Health Tips | Happiness is green tea, apple smoothies, zen meditation, and sex

December 9, 2010 by David Despain

Credit: stock image

This week’s Health Tips column brings you ideas for finding happiness, tips for living to a ripe old age, parenting advice, and new ways to help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, and prevent chronic diseases.

HAPPINESS IS…

A social life. One reason why religious people tend to be happy and satisfied with their lives is not because of their beliefs, but belonging to a community [American Sociological Association].

Having frequent sex with your partner. It reduces the likelihood of being irritated with each other [Social Psychological and Personality Science].

Meditation. It can be just as powerful as antidepressant drugs in preventing depressive relapse [Archives of General Psychiatry]. Zen meditation can also train the brain to reduce sensitivity to pain from arthritis, back pain, or cancer [Universite de Montreal].

LIVING TO A RIPE OLD AGE IS ABOUT…

Maintaining the right attitude — how you feel about yourself, keeping up your self-esteem, coping with stress, and adapting to challenges [University of Georgia].

Staying mobile — spending more time outdoors, pursuing hobbies, walking and talking with friends, or even going shopping. [Economic and Social Research Council].

Hiring a dietitian for hospitalized elderly — they reduce risk of repeat hospitalization and live longer when they adhere to highly personalized dietary advice [J of the American Geriatric Society].

FOOD AND SUPPLEMENTS

Lose weight by drinking green tea after meals. It keeps you feeling fuller longer, which helps stop you from overeating. That may partly explain why green tea is linked to lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes [Nutrition Journal].

Stay heart-healthy with whey protein shakes. These high-protein beverages fit into a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan and can help you lower blood pressure, along with total and LDL cholesterol levels, in just six weeks [International Dairy Journal].

Prevent colon cancer with apple smoothies. Unlike drinking apple juice or apple cider, apple smoothies provide higher quantities of antioxidant polyphenols, which protect the colon [Mol Nutr Food Res].

Eat fruits and vegetables for stronger bones. They provide flavonoids, which slow loss of bone minerals such as calcium [J Bone Miner Res].

MEDICAL TREATMENTS

Long-term low-dose aspirin for cancer prevention. Treatment for 5 years or longer reduces risk of several common cancers by 20 to 30 percent [Lancet]. It can also increase the sensitivity of detecting colon cancer early [JAMA].

Think you might have HIV? Get diagnosed and treated early. By using anti-retrovirals within the first few months following infection, you could avoid damage to your immune system and delay the need for long-term retroviral treatment [Imperial College of London].

Early physical therapy is best for lower back pain. It can avoid future need for steroid injections and surgeries [Spine].

Are you quitting smoking, using tobacco cessation medication? It’s not just for your lungs, but your heart too. Those who use the medication have almost half the risk of being admitted to the hospital for a heart attack [PlosOne Medicine].

PARENTING ADVICE

Planning parenthood? There’s an app for that. A new iPhone app called iCyclebeads makes it easy for a woman to know if this is a day when pregnancy is likely or not [Georgetown University Medical Center].

Help your child get good grades. It’s linked to them taking better care of their health [University of Wisconsin-Madison].

Keep kids away from second-hand smoke. It’s harmful for many reasons, including increased risk of bacterial diseases such as meningitis [PlosOne].

Got a new (documented) health tip? Clue us in