The GuardianThe Guardian

Chocolate doesn’t cause acne – but carrots do help you see in the dark: The best and worst health myths and wisdom

By Tracey Ramsden

29 Apr 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Can chicken soup really help cure a cold? Should you actually pee on a jellyfish sting? The Guardian investigates which age-old health myths actually work and which ones we should finally retire.

TRUE “When you’ve got a cold, the best thing you can eat is a hearty, nutritious soup,” says Rhiannon Lambert, a nutritionist and the author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way to Eat Well. “Chicken contains vitamin B12, plus other antioxidants and vitamins which support the immune system and aid digestion. It’s also rich in protein, which is good for cellular repair. Adding more veg also increases the vitamins and minerals that are needed to aid recovery.”

FALSE “The skin is your largest organ and has its own microbiome – its own bacteria – so the better you eat, the better your skin,” says Lambert. “Small amounts of chocolate won’t hugely impact skin health but chocolate with less sugar and dairy is better. More important for skin health is hydration – you should drink a minimum of 1.5-2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water a day. Coffee is a diuretic, but the amount of fluid you take in outweighs what you lose in urine. Tea is also fine, but avoid drinking it with a meal, because tannins in tea block iron absorption.” (Iron deficiency can lead to symptoms such as itchy skin.)An apple a day keeps the doctor away FALSE “It’s untrue but it may keep you away from the pharmacy,” says Dr Hazel Wallace, nutritionist and author of The Female Factor. “One study looked at healthcare practices of daily apple eaters and found they used fewer prescription medications. This had more to do with them being healthier overall – apple eaters also had higher educational levels and were less likely to smoke – than specifically with eating apples. However, since apples are nutritious, one a day is not a bad idea.”

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