Do old wives’ remedies really work? 6 times your nan nailed it

Remember the old-fashioned advice your grandmother used to give you? Turns out she was onto something – and we have the science to prove it.

Grandmothers are famous for dishing out folk wisdom – from the importance of chewing your food properly to the mysterious benefits of cleaning behind your ears.

But how do these old wives’ remedies stack up against science?

We put six of the best to the test, and it looks like Nanna was right all along.

1. Laughter is the best medicine

A hearty chuckle feels good, but is it actually good for you?

Absolutely, according to experts, who agree that laughter triggers a release of endorphins, lowers stress and can even improve cardiovascular health.

The findings are no surprise to Laughter Clubs Victoria president Mahes Karuppiah-Quillen.

“Laughter triggers healthy physical, mental and emotional changes in the body very quickly,” Mahes says.
“Nothing works faster or more dependably than a good laugh: it has the power to heal, renew, restore.”

2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

An apple a day may not literally banish doctors, but it does pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Apples are loaded with fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants that are linked to a healthier heart and gut, and a lower risk of chronic diseases, nutritionist Rachel Eagleton says.

“The antioxidants in apples can reduce cancer risk by neutralising free radicals,” Rachel says.

“Apples, like all fruit, are also high in a type of soluble fibre called pectin that can improve digestion – to maximise the benefits, eat your apples with skin on.”

3. Wash behind your ears

Nanna was right: you really should scrub behind your ears.

A George Washington University team has tested what they dubbed “the grandma hypothesis”, and found regularly cleaned areas such as forearms have a healthier balance of bacteria.

Meanwhile, neglected nooks and crannies – such as areas behind the ears, between the toes and in the belly button – can become a breeding ground for detrimental bacteria that may cause skin disease.

4. Carrots are good for your eyesight

It sounds like a story your grandmother made up to get you to eat your vegetables, but she was right – again.

Carrots are loaded with lutein and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) – powerful antioxidants that promote eye health and protect against age-related macular degeneration.

“Vitamin A helps protect your eyes from the sun (and) lowers your chances of cataracts,” Rachel adds.

5. Eat chicken soup for colds

Chicken soup may be the ultimate comfort food when you’re feeling crook, but does it actually help?

University of Nebraska researchers believe it does.

Their study revealed homemade chicken soup reduces the inflammation responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms of respiratory infections.

So, Grandma’s chicken soup really is a medicinal marvel.

6. Chew your food properly

The number of times you chew your food can’t possibly matter, right? Wrong!

Chewing food thoroughly not only promotes better digestion and nutrient absorption, it can also help control weight.

One study has even linked poor chewing with cognitive decline and dementia risk.

So next time your nanna tells you to chew your food properly, it is not just about good table manners, it is about good health too.

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Written by Dimity Barber.