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The laws for maintaining good health run the gamut from the obvious to the revealing. Here is our New Year's wish to you for good health with 10 common and not-so-common sensible rules for staying healthy and happy in 2012.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your health has to do with the timing of a common laboratory test.
6. Get your blood sugar levels tested at the right time.Millions of people get tested for diabetes every year, but many cases of diabetes are diagnosed in the emergency room when diabetes causes dehydration and even temporary blindness—sometimes in the very people who had blood tests at their doctors every year.
The reason type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed is that blood sugar readings are taken at the wrong time of day. In the early stages of this kind of diabetes, the pancreas is unable to accomplish first-phase insulin secretion (release of large amounts of insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal as a large amount of glucose is received from digested food) but is still able to accomplish second-phase insulin secretion (steady release of insulin that prevents blood sugar spikes the rest of the time).
Blood sugar levels may soar after meals, but if the pancreas works as hard as it can all night, they may be normal first thing in the morning. Ask your doctor about post-prandial (after-meal) testing of your blood sugar levels to make sure you aren't in the early stages of type 2 diabetes—while it's still reversible.
7. Boost your immune system only when it's beneficial.Immune boosters are always popular. The propaganda of natural health drills in the idea that diseases occur when the immune system is weak and it's always better for the immune system to produce more, more. But the simple fact is that the immune system may be either overactive or underactive .
Many of the most serious health conditions are unleashed by an overactive immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, psoriasis, herpes , and certain forms of kidney disease tend to flare up after an infection. If you have any of these conditions, or if you think you have any of these conditions, avoid the immune boosting herbs such as echinacea except for topical use.
8. Avoid overuse of supplements.In the 1990's, German nutrition iconoclast Udo Pollmer and colleagues published a best-selling book in Germany. Its title roughly translates "How Eating Healthy Can Make You Sick." One of the dozens of vignettes in the book recounted the story of a Swedish man who developed scurvy after returning home from a winter vacation in Florida.
This man, it turned out, had enjoyed 8 to 10 glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice every day while on vacation. The vitamin C in the orange juice is water-soluble, so his body simply eliminated the excess through urination. When he returned to Sweden, however, his body continued to eliminate the same amount of vitamin C as in Florida—and he developed the bleeding gums, bleeding nose, loose teeth, and lassitude characteristic of vitamin C deficiency.
Take supplements to avoid deficiencies. But don't use megadoses unless you have a specific condition for which you are taking specific nutrients.
9. If you aren't happy with how your body looks, work on what it can do.Every December billions of people overeat. Every January they look in the mirror, feel a sensation of horror, and go on diets, only to repeat the process 11 months later.
We aren't going to tell you not to diet. After all, we'll have some great diet articles coming next month. But if really want to feel good about your body, you can also work on improving your muscle mass, physical endurance—or just get some health issue under control. Especially in men, gaining strength is as satisfying as losing pounds. Anything that gives you a sense of earned accomplishment helps you feel better about what you see in the mirror.
10. Test (or weigh), don't guess.
Doctors tend to give patients treatments to change numbers. You ultimately don't care about your lab numbers. You care about how you feel and what you are able to do with your life. But along the way you can make sure you are staying on track for your health goals by testing, not guessing, double-checking how you feel with the numbers you read from the scales or the lab.