Girl about to eat carrots      Photo:

Should you really wait an hour to swim after eating? Do crusts really make your hair curl? Find out whether popular sayings are just rumours or the real thing

A host of giant barrel jellyfish are coming to our shores... and it's time to panic.

The Red Cross has warned that the old wives tale that urinating on a jellyfish sting soothes the injury doesn't work.

Joe Mulligan, of the British Red Cross, said: "A sting from a jellyfish can be extremely painful, but trying to treat it with urine isn't going to make your day any better.

"Urine just doesn't have the right chemical make-up to solve the problem. A better source of treatment is even easier at hand, salty seawater."

But are old wives right or wrong on other issues?

“Feed a cold, starve a fever”


Whether flu or a cold, the body needs strength to fight any infection and fasting will just weaken the body. Even if you don't feel like eating, you should try and keep your strength up through eating.

“Eating spicy food can give you ulcers”


Doctors used to think spicy foods were no good for people with peptic ulcers. But modern research has showed there is evidence that the opposite is true as some studies suggest that hot peppers may actually help heal ulcers by stimulating blood flow to the wound.

“Fish is brain food”


Fish oils contain omega-3 and omega-6 which are critical for health and the development of the brain.

Oxford University neuroscientist Dr Alex Richardson gave 120 primary-school children with coordination difficulties a mix of omega-3 and omega-6 over three months and the study showed improvements in school performance.

Fish oils also protect against coronary heart disease, Alzheimer's and rheumatoid arthritis.

They have anti-inflammatory properties which protect blood vessels and are also considered helpful in reducing stiffness and tenderness in joints.

“Eating carrots will make you see in the dark”


This tale dates back to the Second World War when the Royal Air Force was trying to hide from Germany that it had developed a sophisticated radar system to track German bombers.

The RAF came up with the ruse to say the accuracy of its fighter pilots was a result of them being fed carrots.

“Eating crusts makes your hair curl”


Curly hair grows from curly follicles, and straight hair from straight follicles and has nothing to do with bread.

But crusts are rich in melanoidins which help to produce more of the 'good' bacteria we need for healthy guts.

“Wait an hour after eating before swimming”


Digestion diverts some blood from the muscles but for ordinary swimming they should get enough oxygen to avoid cramp.

“Copper bracelets help soothe arthritis”


There is no scientific evidence to support this tale.

Jane Tadman of the Arthritis research Campaign said: “Research shows people with arthritis do have enough copper in their bodies, so it is difficult to understand what effects these bangles can have It could be the placebo affect at work in people who report that their pain has lessened when wearing a copper bracelet.”

“Chewing parsley gets rid of garlic breath”


Chew at least a sprig of fresh parsley, preferably more, will get rid of the garlic chicken dish you have just eaten.

Herbalist Dee Atkins said: "Parsley has been used for thousands of years to counteract garlic breath.

"Parsley contains compounds that counteract the high sulphur content of garlic which causes the unpleasant odour.”

“Don't go outside with wet hair. You'll catch a cold”


Scientists, according to a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, exposed two groups of people to the common cold virus.

One group was exposed to the germs in a chilly 5°C room; the other group, in a balmy 30°C room. The result? Both groups caught colds at about the same rate.