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8 Lifestyle Hacks to Boost Your Health

Do you know that the eyes are the windows to your health? Are you curious about what skin and earwax have in common? Why should you not brush your teeth after eating? There are eight simple, often overlooked health hacks that can maintain or improve your overall health. These hacks are easy to adopt and can benefit you for years to come.

Key takeaways:

Just when you think you’re healthy, there is another product or activity that claims it will improve your well-being. These eight science-based, easy health hacks do not require expensive products and will boost your health with a few small adjustments in your daily routine.

1. Eyes are windows into your health

Consenting to have your eyes dilated at your routine eye exam may save your vision or even your life. When your pupils are wide open, more light enters the eye, making it easier for your eye doctor to see the back of your eye, the optic nerve, and evidence of various diseases.

With dilation, your eye doctor can see signs of:

  • Glaucoma. Increasing intraocular pressure leading to blindness.
  • Cataracts. Thickening and clouding of the lens, blurring vision.
  • Age-related macular degeneration. Deterioration of part of the retina causing blindness.
  • High blood pressure. Evidenced by narrowed blood vessels, discolored spots, and bleeding.
  • Diabetes. Retina damage from high blood sugar.
  • Detached retina. The retina pulls away from smaller vessels that feed it, causing blindness.
  • Ocular tumors. Cancerous tumors that can spread.

You may find you are sensitive to light or cannot read clearly for a few hours after the dilation, but the inconvenience is worth it if you can prevent a more serious health issue.

For early detection and prevention, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends healthy adults have a dilated exam at age 40, then every 2 to 4 years between ages 40 and 54, every 1 to 3 years between ages 55 and 64, and every 1 to 2 years thereafter.

2. Is napping healthy?

Napping is popular in many parts of the world. However, a 2022 study showed that those under age 60 who napped almost daily had a 20% higher risk of high blood pressure than those who rarely napped.

This does not mean you should never nap. If you are healthy and get adequate nighttime sleep, you may benefit from an occasional short nap if you are going to be up late that night or simply want to relax for 20 minutes.

3. Add balance to your workout

We know that balance therapy helps prevent falls as you age. What is not widely known is that balance exercises improve stability at all ages, making it a worthwhile add to your daily routine.

Balance work can be as simple as standing on one foot for 10 seconds, then shifting to the other foot and repeating. Other balance hacks include standing up from a seated position without using your hands 10 times and walking heel to toe in a straight line across the room.

Tai chi and yoga are sources of more advanced movement and balance training.

4. Skin: your first line of defense

Not only is beauty skin deep, but so is your body’s first line of protection from the outside world. Your skin defends you from bacteria, viruses, and environmental hazards and contributes to your overall health.

The skin is a protective layer with many functions. It houses nerve endings that detect when something is hot or sharp. Skin cells turn sunlight into vitamin D to maintain bone health. Sweat glands and small blood vessels in your skin also help control your temperature by allowing sweat and heat to evaporate.

To maintain a strong first line of defense, you should wash with warm, not hot, water and mild soap to prevent dry, cracked skin. Protective clothing and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 prevent sun damage when properly applied. If you are prone to freckling and moles, an annual skin checks by a dermatologist is recommended to identify skin cancers.

Staying hydrated, sleeping well, reducing stress, and using light moisturizers also help maintain your body’s protective armor.

5. Earwax: a first-line protector

Earwax (cerumen), like skin, is a first-line protector. Made of secretions from small glands in the ear canal, dead skin, small hairs shed inside the ear, and bacteria from the ear’s surface, earwax is thick, sticky, and wet. These properties enhance its ability as a natural lubricant, water repellant, and cleanser.

You need earwax to moisturize the ear canal and prevent itching and cracks that could allow bacterial or fungal infections to develop.

As a cleanser, earwax sticks to dead skin cells, hair, dirt, and bacteria inside the ear canal. Normal jaw movements propel the wax and its contents toward the outer ear, where it falls out or washes away.

Earwax is also a water repellant, preventing water from reaching and damaging the eardrum.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology warns that earwax should not be removed unless it is problematic. When you wash your hair, your ears are naturally cleansed. Your ears should be gently dried with a soft towel. The AAO advises against inserting cotton swabs, as they remove protective wax and can damage the eardrum.

There are people who produce too much earwax, resulting in difficulty hearing. In these situations, a physician should evaluate and remove the wax to prevent further blockage and damage to the eardrum.

6. Cardio vs. strength training

There has been much debate on the benefits of cardio (aerobic exercise) vs. strength training. A new study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that doing one to three hours per week of both aerobic exercise and strength training is more effective at reducing your risk of dying than doing just cardio or strength training.

The study revealed that those who participated in one hour of moderate to intense aerobic activity lowered their mortality risk by 15%. However, this risk decreased by 27% in participants who added one to two weekly strength-training sessions to their aerobic routine.

With this new study, there is evidence to support that doing both cardio and strength will reduce your risk of mortality the most.

7. Am I brushing my teeth wrong?

For years, mothers have insisted that teeth be brushed after eating to prevent cavities. In contrast, the American Dental Association (ADA) determined that you should not brush right after you eat, especially if you ate something acidic.

If you brush too soon after you have acidic food or drinks (carbonated beverages, sports drinks, tomatoes, citrus fruit or juice, and sour candy), you brush away the protective enamel on your teeth which is softened by acidic foods or drinks. The ADA recommends waiting at least an hour to brush to allow your saliva to wash away the acid and to let your enamel harden.

8. Do I need 3 square meals?

The American Heart Association (AHA) has determined that you do not need to eat 3 square meals a day. The AHA says that regardless of the number of meals you eat per day, your total calorie intake should be based on body size. What you eat, and the amount is more important in preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions than eating 3 square meals a day.

Whether it’s preserving your natural defenses by caring for your skin and earwax or integrating both cardio and strength training to reduce your risk of mortality, there are always easy tweaks to keep our health on track. Some are surprising, like not brushing after you eat or how much your eye doctor can learn about your health if your eyes are dilated. Whatever the case, improving your health is eight simple hacks away.



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