In August, I took a light approach as I considered topics for the blog and wrote a post about life hacks. It was so popular that I’ve decided to add “hacks” to my repertoire. Today, in the spirit of one of my categories, Mind/Body Connection, I bring you: health hacks.
Most of my friends can tell you that I love my life hacks. I’m not sure when I became a life hack fanatic but I’ve always been interested in doing things in a different way. Life hacks have been around for years. Just hark back to newspaper columns like Hints from Heloise and Miss Myrna that were so popular in the 1900s because they offered up solutions to common problems, along with clever ways to do ordinary tasks.
Life hacks can be anything from the technical to the way you prepare a dish to our subject for the day — your health and wellness (and some are just plain crazy, but effective)! So without further ado, I offer you 12 health hacks that I hope you utilize and enjoy.
6 Magical Malady Menders: from Head to Toe
Don’t you hate it when you start hiccupping and just can’t stop? Next time, go to your kitchen and grab the peanut butter. Take a big spoonful and chew it up and swallow it down. How does that help, you may ask? Well, the act of chewing and swallowing interrupts your regular breathing pattern and ultimately, relaxes your diaphragm, which, in turn, stops your hiccups. Relief at last!
Are Your Ears Clogged with Water?
I love to swim and will head out to any body of water and dive right in — well, maybe not the Hudson River — but you get my drift. The sometimes downside is when you get water trapped in your ear and it just won’t come out. No amount of “side of the head” pounding and jumping up and down will free the water. Next time this happens, grab a hair dryer and on the gentlest setting, hold it 2 inches or so from your ear. The increased flow of air will help the water evaporate more quickly.
Got a Nasty Nosebleed?
This hack is the most unusual and funniest hack I’ve come across. Next nosebleed, head to the fridge and grab some bacon — yes, I did just write “bacon!” According to a study in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, researchers found bacon to be an effective tool. Take the cured bacon, roll it up and insert it into your nasal cavity. The cured bacon will stop the bleeding in a short amount of time. Just don’t re-purpose it at your next brunch.
Is Your Throat Sore?
My throat is actually sore as I write and I’m doing this the second I get home. You may know this remedy already as it’s been around for a long time but drinking tea or water with honey will help ease your sore throat. Honey has many beneficial properties but in this case, it’s the natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that are at work. The honey coats and soothes your throat, and can even help relieve minor coughs.
Did You Just Cut Yourself?
For minor cuts and scrapes grab the black pepper shaker and sprinkle away! The antibacterial agent in pepper is piperine. Research found that piperine begins the healing process and allows blood to coagulate faster.
Is Congestion Bringing You Down?
A close runner-up to the odd “bacon hack” is this health hack that’s been around for some time. To temporarily relieve your congestion, find a mentholated topical cream — Vick’s Vapor Rub comes to mind — and apply it…are you ready for this? Apply it on the soles of your feet and immediately put on a pair of socks. This hack has no scientific proof that I could find, but the multitude of folks who use this method, swear by it — including nurses and doctors.
It’s Grooming Time: from Head to Toe
Need Thicker, Shinier Hair?
I’ve used this hack for years and surprisingly it really works. What’s the solution? Beer! Now, it’s never ideal to waste a beer, but if the trade-off is nicer hair…hmmm…I’m willing. The proteins and vitamins found in beer are said to repair damaged hair and improve body, and can leave hair feeling noticeably thicker and shinier. If you don’t want to only use the beer, it can be added to shampoo or combined with scented oil to make a great conditioner on its own. Just make sure to wash it out -- you don't want to smell like a pub at the end of the night!
Are Your Lashes Looking a Little Thin?
This one is for my woman readers and guys who like getting a little dolled up. If your lashes appear thin even after the mascara, here’s a tip for you. Use a light dusting of powder on your eyelashes before applying mascara, and voilà, your eyelashes will appear thicker.
Out of Shaving Cream Again?
Don’t sweat it! Not only does this magical mender help stop hiccups, it also can be used to shave. From hack #1 — it’s peanut butter. Just apply it like you would apply the gel, and shave as normal. Not only is it a lot cheaper than shaving cream, it’s also good for your skin. The peanut butter makes for a smooth, nick-free shave and the oils help moisturize your face and/or legs. Just remember to use the smooth stuff…no chunky for this hack!
Did You Fail the Tissue Test?
Have you seen the commercial with the woman at the table comparing their teeth to tissues? If not, no loss, but here’s a way to get whiter teeth — coconut oil. If your teeth are discolored and yellow from years of wear and tear — coffee, tea, smoking, or just being a bad brusher — don’t pay for expensive treatments, rather, use coconut oil. Using it eliminates stains without destroying your enamel. It’s also a great breath freshener. I’m including a link with instructions.
Rough, Lusterless Skin Getting You Down?
You know when you return from a seaside vacation and your skin is glowing — clearer, smoother, and more radiant. Well, that’s due to sea salt. Here’s a tidbit from Lifehack.org, “About 96.5% of the world’s water is salt water, containing roughly the same concentration of minerals and nutrients as the water in our own bodies. So, it’s no wonder sea salt is a natural ally to balance, protect, and restore the body and skin. One of the major differences between sea salt and ordinary salt is the mineral content. Sea salt is rich in magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium; minerals vital to our skin’s health and function.” All you need is a high-quality fine sea salt — no large and sharp grains — with a light oil or a gentle cleanser, and start scrubbing. You might not have come from a beach vacation, but your skin will feel and look like you did!
Last, But Not Least, What About the Feet?
Another ingredient with dual — and probably more — benefits? If your feet are not ready for primetime, reach for, you guessed it — beer! The yeast in beer helps soften skin and the alcohol is a natural antiseptic. Just fill a bowl or basin with enough warm water to cover the top of your feet. Add 1 bottle of warm beer, and stir. Keep your feet in the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse and moisturize. Your feet will be ready for clipping, filing — and for those who are so inclined — painting your toenails.
Well, that about covers it. I hope these hacks were useful to you — or at least amused you! Have a terrific weekend and I’ll be back next week.
Time to Dine: Cooking for Joan
Since I’m writing about health hacks, I thought I’d add a flavorful, yet healthy recipe. This is a Thai chicken dish called Larb Gai. This popular salad of highly seasoned ground meat and herbs, is a favorite of mine. The dish combines skinless, boneless chicken breast halves in a food processor with pungent ingredients like garlic, spicy peppers, and curry paste. You can also substitute ground chicken or turkey if you don’t have a food processor. It’s meant to be really spicy, but you can adjust it to your liking.
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/3 cup chopped English cucumber
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 8 cabbage leaves
- Thai chile paste (optional)
Combine curry paste, chicken, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat
Add oil to pan; swirl to coat
Add chicken to pan
Sauté 6 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble
Remove pan from heat
Stir in cucumber and the next 3 ingredients (through juice)
Place 2 cabbage leaves on each of 4 plates
Divide chicken mixture evenly among leaves
Serve with chile paste, if desired