Everyone knows that eating well and exercising can prevent all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to diabetes. But what don't you know? What aren't you being told that might also boost your health? And what health advice did you think was cliché but, as it turns out, really works? You might not hear the following tips at the doctor's office, but they could help you to live a longer, more fulfilling life. What's more, they’re easy to incorporate into your daily routines (in fact, you may be doing some of them already).
Antibiotics won't work forever. Antibiotics can be quite useful, but if you take them each cold or flu season, you—or the bacteria—may become resistant to these drugs. Each time you take antibiotics, your immunity to them increases. Your physician is your best resource in determining whether antibiotics are right for you.
The environment can make you sick. If you have allergies, you're well aware of the role the environment plays in your health. But did you know that if you live in a polluted area, you may have increased risks of other ailments, such as asthma? Your house may also be to blame, and it might have nothing to do with your pets. Dust may settle and mold or mildew may grow, triggering allergies or causing other health problems.
Laughter really is the best medicine. This is one you've probably heard lots of times but never from a medical professional. That said, the next time you feel a cold coming on, in addition to eating Mom's chicken soup, why not watch one of your favorite funny movies? When Robert Provine, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, studied what made people laugh and the health effects it had, he concluded that laughter may indeed be the best medicine.
All work and no play.... As it turns out, this familiar adage is correct. Those who work and constantly think about work may be adding unneeded stress to their lives, which may affect their health. Even if your stress isn't related to work, you may have a harder time getting to sleep at night, develop skin conditions, or even suffer from depression and anxiety. If you never take time for yourself, you run the risk of health problems.
Laws aren't made to be broken. Seatbelt laws have been in effect for decades, but people still don’t seem to want to wear them. Contrary to what some may think, seatbelt use does save lives. Additionally, many states now prohibit dialing of cell phones and sending of text messages while driving—another potential lifesaver.
The power of positive thinking, prayer, and placebos. Numerous studies point to the incredible healing properties of an optimistic outlook, prayer, and the placebo effect. The FDA reports that if patients believe they are given a miracle drug or a brand name drug, they may recover even if they are given sugar pills. Also, patients who pray regularly may experience the same "miraculous" results as those taking a placebo. The bottom line is, the more positive your outlook, the better your chances of recovery.
Alternative therapies weren't always alternative. Our rush to embrace alternative therapies is nothing new. Many of the therapies we consider alternative have actually been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. For example, acupuncture has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years. Many herbal remedies we use today were used in Europe before the dawn of medicine. But before you rush out to embrace these therapies, do your homework. Many states now certify or license alternative medicine practitioners. Be sure yours is reputable, and let your regular physician know.
Maintaining an active social network is key. People who regularly get together with friends and even people who are married or are in healthy relationships tend to live longer, healthier lives. Socialization draws on laughter and positive thinking. It helps to reduce stress by providing you an outlet for "me time."
Medicine can't cure all and doctors don't know everything. Guess what? Medicine is good, but it can't solve all problems. Doctors know quite a bit, but even they are human. There are likely many diseases and ailments with which we have no experience. And your doctor may not always be able to pinpoint the problem. Don't worry, though. Advances are made everyday. Open communication with your doctor is key.
Too much of a good thing may be too much. We all need to be more active, but too much exercise may not be good for us either. For example, if we run longer than we are used to, we risk injury. Likewise, we know we should eat more fruits and vegetables and eat whole grains and lean cuts of meat. But if we eat too many of any of these, we risk not losing weight (if that is your goal) or gaining weight. Moderation is key.