25 STRATE­GIES FOR SELF-RE­NEWAL

RE­GEN­ER­ATE FASTER

iD magazine - - Body & Mind -

What re­ally helps al­le­vi­ate a headache? How can you grow mus­cles faster? And which mu­sic strength­ens your heart? Ex­perts re­veal the best tricks of self-heal­ing and ex­plain the strate­gies that can help you ex­tend your life…

1 HOW CAN YOU FIGHT JET LAG?

Even the choice of which food we eat dur­ing a long-dis­tance flight can have an im­pact on our cir­ca­dian rhythm—and there­fore also on whether we feel jet lag. For ex­am­ple, car­bo­hy­drate-rich foods make us feel tired. When fly­ing east, choose fruit, pota­toes, pasta, or yogurt in or­der to stim­u­late the nat­u­ral need for sleep. On the other hand, pro­tein-rich foods help sup­press tired­ness so we can stay awake longer. When fly­ing west, opt for meat, cheese, eggs, or fish.

2 CAN YOU PLAY AWAY YOUR DE­PRES­SION?

Al­though many of us play games on our com­put­ers, con­soles, or smart­phones, they have ac­quired a bad rep­u­ta­tion: Some say that gam­ing pro­motes ag­gres­sion and poor health. But re­searchers in New Zealand have proved just the op­po­site with a fan­tasy role-play­ing game called SPARX. The game is said to help cure young peo­ple of de­pres­sion: Gamers kill mon­sters in the vir­tual world that rep­re­sent neg­a­tive feel­ings. In tri­als with 168 de­pressed ado­les­cents, 44% had fully re­cov­ered from their de­pres­sion. Also, two-thirds of the re­main­ing study sub­jects saw an up to 30% re­duc­tion in their symp­toms, as es­tab­lished by the psy­chol­o­gists who worked on the study. Such dig­i­tal health games can also be uti­ilzed to treat anx­i­ety and even asthma.

3 HOW DO YOU ERASE A TRAUMA?

To­day many ther­a­pists urge pa­tients to speak about a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence right af­ter it hap­pens so the emo­tions can be al­lowed to flow. Mean­while, many psy­chother­a­pists warn against us­ing this method. Rea­son: It can lead to “over-re­mem­ber­ing” for the pa­tient and ex­ac­er­bate post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD). In­stead, Uni­ver­sity of Mu­nich trauma spe­cial­ist Willi Bu­tollo rec­om­mends us­ing this ap­proach: “In the acute phase of the first 48 hours, all ther­a­peu­tic in­ter­ven­tion should be avoided.” Those who must digest a ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence stay silent and sup­press the or­deal— this is healthy and per­mit­ted. Af­ter this phase (which varies in length across in­di­vid­u­als), pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing can start. Full re­cov­ery from a trauma may take sev­eral years. And we can’t to­tally delete it from mem­ory. But phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are work­ing on a pill that en­ables tar­geted mem­ory dele­tion.

4 DOES DEN­TAL FLOSS PRO­TECT MY HEART?

What hardly any­one knows: Ef­fec­tive teeth clean­ing is as im­por­tant for a long healthy life as phys­i­cal ex­er­cise— that’s the find­ing of a study of 100,000 par­tic­i­pants that took place over the course of seven years. Pro­fes­sional den­tal clean­ing re­duced the risk of a stroke by 13%, while heart at­tack risk de­creased by al­most 25%. The rea­son: The fre­quently un­no­ticed but pro­gres­sive in­flam­ma­tion of gums (pe­ri­odon­ti­tis) cre­ates a breed­ing ground for germs. And once they pen­e­trate the oral mu­cosa and en­ter the blood­stream, they can travel to dis­tant ar­eas of the body.

5 DOES GAR­LIC KEEP MY HEART FIT?

Gar­lic cleans out the blood ves­sels. The sul­furous com­pounds in the bulb, which are re­spon­si­ble for its typ­i­cal odor, re­duce blood lipid lev­els and pro­tect ves­sels against dan­ger­ous de­posits. Th­ese sul­fides keep the ar­ter­ies elas­tic and en­cour­age blood flow. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases like heart at­tacks and strokes can there­fore ef­fec­tively be pre­vented. Gar­lic can even ac­cel­er­ate re­gen­er­a­tion af­ter a heart at­tack or heart surgery.

6 HOW DO YOU HEAL A BRUISE FASTER?

Nor­mally it takes two to three weeks un­til a bruise is gone. But this re­cov­ery time can be short­ened with an easy trick: Cool it as soon as you get it! This draws the ves­sels be­neath the skin to­gether so less blood en­ters the tis­sue, and it also numbs the pain. But: Ex­perts ad­vise cool­ing the wound for no more than five min­utes, oth­er­wise the body’s en­doge­nous re­pair func­tions are im­paired. Avoid move­ment and heat for the first 24 hours, as both stim­u­late blood flow and bleed­ing. Af­ter three days heat can help, as can ar­nica cream, which re­duces pain and in­flam­ma­tion. Im­por­tant: Don’t take aspirin. Acetyl­sal­i­cylic acid thins blood and makes the bruise worse.

7 HOW LONG DOES THE BODY TAKE TO RE­COVER FROM A MARATHON?

Hardly any sport­ing event is as stress­ful for the body as a marathon. Those who are none­the­less keen to try it will need to trans­port their body across a dis­tance of ex­actly 26.21875 miles. In the pro­cess each joint, each mus­cle, and each ten­don will be bur­dened by a to­tal load of 9,370 tons through­out the course of up to 50,000 steps. In ad­di­tion, the body also loses min­er­als and flu­ids. The loss of wa­ter alone can cause a per­son to quickly lose sev­eral pounds as a marathon pro­gresses. The only rea­son peo­ple can sur­vive such ex­treme stress is the in­cred­i­ble re­gen­er­a­tive power of the body. The re­pair pro­cess lasts three weeks: Bil­lions of cells are re­placed, thou­sands of mus­cle tears are re­paired, and dozens of in­stances of joint and ten­don in­flam­ma­tion are calmed.

8 WHICH MU­SIC STRENGTH­ENS MY HEART?

Mu­sic is not only good for the psy­che—it can also pro­long life. Es­pe­cially suit­able for this pur­pose: clas­si­cal mu­sic. Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford car­dio­vas­cu­lar medicine re­searcher Peter Sleight proved mu­sic with a re­cur­ring 10- sec­ond cy­cle has a hy­poten­sive ef­fect on blood pres­sure. Rea­son: Mu­sic with this rhythm mim­ics the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem. Arias by Verdi and Beethoven’s Sym­phony No. 9 work par­tic­u­larly well.

9 HOW DO I RE­LAX MY OVER-STRAINED EYES?

Like any mus­cle, those of the eye can at­ro­phy. Rea­son: As you work in front of a screen, eye mus­cles get used to the monotonous set­ting.

To coun­ter­act this pro­cess, here are 6 re­gen­er­a­tion strate­gies:

1. Cover your eyes with your hands so you are block­ing out as much light as pos­si­ble. Spend two to three min­utes imag­in­ing a col­or­ful land­scape. Re­peat this ex­er­cise one or two times per day.

2. Choose an ob­ject at least 20 feet away from you and ex­plore it with your eyes. The ex­er­cise can be per­formed sev­eral times a day with dif­fer­ent ob­jects.

3. Look at a dis­tant ob­ject and then ad­just your fo­cus by fix­ing your gaze on an ob­ject in the fore­ground. Then al­ter­nate fo­cus be­tween the dis­tant and nearby ob­jects.

4. Close your eyes and turn your eye­balls up­ward as if you’re look­ing at the ceil­ing. Hold this po­si­tion for two breaths as you breathe deeply and calmly. Then shift your eye­balls down­ward and do the same. Then move eyes left to right and right to left.

5. Avoid light hit­ting your screen di­rectly. Re­flec­tions on the mon­i­tor ir­ri­tate the eyes.

6. Don’t for­get to blink while you work in front of a screen, as the con­stant star­ing can quickly dry out the eyes. Short blinks cleanse and mois­ten eyes.

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7 TRICKS TO USE AGAINST HEADACHES

10 Dr. Ron­ald Brand, spe­cial­ist at the Mi­graine and Headache Clinic König­stein: Ten­sion headaches can be re­lieved by gen­tly mas­sag­ing pep­per­mint oil into the fore­head and tem­ples.

11 Dr. Dag­mar Hemm, al­ter­na­tive medicine prac­ti­tioner: Ten­sion headaches can also be re­lieved with the Schuessler salt mag­ne­sium phos­pho­ricum D6 (Nr. 7). Dis­solve 10 tablets in hot wa­ter and sip slowly. Do not stir the so­lu­tion with a metal spoon.

12 Dr. Thomas Weiss, spe­cial­ist in gen­eral medicine, psy­chi­a­try, psy­chother­apy, and psy­cho­so­mat­ics: Close your eyes and lie down for a few min­utes. Also help­ful: drink­ing a bot­tle of wa­ter or tak­ing a con­trast shower that al­ter­nates hot and cold wa­ter.

13 Prof. Don­ald Pen­zien, di­rec­tor of the Head Pain Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi Med­i­cal Cen­ter: Lie on your back with one pil­low un­der your head and an­other pil­low un­der your knees. Lay your right hand on your up­per chest and your left hand be­low your ribs. Slowly in­hale through your nose and ex­hale through pursed lips, tight­en­ing your stom­ach mus­cles and then let­ting them sink in­ward.

14 Dr. Jan-peter Jansen, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Pain Cen­ter Ber­lin: I usu­ally take a com­bined prepa­ra­tion of 250 mg of aspirin, 200 mg of ac­etaminophen, and 50 mg of caf­feine. Take two tablets of this prepa­ra­tion, they will safely and re­li­ably be­gin to take ef­fect within a few min­utes.

15 Dr. Joseph Blau, co­founder of the City of Lon­don Mi­graine Clinic: Headaches of­ten oc­cur be­cause of a lack of wa­ter. Drink half a quart to 1 quart of wa­ter. The symp­toms should dis­ap­pear in­side of three hours—if de­hy­dra­tion was the cause of the pain at­tack.

16 Dr. Dagny Holle, prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at the West Ger­man Headache Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Duis­burg-essen: For mi­graines I re­sort to the usual trip­tan painkillers. But some­times, right at the very be­gin­ning of a mi­graine at­tack, drink­ing a strong cup of cof­fee or espresso with a dash of le­mon juice in it can be enough to causes a headache to van­ish be­fore it takes hold, which makes tak­ing any drugs un­nec­es­sary.

17 CAN A WALK THROUGH THE FOR­EST CLEAN MY LUNGS?

A sin­gle acre of for­est fil­ters al­most 330,000 pounds of dust and var­i­ous pol­lu­tants from the air each year—which is why the air qual­ity is up to 90% bet­ter in the for­est than it is in the city. In the woods we breathe fresh oxy­gen pro­duced by the trees. The ef­fect of this ben­e­fi­cial com­bi­na­tion: Dur­ing a walk in the for­est our lung ca­pac­ity in­creases, our blood pres­sure de­creases, and the elas­tic­ity of our ar­ter­ies im­proves.

18 CAN TOO MUCH SIT­TING SHORTEN MY LIFE?

What is more harm­ful to health? Sit­ting for eight hours or smok­ing a pack of cig­a­rettes a day? The an­swer has even sur­prised ex­pe­ri­enced doc­tors. A study by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy re­vealed that the health risks of sit­ting and of smok­ing are com­pa­ra­ble. “The ef­fects on the heart of long pe­ri­ods of sit­ting are sim­i­lar to those of smok­ing: cat­a­strophic,” says car­di­ol­o­gist David Coven. In ad­di­tion, Uni­ver­sity of Re­gens­burg re­searchers dis­cov­ered an alarm­ing con­nec­tion be­tween too much sit­ting and can­cer—specif­i­cally col­orec­tal, cer­vi­cal, and lung can­cer. The study showed that the risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer in­creases by up to 10% for ev­ery two hours of sit­ting time. So if you sit in an of­fice for eight hours at a time per day, you have a 40% higher risk of de­vel­op­ing one of th­ese three can­cers. What can you do if your job re­quires you to spend the day seated at a desk? Re­searchers rec­om­mend reg­u­lar in­ter­rup­tion of sit­ting in­ter­vals. Sim­ply get­ting up ev­ery half an hour and walk­ing around the of­fice for a few min­utes can markedly re­duce the risk of can­cer.

JUST HOW 19 DAN­GER­OUS IS IT RE­ALLY TO BE OVER­WEIGHT?

A re­search group at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion in At­lanta had con­ducted a meta­anal­y­sis of 97 stud­ies that cov­ered a to­tal 2.88 mil­lion par­tic­i­pants and found that over­weight peo­ple tend to live longer than those with a nor­mal weight—in fact, their risk of death is 6% lower. The rea­son: Those who are a bit thicker have more en­ergy re­serves, which can ben­e­fit them in the case of many dis­eases. Physi­cian and obe­sity spe­cial­ist Achim Peters and his clin­i­cal re­search group even came to the con­clu­sion that a few ex­tra pounds safe­guards us from stress. Be­ing slightly over­weight pro­tects the body against stress-re­lated con­di­tions like ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, stroke, de­pres­sion, mus­cle at­ro­phy, and os­teo­poro­sis. Uni­ver­sity of Ham­burg health sci­en­tist and in­ternist In­grid Mühlhauser has proved in stud­ies that over­weight peo­ple re­ally do live longer. She says: “The high­est life ex­pectancy is as­so­ci­ated with a BMI of 27.”

20 HOW DOES A WOUND HEAL FASTER?

In or­der to close up a cut as fast as pos­si­ble and as­sist the body’s re­gen­er­a­tion pro­cess, all-nat­u­ral honey can be par­tic­u­larly use­ful. When ap­plied to a wound, not only does this an­timi­cro­bial sub­stance ex­ert an anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect and keep cuts from dry­ing out, it also speeds the heal­ing pro­cess by en­cour­ag­ing the body to shed dead tis­sue faster. Black tea can pro­mote wound heal­ing too since it con­tains plant com­pounds called tan­nins that have as­trin­gent prop­er­ties. This makes black tea anti-in­flam­ma­tory and hemo­static, so it works well as a com­press on weep­ing wounds.

21 WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BEAT A HANG­OVER?

If you drink too much al­co­hol, you’re likely to wake up with a hang­over—which is known in med­i­cal cir­cles as veisal­gia. The rea­son for the headache, dizzi­ness, and nau­sea is the de­hy­dra­tion of the body. The most com­mon tip from ex­perts: Drink plenty of (non­al­co­holic) flu­ids in or­der to re­plen­ish the body’s wa­ter re­serves. In fact, you can pre­emp­tively weaken the fol­low­ing day’s hang­over on the same evening you are drink­ing al­co­hol. Me­tab­o­lism ex­perts like en­docri­nol­o­gist Rolf-di­eter Hesch rec­om­mend drink­ing lots of wa­ter dur­ing the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol. Rea­son: The more wa­ter that is avail­able to the body, the greater the al­co­hol’s “vol­ume of dis­tri­bu­tion.” Rule of thumb: Have one glass of wa­ter af­ter each beer. An­other pre­ven­tive mea­sure is to eat sar­dines in oil or con­sume fish oil be­fore drink­ing al­co­hol. Says Hesch, “The wa­ter-re­pel­lent fat gets dis­trib­uted across the gas­tric and in­testi­nal mu­cosa, thereby slow­ing ab­sorp­tion of al­co­hol.”

22 HOW DO I EX­TIN­GUISH A WILD­FIRE ON MY SKIN?

A sun­burn is usu­ally a first-de­gree burn in which only the up­per layer of skin is in­jured. To re­pair this cell dam­age as quickly and ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble, ex­perts rec­om­mend cool­ing down the skin with cold damp tow­els for 5 to 10 min­utes. In ad­di­tion, in the hours af­ter a sun­burn is sus­tained you should con­sume lots of liq­uid: This will com­pen­sate for the fluid loss caused by the sun­burn. Even tak­ing an aspirin helps be­cause the drug re­duces in­flam­ma­tion. But you should not place ice cubes or cold packs on the sun­burn un­der any cir­cum­stances—this can turn a sun­burn into frost­bite, which is more harm­ful to the body.

23 HOW DO I RE­PAIR DAM­AGE CAUSED BY AN­TIBI­OTICS?

An­tibi­otics are bac­te­ria killers. The prob­lem: They do not just kill the “bad bugs,” they also kill good bac­te­ria—such as those in our in­testines. The re­sult: Broad-spec­trum an­tibi­otics in par­tic­u­lar de­stroy a great num­ber of th­ese ad­van­ta­geous in­testi­nal in­hab­i­tants. This is why di­ar­rhea of­ten oc­curs dur­ing an­tibi­otic use. In the worstcase sce­nario, an­tibi­otics may lead to in­flam­ma­tion of the in­testi­nal mu­cosa. Pop­u­la­tions of in­testi­nal flora can best be built up in two ways: 1) Re­move tox­ins and de­posits from the in­tes­tine. This can be achieved through the in­ges­tion of ben­tonite (min­eral clay) and psyl­lium ( psyl­lium husk pow­der). 2) In or­der to sta­bi­lize the in­testi­nal flora, an al­ka­line diet is rec­om­mended—this in­cludes, for ex­am­ple, pota­toes, leafy green veg­gies, and dried fruit. Fol­low­ing th­ese tips in­creases the like­li­hood that the in­testi­nal flora will re­cover from the an­tibi­otic treat­ment within a few weeks. If you don’t sup­port your in­testines, in the worst case the re­gen­er­a­tion pro­cess could take 6 to 12 months.

24 CAN MY THOUGHTS MAKE MY MUS­CLES GROW?

If a mus­cle does not move (for ex­am­ple, af­ter an op­er­a­tion), it be­gins to waste away. To pre­vent this from oc­cur­ring, re­searchers at Ohio Uni­ver­sity have de­vel­oped a method that al­lows mus­cle to be re­gen­er­ated us­ing only the power of thought. Phys­i­cal ac­tion is not nec­es­sary. But how does it work? The key: imag­i­na­tion! Imag­ine mov­ing the mus­cle for 15 min­utes a day over a pe­riod of 12 weeks. This stim­u­lates the re­gions of the brain that are re­spon­si­ble for mo­tion— and the mus­cle be­comes re­stored.

25 HOW DO I WIN THE FIGHT AGAINST MY BODY’S EN­EMY— STRESS?

Since stress has been deemed the root cause of many ill­nesses, re­search into anti-stress tools is an area of in­tense in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The re­sults are amaz­ing: The most ef­fec­tive and en­dur­ing ex­er­cises are also the sim­plest.

EX­ER­CISE 1:

Per­form chew­ing move­ments. Move your jaw back and forth, left and the right, and gen­tly mas­sage it with your fin­ger­tips. Your stress level should sub­side within a mat­ter of sec­onds.

EX­ER­CISE 2:

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and count to five be­fore you ex­hale. This re­sults in im­me­di­ate re­lax­ation: Slow breath­ing and stress are mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

EX­ER­CISE 3:

Place one hand on your fore­head and place the other one on the back of your head at eye level. Leave them there for at least 30 sec­onds. Firmly hold­ing the head pro­vides clar­ity and helps re­duce the level of stress.

EX­ER­CISE 4:

De­cide on a short route—for ex­am­ple, the walk to the bus—and con­cen­trate on ev­ery step and ev­ery move­ment of your feet: lift­ing each foot, mov­ing for­ward, shift­ing your weight… You will feel calmer right away.

EX­ER­CISE 5:

Eat dark choco­late (at least 65% co­coa). It con­tains flavonoids, and th­ese plant com­pounds sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the re­lease of the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol. There­fore, choco­late is a real stress killer.

In or­der to stop bleed­ing, skin forms a mesh of fib­rin (white lines). This pro­tein is a nat­u­ral ad­he­sive of the body. Blood cells get en­tan­gled in the net and clump to­gether; in this way, the open wound is grad­u­ally mended.

If you sit a lot, make sure you are as up­right as pos­si­ble and push your pelvis slightly for­ward. This lessens the strain on the back.

Mi­cro-in­flam­ma­tion of the gums can re­lease germs into the blood­stream con­tin­u­ously. If you have a se­vere case of gum in­flam­ma­tion, you’re not al­lowed to un­dergo heart surgery— the risk of en­do­cardi­tis is too great.

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