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Health Idioms, True or False

“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion.” Psalm 27:5a

Joseph, who is very much the youngest child, a comical, sometimes pampered (he is the “baby” to 6 other siblings after all),” sprouting boy, whose legs are too long for his head, like a stalk of asparagus, said this week, out of the blue, “I feel a bladder coming on.” Ummmmm, Don’t we all. Lol. And, if he means a bladder infection, where did that come from since he’s never had one?! But, I can more than relate to the feeling that something is coming on illness wise. I’m about as impatient a patient as a pig in a bacon factory in the south. I have been known this week to bemoan to myself, “Just get me out of this!” But, let me tell you what I’ve learned, while I could only sleep one of five nights due to excruciating back pain. I was overcome, right in the middle of it, with waves of gratitude, which rolled in stronger than ever, even while the sky clouded over with a thick stream of smokey gray; the kind that turns 12 noon into a somber, colorless dusk. Gratitude? I know! Believe me, it’s not because I’m awesome; I was reduced to a crying pile of laundry, a sobbing mix of sweater, blankets, leggings with no head, as I asked God to help me. Somehow, in that place, God taught me gratitude anew and it came flooding into my heart before I was better. Gratitude’s stunning, twin sister, Perspective, joined her.

As I write this, I’m still hurting but slowly plodding back to being pain free, like an old donkey, placing hoof after hoof, clambering out of the orange dust of the Grand Canyon, late in the afternoon, when all his comrades have long been watered and kenneled. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my health which is usually fantastic. Thankfully, this back issue is temporary. In all of life, I have enough. My needs are well cared for. I get breaks and treats. Most importantly, I am loved and have the privilege of loving.

I saw a video this week of an adult pit bull that had been greatly abused. Curious, I watched as the shelter worker cared for him over time and broke through his great fear until he was a licking, wagging, puppy-like love bug. I think of those of you who would say, “Great, well I don’t have enough. My needs aren’t cared for.” I am so sorry. It’s hard to grasp this because no human wants to hurt or die, but God is above it all. And, someday, we will understand it, like a lost, jungle traveler, confused by the bright green twists and turns of the Amazon, who suddenly sees a map and his journey on it. God has the crackling fire lit, the chunky, plaid blanket open and ready for you; will you let him comfort and love you?

Fitness Idioms, True or False

Important Note: I have not professionally trained in this field and, due to your unique health circumstances, you should always consult your physician before taking any of the following advice from my research. 

While I was under the weather, I began to think about longtime, farm country health idioms and whether or not there is scientific evidence to support them. Well, I was up for four nights straight, so I think that’s a pretty tame direction for my desperate, deprived brain to go. 🙂 All references/links are listed after the quote or information.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away:

Yes. As it turns out, this expression from Great, Great Grandma Pearl, who walked 5 miles to school every day, only ate hunted meat and homegrown veggies, named her cow Bessie in honor of other local cows all named Bessie, thought that pink calico was an edgy fashion statement to be avoided and, when they felt extra crazy, made red current wine, has a lot of truth to it! Web MD states, “The Cornell researchers suggest that a combination of plant chemicals, collectively known as phytochemicals, found mainly in the skin of apples, provide the bulk of the fruit’s anticancer and antioxidant properties. The cooperative activity of these phytochemicals, they argue, has health benefits that are superior to those found in single compounds like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, which have been widely studied for their antioxidant activities. Using colon cancer cells treated with apple extract, Liu and colleagues found that 50 milligrams of apple extracted from the skins decreased the cancer cell growth by 43%.” ( Additionally, a research team out of the University of Michigan concluded, “…did a daily apple succeed in keeping the doctor away? No, it did not. There was no statistically meaningful difference in visits to the doctor for daily apple eaters in the analysis. But the study did find that an apple a day kept the pharmacist away.” ( See, to me, this finding absolutely backs up the apple idiom. While there wasn’t a significant difference in this study for the number of people who got a bad cold, there was a notable difference in the people who needed ongoing pharmaceuticals. This is enough to convince me that Grandma was no dummy!

Die with one’s boots on: 

This idiom means, “I never want to retire – I’d rather die with my boots on.” ( This was a commonly held belief by the American frontier men and women. Is there a health benefit to this perspective? Or, is leisure and rest the way to go as we get older? The answer is yes, working hard staves off stress, a huge factor in aging and poor health, and helps us to stay physically and mentally fit. Here is what one expert says about “keeping your boots on” as you age, “Not only does regular exercise help you lose weight, tone muscles, build healthier bones, and boost mood, it can also help you think clearly. Studies cited by the National Institute on Aging demonstrate a connection between physical exercise and better brain power. ‘Walking for just 10 minutes a day lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s by 40 percent,’ says Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Center on Aging,” (

Look the picture of health: 

Does looking healthy mean a person is healthy? Usually, yes. While there are diseases, such as Fibromyalgia which can create enormous pain and exhaustion but doesn’t always show on the face of its sufferer, there are certain things about our looks that can indicate health or illness. Some things to watch out for according to : “swollen feet, tired eyes/bags under eyes, dry skin, abnormal body hair, wrinkles, hair loss, facial flush, cracked lips, a foul mouth, large hands and feet, dark skin patches, butterfly patch, pitted nails, moles, and yellow eyes.” Read the full article here.

Just pour some kerosene on it: 

No, do not use this as a remedy! While there are many folk uses for kerosene, from the treatment of lice to cancer, it is toxic and even the vapors can be lethal. The World Health Organization says that,Acute and chronic exposure to kerosene may result in CNS effects including irritability, restlessness, ataxia, drowsiness, convulsions, coma and death.” (

Just drink a hot toddy:  

Alcohol has often been used medicinally. Indeed, our modern NyQuil contains a fair amount to help the ill person sleep. Hot toddies are actually a more natural way to achieve the same thing but two important notes, 1. Stick to just one or you may feel worse and 2. Drink plenty of water too! “Whiskey is a great decongestant — the alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection — and, combined with the herbal tea, squeeze of honey, lemon, and the warm steam emanating from the drink, you have the perfect concoction for helping to clear up your cold symptoms. And by the time you finish the drink, you won’t only be breathing a bit easier, but the alcohol will also start working its magic in the sleep department, making you just groggy enough so you can get some much needed shuteye.” ( )  And, another article written by ABC News, states that, “Drinks like hot toddies, which traditionally contain whiskey, lemon and honey, can actually give cold and flu patients relief from their symptoms,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. It just can’t prevent or cure a cold or flu virus. “It would not have an effect on the virus itself, but its effect on the body can possibly give you some modest symptom relief,” Schaffner said. “The alcohol dilates blood vessels a little bit, and that makes it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.”  (

Eat your greens:

My goodness! Can’t you just see and hear a crotchety old Aunt Augustine, stalking in from the garden with one of her thigh-length, tangy-colored nylons falling down a ways, scratching at her gray bun as she croaks out, “Eat yar greens, youngun!” But, this couldn’t be a truer idiom! “Leafy green vegetables have more nutrition per calorie than any other food. Greens make up a significant source of vitamins A, C, E and K as well as several B vitamins. They are rich sources of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. They are rich in fiber, extremely low in fat and carbohydrates and provide an excellent source of protein.” ( And, for those of us who prefer a more direct scientific source, Medical News Today says that, “Dark leafy greens like spinach are important for skin and hair, bone health, and provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. The possible health benefits of consuming spinach include improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure, improving bone health, lowering the risk of developing asthma and more.”  (

When you have a cold, eat your chicken noodle soup:

While this might seem like it is just comforting (placebo effect), there is actually a physically healing element to it. One study conducted by Dr. Rennard showed that, “the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.The researchers couldn’t identify the exact ingredient or ingredients in the soup that made it effective against colds but say it may be the combination of vegetables and chicken that work together. The tested soup contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper.”  The full recipe published by the University of Nebraska Medical Center is available here. Another helpful soup that is used for many things, one of the foremost being to heal and seal the gut, is called bone broth and is similar to chicken noodle soup, except it is cooked for 24 + hours. This process of lengthy cooking brings out the minerals, gelatin and collegian nutrients. Here is one website with a detailed recipe.

Sweat it out: 

There is some conflicting scientific evidence out there on this one.  For years many people believed the same thing as Donald Smith, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz who found that, “sweating eliminates less than 1 percent of toxic metals like mercury.” Link found here. However, a groundbreaking study was published in 2011, “in the Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology, which explored the effects of bioaccumulated toxic elements within the human body and their method of excretion: ‘Toxic elements were found to differing degrees in each of blood, urine, and sweat. Serum levels for most metals and metalloids were comparable with those found in other studies in the scientific literature. Many toxic elements appeared to be preferentially excreted through sweat. Presumably stored in tissues, some toxic elements readily identified in the perspiration of some participants were not found in their serum. Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of many toxic elements from the human body.’” While there is disagreement on how much the body can detox through the sweat glands, along with the liver and kidney, it is definitely one method the body uses to rid itself of poisons. Since that is true to some degree, I am sure the practices of many cultures (such as the sweat rooms of the Alaskan Natives) or a simple good run yield some detoxing affect. Link found here.

That being said, the liver and kidneys are the key detoxing organs in the body and keeping them in tip top condition by eating a nutrient rich diet, doing bi-yearly cleanses and working out, along with keeping the toxins we are exposed to low, is the best ways to insure good health.

By my analysis, 7 out of 8 of those idioms have a significant amount of truth to them. So, give a nod and smile of gratitude to Grandaddy Horace, who tried to force feed you cod-liver oil to keep your aches, rickets and inflammation away and your general health, endurance and strength in tip top shape, because it works! Source found here and here.  By the way, not all cod-liver oil is the same; from what I could tell, one pure product is made by Green Pastures.

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