From its first year of publication, GH has urged readers to live healthfully
— to take "a walk before breakfast" (1885), "eat more fish" (1932), and get "at
least eight hours of sleep" (1933). The tips here, whether from our early days
or fresh from the latest journals, have one thing in common: They are based on
the best expertise of their time.
As much as we might hate to admit it, it turns out she was
right all along about lots of those down-home notions that made us groan as we
were growing up.
Here's a brief sampling, organized to spell out MOTHER'S
If you contend that feeding us fruits and veggies while holding
out on the junk food was tantamount to child abuse, you haven't got a leg to
stand on. The health benefits of fresh produce and whole grains include
strengthening the immune system while protecting against heart disease and
cancer. Junk food, on the other hand, is high in salt and sugar, promoting high
blood pressure, obesity, and dental cavities.
"Parents should offer children a variety of healthy food
choices -- no junk food!" William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "The
child can choose whether or not he wants to eat."
But what if Junior gets hungry?
"That's the whole idea," says Dietz, director of the
division of nutrition and physical activity at the CDC in Atlanta.
"Children need to learn the consequences of not eating -- then they'll make
healthy choices on their own."
What about Mom's advice to eat a morning bowl of cereal rather
than grabbing a donut on the run? Right on the money, according to research by
M. Rene Malinow, MD, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences
University in Portland.
"Fortified cereals are a good source of vitamins,"
Malinow tells WebMD, and they also may decrease levels of homocysteine, which
has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
"Breakfast cereal fortified with folic acid is an
inexpensive and harmless way to decrease homocysteine," Malinow says. And
research suggests lowering homocysteine may help decrease the risk of heart
disease and stroke.
Mom insisting we wash up before dinner is also a great idea,
especially after caring for farm animals and exotic pets. These loveable
critters have been linked to dangerous outbreaks of E. coli, a bacterial
infection causing bloody diarrhea, fever, vomiting, kidney failure, and even
What about a hot bowl of chicken soup for your cold? An old
wives' tale, right? Not according to Stephen Rennard, MD, a professor of
pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical
Center in Omaha.
Although Rennard has not yet tested in people the healing
powers of his wife's legendary soup recipe, the 'liquid gold penicillin' is
pretty impressive in the lab, preventing movement of white blood cells that
leak into body tissues and cause inflammation.
"This might explain why chicken soup makes us feel better
when we have a cold, because it might prevent symptoms like sore throat, runny
nose, and achy joints," Rennard tells WebMD.