact, research shows that food can instantaneously pick up bacteria from any surface it falls on. Though it hurts, let food go once it’s fallen on a dirty surface. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Spicy food will make your ulcers worse

If you’re prone to stomach ulcers, you’ve probably been told that you should avoid spicy food as it can make them worse. Although it might seem like the hot pepper will irritate your peptic ulcers, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has shown that pepper contains a chemical called capsaicin which can actually stimulate blood flow to stomach ulcers and promote healing. So go ahead and order spicy food at your favourite Indian restaurant.

Hair of the dog for hangover

It’s often said that the best way to recover from a hangover is to “have the hair of the dog that bit you”- meaning another alcoholic drink. This came from the misguided belief that you could recover from a dog bite by plucking a hair from the dog and holding it to the wound. However, other than being humorous, this advice will do nothing for your hangover. In fact, it will only prolong and postpone your misery. The best thing you can do to treat a hangover is to have a healthy breakfast and drink some water. The idea is to replenish your dehydrated system with electrolytes and calories. Go for foods that are easy to digest, such as cereal or toast and some juice.

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Alcohol for a teething baby

One of the most potentially dangerous myths is that babies should be given a beer or whisky to soothe them when teething or expiring colic pain. While it may seemingly make them cry less, even small amounts of alcohol can be fatal for infants. Even as little as a teaspoon of brandy or whiskey could be enough to intoxicate an infant and cause hypoglycaemia, seizures and respiratory failure. Recently a one-month baby died after his grandfather gave him alcohol in Beijing. Keep your baby away from alcohol.

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