Eight glasses of water, five to seven servings of fruits and veggies, eight hours of sleep. Just keeping track of health recommendations can be exhausting, let alone following them.
Here are 12 health rules that are ok – and sometimes even good – to break.
1. Don’t eat food that’s fallen on the floor: Many bacteria will be found on that food, but most of them are not dangerous, still, if food sits on the floor for long enough, larger critters can dig in to it. If it’s been there overnight, don’t eat it.
2. Stay away from people with colds: Unless you have lung disease or bad asthma, it’s fine to be around people with colds. You should not be so health obsessed as to engage in antisocial behavior. Still, you don’t want to catch a cold. So be sure to wash your hands afterward with soap and warm water or use a hand sanitizer because cold germs spread through contact.
3. Get eight hours of sleep a night: Many people naturally tend toward eight hours. But everyone is different and data show that people who sleep seven hours a night actually live longer. Are you well rested the next day or are you tired? The key really is how you feel.
4. Eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables everyday: There’s no study showing that amount is optimal. Studies do show that people who eat more fruits and veggies tend to be healthier. But no one has compared five to seven servings to, for example, three to five. So do eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. And if having a number of daily servings to shoot for helps you, great. But don’t get too obsessed with that 5-7 number.
5. When it comes to exercise, no pain, no gain: You need to make an effort. But you don’t need to work out to the point of exhaustion if your goal is a healthier heart. For instance, if you walk for an hour at a 4-mile pace, you’ll burn about 400 calories. That’s in the same range as running for 30 minutes at a pace of 10 minutes per mile. Moderate to intense activity, done regularly, is enough. There is no evidence additional intensity buys additional heart health, say the experts.
6. Sterilize baby bottles nipples and pacifiers: The water supply of most of Dominica is very safe, so it’s no longer necessary to worry about babies contracting illnesses from the water supply. The only exception is if a family gets its water from a well or other source, as one might expect.
7. Older children should have an annual check-up with blood work: There is no proof that annual check-ups detect unknown illnesses, say the experts. Unless health issues are involved, children older than 7 should be seen periodically (every two to three years) to watch growth and update immunizations. You may want to discuss the frequency of check-ups with your pediatrician.
8. Keep your usual beauty routine when traveling: It’s ok to pare down to travel light. Here are some tips.
• Take an all-in-one shampoo – cleanser – conditioner instead of packing shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.
• Use lotion (or sunscreen) on the body and face.
• Petrolatum products (like Aquaphor or Vaseline) come in small trial-size tubes and can be used as eye cream, hand moisturizer, and lip balm.
9. Never skip workouts: Being physically active is good for you. But once in a while, getting extra rest can refresh your mind and body and help prevent exercise burnout. So cut yourself some slack – especially if you’re sick or injured – but not too much.
10. Eat as healthy as possible everyday: It’s ok to occasionally eat high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Just not too often, and not too much. Eat as well as possible during the week, but on Saturdays eat some favorite foods in moderation. This pattern gives people something to look forward to and seems to help them stick to healthy eating habits. Look at the big picture of your eating habits, rather that obsessing about every piece of food at every meal. For example, a meal that only consists of salad and a slice of whole grain bread may be short on protein. But you can make it up with other meals or snacks, according to the experts.
11. A woman shouldn’t lift weights unless she wants bulky muscles: Women don’t have enough testosterone or other male androgen hormones needed to really bulk up. Lifting low to moderate amounts of weight, multiple times, tones muscle but does not oversize them. And weight training can be good for a woman’s bones, helping guard against osteoporosis.
12. Drink eight glasses of water per day: Staying hydrated is a good idea, but think beyond your water glass – other liquids count. So do foods such as lettuce, melons and soup that are full of water.
Rules are made to be broken. But take a commonsense approach.
See you next week.
People of the north, Dr. Victor Emanuel will be in Portsmouth on Fridays from 8 am to 3 pm at Bayside Medical Center across from the police station
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