Every day brings a new health study about something else we need to avoid if we want to live to 90, and they’re frequently things we used to think were OK: jogging, red meat, even VITAMINS, for goodness’ sake. And who knows what else we’ll be warned off in future, or whether people who eschew anti-perspirants will turn out to have been right all along. But what we DO know is that the seven things (from substances to behaviours) on this list are actually good for you – some of them all of the time, others in very specific circumstances, but all of them reasons to be cheerful.[nextpage title=”next”]
OK, yes, Coke and other sugary drinks have been linked to everything from tooth erosion to high blood pressure, a drop in good cholesterol to metabolic syndrome – which is a precursor to heart disease and diabetes. No one’s suggesting it’s suddenly become a healthy treat you should enjoy freely. But in one particular case, it does have some fantastic health benefits. Bezoars are hard lumps in the stomach caused by undigested food. They cause pain, vomiting and diarrhoea and people usually need surgery to remove them. However, in a Greek study, drinking Coke melted the obstruction enough that 90% of participants avoided surgery. (And no, the Coca-Cola Company didn’t fund the research.)
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Sticking children in front of a screen for hours at a time isn’t great for their development, and in 2011 Australian researchers found that watching six hours of TV/online content a day takes 4.8 years off your life. (We’re all ignoring that fact when season three of Orange is the New Black comes out, yes?) But it’s not all bad. Research from the University of Rochester showed that people who watched nature scenes felt more charitable, while a study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that kids who watch socially-conscious programmes like Sesame Street are kinder to others. Aw.
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We’re not saying this one’s necessarily a good idea for your personal relationships, but do you want to make friends or do you want to be happy? Researchers from the University of Queensland found that people often feel relieved after they apologise. But they also discovered that people who stood their ground felt a sense of power that boosted their self-esteem, even if they were in the wrong, and that this felt better than saying ‘sorry’ ever could. Suddenly, so much of Twitter makes sense.
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Too much caffeine can certainly give you headaches or make you collapse in a shaking, hysterical heap by mid-afternoon (um, I’ve heard), but a cup or two a day of coffee has been linked with lowered levels of depression in women. It could just be that naturally sunny personalities are drawn to the drink, or it could be because caffeine raises levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine. (Don’t question it, just drink up.) It can also help protect you from diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer and liver damage.
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Obviously, there are some situations (work, church, middle of the supermarket…) where letting out a stream of angry invective is going to get you dirty looks at best. But if it’s appropriate or you’re in severe enough pain to let out a profanity or three, don’t try to hold your tongue. Keele University researchers found that swearing helps improve our ability to tolerate pain, which is why those words come so readily to hand when we step on a plug or slam our hand in a door (‘we’ sure are clumsy). A further Keele study suggested that swearing helps us feel stronger emotionally, too. Sure, let’s go with that.
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This one’s going to bum out a lot of media organisations who love to screech about the ‘obesity crisis!’, treating fat people as if they’re a problem that must be wiped out rather than you know, actual human beings worthy of respect. Not everyone whose BMI is medically classed as obese has health problems or wants to lose weight, but for those who do, researchers have found that using shame as a motivational tool doesn’t work. In fact, a study of ‘fatosphere’ bloggers in the UK, US, and Australia showed that their participation in an online community that encouraged self-acceptance made them more likely to make healthier diet and exercise choices.
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I know, right? You might think that lack of sleep makes you irritable and gormless, and go too long without it and you’ll be having hallucinations and be at risk of having an accident. But going without a night’s kip on occasion can apparently be good for you. According to a study (that admittedly was conducted in the 70s, but it still counts), losing a night’s sleep can give you a 37.2 % boost in mood, and if you go to bed early the next day, you should experience better quality sleep as a result of the break. Sweet dreams!
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It’s #HealthAndFitnessWeek on ShinyShiny! We’re here to help you keep running, swimming, and nourishing your way to the healthier, happier self you imagined when you wrote your new year’s resolutions. See all the posts here.