Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Old Health Rules You Can Ignore

When nutrition experts first urged us to fill our plates with brightly hued produce, it made sense. Researchers were discovering the powerful benefits of a crayon box of antioxidants, from red (lycopene in tomatoes) to blue and purple (anthocyanins in berries and grapes), to orange (beta-carotene in carrots).
New Thinking: White is a Color, Too
Cauliflower packs the powerful cancer-combating compounds also found in its flashy cousin, broccoli. Garlic and onions may be pale, but they protect against stomach and colorectal cancer. And portobello and cremini mushrooms are just as rich in antioxidants as green beans, carrots, and red peppers.

Old Rule #2: Eat Meat for Iron
For years, women have been advised to eat moderate amounts of lean beef because it's the best source of iron. Bad news for burger fans: A three-ounce patty may deliver 2.2 milligrams, but there's compelling evidence that red meat's heme iron increases heart-disease risk for some women. It's also associated with a higher risk of colon cancer.
New Thinking: Go Green for Iron
If you're under 50, the recommended daily allowance is 18 milligrams, and after menopause, it plunges to 8 milligrams. Healthy non-heme sources: dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruits, and blackstrap molasses. Eat these alongside produce high in vitamin C, which helps you absorb the iron.
Old Rule #3: Avoid Processed Foods
It's still good advice if you're considering things like cookies, white bread, and sweet cereals. These can be loaded with sugar and may also lack the nutrients you find in less-refined products.
New Thinking: Not All Fast Foods are Created Equal
Canned light tuna, frozen brown rice, whole-grain pasta...stock up on these (and prepped veggies), and you can have a healthy dinner in a flash. For extra benefits, include processed legumes such as canned beans (lower-sodium varieties). A recent review found legumes help prevent obesity and minimize some of the health risks of being overweight.
Old Rule #4: Choose Wild Salmon
We've all read about the risks of PCBs in farmed salmon, yet we've been shocked by wild salmon's hefty price. Now, Harvard researchers have put the risk in perspective: If 100,000 people ate farmed salmon twice a week for 70 years, the PCB intake could potentially cause 24 extra deaths from cancer - but that salmon also would prevent at least 7,000 deaths from heart disease.
New Thinking: Swim With Lots Of Fishes
Your goal is to eat more sustainable seafood: Try lesser-known species like pollock, mackerel, and whiting. To make environmentally friendly choices while you shop, download the free Seafood Watch app from Monterey Bay Aquarium. The app includes ProjectFishMap, a restaurant-and-market locator.

Old Rule #5: Stretch Before a Workout
Grade school gym teachers promised that stretching would prevent pulled muscles, and ever since, you've probably started your workouts by reaching for your toes. But static stretches (the ones you hold) don't really protect against injuries -- and they can hurt your regimen. In studies, exercisers who get right to it can lift more weight and run faster than those who stretch first.
New Thinking: Warm Up With Exercise
Ease into your workout -- say, with a slow jog, suggests Lynn Millar, Ph.D., professor of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. But do finish off your session with stretches -- that will improve your range of motion: "Just 10 minutes of stretching at least two to three times a week is probably enough to give you the benefit you want," says Millar.
Old Rule #6: Replace Shoes Every Six Months
Beyond the obvious -- such as visible wear on the outsoles or creasing in the midsoles -- studies haven't turned up much solid evidence on the right time to trade in your workout shoes.
New Thinking: Mix Up Your Footwear
Researchers in Luxembourg found that runners who rotated among different pairs of running shoes had a 39% lower injury risk. Hey, it's not every day you learn that buying more shoes is actually good for you!
Old Rule #7: Squats Kill Your Knees
Trainers often warn that if you have knee problems, you should skip doing squats or -- at the least -- be extra careful not to let your knees go past your toes.
New Thinking: Do More Squats!
They strengthen your butt and thighs, which in turn helps stabilize your knee joints. As for the knees-over-toes rule, don't go overboard: Pulling back may increase hip stress and the load on your lower back. 
Old Rule #8: Get a Pap Test Every Year
Ob-gyns once believed the annual Pap was necessary to find cell abnormalities that could lead to cancer of the cervix.
New Thinking: No Pap Ever?
In April, the Food and Drug Administration recommended that for women 25 and over, doctors can skip the Pap and just use a new DNA HPV test that directly detects dangerous strains of the cancer-causing virus. (Doctors are now considering that recommendation.) Meanwhile, here's another annual-exam update: Your ob-gyn may want to talk about your weight. Ouch.
Old Rule #9: Launder in Cold Water
It may be kinder to the planet, but microbiologists have shown that after a cool wash, our clean undies may be anything but. Which also means your dishtowels could be picking up fecal matter!
New Thinking: Bring on the Heat
Wash with hot water, separating germy clothes (socks, sheets, undies) from washcloths and dishtowels. Also, scrub your hands after handling dirty laundry.
Old Rule #10: Brush After Meals
Bad idea if you've just had a very acidic food or drink (e.g., soda, citrus fruits, tomatoes, wine, coffee, tea). Acid weakens tooth enamel, so you may scrub it away.
New Thinking: Swish and Wait
To get rid of food particles, rinse with water after a meal. You should then brush 30 to 60 minutes later, once your tooth enamel has had a chance to reharden.

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