What are some surprising suggestions for better health?
August 29, 2013 6:52 PM   Subscribe

What are some health tips you've recently heard that surprised you? I'm making a list, aiming to get one that corresponds to each body part. For example, for the eyes- wearing blue-tinted sunglasses when on the computer at night to have less exposure to light and therefore better sleep. Any ideas?
posted by three_red_balloons to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
"Hunger" is frequently thirst. If you're hungry a lot, try drinking a big glass of water, you may just be dehydrated. And the bonus is, if you fill up your stomach with water, you may not be actually-hungry anymore if you were actually hungry.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:13 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Drink more coffee to increase your lifespan. ("[T]he study published in May [2012] in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at hundreds of thousands of men and women and found this bottom line result: people who drank coffee lived longer than those who didn't. And the more they drank, the longer they lived.")
posted by John Cohen at 7:15 PM on August 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

A lot of zit/acne problems can be cleared up just by using a new pillowcase every night.
posted by phunniemee at 7:52 PM on August 29, 2013 [9 favorites]

Always close the toilet lid when you flush, because you will be coated with an invisible spray of bacteria if you do not.
posted by aspen1984 at 8:00 PM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Raising and resting your feet on something so your knees are higher than your hips when you are sitting on the toilet aids in the passage of poo through the bowel and rectum. Additionally, sitting down to pee (for men) is also good for bowel health as it increases the likelihood of bowel motions.
posted by Kerasia at 8:26 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this would be considered new or obscure enough, but there was a study a couple of years ago linking yogurt and nuts with weight loss.
posted by whistle pig at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2013

Apple cider vinegar smells gross but is great for your skin and you can do a shooter in the morning with water and honey to help with tiredness and the run down clogged up pre-coldfeeling.

Also rinsing out your sinuses is one of the best things I have ever done for my allergies.
posted by spunweb at 9:10 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Different colored sunglass lenses can also help with dyslexia. Also, fwiw, the additive that makes glass pink (such as in rose-colored glasses) is gold.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also garlic can help with yeast infections... and you can make yogurt popsicles for yeast infections by pouring PLAIN yogurt into the fingers of a latex glove and freezing.
posted by spunweb at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should never use cotton swabs to clean your ears. They push wax deeper into the ear canal and irritate the lining, which stimulates production of more even ear wax. So it's completely counterproductive and can be dangerous if you push too far in.
posted by desjardins at 9:40 PM on August 29, 2013

People tend not to wash the thumbs – particularly on their non-dominant hands.
Properly washing your hands is quite a bit more detailed than you might think.
posted by mumkin at 10:36 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm probably just catastrophizing, but if you're going to rinse your sinuses with a neti pot, remember to use boiled (and cooled, of course) or distilled water. You don't want to be the one person in several hundred million to contract Naegleria fowleri from using tap water. The case fatality rate is somewhere between 97 and 99 percent.

I love my neti pot but I love my intact brain, too.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:06 AM on August 30, 2013 [9 favorites]

Chronic stress is terrible for your health, so aside from exercise and nutrition, take care of your mind.
posted by mbrock at 2:41 AM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is it sad I've heard of most of these that others have mentioned? I think it is.

Some of these are things I've known for a while but:

- Vitamin D deficiency is more common than one would think around the world-- but especially in Australia. Vitamin D may assist in cancer prevention, autoimmune problems, and helps your bones.
- Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of brain damage in developing children.
- Too much exercise is bad for you.

But! What personally blew my mind is the number of Health Myths that are so ingrained in us, and which are still prevalent today, thanks to them becoming 'common wisdom'. Such as:

Salt may not be as bad as people think, for the reasons they think.
Eggs probably won't affect your cholesterol levels too much.
And of course, the whole MSG debacle.

I'm sure there's more, but they slip my mind, probably because insomnia impairs cognitive function.
posted by Dimes at 4:09 AM on August 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Raising and resting your feet on something so your knees are higher than your hips when you are sitting on the toilet aids in the passage of poo through the bowel and rectum. Additionally, sitting down to pee (for men) is also good for bowel health as it increases the likelihood of bowel motions.

There are footstools made especially for this.

Here's one.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:06 AM on August 30, 2013

Consumption of probiotics can reduce anxiety in rodents and humans.

The Placebo effect is more real than you can imagine. Nurture your mind body connection and learn to control your thoughts. Seriously.
posted by corn_bread at 7:16 AM on August 30, 2013

There's increasingly hard evidence to suggest a link between health and connections to nature. Touching soil bacteria has been linked with better emotional health and cognitive ability, as well a lower risk of cancer and allergies. Likewise, camping without electronic devices for a week can reset your biological clock.
posted by susanvance at 8:02 AM on August 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

After reading lots of recommendations for the Oil Cleansing Method, I finally gave it a try. To my surprise, it has been helpful in stopping my hormonal breakouts. In all my years of reading Seventeen, I never imagined that oil was anything other than The Enemy.
posted by Jane Austen at 8:11 AM on August 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sitting/ being sedentary is really bad for you.
posted by theora55 at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2013

If you feel like you're having a panic attack or are just anxious and not breathing deeply, focus on exhaling instead of inhaling. What is often happening is that you feel like you can't get a deep breath in, but you're actually not breathing out completely. Focus on completely breathing out and you will have an easier time breathing in.
posted by radioamy at 6:36 PM on August 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

Eat local honey to reduce allergies. Steady, low doses of allergens can reduce your reaction to them. And local honey contains local allergens.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 12:08 AM on August 31, 2013

So, the stress of living in NYC, plus the pollution of a large city?
Apparently completely negated by the fact New Yorkers walk pretty much everywhere.
Which would mean "just walk a lot" is probably healthier for you than going to the gym.

Also, dietary cholesterol is less tied to how much cholesterol you eat, and much more tied to how much carbohydrates you eat. If you have high cholesterol, you probably want to stop eating sugar and wheat.
posted by talldean at 12:27 PM on September 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

And pretty much everyone in China eats wei jing, which translates as "flavor powder"; pure MSG. If it was horrible for us, most of Asia would already be dead. A billion people eat the stuff daily, and don't have issues; Americans are (likely) just weird on this one.
posted by talldean at 12:34 PM on September 1, 2013

Actually, I would recommend yellow glasses at night, especially if you are on the computer. This would reduce exposure to blue light, which has been shown to suppress melatonin release (thus making it harder to sleep). Blue glasses block everything but blue light.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2013

Blue would be the worst. Shifts circadian rhythms, (http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2012/May/blue-light-has-a-dark-side/), possible links to depression (http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/neuroscience/science-night-light-color-mood-01333.html).

You want not-blue. So use a red night light (Roxanne!), use f.lux on your computer. Orange sun glasses are ok, but Amber safety glasses are probably the most effective, lowish-cost option.


7 servings of fruit/veges a day linked to 'happiness' (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20121011/fruits-vegetables-happiness)
I've just been buying cheap bags of the tasty frozen veges (like zucchini, broccoli stir-fry mixes), and just kind of replacing rice/noodles with more veg.


Brush your teeth before breakfast, not after. (http://www.freysmiles.com/blog/view/should-you-brush-teeth-before-or-after-eating)
Been doing this for a few years, and made mornings easier, as I can just eat as I'm heading out the door.


Nails splitting and fraying at the end is often just because they're getting *wet*, which damages the strength. Nailpolish protects them from this, even clear nailpolish.
Cut first, and if you file, file in the same direction.
Basic painting principals help nail polish stick longer, such as removing dirt and oils from the painting surface first, eg by wiping even clean nails with nail polish remover, before painting.
If you do use coloured nailpolish, get a good quality quick-dry base coat (aka 'primer'), and same for clear top coat. The actual colour can be any dollar store brand, or even acrylic paints. The primer and top coat will help even dollar store colour last decently, good budget option.


Sleep with a pillow under your knees (if you sleep on your back), or between your knees (if you sleep on your side). Helps keep your pelvis and back aligned and relaxed while you sleep, and while I don't suffer from actual, problematic back pain, I definitely sleep better and feel less achy. Easily googleable. http://ctspinedisc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/10/how-does-pillow-under-or-between-my.html


This isn't really surprising, but oh my golly.
Realising I had a mild food allergy to something I was eating regularly, and then cutting it out? Best health move ever.
I used to be on a daily anti-histamine, anti-depressant, and ADD meds. Turns out I get by without any of them when I'm not feeling flu-y constantly.


Stomach / Tummy bugs:
Getting the Cholera vaccination (which is oral, no needles required!), protects you against a bunch of other common stomach bugs. E.g. 'Vaccination reduced the risk of travellers' diarrhoea by 43%'


If you're a girl -
the Mirena IUD. That thing is badass. Mostly because you have a 2/3 chance of reduced or no periods, and it turns out having periods continuously for 20 odd years isn't that grand. Aside from the anemia, etc. And it's got a better effectiveness than sterilisation, as far as a contraceptive goes, but removable.

Sunlight vs Supplements with Vitamin D

It looks like we've been massively underestimating the RDI for Vitamin D.
10 minutes full body sun exposure in the summer months gives you about 10,000 IU of Vitamin D. The RDI says about 200 IU a day.
I repeat, 10 minutes full body sun is 10,000 IU.
Which makes 200 IU about 1 minute 12 seconds.

There's a bunch of research (got tired of googling), basically on why the RDI has been massively underestimated (there possibly more people are dying of Vitamin D deficiency-related cancers, than are dying of melanoma, ironically. This is not saying to get sunburned, that's also bad, obviously).
But basically, either get more sun (in up to 10 minute increments, so less than the standard 'burn-time' for most people), or look at getting at least 2,000 IU a day in supplements (4000 IU if you are breastfeeding).

While I'm on supplements -
The only vitamins I've really seen friends be deficient in, are Iron, B12, Vitamin D and Zinc, and people usually know about the first two already. Zinc is the one that's way more effective against colds than Vitamin C.
posted by Elysum at 8:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

10 minutes full body sun exposure in the summer months gives you about 10,000 IU of Vitamin D.

I just noticed that I didn't clarify that that is for fair-skinned people, and it bothers me that I stated that as if northern european ethnicity is, or should be, the default human norm, which it clearly isn't, so, mea culpa.
If you've got more melanin, you do need to be even more conscientious about getting enough Vitamin D.
posted by Elysum at 7:19 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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