Optimal health is a journey. When you feel your best, you have the energy and ambition to achieve your goals. Health advice, however, has a long history of misinformation and quick-fix promises.
Below, we show you 9 crazy health fads from the past (some include things like heroine and tapeworms!) that people actually believed in, and then show you some tried-and-true practices, including tips about stress, nutrition, exercise and sleep, that will benefit your overall health. Check it out and share this graphic if you like it!
A Timeline of Strange Health Fads
1727: Swamps make you fat!
In his book The Causes and Effects of Corpulence, Thomas Short stated that overweight people tended to live near swamps and his diet advice was to move to drier places.
1898: A cough suppressant with a kick!
German drug maker Bayer Company found a neat way to get rid of a cough: heroin. In fact, heroin was sold as an OTC cough syrup in the US until 1917.
Early 1900s: The Great Masticator
Horace Fletcher extolled the virtues of “Fletcherism” — chewing, but not swallowing, one’s food until it turned into liquid. Fletcher claimed that he only defecated twice a month, and that it smelled like “warm biscuits.”
Early 1900s: It’s not what you’re eating … it’s what’s eating you!
A weight loss pill was invented that contained tapeworm eggs. When the parasite hatched, it would eat all food that reached the intestines —including all the nutrition— and could grow up to 9’.
1979: She was probably hungry
The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, written by Dr. Herman Tarnower, promised fast weight loss by consuming only 1,000 calories per day (recommended daily calories for an adult woman is 1,800-2,200). Tarnower was shot to death by his jilted lover Jean Harris in 1980.
1990: Skinny & stinky
Cabbage soup. Mmmm. Cabbage ferments in your gut causing bloat and gas, so a whole week of nothing but cabbage …
1990s: Living on Air
“Breatharianism” is a cult-like spiritual practice that promotes living on air, tea, water and sunlight. Since the 1990s, five people have died following this regime.
2000s: Voodoo Dolly Ears
Ear stapling supposedly helps suppress appetite by piercing the inner cartilage of the ear. It has never been proven to work AND it can cause infection.
2000s: You are a grown-up, eat like a grown-up
The Baby Food Diet was extolled by celebrities, and the food itself is fairly pure (and puree) but completely unsustainable for an adult appetite.
Surprising But True Health Facts
- The Obesity Action Coalition believes that just a 5-10% (often only about 20 lbs.) loss in body weight can significantly booast health benefits.
- Quitting smoking not only significantly lowers risk of illness, but it increases short-term memory.
- Smokers who exercise are twice as likely to quit.
- Learning to manage stress can decrease the risk of dementia.
- Those who regularly eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression.
- Sleeping less than 7 hours at night has been linked to higher body weight, and sleeping longer at night lessens the impact of the obesity gene.
- Regular exercise improves goal-setting, organization and self-discipline.
- Sugar is as damaging as both alcohol and cigarettes.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” — World Health Organization
Invest in a Healthy Lifestyle
When you invest in your health, you look good, feel good, live longer and live more fully. The key to success is to make it easy and make it fun!
- 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Cut out fatty foods (except for healthy fats like avocados, seeds and nuts)
- Keep your protein lean
- Cook with oils such as olive or sunflower
- Limit your salt
- Stay Hydrated
- 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise per week, i.e. brisk walking, dancing, etc.
- Muscle-building exercise for all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) 2 or more days per week.
- 150 minutes of exercise per week = time watching a movie
- Break exercise up into 10 minute increments and spread it over the week
- Find and rid yourself of stressors in your life
- Only work on things you can control
- Work towards better time management
- Keep solid boundaries in work and family life
- Caring does not equal worrying
- Keep a sleep schedule
- Don’t exercise within 4 hours of bedtime
- No caffeine after 2 p.m.
- Use white noise to relax
Positive Social Relationships
Who is positive in your life? Those who:
- Encourage and enable the pursuit of new opportunities and help you thrive.
- Support you in the face of adversity so you remain connected to your core purposes.
The Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
- Prevention of illness
- Increased energy
- Increased physical and mental endurance
- Better sleep
- Enhanced mood
- Physical fitness and weight loss
- Sharper mental functioning
- Motivation to become involved in social activities
Make a commitment to natural health and wellness, and reap the benefits of a better you. Healthy living can transform your life and help you achieve success in all aspects of your life.
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