Category Archives: Diets

50 WAYS TO LIVE A LONGER AND HEALTHY LIVE

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Nick Ferrari

If your favorite vegetable isn’t in season, grab a frozen bag of it for the same nutritional value.

The editors at AARP have filtered through numerous medical journals and studies to identify the best actions you can take to achieve a longer, fuller life. We know there are no guarantees. But genetics account for just 25 percent of a person’s longevity. The rest is up to you. With this collection of some of the most important longevity findings, you’ll have the road map you need to get to 80, 90, 100 or beyond.

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1. Frozen is fine

You can eat a balanced diet even when fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season because frozen can be as good as or even better for life-extending nutrients. British scientists found that fresh fruit can lose nutrients after three days of refrigeration, while frozen fruits don’t suffer the same fate. Another study similarly found that frozen blueberries contained more vitamin C than fresh ones.

2. Cut back on pain pills

Regular use of painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen — including over-the-counter brands such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve — may raise your risk of heart attack and stroke by 10 percent, according to a 2014 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel review. (Prescription-strength versions may increase your risk by 20 to 50 percent, even after just a few weeks of use.) Reserve these drugs for severe pain, and use the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time.

3. Please go to bed

Consistently sleeping less than six hours a night nearly doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a review of 15 studies published in the European Heart Journal. Another study found that consistently sleep-deprived people were 12 percent more likely to die over the 25-year study period than those who got six to eight hours of sleep a night. These tips from the National Sleep Foundation can help ensure that you get good quality shut-eye, even if you’re among the half of people over 60 who have insomnia:

  • Make the room pitch-black dark, and set the thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees.
  • Exercise every day. It doesn’t matter what time of day you work out, just so it doesn’t interfere with your rest.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
  • Shut down your electronics an hour before retiring, as the light from some devices can stimulate the brain.
  • Replace your mattress if it’s more than 10 years old.

4. But don’t always go right to sleep

A Duke University study that followed 252 people for 25 years concluded that frequent sex “was a significant predictor of longevity” for men.

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

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Marriage is good for the heart in more ways than one.

5. Get (or stay) hitched

Marriage truly is good for your health — and your longevity. The prestigious Framingham Offspring Study found that married men had a 46 percent lower risk of death than never-married men, in part due to marriage’s well-known impact on heart health. Indeed, a 2014 study by New York University’s Langone Medical Center found that married men and women had a 5 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

6. Ripeness matters

No, you won’t die from eating under-ripe produce, but new research shows that fully ripened fruit has more life-lengthening health benefits. For example, green bananas are low in fiber and high in astringent tannins that can cause constipation. Fully ripened pears and blackberries have more disease-fighting antioxidants. And in watermelon, a deep red color signifies more lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

7. Don’t sweeten with sugar

A high-sugar diet boosts blood sugar, which in turn plays havoc with your heart by increasing levels of LDL cholesterol while lowering heart-friendly HDL cholesterol, and tripling your risk for fatal cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams).

8. Consider extra vitamin D

Vitamin D, a bright byproduct of sunlight, has many health benefits, including a link to longevity. But too much vitamin D increases your risk of dying as much as too little, according to a 2015 Danish study. So you want to get the right amount. Don’t just rely on outdoor time to get extra vitamin D; the rate of skin cancer rises as we age, so it’s important to limit exposure. The smart plan: Ask your doctor if you would benefit from extra D in pill form. University of Copenhagen researchers found that the ideal vitamin D level is more than 50 nanomoles per liter of blood, but less than 100 nmol/L.

9. Go green

If coffee’s not your thing, green tea also has proven longevity cred, likely because it contains powerful antioxidants known as catechins that may help combat diabetes and heart disease. In a large study of more than 40,000 Japanese men and women, drinking five or more cups of green tea a day was associated with a 12 percent decrease in mortality among men and a 23 percent decrease among women.

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

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Taking a break from work and going on a vacation is crucial to your well being.

10. Vacation … or Else

Not taking time off work might, indeed, be deadly. One study of men at high risk for coronary artery disease found that those who failed to take annual vacations were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. And in the long-running Framingham Heart Study, women who vacationed just once every six years were eight times more likely to develop coronary artery disease or have a heart attack than women who vacationed twice a year.

11. Eat whole grains

The average American eats one serving of whole grains daily — and that may be just a single morning slice of toast. But eating three or more servings each day can cut overall death rate by about 20 percent, according to a 2016 study from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Have some oatmeal or brown rice, or get adventurous and go for quinoa, barley, even farro.

12. Spice it up

Eating hot chili peppers may add years to your life. In a 2016 analysis of the dietary habits of more than 16,000 men and women over 23 years, those who reported eating hot peppers reduced their risk of dying by 13 percent. Not a fan of those peppers? Even a little spice can have health benefits. That’s because the body produces endorphins to reduce the heat from the capsaicin in the peppers; those endorphins also reduce pain and inflammation.

13. Drink whole milk

You’ve been told forever to drink low-fat or skim milk, or go for fat-free yogurt. But research published in the journal Circulation in 2016 concluded that those who consumed the most dairy fat had a 50 percent lower risk of developing diabetes, a disease that can shorten your life by eight to 10 years on average.

14. Just add water

Staying adequately hydrated — measured by urine that’s light yellow or straw colored — can also help prolong a healthy life by reducing the risk of bladder and colon cancer and keeping kidneys in tip-top shape. Bonus: It might even help you lose weight. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that those who sipped more H2O ended up eating 68 to 205 fewer calories per day.


50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

Nick Ferrari

A few cups of java a day might keep the doctor away.

15. Say yes to that extra cup

Coffee does more than help you wake up; it also reduces your risk of stroke, diabetes and some cancers. And in a 2015 study published in the journal Circulation, Harvard researchers discovered that “people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says coauthor Walter Willett, M.D. Mind you, a cup is 8 ounces, so your 16-ounce Starbucks grande is really two cups by that measure.

16. Live like the Amish

A University of Maryland study found that Amish men live longer than typical Caucasian men in the United States, and both Amish men and women have lower rates of hospitalization. What are the Amish ways? Lots of physical activity, less smoking and drinking, and a supportive social structure involving family and community.

17. End the day’s eating by 9 p.m. 

Not only is eating late bad for your waistline — sleeping doesn’t exactly burn lots of calories — it also increases the risk of heart disease by 55 percent for men ages 45 to 82, according to a Harvard study.

18. Eat your veggies

In a study of 73,000 adults, most in their mid to upper 50s, vegetarians were 12 percent less likely than carnivores to have died from any cause during the six-year study period. The 2016 study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that mortality rates were lowest overall for pesco-vegetarians (those who eat fish occasionally), followed by vegans (those who eat no animal products), and lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who eat dairy and eggs).

19. Eat like the Greeks

The Mediterranean diet, with its reliance on fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and nuts, is one of the healthiest diets for both overall health and longevity. Harvard researchers, reporting in the BMJ in 2014, found that those who followed the diet most closely had longer telomeres, which cap the end of each strand of DNA and protect chromosomes from damage. Even those who only sporadically followed the diet reaped longevity benefits, researchers found.

Nick Ferrari

Cutting your portions helps you cut calories, which aids in weight loss and more.

20. Eat less

If you want to reach 100, put down the fork, says Dan Buettner, who studies longevity hot spots around the world, such as Okinawa, Japan. Buettner found that the oldest Okinawans stop eating when they feel 80 percent full. A National Institutes of Health-funded study similarly found that cutting back calories reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance.

21. Drink less (here’s a trick) 

More-than-moderate alcohol consumption (generally, more than one drink a day for women or more than two a day for men) leads to a shorter life span. Here’s one way to cut your intake: Pour red wine into a white-wine glass, which is narrower. Studies by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that people poured 12 percent more into red-wine glasses. You’ll also pour less wine into your glass if it’s sitting on the table, instead of in your hand, says Brian Wansink, the lab’s director.

22. Save your pennies

Money might not make you happier, but it will help you live longer. A 2016 study by Stanford researchers published in JAMA found that people whose income bracket was in the top 1 percent lived nearly 15 years longer than those in the bottom 1 percent. The disparity could be attributed to healthier behaviors in higher-income groups, including less smoking and lower obesity rates, researchers say.

23. Or move to one of these states

If you’re not wealthy, consider moving to California, New York or Vermont, where studies show that low-income people tend to live the longest. Loma Linda, Calif., has the highest longevity thanks to vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists, who live eight to 10 years longer than the rest of us. Nevada, Indiana and Oklahoma have the lowest life expectancy (less than 78 years).

24. Ponder a Ponderosa

Experiencing a sense of awe — such as when viewing the Grand Canyon or listening to Beethoven’s Ninth — may boost the body’s defense system, says research from the University of California, Berkeley. “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” says Dacher Keltner, a psychologist and coauthor of the study.

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

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Owning a dog can help lower stress and boost physical activity.

25. Get a friend with four legs

A few studies on the link between pet ownership and health have found that owning a pet can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, even improve the odds of surviving a heart attack. Now the American Heart Association has weighed in with a report published in the journal Circulation that recommends owning a dog, in particular, for those seeking to reduce their risk of deadly heart disease. Dog owners are more likely to be physically active and are also less vulnerable to the effects of stress, the report says.

26. Find your purpose

Do you wake up looking forward to something? In a 2014 study published in the Lancet, researchers found that those with the highest sense of purpose were 30 percent less likely to die during the 8.5-year study period. In fact, doing something that matters — whether it’s helping your children or interacting in a community of like-minded folks — is correlated with seven extra years of life, according to researchers who study people in “blue zones,” areas of the world where folks live the longest.

27. Embrace your faith

Attending religious services once a week has been shown to add between four and 14 years to life expectancy, according to researchers who study blue zones. Don’t belong to a church? Ask to join a friend at her services, or just drop in at a nearby house of worship; most have an open-door policy.

28. Be food safe

About 3,000 Americans die from food poisoning annually, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even seemingly healthy foods — like sprouts, cantaloupe, berries and raw tuna — can make you sick or even kill you, says the FDA. Your action plan: Keep your kitchen pristine, wash your hands and utensils before and after handling food, separate raw and cooked foods, refrigerate perishable food promptly, and cook food to a safe temperature to kill deadly bacteria.

29. Consider mountain life

People residing at higher altitudes tend to live longer, a study by the University of Colorado and the Harvard School of Global Health revealed. Of the 20 healthiest counties in America, many are in Colorado and Utah. Researchers think lower oxygen levels might cause your body to adapt in ways that strengthen your heart and circulation.

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

Nick Ferrari

Eating a handful of nuts five times per week can lower your mortality risk from certain diseases.

30. Go nuts

In a European study of adults ages 55 to 69, those who ate 10 grams of nuts daily — 8 almonds or 6 cashews — reduced their risk of death from any health-related cause by 23 percent. As for specific ailments, consuming a handful of nuts at least five times per week lowers the mortality risk for heart disease (by 29 percent), respiratory disease (24 percent) and cancer (11 percent), according to a previous U.S. study. Sorry, peanut butter fans: Spreads didn’t show the same benefits.

31. Keep watching LOL cat videos

Laughter really is the best medicine, helping to reduce stress, boost the immune system, reduce pain and improve blood flow to the brain. In fact, laughter has the same effect on blood vessels as exercise, report researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

32. Get social

Studies show that loneliness increases the risk of early death by 45 percent. It weakens the immune system and raises blood pressure while increasing the risk for heart attacks and stroke. By contrast, people with strong ties to friends and family have as much as a 50 percent lower risk of dying, according to a study in PLOS Medicine. So visit a friend. And don’t discount your online friends. A 2016 study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that those who use Facebook also live longer, but only when online interactions don’t completely supplant face-to-face social interaction.

33. Watch your grandkids

While babysitting every day is stressful, regularly watching the grands can lower your risk of dying by a third, according to a 2016 study published in Evolution and Human Behavior. That adds up to an extra five years of life, researchers say. They speculate that caregiving gives grandparents a sense of purpose, and keeps them mentally and physically active.

34. Try to stay out of the hospital

A 2016 Johns Hopkins University study found that some 250,000 patients die each year in hospitals from medical mistakes, such as misdiagnoses, poor practices and conditions, and drug errors. Sometimes the best way to avoid a grave condition is not to enter the system at all.

How does your brain score? Find out at Staying Sharp

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

Nick Ferrari

Reading gives muscle to your memory.

35. Read more

Sounds like we made it up, but scientific research supports the longevity benefits of reading — newspapers and magazines will do, but books are the best. “As little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the study’s senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale.

36. Read the ‘AARP Bulletin’

Really. This and other smart publications can keep you up to date on health info. Studies have shown that when people are empowered with information to make important medical decisions, it not only enhances their well-being but also improves a treatment’s effectiveness. So keep reading aarp.org/bulletin and aarp.org/health.

37. Monitor yourself

Don’t wait for annual checkups to consider your health. By then, a small problem could have morphed into a life-threatening illness. In one English study, researchers found that less than 60 percent of people who developed unusual symptoms in the previous three months had seen a doctor. Symptoms that might point to cancer include: unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more (this can be an indication of cancers of the esophagus, stomach or lungs); fever; extreme fatigue; changes in bowel or bladder habits; or unusual bleeding. Other unusual symptoms that could signal disease? A patch of rough, dark skin could indicate diabetes, and a strange color on your tongue could signal serious acid-reflux issues.

38. Visit the hardware store

Among the most common causes of “unintentional deaths” are carbon monoxide, radon and lead poisoning, the CDC reports. Make sure there’s a carbon monoxide detector near every bedroom, and be sure to test and replace the batteries every two years. Was your home built before 1978, when lead paint was outlawed? One trip to the store can get you all you need to test for these toxic substances.

39. Practice home fire drills

Just 1 in 3 families have a fire-safety plan, says Robert Cole, president of Community Health Strategies, an injury-prevention education organization based in Pittsford, N.Y. “People underestimate the speed of a fire. Many waste time figuring out what to do, or trying to take belongings with them. Everyone should know what to do and how to get out safely.”

50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

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Studies show that female doctors are more effective communicators than male physicians.

40. Find a woman doctor

When Harvard researchers in 2016 analyzed Medicare records documenting more than 1.5 million hospitalizations over four years, they found that patients who received care from a female physician were more likely to survive and less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. In fact, about 32,000 fewer people would die each year “if male physicians achieved the same outcomes as female physicians,” the researchers said. Previous studies have suggested that female doctors are more likely to follow clinical guidelines and are more effective communicators.

41. Make peace with family

While we often stress about small stuff — the guests are here, and we’re not ready! — it’s the nagging, long-running forms of stress, such as a family dispute, that put your longevity at risk. Chronic stress hastens the cellular deterioration that leads to premature aging and a vast array of serious diseases, according to long-running research from the University of California, San Francisco. This sort of cell death “turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of early diseases of aging and in many studies of early mortality,” says lead researcher Elissa Epel. The remedy: Come to peace with the people in your life. Forgive your family, forgive yourself, put the past behind you — so you can have more life in front of you.

42. Take the stairs — every day

A study by University of Geneva researchers found that taking the stairs instead of the elevators reduced the risk of dying prematurely by 15 percent. What’s more, a daily stair climb shaves six months off your “brain age,” according to researchers at Concordia University who performed MRI scans on 331 people ages 19 to 79. Gray matter shrinks naturally with age, but less so when people stay active.

43. Toss that rug

One of the top risks for falls at home is throw rugs. Those slip-slidey accoutrements send 38,000 older adults to the emergency room each year, according to a 2013 study by the CDC. Banish these rugs from your home, and make sure bath mats have a nonslip bottom.

44. Beware the high-tech dash

Nearly one in five traffic accidents and more than 400,000 crash-related injuries involve a distracted driver, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports. Top distractions, according to a recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, are cellphones. But a less-obvious risk is using the touch screen on your car’s dashboard.

 

50 ways to live a longer, healthier, happier life

Geber86

Yes, you can go carless and survive.

45. And drive less

In 2014, more than 5,700 older adults were killed and more than 236,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Per mile traveled, fatal crashes increase noticeably starting at age 70 and are highest among drivers age 85 and older, a highway safety organization says. If you’re feeling unsafe behind the wheel, it might be time to look for alternative transportation.

46. Better yet, walk

What’s the best prescription for a longer life? Exercise. And doctors are literally prescribing it instead of medication. “There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” says Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. It benefits your brain, heart, skin, mood and metabolism. Even as little as 10 minutes of brisk walking can help (that’s all it takes to burn off the calories of one chocolate chip cookie). Once you can do 10 minutes, push it to 15. Then 20. Start slow, but just start.

47. Just not in the street

Nearly 5,000 pedestrians are killed annually in the U.S., according to the latest federal figures, and nearly 20 percent of those deaths were among adults age 65 and older. If you walk for your health — and we hope you do — stay safe and consider doing so at the mall, a community health center or a park.

48. And go a little faster

The benefits of a brisk walk are real: A University of Pittsburgh study of adults 65 and older found that those whose usual walking pace exceeded one meter per second lived longer. While researchers say they can’t recommend brisk walking as a panacea for living longer, they did see increased survival in those who picked up the pace over the course of a year.

49. Get fidgety

Never mind what your grade school teachers said; fidgeting is good. A 2016 British study finds that sitting for seven or more hours a day increases your risk of dying by 30 percent — except among active fidgeters, who see no increased risk.

Should you trade in your car?

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Need wheels? Go for a smart car.

50. Trade in Ol’ Bessie

High-tech safety features have now become standard in new cars. The government mandates that all have airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control — “up there with seat belts and airbags in its life- aving benefits,” says one industry leader — and tire pressure-monitoring systems. Carmakers also offer back-up cameras, self-parking features, blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, and forward-collision warning with auto-braking.

37 NATURAL BEAUTY SECRETS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD

By A. Santiago

No matter where you’re from, odds are you occasionally find yourself looking overseas with envy.  How do those women in India get their hair so shiny and silky and tame their flyaways?  How do those Japanese ladies get their skin so clear?  What about those South American women with their luminous complexions?  Genetics obviously plays a role in our attributes, but a lot of it comes down to simple beauty secrets which anyone can learn.  And odds are if you’re feeling envious, someone else around the globe is looking toward your shores and feeling envious of what you’ve got.

Australia: Yarrow extract for stretch marks.

Do you suffer from stretch marks?  These unsightly marks appear after you have had a rapid weight gain or growth spurt or during pregnancy.  Once they show up, they are extremely hard to get rid of, because they are essentially scar tissue.  But that doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily stuck with them.  Yarrow extract is a beauty secret which has been used by Australian Aboriginal women for generations to clear up their stretch marks.  Yarrow root contains anti-inflammatory compounds, and can also moisturize your skin.  The combination does a great job for soothing and healing all manner of skin irritations and healing old wounds—like stretch marks.  Search for a stretch mark cream which contains yarrow root extract for a natural, effective end to stretch marks!

Australia: Tea tree oil for dandruff.

Sick of pulling dandruff away from your itchy, dry scalp?  Australians use tea tree oil to combat this problem.  This is one of those tricks where a little bit goes a long way, so it’s well worth the investment.  Just add a couple of drops into your shampoo and you will be amazed at the difference.  The tea tree oil will moisturize your scalp and prevent all that itching and flaking.  You can also find tea tree oil shampoos for sale that already have this amazing ingredient included.

Brazil: Oatmeal to heal a sunburn.

You may already know that oats are great for your skin.  It’s no wonder; if you’ve ever looked up the nutritional facts on the back of a box of oatmeal, you probably noticed it contains an abundance of minerals and vitamins that your body needs.  It turns out that the nutrition that is great for your body as a whole is great for your skin too.  Brazilians use oats to ease the pain of a sunburn and speed healing.  How do you do it?  Next time you get a bad sunburn, tie up some oats in gauze and then position it over the tap for your bathtub.  Turn it on and fill the tub, allowing the water to filter through the bag with the oats.  Soak in the bath and you’ll get fast relief from your sunburn.  Oats have amazing anti-inflammatory healing properties!

Columbia: Avocado for shiny hair.

Avocado is one of the top beauty secrets in Columbia and other Latin American countries.  It’s great for your face as well as your hair (we’ll talk about avocado facial masks in a bit, since they are also popular in the Philippines).  How do you use avocado to enhance your hair?  One of the best recipes is this:  Get an avocado, a banana, and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Mash them all together to make a uniform paste.  Take that paste and rub it into the roots of your hair.  Work it down to the tips.  Do something else for half an hour, and then get in the shower and shampoo, condition and rinse.  The results will astound you!

Costa Rica: Shrink your pores with orange juice.

Have large pores on your face which you wish you could shrink?  This is a short-term solution, not a long-term one, but it’s a great idea if you just want to shrink your pores for a photo op.  Women in Costa Rica combine orange juice and water (in a 50/50 mixture) and use a cotton ball to swab it onto their faces.  Wait a few minutes, and then rinse it off, and your pores should be less obvious.  Be sure to rinse thoroughly so that you aren’t sticky afterwards, and try to keep the juice out of your hair.

Chile Crushed red grapes and flour for glowing skin.

Here is another beauty recipe for vibrant skin, this time from South America.  If you have ever wondered how Chilean women get their skin looking so luminous, it turns out the secret is crushed red grapes mixed with white flour!  A handful of grapes is all you need and a couple of tablespoons of flour.  Mix it together, apply it to your face for ten minutes, and wash it off.  You should get a lovely glow to your skin.  This can work wonders if you are used to looking in the mirror at a fatigued complexion.

Dominican Republic: Garlic for stronger nails.

Here is another great beauty secret from South America.  Do you have brittle nails that break all the time?  One great way to strengthen them is to use garlic.  This tip comes from the ladies of the Dominican Republic, who chop fresh garlic and add it to clear nail polish.  They wait about a week to a week and a half, and then apply it to their nails.  Be warned: it will smell foul—but the smell will wear off, and the garlic will leave your nails harder and stronger.  As an added bonus, garlic has antibacterial properties.

Bulgaria: Rose water as a facial cleanser.

Bulgaria’s Rose Valley is world famous; the valley produces around 85% of the world’s rose oil.  So it’s no surprise that Bulgarian women have discovered the many uses of rose oil and rose petals.  Rose water is one of the best all-around rinses you can use to enhance the health and beauty of your skin.  How do you make it?  You can either use well-diluted rose oil, or you can boil a tea out of rose petals.  Either way, you will enjoy moisturized, clean, clear skin.

Croatia: Wash your itchy scalp with nettles.

Here’s a great tip from Croatia for those who suffer from dandruff or a dry, itchy scalp.  Croatians gather nettles from the fields and boil them in water.  They then use that water to wash their hair, often skipping shampoo altogether.  That’s how effective it is at cleaning your hair and nourishing your roots!

France: Get rid of nail stains the easy way.

Have unsightly stains on your nails?  A lot of women in France do their own manicures, and they are experts at dealing with beauty problems like this!  It turns out they have the simplest solution in the world for nail stains.  Just soak your fingers in lemon juice for ten minutes, and most of those stains should go away.  It’s very fast and easy!

Greece: Olive oil for healthy skin.

Do you envy the mesmerizing complexions of Greek women?  It’s not all in the genetics as it turns out; Greek women have a number of beauty secrets, one of which is olive oil.  Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and is one of the all-around best things you can eat.  In Greece (and Italy), women make olive oil a regular part of their diet, but in many other countries, butter or margarine is a more common choice.  Neither butter nor margarine contains all the healthy antioxidants and vitamins that olive oil does, though.  So consider buying a bottle of olive oil the next time you hit the grocery store.  Spice it up and use it as a dip for bread at dinner time, instead of going with butter or margarine as you usually do.  You can also cook in olive oil instead of vegetable oil!  It is better for your skin, and healthier all-around.

Greece: Rosemary for healthy hair.

The women of Greece not only have gorgeous clear skin, but shiny locks.  If you’ve ever envied their beautiful hair, you will love this Greek beauty tip.  Greek women rinse their hair using water that’s been steeped in rosemary.  Rosemary removes buildup from your hair for a deep cleansing effect.  An even better alternative?  Steep a hair rinse out of rosemary and apple cider vinegar.  In the shower, combine a few tablespoons with water and use that to rinse, and you’ll get an even more amazing effect.  Plus, a little bit goes a long ways, and you can use your rinse again and again before you run out.  Be warned, however, that rosemary can darken hair, which is great if that’s what you are going for, but if you want to keep your locks light, you might want to skip it.
Italy

Greece: Yogurt and olive oil for shining locks.

Staying in the Mediterranean, you will find another great olive-oil related beauty tip in nearby Italy.  Italian women also eat plenty of olive oil, but they also have figured out that it can be mixed with yogurt and applied directly to the hair as a conditioner.  All you have to do to get the same silky effect is to mix a cup of plain whole-milk yogurt with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Wash your hair and apply the conditioner afterwards.  Wait for five minutes and then rinse it out.  You should have a nice lustrous shine to your hair when it dries, and should also find it softer and more manageable.

Greece: Try an egg white hair mask.

Here’s another quick trick from southern Italy, where the sun is intense and can dry out hair really quickly!  Purchase some egg whites, and then whip two egg whites (or more, depending on how long your hair is) so that they get frothy.  Apply them to your hair while your hair is wet.  Wait ten minutes, shampoo your hair, and rinse it all out.  This will really boost the moisture content in your hair!

Spain: Cranberry juice to bring out red highlights.

If you are a redhead, a brunette, or even a strawberry blonde, there is a wonderful beauty secret from Spain that can help you to bring out the red tones in your hair.  It’s really easy!  All you have to do is mix cranberry juice with water (about half and half), and pour it over your head when you are done washing your hair in the shower.  This technique works especially well if you then head outside and spend some time in the sun.  Another alternative is hibiscus flower.  If you purchase hibiscus tea, you can use this as a rinse; you may find this a better option because you do not have the sticky sugary residue from the juice.  You don’t have to rinse it out as a result.

If you are a blonde and don’t want to be a strawberry blonde (or simply have no red tones in your hair to bring out at all), you might want to try lemon juice or chamomile or calendula instead.  All three of these are great choices for bringing out blonde highlights and lightening your hair.  Once again, spending time in the sun will enhance the effect.  If you do either the cranberry or lemon juice rinse on a regular basis, you will get a great effect over the long term!

Spain: Potato slices to get rid of dark circles under your eyes.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  If you get dark circles around your eyes when you are fatigued, you can get rid of them by cutting thin potato slices and putting them on top of your eyes for ten minutes.  This will lighten the skin around your eyes.  You’ll find this trick works particularly well if you do it routinely.  A perfect trick before you head to that early morning job interview or sales presentation.  Show everyone how awake and alert you are, whether you feel it or not!

Sweden: Green tea, mineral water, and sauna treatments for healthy, beautiful skin.

Ever wonder how those Swedish women keep their skin so radiant and clear?  One great treatment recommended by Swedish makeup artist Petra Strand is green tea!  If you have green tea bags, you can freeze some green tea in an ice cube tray, and use the ice cubes in place of a toner.  If you are not so keen on the idea of rubbing ice cubes over your skin, you can skip that and just use the tea bags themselves after you make your tea!  Strand also advises the use of saunas as a skincare treatment.  Saunas are very popular in Sweden, and help to purge the body of toxins.  Strand recommends a recipe combining olive oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and rock salt as an alternative.  Rub it over your body and rinse it off, and you will remove toxins from your skin.

Here’s another tip from Scandinavia.  Mineral water is great for your skin, but you’ll get the best effect if you go with icy mineral water.  Splash it on your face and you will firm up your skin.  If you have puffiness around the eyes, it can help you reduce that (those Scandinavian women sure are brave, coming in out of the cold and splashing ice water on their face or using ice cubes as toners!).

Poland: Try an egg yolk hair mask.

That Italian hair mask using egg whites isn’t the only way you can nourish your hair using eggs.  It turns out that those Italian ladies are actually missing out on the amazing nutrients in egg yolks!  In Poland, women make hair masks using the yolk of the egg along with a few drops of lemon juice and olive oil.  They leave the mask in their hair for fifteen minutes and then rinse it out.  Apparently the egg yolk nutrients strengthen hair so it is less likely to break.  Which is better for hair, the yolk or the whites?  You will have to experiment to decide.  Maybe you will end up combining the suggestions from Poland and Italy and using the whole egg.  Sounds like a plan!

Romania: Olive oil and vitamin A for stronger nails.

Looking for a great way to improve the texture of your nails and strengthen them?  In Romania, there is a great secret to strong nails, and that is to soak them in a bowl with warm olive oil and vitamin A oil.  It only takes a few drops of oil, and you only have to do it every couple of weeks for a few minutes each time.  The vitamin A and olive oil will nourish the cuticle beds, which will cause your nails to grow stronger.  They should be less prone to breakage after a few of these treatments.  You may also have less skin peeling around them, which is a symptom of really dry nail beds.

United Kingdom: Wash your hair less.

Women who live in the UK have a unique beauty challenge to tackle thanks to the abundance of lime in their water supply (and you thought your hard water was bad!).  Lime makes hair dry, brittle, and breakable, so it is a constant uphill battle to keep hair strong, soft, and shiny.

How do they do it?  It’s actually what they don’t do more than what they actually do.  Many women in the UK don’t wash their hair more than three times a week, and keep it under a shower cap the rest of the time.  How do they keep their hair clean on days they don’t wash it?  Dry shampoo.  Even if you don’t live in the UK, this is great advice.  Why?  First off, hard water in many countries creates similar beauty struggles.  The less you wash your hair, the less mineral buildup you have to deal with.  Plus, most women wash their hair more than they should to begin with, stripping out the natural oils.  Wash your hair less and you will keep your natural oils intact.

China: Rice water as a facial rinse.

China is of course famous for its rice.  Rice is not just a dietary staple in China, though, it is also a beauty secret!  The women in China use rice water as a cleansing rinse for their faces.  Rice is chock full of antioxidants, which nourish your skin and fight harmful free radicals that lead to aging.  How do you do it?  Buy some Chinese rice, and soak it in water for 20 minutes.  Strain out the rice, and then use a washcloth to mop the water on your face.  Do this on a weekly basis and you should notice a difference!

China: Camellia oil for stretch marks.

Here’s another way you can tackle stretch marks.  Chinese women rub camellia oil onto their stretch marks in the morning and the evening.  Over time, this can reduce the appearance of stretch marks as well as other types of discoloration (like sun damage).

India: Turmeric for vibrant skin.

Turmeric is used as a spice in a lot of Indian recipes, but it is also used for beauty!  Before an Indian wedding, the bride performs the “haldi” ceremony.  This involves applying a turmeric paste to her face and body and washing it off so her skin will be vibrant.  You can make the same paste by mixing a teaspoon of turmeric powder with honey and yogurt.  You want it to get a thick pasty consistency.  Put it on your face for fifteen minutes and then wash it off.  Don’t worry, your skin won’t turn yellow—but you should see a nice glow.  Apparently this can also help you get rid of unwanted facial hair, so this is a really great weapon in your beauty arsenal.

India: Coconut oil for smooth, shiny, healthy hair.

Those Indian ladies really know what they’re doing!  Here’s another great beauty tip from India, this time for your hair.  If you are looking for a natural conditioner, look no further than coconut oil.  A little bit of this stuff goes a long ways, so all you need is around a tablespoon.  Heat it up (you can just warm it up in the microwave) so that it turns into a liquid, and then massage it onto your head.  If you can, try to reach your scalp and the roots of your hair, as well as the ends.  The coconut oil will promote circulation in your scalp, which will help to bring nutrients to your hair follicles.  This in turn will make your hair grow faster!

Coconut oil is a great moisturizer, and will work great on dry or damaged hair, so make sure you get the ends and not just the roots!  You can wash it out or leave it in; if you leave it in, your hair will be nice and shiny all day (and also easier to comb than usual).  If you have ever used a product like Biosilk, the effect is similar.

While you’re at it, if you have dry or rough skin, you can rub coconut oil in as an excellent alternative to lotion or moisturizer!  This is a popular thing to do in Belize.  The coconut oil also has protective properties that shield your skin against the damage of harmful UV rays, so it makes a great natural sunscreen.

The Philippines: Aloe for glossy hair.

If you have ever been to the Philippines, you probably were astonished by how glossy and beautiful everyone’s hair was!  How do Pilipino women get their hair so shiny?  It turns out the trick is aloe.  Break an aloe leaf to get at the juice, and then rub it into your hair and scalp.  Don’t have an aloe leaf handy?  That’s okay, you can buy aloe gel from the store.  Rinse it out and you should see glossier locks.  Tip:  Don’t forget that aloe is also great for your skin!  Combine it with ginger and lime and it makes a wonderful moisturizer.  Its inflammatory properties make it an excellent salve for irritated skin too.
Japan

The Philippines: Shun the sun.

Have you ever wondered how the women of Japan and the Far East manage to keep their skin so beautiful and clear?  They have a number of beauty secrets, but one of the simplest and most effective is simply to stay out of the sunlight.  In Japan, it is perfectly normal to carry around a parasol on sunny days.  Japanese women also are more likely to cover their arms and legs and wear a hat.  Sunbathing may bring a warm coppery glow to your skin, but it does nothing for your complexion!  Over time, sunbathing will lead to sun damage—age spots, wrinkles, and dry, leathery skin.  If you shun the sun and carry a parasol or umbrella, however, you can keep your skin soft, hydrated, and healthy like the women of Japan.

The Philippines: Seaweed for luxurious locks.

Japanese men and women alike are recognized globally for their long, silky, gorgeous black hair.  How do they get their hair looking so fabulous?  Part of it may be the increased amount of iodine in their diets.  Seaweed is a major part of the Japanese diet, and a rich natural source of easily-digested iodine.  Iodine is added to table salt, but it isn’t as easy for your body to digest as the iodine in seaweed (and if you use sea salt, you are getting even less of it).  Head to your local Asian grocery store and stock up on seaweed and start adding it to your diet!

You don’t have to use it to wrap sushi.  It goes great in salad, rice dishes, stir-fry, or soups.  Experiment with some recipes and you will probably find a lot of tasty ways to eat it (snacking on the sheets is also fun!).  This is a really great way to jazz up a boring bowl of store-bought ramen.  Iodine has a lot of health benefits that go under recognized, not just for your hair, but for the rest of your body.

The Philippines: A sake bath for glowing skin.

Love sake?  If you can bear to part with several glasses of it, try pouring it into your bath water.  Sake contains kojic acid, which is a great exfoliate.  This is yet another beauty secret the women of Japan use to maintain their beautiful complexions and keep their skin looking so fresh and youthful over the years.  Sake can also reduce the appearance of age spots and discoloration from the sun.

Singapore: Coconut oil to tame humidity-induced frizz.

Humidity levels in Singapore are crazy.  The average is around 90%, and that’s year-round.  Ouch.  If you live in a place with high humidity levels like that for even part of the year, you know what a pain they can be.  Your hair frizzes up and you can’t control your flyaways.  How do those ladies in Singapore cope?  They rub some coconut oil into the ends of their hair before going to bed and leave it on there.  The next day, their hair is manageable and tame despite the ridiculous humidity.

Singapore: Avocado or papaya for radiant skin.

Here’s another great tip from Singapore!  Mash up an avocado or a papaya (both work great), rub the mixture onto your face, wait for fifteen minutes, and rinse it off.  Both of these have some great oils in them which are ideal for moisturizing your face.  Papaya also works as an exfoliating agent thanks to an enzyme called papain.  This is a great way to make use of avocados that are just a little too ripe.  Otherwise they just go to waste!

Egypt: Bathe in milk and honey.

This beauty secret is so old that it literally dates back to Cleopatra, who reportedly bathed in milk and honey to keep her skin radiant and soft.  She also added lavender and rose petals to her baths, and according to some historians, raspberries and strawberries.  The milk she used came from goats, but cow’s milk will give you the same benefits since milk contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs).  These compounds help to slough off dead skin cells, gently exfoliating your skin.  This allows healthy new skin tissue to grow for a fresh, youthful complexion.  Other famous historical ladies who have used Cleo’s secret include Valeria Messalina, Emperor Claudius I’s wife, and Pauline Bonaparte, Napolean’s sister.  Francois I, King of France, also used to take milk baths—so this secret goes for any gents reading this too!

Don’t want to pour honey into your bath?  Honey is expensive, but a great alternative is to take the occasional milk bath, and then purchase an organic soap which includes honey as an ingredient!  This can cut down on your costs while you follow in Cleopatra’s footsteps!

Israel: Mud from the Dead Sea as a cleansing mask.

Have you ever taken a mud bath?  If not, you may wonder what compels so many women to jump into a basin full of mud.  It turns out there is actually a really simple explanation, and that is that certain types of mud can do wonders for your skin.  Why?  Mud contains minerals, and minerals are good for you!  Mud from the Dead Sea in particular is renowned for its rich mineral content.  Women in Israel cover their bodies with mud from the Dead Sea, then go for a dip in the salty water.  Many even take jars to the beach and gather up the mud for use later at home.  While you don’t have the luxury of jumping right into the Dead Sea, you can purchase Dead Sea mud from anywhere in the world, as there are many bath products which use it!

Israel: Ginger and honey to prevent wrinkles.

Want to prevent wrinkles and maybe reduce some of the wrinkles you already have?  One time-tested tradition in India is a mixture of fresh ginger and honey.  Add a little water, and rub the mixture onto your face.  The honey gives it a pleasant sweet aroma, and the ginger has a revitalizing warmth.  This makes it a great “wake up” routine in the morning!  You will immediately feel fresh and ready for the day, and you’ll look fresh too.  Start this routine when you’re young and keep doing it daily and you will stay looking young for a very long time.

Morocco: Argan oil for just about everything.

Argan oil comes from Morocco, and is a really amazing product that you can use in so many ways!  It is easy for your skin to absorb and has great moisturizing properties, which makes it an excellent lotion or bath oil.  You can also use it as a moisturizer.  A couple of drops are all you need; it goes a long way.  Suffer from dry hair as well as dry skin?  Rub a few drops of argan oil into your hair in the morning or at night.  You don’t need to wash it out; it is a great substitute for any leave-in conditioner.  It will tame flyaways, smooth out your hair, and bring out its silky shine.  You’ll find it easier to brush and style.  Unlike most leave-in conditioners you can buy, argan oil is 100% natural and healthy!

Turkey: Lighten your hair with daisy water.

If you live in a place with daisies, you can use them to lighten your hair and bring out highlights.  This works best if you are blonde or have light brown hair.  In Turkey, women who want to lighten their hair boil a cup of daisies.  After around five minutes, you can remove the daisies and pour the water over your hair.  Don’t rinse it out, just let it air dry, and spend some time out in the sun.  This is another trick where you can substitute apple cider vinegar for water and use it as a diluted hair rinse over an extended time period for even better results.

Mexico: Curl your eyelashes with a spoon.

Wish you had beautifully curled eyelashes like the women of Mexico?  It turns out they have a special trick to achieve those perfectly curled lashes, and it’s an easy one you can do at home!  Do you have a teaspoon?  If so, close your eye, and place the teaspoon over your eye so that it is cupping your lid.  The bottom edge of the spoon should touch the roots of your upper lashes.  With your thumb, press your lashes up against the spoon, and then push the spoon edge up to the ends of your lashes.  The pressure from your thumb and the edge of the spoon will nicely curl your lashes.  After that step is complete, set the spoon aside and put on your mascara so that your beautiful lashes really stand out.  This has a really dramatic effect, and it’s so easy!  Caution: spoons have sharp edges, so be careful putting a teaspoon near your eye.

Russia: Oatmeal facial mask.

It turns out oats are great for more than just treating sunburns.  Women in Russia know that they make great facial masks.  The recipe is simple.  Just take two tablespoons of oats and soak them in warm water until they turn soft.  This usually takes about ten minutes.  Once that step is done, you need to add a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  Mix it up into a paste, and then apply it to your face.  Wait for ten minutes and rinse it off.  Your face should have a lovely, vibrant glow and feel silky smooth.  This is one of the best facial masks you will ever find, and it is so cheap and easy!

We hope you enjoyed this selection of amazing beauty secrets from around the world!  As you can see, most of these ideas are inexpensive, easy, and use standard ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now.