Old Wives’ Tales Set Right
By Dr. Tom Incledon
There are lots of old sayings that involve health and wellness. Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder & CEO of Causenta, gives you the real information you need to know about a few of these so-called “old wives’ tales” to keep you and your family as healthy as possible.
Question: Do carrots really improve your vision?
Dr. Tom’s Answer: They can. There are some aspects that may be more apparent, like do carrots help you see better in the dark versus the light. There is evidence that vitamin A plays a particular role in issues with night blindness and age-related macular degeneration.
But it’s all based on the makeup of carrots. They provide beta carotene, which is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits. The name beta carotene comes from the Greek “beta” and Latin “carota” (carrot). Beta carotene is a building block that is needed to make vitamin A. And, we know from research that vitamin A is important for vision or eyesight.
I can tell you from personal experience that I’ve never had any eye issues. Even generations before me in my family, no one wears glasses. At one point a few years ago, I started having trouble seeing. Nothing serious, but things that I used to be able to see clearly were getting blurry. I ran some vitamin and mineral tests on myself and found out that I was low on vitamin A.
I started to think about it, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had anything orange like a carrot to eat. At the time, I was traveling so much that I didn’t have as much control over my diet as usual and even when I had eaten a salad, it was mostly green.
So, I started eating more carrots and taking vitamin A supplements. Within a few weeks, I started seeing better. I feel personally that the carrots made a positive impact. You can get the vitamin A from other food sources like sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and winter squashes, not just carrots. The good thing about carrots is that they are convenient, and kids tend to like them, so it makes healthy eating a bit easier.
Vitamin A also has additional health benefits such as:
- Boosting immune system function
- Reducing your risk of acne
- Supporting bone health
It can also help with getting pregnant and maintaining healthy fetal growth in pregnant women. The notion that eating carrots helps with eyesight is just another reminder that what you eat impacts your body.
It is also important to remember that eating carrots or other vitamin A-rich foods is just part of a healthy diet and eating all sorts of colorful fruits and vegetables can help with overall wellness because different vitamins and minerals help different parts of the body.
Question: Is my nightcap actually helping me sleep?
Dr. Tom’s Answer: A nightcap is an older term that refers to having a glass of alcohol before bed. This answer is a bit more complicated because it depends on a few factors, like what type of alcohol are you having, how much, and what other circumstances are involved.
Years ago, when I was at Penn State doing research, we asked people to pour out 1 ounce, 2 ounces, or 4 ounces of alcohol. What we learned is that people don’t have a good idea of how much they are pouring, and therefore, drinking.
So, unless you are measuring it, chances are if you think you are having a 1-ounce pour of brandy a night, it’s likely more like 4. So, you have to careful.
If the alcohol helps you relax and get to sleep, then the answer could be yes. But from a scientific standpoint, alcohol doesn’t help you sleep better. Even in small amounts, long-term alcohol can disrupt hormones and the endocrine system, so you might sleep better on that particular night, but over time it can hurt you and your overall health.
Think about other tools you can use to get to sleep. Maybe meditation or taking something natural like melatonin. I’d recommend a half milligram or 1-milligram dose. That won’t leave you groggy in the morning.
For some cancer patients, we give a larger dose because there is evidence that melatonin can help the immune system fight some drug-resistant cancer cells, but if you take more than a 1-milligram dose on a regular basis, it can give your brain mixed messages about whether to be asleep or awake.
Question: Should you really “feed a cold and starve a fever”?
Dr. Tom’s Answer: The saying should actually be: feed a cold and feed a fever.
When people are sick – either the flu or something more serious like cancer – and they do not eat, they are more likely to get dehydrated or lack energy. When people are sick, they need lots of fluids.
The tendency is when you are sick, you are tired and you do not feel like eating or drinking, but that will only make getting better take longer.
Because people do not always know what to do or have the right tools, people often end up in the hospital. The hospital can be helpful in that they can provide IV lines for fluid to get quickly into the body, they have staff who can help people eat, things like that.
But, if people knew what to do, maybe fewer people would end up in the hospital and recover more quickly from illnesses at home, which would save them money and time.
You can get more answers at Causenta!
If you want to learn more about our team’s medical expertise and how it can help you live a healthier life or overcome an illness, contact us for a 30-minute consultation. We are always here to help you begin your journey to better health and wellness.
You can also visit our YouTube channel for additional information from Dr. Tom and other members of our knowledgeable team about common health concerns such as cancer, rehabilitation, and more.