8 Things Health Editors Know That You Should Too
What we've learned—"You could drive yourself nuts reading all of the studies that come out linking cancer to, well, pretty much everything (it seems the number one risk factor is being a living, breathing human). Of course, avoiding tobacco products and tanning beds makes perfect, research-backed sense, and we should all heed that advice. But getting to and staying at a healthy weight is also really straightforward and effective—obesity is the second leading cause of preventable cancer deaths after cigarette smoking (so don't smoke either, obviously)." —Emma Haak, Oprah.com health editor
Tip #2—You can turn down health tests.
What we've learned—"Before I became a health editor, I was definitely the kind of patient who just did whatever my doctor told me to, and that included getting any and every test she recommended. But research shows that too many of us are over treated, over tested, and over diagnosed. The best thing anyone can do: Start a conversation with your doctor about screening tests. Ask what would happen if you waited. You may be surprised by the answer." —Jihan Thompson, O, The Oprah Magazine health editor
Tip #3—Don't just eat for a healthy body.
What we've learned—"Eat for a healthy brain too. Obviously, your brain is part of your body, but I find that we tend to put less focus on the effect that diet has on cognitive health, even though the impact is pretty huge. Research tells us that trans fats, too much sugar and excess salt can have negative effects on memory and cognition, while foods high in antioxidants, healthy fats and vitamins D and B can help keep your brain sharp." —Emma Haak
Tip #4—You're probably washing your face wrong.
What we've learned—"I used to wash my face for about 20 seconds max, until a dermatologist told me that if you're using a medicated cleanser (I use one with salicylic acid to control my occasional breakouts), you need to leave it on your face for at least 1 minute so it has enough contact time with your skin to do its job. My morning and nighttime routines are a smidge longer now, and my skin does look better." —Emma Haak
Tip #5—Morning exercise is not realistic or tolerable for everyone—and that's fine.
What we've learned—"If a.m. workouts are your thing, stick with it. But if the only time you can or will work out regularly is at night, know that you're still following the most important exercise rule there is: doing it consistently. This was such welcome news to me after years of trying (and failing) to turn myself into a morning exerciser. Evening exercise may even help you sleep a little better, as one small study on insomniacs found that a 50-minute moderate-intensity workout that ended roughly 2 hours before bedtime actually helped participants fall asleep faster and sleep nearly 20 percent longer than they did before they began the exercise program." —Emma Haak
Tip #6—But moving more when you're not at the gym matters just as much as exercise (and maybe even a little more).
What we've learned—"Yes, you should still break a sweat most days, but if you're sedentary for the other 23 hours of the day, you're doing yourself a real disservice. Move a little every hour and your body will thank you." —Jihan Thompson
Tip #7—There is no set amount of time it takes to develop a habit.
What we've learned—"I get so mad when I see that 21-day myth reported over and over again. There's no science to back up that magical number! Don't beat yourself up if it takes longer for some virtuous habits to stick. The most important thing: Don't give up." —Jihan Thompson
Tip #8—Be skeptical of products or plans with "detox" claims.
What we've learned—The "d" word gets dropped all the time in the wellness industry, which can make it seem like a legitimate scientific term. But the idea that your body is riddled with toxins before you do a cleanse or use a product and free of them afterward is not backed up by research. Your liver, kidneys and colon already filter harmful substances out of your body. So in the case of a cleanse, you might lose a little weight (which you'll likely gain back) and possibly feel an extra spring in your step (though I actually felt slightly homicidal the one time I did a three-day juice cleanse), but a decrease in "toxins"? Not so much. A better bet is to incorporate vegetable-based juices (ones with a lot of fruit can be surprisingly high in sugar) into your diet as snacks rather than meal replacements to up your nutrient intake without turning into a hangry mess. —Emma Haak