So I've done a little research, and can now give a rundown of 10 things that really are good for us, even though we may have heard differently. I've provided a link for each entry, in case you want to know more.
The caveat: Everyone is different and many people have their own issues. So if your doctor has you on a particular regimen, ignore this general information and pay attention to your doctor.
2. Saunas and hot tubs. I always thought the benefit of a sauna or hot tub was that it made you feel good. But apparently there are some actual health benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, sauna bathing can improve cardiovascular function and lower blood pressure, and can also help relieve symptoms of arthritis, headache and flu. But watch out for bacteria. Don't drink the water, and shower both before and after.
3. Organic foods. I've been skeptical of organic foods ever since I mistakenly bought a bunch of organic grapes. I only noticed they were organic when I got to the checkout counter and found they cost over $9, instead of the usual $4. Then the grapes made me sick to my stomach! But ... my experience notwithstanding, the science says that organic foods, although more expensive, are in fact better for you because they have more nutrients, less toxic metal and fewer pesticides. However, organics (as I found out) do not have fewer bacteria, so you're still supposed to thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables.
|Now these are organic|
5. Snuggling. Being physically close, holding hands, giving backrubs all tend to reduce physical pain. One study from Colorado looked at 22 heterosexual couples. The women were subjected to mild pain, first when their male partner was holding their hand, then when they were sitting together but not touching. The women reported significantly less pain when they were holding hands -- but not when they were just sitting there. It seems we can share each others' pain, and when we do, it actually makes us feel better.
6. Herbs and spices. They are full of healthy compounds that reduce inflammation, and since they offer interesting flavors they lead us to use less salt, sugar and fat in our foods. The list is a long one. Cinnamon may help reduce inflammation. Cumin can play a role in weight loss. Garlic may reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Ginger helps an upset stomach. Turmeric may improve memory and help ease pain.
7. Coffee ... and tea. Coffee perks you up, and tea helps you relax, according to WebMD. Coffee may help stave off Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, diabetes and liver disease, and the recurrence of colon cancer. Tea boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol; and studies have suggested that tea drinkers have lower than average risk of skin, breast and prostate cancer.
8. Cannabidiol, or CBD. Well, I'm still skeptical about this one. Nevertheless, as reports come in they seem to be more and more positive about the substance. CBD is the non-psychoactive element in marijuana. There is increasing scientific evidence that it helps relieve pain, lower anxiety, and possibly reduce high blood pressure. I don't know. I haven't ingested any CBD since the 1970s. How about you?
9. Housework. The AARP cites a worldwide study on physical activity that found "doing household chores can be just as effective as running or working out when it comes to cutting your risk of heart disease and extending your life." The crux of the issue is that any type of physical activity is better than sitting and reading or watching TV, and it doesn't matter much whether you're walking on a treadmill or pushing around a vacuum, using the stairmaster or bending and stooping in the garden.
10. Religion. Taking part in prayers and rituals on a regular basis has been shown to prevent isolation, decrease risk of depression, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. The benefits of religion, or spirituality, are not associated with any particular religion, and may in large part come from social support and perhaps having a sense of purpose in life. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that people who attend church regularly are healthier; they lead longer lives, have more robust immune systems and experience better recovery times from surgery.
P. S. on pets. As I mentioned in my last post, it is possible to catch a disease from your pet. Still and all, according to the CDC, "The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners." How can you argue with that?