When taken out of context, Asian parents say and do things that seem pretty bat-shit crazy.

“Don’t whistle at night, the snake/demon will find you.”

“Play with the house door some more, our family will quarrel.”

“Don’t sing and cook at the same time; you will get an old husband.”

 

Sound familiar? Like rice, these “advice” are a staple in the Asian life. You need to get it daily or someone’s gonna get cranky. Most of the time, they’re harmless – the intention is to stop you from doing certain things that may or may not make sense but you won’t lose out in life. Sometimes though, they kinda stop you from doing harmless things.

 

Health Claim #1: “Don’t play outside after eating, or you’ll get appendix.”

health claim

Two errors to correct here:

(1) Excepting extremely rare cases, we are all born with an appendix. What your parents probably meant is “appendicitis“, which is the inflammation of the appendix.

(2) You can’t get appendicitis from running or jumping after a meal. It is caused by a blockage – from stool, a foreign body, cancer, or infection.

One of our doctor friends said, “The only effect of running after a meal is lemak bergoyang“.

Similarly, when your parents say “Don’t touch that cat, you have sinus” they actually mean sinusitis. Everyone has sinuses (air cavities within a bone or tissue, more commonly referring to the paranasal sinuses located near the nose). Sinusitis is an infection in your sinuses.

 

Health Claim #2: “Don’t sleep with wet hair or you’ll get a cold/wind in your head.”

health claim

These are the effects of sleeping with wet hair:

1) Wet pillow

2) Bad hair day

3) Fungal infections leading to dandruff and ringworm

Colds are caused by viruses, not by “moisture being absorbed into your scalp”. To prevent the icky fungal stuff, we recommend to at least towel-dry your hair before jumping into bed.

Another common myth is “getting arthritis or rheumatism” from showers/baths at night . Arthritis is actually not a disease; it refers to the inflammation of the joints. Rheumatism, on the other hand, is an obsolete medical term referring to “any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue”. When laypeople say “arthritis” or “rheumatism”, they most likely mean “osteoarthritis” (commonly caused by ageing and injuries) and “rheumatoid arthritis” (an autoimmune disease), none of which are caused by late-night showering.

As for the “wind in your head”? Your parents probably mean a headache, and there’s no proof for that either.

The general rule of thumb is to avoid drastic temperature changes in your environment such as walking from a hot shower into an air-conditioned room. By doing this, your body is forced to adapt, including your immune system, and this will make you more susceptible to illnesses. However, you won’t fall sick unless a virus or bacteria is already present in your body.

 

Health Claim #3: “Eating too much heaty food will cause fever/sorethroat.”

health claim

Fevers and sorethroats are caused by viruses or infections, and there is no medical proof of a condition called “heatiness”. This term originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and very commonly heard during this durian season.

While there is no scientific correlation between durian and internal body heat, it’s always wise to eat everything in moderation.

 


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Durian by VKeong


Other commonly heard health claims include:

Health Claim #4: “Pluck your grey hair and 3 more will grow in place of it.”

One hair follicle = one strand of hair – unless multiple hair follicles merged together – so you don’t have to worry about turning into Anderson Cooper. However, it’s not advisable to pluck because it traumatises the follicle. Just like when your eyebrows are constantly plucked, eventually the follicle will get the message that the hair is not wanted and it will stop producing hair altogether, which may lead to a bald patch.

Health Claim #5: “Starve a cold, feed a fever.”

Sick people need nutrition to recover, so it’s never a good idea to starve yourself. If you don’t have an appetite, just take as much fluids as possible.

 

Got any other health claims? Let us know!

 

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Sources & thanks: webmd.com, doctor friends Dr. Ken, Dr. Fariza, and Dr. Jason.

 

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