In a recent article in Good Housekeeping magazine, twenty-five centenarians were interviewed to discover their secrets of longevity.
While you would think that many of their lifestyle choices would be extreme health fads or habits, they are actually more normal and homespun than you might think. Ice cream and chocolate made the list. So did beer, wine, whiskey, and gin and tonic. One lady loved bacon and potatoes, every day.
Ordinary foods like coffee, eggs, sushi, olive oil, oatmeal, homegrown vegetables and honey were all diet staples of these super-seniors.
Social choices also showed up – one woman claimed that her long healthy life was a result of her staying single, while another gentleman attributed his reaching old age to brain games that kept him fresh and aware.
Sleeping, dancing, and running were favored activities, while some elders revealed that they credited their daily infusions of diet Coke, M&Ms, and other junk foods. One elegant lady even named “fancy lingerie” as her reason to keep living on.
The point is, we have a lot of latitude on what we should be eating, drinking, thinking, or doing – it’s really more about the meaning of what we do, not the actual deeds.
But the predominant theme amongst these over-100 role models was… less stress. "Don't worry about the little things if you can't do anything about it” was the battle cry of one 107-year-old. “Forget about it!”
Now that’s a lesson we can all live longer by.
Hidden Dangers in Spring Cleaning
With the best of intentions, many of us are unwittingly toxifying our homes with the cleansing agents we choose to freshen our houses after the long winter. In “The Active Times,” Christina Byrnes alerts us to some of the hidden dangers in spring cleaning.
For example, most sprays and cleaners you would use on your carpeting or upholstery contains perchloroethylene, a neurotoxic carcinogen. Simple dish-washing detergents often have triclosan, a super-heavy-duty antibacterial agent that is so strong, it tends to propagate drug-resistant organisms. Borax is poisonous to the human reproductive organs, and is now banned from use in Europe, yet it continues to be included in many American detergent products. And fabric softeners contain quaternary ammonium compounds, which are harsh on the skin and also are linked to certain respiratory disorders.
Window and glass cleaners have butoxyethanol, sink polish has ammonia, toilet cleaners have chlorine, and oven cleaners have lye (sodium hydroxide), all of which are irritants to the skin, mucous membranes, and even your kidneys.
Furniture polish often uses petroleum products and ammonia that are caustic to skin, eyes, throat, and lungs, and drain cleaners often have sulfuric acid to clear the plumbing, but also can burn skin and eyes, not to mention the esophagus, stomach, kidneys, liver and digestive tract if swallowed.
Ridding your home of mold and mildew is a good step, but unfortunately the alkyl ammonium chloride will sear the respiratory tract if inhaled. And mothballs, made of naphthalene and p-dichlorobenzene, are incredibly toxic, causing headaches, vertigo, cataracts and liver damage.
Flea-and-tick treatments can be poisonous to humans as well as insects. Many products include chemical pesticides that can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea, and insecticides you may use to keep pests out of your home can also cause such serious symptoms.
These are all common household products that carry a certain element of danger, but the risks of spring cleaning are not limited to chemical agents. For example, the heavy lifting and moving of furniture may compromise your structure, in the form of back injuries, arm and shoulder issues or fatigue. Slips and falls on wet floors are frequent, resulting in every kind of strain, sprain, contusion or laceration. And one of the most usual accidents in spring cleaning is falling off a ladder, again causing a wide spectrum of injuries.
So, here are some guidelines to avoid unnecessary harm from your spring cleaning activities.
1. Pace yourself. Plan and schedule sufficient time to complete your cleaning project – rushing makes it more likely that something may go wrong. Decide how many days (or weeks) you will invest and do your best to stay on that plan.
2. Choose organic or at least more natural products to clean your home. Every supermarket sells at least one line of green products – read labels, decide if they suit your needs, and patronize brands that use safer formulas.
3. If you must lift something heavy or climb up a ladder, use common sense and good body mechanics to minimize the likelihood of needless injury. Ask your chiropractor if you are up to the task at hand.
4. Get help. Don’t be a martyr – spring cleaning time means all hands on deck! Mobilize your troops when possible so no one has to bear too much of the burden.
5. If you do have to use toxic substances, do your best to ventilate the area so you are breathing good air and not only the chemical vapors.
Having a sparkling clean home is terrific, but not if the process makes you sick. Use good time management, cleaner household products and safe lifting and climbing techniques, and you can have a tidy home and a healthy body, too.
Oh No! Not Broccoli!
Few vegetables have the difficult public image of broccoli, especially since President Bush called it his least favorite food. Broccoli isn’t sweet and colorful like carrots, satisfying and salty like French-fried potatoes, crisp and juicy like lettuce or elegant and mysterious like asparagus.
When Popeye squeezed open a can of spinach, kids everywhere wanted to be super-strong like him. But broccoli is often overlooked, and it’s a shame, because it’s one of the most nutritious vegetables you and your family can eat.
Broccoli has many nutrients that facilitate better body function. For example, broccoli has vitamin C and glucosinolates, which de-stress your cells and protect them against aging and damage. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which improves your blood sugar metabolism.
This means that broccoli is not only a nourishing all-purpose food, it’s also good for your brain. And, studies have demonstrated that broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables, reduces the risk of lung, bladder and prostate cancer.
So, how can you break through the bad attitude many people have toward broccoli, and get your family to eat it?
A good start is to choose flavorful recipes that feature broccoli’s nutty, substantial taste. Steam it for a few minutes until bright green, and sprinkle with lemon juice and pistachio oil, or melt cheddar cheese over it. Fry it quickly over a high heat in garlic and olive oil. Or wash it thoroughly, cut it into small flowerets and serve it as a crunchy appetizer with yummy dill dip.
You can even bake it into a quiche if you want to get fancy, but whatever you do, find ways to insert a little broccoli into your diet – it’s a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals, and adds new dimensions of flavor, too!