It seems that every day we are told what not to eat and what not to do because certain things can negatively affect our health. But at the same time, as our understanding of the world around us becomes clearer, every day we are finding out that some of those things that we first thought were bad, can actually be good for our health. Of course, all is best in moderation. So today, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of those bad things and found out why they may actually be good for you.
Marijuana makes you lazy, disoriented, fries your brain cells, and, worst of all, is a gateway drug, right? Cannabis has certainly acquired a bad rep over the years, but its use in medicine is finally starting to be accepted. Medical marijuana is legal in 22 states plus the District of Columbia, and recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, and Alaska. Today, more and more people are turning to marijuana as a treatment option for many ailments. Researchers at the American Academy of Neurology found that medical marijuana in the form of pills or oral sprays seemed to reduce stiffness and muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, as well as ease pain. Medical marijuana is most commonly used to ease the symptoms of nausea from chemotherapy and to increase appetite in both cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. It’s even used to treat glaucoma.
Coffee is basically the socially acceptable form of crack; it gives you tons energy and it’s highly addictive to the point that some people are unrecognizable monsters in the morning before they’ve had their first cup. And who hasn’t been told that coffee stunts your growth? An increasing amount of research, however, shows that coffee may not be such a bad thing after all. Based on more than 15 published studies, people who drink coffee are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Australian researchers recently found that for every extra daily cup of coffee, the odds of having the disease drop by 7%. Studies have also shown that coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease and liver disease, and improves cognitive function and decreases the risk of depression.
I know what you’re thinking: Chocolate is delicious! How could that possibly be good for me? Chocolate’s benefits have been getting a lot of attention over the years. A growing number of studies are showing that chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, seem to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that help reduce cell damage associated with heart disease. If the choice is between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, go with the latter, as flavanols are more prevalent in dark chocolate. Chocolate has also been shown to help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
Red wine, in moderation, has always been thought to be good for your heart, but is it too good to be true? Although doctors are wary about encouraging anyone to drink alcohol, many agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It might be because of antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols, which may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. One polyphenol found in red wine, called “resveratrol,” may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and prevent blood clots.
Arthur Agatston, MD, cardiologist and creator of the popular South Beach diet, encourages patients who enjoy alcohol to also drink it with meals. “Alcohol can stimulate the appetite so it is better to drink it with food,” Agatston says. “When alcohol is mixed with food, it can slow the stomach’s emptying time and potentially decrease the amount of food consumed at the meal.”
Wine isn’t the only alcohol that is receiving all the attention for its health benefits; beer may be good for your brain. Researchers discovered that xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in beer, seems to help cognitive function in young mice. The dose they gave the mice was quite high, however, you would have to drink 2000 liters of beer a day to equal what the mice consumed. The researchers aren’t recommending that you run out and buy a 6-pack, but they do agree that this flavonoid should be studied closer. The good news is that beer has also been found to help reduce the risk for arthritis, build strong bones, prevent kidney stones, and, like wine, boost heart health.
Gross, sure, but maggots have been used to treat wounds for hundreds of years. Scientific studies on medicinal maggots began in the 1920s, revealing that maggots helped clean dirty and necrotic wounds by feeding on the dead tissue while leaving the healthy tissue unaffected. The use of the live treatment sharply declined in the 1940s with the introduction of penicillin, a much less disturbing prescription. However, with the advent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, many doctors are once again prescribing maggots as a viable therapeutic option. A recent study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that maggot therapy was a more effective treatment option than conventional surgical debridement during the first week in 119 people with wounds that would not heal. Whereas maggot therapy in a controlled hospital environment can be an effective method of treating wounds, health care professionals urge patients to not try it at home. Uncontrolled maggot therapy can lead to infestation, infections, and other complications.
We’re constantly told to wear sunscreen during the summer, especially during trips to the beach, but did you know that a little bit of sun is actually good for you? Of course, getting too much sun is dangerous and can lead to skin cancer, but the sun also provides vitamin D, which everyone needs to stay healthy. At the end of the day, getting sunburn is really bad for your skin, but the right amount of sun is the best way to get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Experts say that it is a delicate balancing act based on your skin pigmentation, where you live, what time of day you are outside, and for how long. If you are a fair-skinned person, you may only require a few minutes outside without sunscreen, but if you have dark skin, you may need up to 6 times more sun to get the same amount of vitamin D.
Video games have received a lot of flak over the years, but according to a study published in Pediatrics, they may actually be good for kids if they play for an hour or less per day. Compared to children who didn’t play at all, those who played video games for a few hours a week were better adjusted, had fewer conduct problems, and were more likely to care about others if they played for an hour or less per day.
Sex is often a taboo topic in public, but did you know that getting dirty between the sheets is actually quite healthy? Sex is associated with a huge list of health benefits. For one, sexually active people take fewer sick days than those who aren’t. Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of a certain antibody that defends your body against germs, viruses, and other intruders. Sex also improves women’s bladder control. When a woman has an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them. Many studies have shown that sex lowers blood pressure as well. “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure,” says Joseph J. Pinzone, MD. Other benefits of sex include decreased heart attack risk, pain reduction, decreased prostate cancer risk, improved sleep, and stress relief.
Yes, LSD is meant to be on this list. A study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease showed that the psychedelic drug paired with psychotherapy alleviated end-of-life anxiety in patients suffering from terminal illnesses. Researchers separated 12 terminally ill patients into 2 groups and administered different amounts of LSD. The first group was given 200 micrograms of the drug and the other group received 20 micrograms. Each person underwent 2 dosing sessions separated by a few weeks. The low-dosage group reported that their anxiety got worse, whereas the higher-dosage group said their treatment had profound positive effects on their anxiety. Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which largely funded the study, says that the psychoactive ingredients interact with the brain’s filtering system and allow for suppressed thoughts and feelings to reveal themselves. The LSD-assisted therapy helped patients fearing death shift their thinking from focusing on the time they don’t have left to the time they do have. “Something is fundamentally changed by successful LSD-assisted psychotherapy,” Doblin said. “That’s not to say it works in everybody, but there can be permanent changes in people’s attitudes and in their brains.” No prolonged negative effects of the therapy were reported.
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