||Last Updated: Jun 26, 2013 - 10:00:38 AM
That was the headline of a blog post earlier this year from lifestyledezine.com, and while the nine “secrets” aren’t really secrets at all, the underlying theme is sound – biology aside, we have some control over our well-being. Most of these “secrets” are well known and just one (in my reading of the literature) is debatable. Here are the nine.
1. Make friends a priority. It’s not a standard recommendation, but the research is clear – there’s a strong connection between friendships and a healthy immune system. The lifestyledezine article cites studies out of Harvard, Sweden and Buffalo to fortify the point that individuals with strong friendships (aka “positive social attachments”) were less likely to suffer from heart disease, depression and anxiety, and less prone to suffer memory loss and other cognitive disorders.
2. Embrace bacteria. In most circles, “bacteria” remains something of a dirty word, and that’s probably not the healthiest thing. The article maintains: “ ‘Good’ germs can improve your metabolism, enhance your immunity and reduce inflammation,” and then cites a study out of the University of California, San Diego that found that “the more bacteria you have on the surface of your skin, the better you combat inflammation.”
3. Focus on reducing stress. The lifestyledezine article highlights three studies (out of Duke, USC and the American Psychological Assn.) that support what we’ve learned from the popular press: 1. It’s important to learn relaxation techniques, and the sooner the better (not surprisingly, the APA study found that stress is a top health concern for high school students); 2. Stress increases your chance of contracting an infection; and 3. Exercise can reduce body tension by as much as 20%. And the article offers two more semi-standard suggestions: laugh often, and eat a diet rich in vegetables (green and raw).
4. Take more naps. It’s no secret – we’re a sleep deprived nation and the more sleep we can garner, the better. Recently a sleep expert offered this tip: if you’re going to take a nap, make it for 20 minutes or less, or 90 minutes or more.
5. Lean on herbal remedies more than supplements. As popular as supplements are, and have been for the last decade or two, they are coming under increasing scrutiny, with experts reminding us that minerals and nutrients gathered from our food supply – as opposed to synthetic sources – is the wiser, healthier choice. Adds lifestyledezine.com: “Skip pre-packaged bottled versions and sip unflavored loose-leaf green tea.”
6. Eat garlic. But not in mixed company.
7. Eat less. I knew that.
8. Stay pH balanced. I’ll be honest, as careful as I am about watching what I eat, I rarely (read: never) think in terms of my pH balance. The lifestyledezine article says that “when pH levels fall below [the midpoint], the body suffers from a condition called acidosis, which even in minor cases can cause fatigue, rapid breathing, stomach problems and confusion.” No surprise here: most vegetables are alkalizing, balancing the acidic nature of meats and sugars most common in the American diet.
9. Detox regularly. This is the “secret” with which I take issue. My reading of the literature sees no scientific basis for this recommendation. Webmd.com quotes Frank Sacks, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health: “There is no basis in human biology that indicates we need fasting or any other detox formula to detoxify the body because we have our own internal organs and immune system that take care of excreting toxins." Webmd.com defines detoxing as follows: “Detoxing is based on the concept that your body needs help getting rid of unwanted toxins from contaminants in processed foods and the environment”).
Steve Ferber is author of “21 Rules to Live By.” Prior columns on “Unconventional Wisdom” are available at http://riveresque.blogspot.com.