25 STRATEGIES FOR SELF-RENEWAL
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.