Most publications (even HelloBeautiful!) feature story after story of all the little things women should do to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Today, someone’s finally done massive research (like, over-a-million-women massive) to come up with a master list of the top 16 health rules every woman should stick to. Want to know what they are? See the first 5 below, then read the rest at Daily Mail.
1. DON’T BE TOO CLEAN
Around 30 per cent of British women don’t wash their hands enough for good hygiene, according to studies by the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
However, soap and water are sufficient – and using too many high-tech anti-bacterial products can be counter-productive.
Not only will they not stop colds and flu (which are transmitted by viruses, not bacteria), but they could affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our bodies, allowing stronger bugs to become dominant, says leading American microbiologist Dr Mary Ruebush, author of Why Dirt Is Good.
Most micro-organisms cause no problem, and many, like the ones that normally live in the digestive tract and produce life-sustaining nutrients, are essential to good health – these are the ones, she says, that are usually wiped out by anti-bacterial agents.
2. GO ON THE PILL
It will dramatically cut your risk of ovarian cancer, the silent killer, as the Million Women Study found. Furthermore, you will continue to be protected for at least 30 years after you stop. The study has shown that for every five years a woman has been on the Pill, her relative risk of ovarian cancer is cut by 20 per cent.
Those who take it for 15 years cut their risk by half.
3. DRINK TEA
Gum disease is emerging as a major factor in heart disease. The germs in the mouth create thousands of tiny blood clots, which can cause a narrowing of the arteries, a common cause of heart attacks.
With cardiovascular disease killing more women a year than breast cancer, it’s essential to keep gum disease at bay. One of the best ways to fight cavities and reduce plaque – a precursor to gum disease – is drinking black tea. American researchers have found compounds in it not only kill cavity-causing bacteria in dental plaque, but affect an enzyme – glucosyltranferase – which helps convert sugars into the sticky material plaque uses to stick to teeth.
On exposure to black tea, bacteria also lose their ability to form clumps with other bacteria in plaque, thereby reducing the total mass of the dental plaque.
4. TAKE FOLIC ACID
It’s a supplement most women associate with preventing birth defects – you should take 400 mcgs for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But it also reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in women. AMD is a progressive eye disorder which is often untreatable, and leads to blindness.
Now the world-renowned Harvard Medical School has shown folic acid taken with vitamins B6 and B12 reduced the risk of this debilitating condition by a staggering 41 per cent. ‘The beneficial effect of treatment began to emerge at approximately two years of follow-up and persisted throughout the sevenyear trial,’ said the researchers.
In the trial, participants (who were aged over 40) took a daily 2.5 milligrams of folic acid, 50 mgs of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of vitamin B12.
5. AVOID COLA DRINKS
Diet colas often contain phosphate in the form of phosphoric acid, used to improve the flavour (it’s labelled as E338 on the ingredients list). But phosphoric acid has been shown to interfere with calcium absorption.
According to the highly regarded Framingham Osteoporosis Study, there is a particular link between colas and low bone mineral density in older women. The research found bone density in women who consumed just five carbonated drinks (including four colas) a week was 4 per cent lower.
‘This is quite significant when you are talking about the skeleton,’ said Katherine Tucker, at the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University. The National Osteoporosis Society recommends women cut their intake of fizzy drinks.
Think your workout’s going nowhere? Maybe you’re buying into one of many fitness myths.
Think your diet leaves little to be desired. Here are ten ways to eat healthy.