Determining which body type you belong to can be liberating. It can help you better understand your body composition, the efforts you need to put in to gain muscles, the sports that will suit you, the foods that will help you stay fit and achieve weight loss, and so on.
No matter how hard some people try, genetics will always be a step ahead of them. You can’t beat your body type when it comes to fitness or weight loss. Clean eating is an essential aspect of fitness, regardless of your build.
You can boost your health and weight loss and get rid of any barriers you are facing by understanding your body type and knowing how to eat to help it become optimal.
Our body type does not only define how we look but also provides information relating to how our body responds to food intake. It also determines the characteristics of your hormonal and sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It has also been identified that a person’s body type can also define their metabolic capabilities and set them apart from other individuals when it comes to processing different types of food and gaining or losing weight. Which means it is an important factor that can be used to optimize your health goals.
Body types consist of three main categories:EctomorphEndomorphMesomorph
Most people can look like they possess characteristics of more than one of these categories, but that is probably because of the years of training and physical care they put into their health and body. And they could also be a mixture of two different body types because of their parents.
Let’s now get into what these body types mean and what the ideal diet is in each case.
People belonging to this type are lean and skinny, meaning they have skinny limbs and a slender, narrow body. These types have a high metabolic rate which makes them resilient to weight gain. But that also means that they have difficulty putting on muscles. Ectomorphs can get away with eating excessive amounts food without gaining weight and they do not have problems with weight loss as well. They naturally have low body fat. But that’s not to say that they do not need to exercise or live a healthy lifestyle, we all do.
What to Eat
If you belong to the ectomorph category, you must aim to consume higher carbohydrates and lower fats. Carbohydrates work great for this type. Proteins must also be consumed but in moderate quantity. Fats consumed should be of good quality. Examples are nuts, avocado, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil.
For ectomorphs is has been suggested by some experts that distributing the nutrients in these proportions is ideal 55% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 20% fats.
Endomorphs sometimes feel they are the unlucky body type, being one myself I often seem challenging to get results and it seems that we always have to work harder than the other two body types to achieve minimal results.
Endomorphs are often fuller, rounder and have the tendency to store a lot of fat. Our body shape is round and the joints are long. We have large bone structure and some people in this category sometimes find it a bit more challenging to live an active lifestyle. This might be due to the challenges and frustrations of not getting the success they want as quickly as they want compared to the other body types.
As endomorphs, our metabolic rate is characteristically very low and that promotes storage of fat and the tendency to gain excess weight. This can be discouraging and frustrating for people with this body type and it is understandable why some people get fed-up and get lazy.
But that is not the right answer either, once they create a plan which includes understanding their body type it is easier to get results and achieve overall success in their weight loss and fitness journey.
Knowing your body type will eliminate all the confusion and misinformation that has added to the frustration that people are experiencing and it will keep things simple but successful. No diet or controlled eating patterns will give the success that learning and understanding our body types, eating for that body type and exercising for that body type can.
What to Eat
An endomorph would need to consume good quality fats and protein. As far as the intake of carbohydrates, it is tricky but very do-able for endomorphs to put more emphasis on good fats and proteins while incorporating some good low glycemic carbohydrates.
Therefore a breakdown of 25% carbohydrates, 35% protein and 40% fat. In simple words, consider eating more fats and protein and fewer carbohydrates is a great place to start and tweaking might be necessary based on results.
This body type is considered to be genetically gifted. Mesomorphs are lean, muscular, athletic and naturally active, making them great at sports. Their bodies are proportionally built, consisting of medium sized bone structure and considerably lean mass. People belonging to this body type can gain and lose weight easily by changing their diet and activity level. Due to high testosterone, mesomorphs can build muscle easily.
What to Eat
If you are a mesomorph, you should consider consuming a balanced diet. Which means splitting eating proportions into 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. The ability to gain muscle and weight easily means that you should focus on effective weight management throughout your life.
Going on a trip without a map or directions is the same thing as not knowing your body type but expecting results or success in weight loss or fitness journey. We often don’t appreciate what our body does for us without asking until it stops doing it for us. Getting fit, losing weight and achieving health is simple but not easy to do.
If you are among those people who have a fitness goal and would really want to achieve it, you have to choose a fitness machine that you can use every day even when at home. If you do not have one, you can invest in an elliptical. The reviews have been very positive about this certain type of fitness machine. People love that it is an exact replica of machines used in commercial gyms. It is self-powered and has a slew of helpful and relevant features, including telemetry heart rate monitoring. Aside from this, an elliptical also has an adjustable cross ramp which allows you to change the height of the elliptical path for suitable moving. It also has moving handlebars which helps get your entire body moving, giving you a complete workout.
Many of the health experts these days recommend this type of exercise machine. And today, even users are also starting to love the natural and low-impact motions that make your workout go smoothly and safely. It has preset programs, resistance levels, as well as plenty of custom options and extra features not commonly found on other cross-trainers.
Professional trainers and many other fitness gurus swear by the machine, hence its popularity in commercial gyms and, now, in personal gyms as well. If you want an exercise machine that really delivers, investing in an elliptical is an excellent choice. If there’s anything that reviewers consider a flaw, it’s that it’s clearly designed to be stationary and not portable. It’s heavy, weighing more than 400 pounds. You’ll have to find the ideal place for it and keep it there. And if you wish to transfer it to another place, you really need the help of someone to move it to another place.
Fitness treadmills can be dangerous if they are being used improperly or safety precautions are not followed. If you are careless and do not follow standard guidelines, it will take less than a second to go from a good work out to the injury. It’s important to keep children and household pets away from the treadmill at all times. Here are some safety tricks of the treadmill to minimizing the risk of injury.
Consult your doctor: Even though it may seem to be unnecessary–it’s important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. This is mainly significant when using a treadmill because treadmill falls are caused by conditions like strokes or heart attacks.
Start Slowly: If perhaps you are an experienced runner or athlete, it can be influencing to increase the treadmill’s speed and incline speedily to make the most of your workout. But start slow, wait to improve the strength of your workout until your body has adjusted to the motion and rhythm of the treadmill.
Look Forward: It’s common for exercisers to want to view their feet, mostly if they are really new to by using a home treadmill. Exercisers who look down or the side while they are on the treadmill likely to lose their balance and fall. Dizziness is a common complaint from people who have only used a treadmill a few times. While working out on a treadmill, sometimes you have the feeling that the ground is moving. Stepping off of the treadmill may cause the exerciser to feel disoriented the first few of times, so they should hold onto something before the dizziness decreases.
Don’t Depend on Handrails: It can be fine for a master to use the handrails while they are used to the machine’s motion, but using the handrails for an extended time frame can strain shoulders and elbows. Applying handrails can also mess up an exerciser’s balance and make them more vulnerable to leg injuries. Holding onto the rails decreases the number of calories burnt because the core muscles are not engaged the way they should be.
Increase Either Speed or Incline: Maintaining a fast paced managed with a steep incline is very difficult, and anyone who uses their treadmill to run with an incline should first raise the incline to a level that is comfortable to them and then increase their speed slowly. It is straightforward for runners to slip and fall if they increase their running speed and the machine’s incline setting significantly without adjusting to the steep incline first.
Don’t Go Barefoot: moving belt on a treadmill machine creates heat and friction so, you should protect your feet. If you use a treadmill on Barefoot you may get burns, scrapes, and blisters on your feet. Hence, everybody should wear properly fitted shoes when they exercise because their shoes help to absorb the shock of movement and take stress off of their joints. Feet can get caught in the place that the side of the moving belt complies with the machine and serious injury may occur.
Avoid Distractions: Even though many people like to pass the time looking at television or reading a book–these sorts of interruptions can cause an accident to happen. Keep your intensity low when you want to watch or read something in your workout session.
Use the treadmill deck. When the belt starts, it can startle both you and potentially cause you to lose balance. Prevent this from happening by starting the treadmill while you are standing on the deck with legs apart. While starting a workout, it is important for the runner to straddle the deck and not start the equipment with their feet on the belt. This kind of safety feature can crash and cause injury to an exerciser that is expecting a much lower starting speed.
Don’t Step Off a Moving Treadmill: It is tempting to leave the treadmill in motion even though the exerciser steps off for a couple of minutes to answer the door or go to the bathroom. A moving treadmill is a danger to anyone in the area and really should be stopped completely prior to the runner steps off the machine. Everyone who uses a treadmill should know where the emergency shut off feature is located so that it can be stopped quickly if they turn to be injured or a part of clothing gets trapped between the moving parts.
Holidays bring festivals and a lot of fun. They also bring lots of activity which allows for the unhealthy eating at times too. After the celebrations are over, the free time can become boring, especially for kids. With so many technological gadgets available these days, kids like to spend most of their leisure time playing video games or watching TV. While in moderation this is good, it could have serious health effects if done excessively. When parents limit the screen time for kids, it becomes their responsibility to find alternate ways to keep kids busy and happy. Trips to commercial playgrounds or church playground equipment can also do so much to keep kids happily busy. Eventually they fall into boredom and become lethargic. This can be bad for their mental and physical health because they need workout as part of their routines. For such times, here are some tips for parents to make working out fun for kids and keep them active and healthy.
Make it a Group Activity
Children enjoy anything in the company of their friends and peers. Since this problem is common to all parents, it should not be hard to find other kids in your vicinity to take a walk together with your little ones. Alternatively, you can talk to other parents to sign up your kids in the same sports club or a fun activity class. If nothing else works, take your kids to the community park with foam padding for playground surface, where they can make friends and socialize with other children their age while you sit on the benches and keep an eye on them.
Make Your Backyard a Game Zone
Add some tapes on the sidewalk to make a board game where kids get to become the game pieces themselves. They jump and gallop trying to avoid touching the tape and get scores with how many boxes or lines they are able to jump. This would make the game fun and also add a healthy dose of physical activity to their play time.
Have Your Own Treasure Hunt
Almost every school going child has a phone these days, or at least parents do. All you have to do for this fun workout activity is to note down interesting things in your neighborhood. Ask your little ones to take a round around the area and take pictures of the things mentioned in the treasure map. The kid to spot most things gets the winning prize. Alternatively, you can hide trinkets and toys around your own house or garden and get the little ones on a treasure hunt. The finder gets to be the keeper. This will keep your kids busy and active for hours without making them bored.
Make Household Chores Into a Game
Ask your kids to clean up their rooms or pick up all the toys and put them in a basket. Use a stopwatch to time them and the one to do it in least amount of time gets to be the winner. In this way, the little ones will also learn to do chores around the house and have fun at the same time. Have a race on who finishes their milk first and who gets to change into night clothes fastest. This would make their whole day’s activities fun and give them frequent doses of physical exercise too.
Suffering with Asthma every day is like having an extra job trying to control the symptoms. It only takes one day when the air pollution is higher than normal causing you to wheeze so bad you can’t make it into work. The cold air hitting your lungs causes you to have an asthma attack so you stay home more than going out. You resort to your medication to keep your asthma at bay. Does this sound like you?
Choosing a natural treatment for asthma may be what you need not only to relieve your symptoms but to heal your body from the inside.
#1. Asthma (Natural Treatment)
Asthma is an inflammatory reaction to allergens and irritants. Before we can deal with the inflammation it’s important to start the process of treating your asthma naturally by analyzing your environment.
Remove all allergens and irritants that may trigger an asthma attack: chemicals, aerosol sprays, animal dander, certain medications, molds, perfumes, pollens, sulfites, to name a few.
Jane had asthma since she was 5, (61 years ago) but had it well controlled until about 14 years ago. Then in spring she would have to wear a filter mask when she walked her dog or end up with an asthma attack. This went on for 3 years. After learning how toxic the indoor air was in her home, she removed all chemical allergens and have not had to use a filter mask or had an asthma attack in 10 years. She credits not having the chemical allergens in the house to compound the outdoor allergens.
Jane made one change to her environment and as you can see it made a dramatic difference in her breathing and ability to go outside without having an asthma attack.
#2. Asthma (Natural Treatment)
Our diets are one of the main sources of inflammation that we face daily. We eat at least three times per day, and that repetitive level of inflammation needs to be addressed if you are ever to get off some of your medication and breathe more easily.
Eat more anti-inflammatory foods like: apricots, cruciferous vegetables, onions, papaya, pumpkin and tomatoes. Foods to avoid: Citrus fruits, dairy products, dyes and preservatives, sugar and wheat.
#3. Asthma (Natural Treatment)
People with asthma need to pay particular attention to fats because good fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, while Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation. We tend to eat foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Good examples of omega-3 fatty acids are those in fish. Increase your intake of fish (or take a high quality fish oil supplement), nuts, olive oil while decreasing the amount of canola oil, and processed food of any kind.
#4. Asthma (Natural Treatment)
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut and are commonly destroyed by the antibiotics we take regularly. Supplementing with probiotics can help heal asthma naturally from within.
#5. Asthma (Natural Treatment)
Often times, asthmatics are depleted of crucial nutrients due to the chronic inflammation in the body. Take a high quality nutritional supplement which supplies all the vitamins and minerals important to the immune system.
This 5 step Asthma Natural Treatment will absolutely influence how well you breathe and start healing your body from the inside.
With COPD, there are many things that can cause difficult breathing, or shortness of breath. Different things trigger short breathing in different people, but sometimes it just seems to happen for no reason. What can you do if this happens?
First, do your best to stay calm. I know, it’s very challenging to stay calm when it seems like there is no air. Practice your Pursed-lip breathing, and try this mantra: slowly say to yourself, “I’m breathing in… I’m breathing out”.
If you have a quick relief inhaler, use it. If you wear oxygen, put it on. Do a quick scan of your surroundings: is there anything there that could have triggered this? If you have accompanying chest pain, or your breathlessness is getting worse by the second, call Emergency Services right away. If you can stand, assume the position: hands on a chair back, or on a table or counter, leaning slightly forward. This expands the rib cage, allowing you to exhale excess carbon dioxide, and to take in a bigger breath of fresh air.
There are many factors that can cause shortness of breath. It’s important to know what can cause these frightening episodes. Often, it’s not so much a physical trigger, but a lack of best practices. For example:
(1) Did you take your medications and inhalers today? Often, people with a good maintenance routine feel good and forget to take their maintenance inhalers, or other important drugs.
(2) Were you doing too much at once? COPD tends to slow people down. Then, on a feel-good day, said person will try and catch up on all the things that didn’t get done in the past week. Remember to pace yourself with all of your daily activities.
(3) Were you holding your breath? Sometimes we just forget to breathe, much less practice our Pursed-lip techniques. Something seemingly benign such as watching a scary TV show or movie (how about the news?) engrosses us and we hold our breaths in the suspense of it all.
(4) If you are prescribed oxygen with activities, did you skip wearing your oxygen with activity? I can’t tell you how many of my patients need oxygen with activity, but tell me that they put it on while sitting, but take it off to use the bathroom or go get something from the kitchen. This is backwards! I know those 100-foot oxygen hoses are a pain, but please don’t risk low oxygen levels and heart damage just to do something for a few minutes.
So, what can you do to prevent these episodes from striking unexpectedly? Here are a few tips. Again, if you cannot catch your breath or are having chest pain, call Emergency Services immediately.
Make sure your medications are optimized. Schedule a medication review at least once a year with either your MD or a pharmacist, to ensure you are not taking any duplicate or conflicting medications.
Scan your home environment. Do you need to de-clutter a little? Dust a bit more? Do you need help with these chores? If you find that doing chores leave you breathless, (especially ones that fluff up a lot of dust) hire someone to do them for you. Splurge once a month to have someone deep-clean, dust, and vacuum. YOU are worth it!
Post your Personal Action Plan to remind you what to do in what order. The panic of the episode may cause you to forget to even use your inhaler, or forget to use your pursed-lip breathing techniques.
Keep a fan handy, whether it’s a personal hand-held fan or a larger floor-stand fan. Turn it on and stand or sit right in front of it for a few minutes.
For long-term benefits, consider joining a Pulmonary Rehab program, or starting a regular exercise program. Regular exercise has been proven to help people with COPD. Make sure you are exercising within safe limits for YOU.
Choose wisely in the cafeteria. The dreaded foods are mostly unhealthy things that people choose in the cafeteria. It may be exciting to have endless choices and to eat with all your friends, to be constantly in an “all-you-can-eat environment” but can be dangerous if you do not have a lot of willpower at the day put. You can do that to resist the temptations in the cafeteria:
- Turn around the cafeteria before you make your choice. Many people eat too much in cafeteria or at buffets because they can not decide what to eat. It is helpful to read the menu, to roam between the different foodstuffs, and then to choose what makes you laugh most.
- If in doubt, choose the salad buffet. Load your plate with vegetables and garnish with a protein source such as chicken, tuna or tofu. Keep away from thick, creamy salad dressings as they contain extra calories. Consider making your own dressing of olive oil and vinegar.
- You do not have to limit yourself to just one food. Mixing can help create a rounded meal that includes the vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates that you need.
- Leave the dessert. Just because it’s there does not mean you have to eat it. Save the dessert for two or three evenings a week. If you eat a dessert, choose a healthy variety like Frozen yoghurt or muesli, instead of the cheesecake or the brownies.
Keep healthy foods at home. Keep fruits, nuts, muesli and dosage soup at your home. Instead of getting something from the vending machine at home during learning late at night, you should rather nibble these healthy things. They also saturate you longer and do not let you break down as energy drinks and sweets do.
- There are numerous fruit varieties which you do not have to keep in the refrigerator, such as oranges, apples, bananas or pears.
- If possible, get a small fridge for your bedroom by storing perishable things like yogurt, and carrots.
Pull yourself up in terms of eating late at night. Students often stay awake for a long time to do homework or to pace for exams, while they help themselves with snacks to stay awake. But the extra calories of snacks late at night can really add up if you’re not careful. Here are some things that you can do to not give in to your desires late in the night:
- Drink tea. Keep a water cook in your room and drink green, black or herbal tea during the night. If you feel like sweets, add some honey to your tea. This can also help you stay awake to learn, without feeling like you are after the enjoyment of coffee.
- Eat fruits or nuts. If you want to nibble at night, choose healthy options like these that provide your body with vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function well.
- Stay hydrated. People often confuse hunger and thirst. If you want to have a snack but are not really hungry, it is possible that you are actually thirsty.
If possible, eat at home. To be sociable is an important part of the university experience and usually you eat or drink. Eating from time to time is OK, but remember that the food in the restaurant contains lots of butter, fat, salt and sugar. You’ll also save money by cooking yourself at home.
- When eating outside, keep away from fried food or sauces or dressings. Order food that is either grilled or baked.
- Avoid fast food restaurants. Every now and then it’s okay to go to these restaurants, but it should not become a habit.
- Think about ordering salad with a protein source (such as salmon or chicken) and ask for the dressing to be served separately.
Lock yourself in while drinking. No matter how healthy you are eating, the extra calories in the alcohol can sabotage your diet. In addition, it usually leads to snacks late in the night when you stay up late and celebrate.
- When you drink, keep away from sweet cocktails or mixed drinks as they contain a lot of calories. Some cocktails contain more than 600 calories
You should have a scales in the room. Do not wait until you can really see the weight on your body until you start to feed yourself healthier. Make things a little easier by having a scale near you so you can weigh yourself from time to time.
- Always weigh in the morning before you have eaten something. You should weigh yourself naked or with little clothing.
- Keeping your weight in mind can also help you determine what eating habits work for you and which do not. If you lose in the one week, try to remember what you have eaten this week and what kind of sport you have been doing. Try to replicate this routine in the future.
- Maybe you want to take your measurements as muscles are heavier than fat. In addition, there may be spurious factors, such as weight through water, which influence the display on the scale.
Stay balanced. While nobody wants to increase during the studies, you do not want to spend all your years obsessed with your body. Keep in mind that being healthy is about finding a balance. It’s okay to reward you from time to time; what is really important is how you balance discipline and enjoyment in the long run.Tips
- Learn to distinguish between hunger and boredom. Many people eat too much because they are hungry, others because they are bored or restless.
- Drink a full glass of water before each meal to saturate you.
- Consider writing a nutritional diary to oversee what you eat.
With winters come flue, cough, fever, and all those nasty diseases. All the winter fun is ruined when your kids are sick. There are multiple reasons why children are more vulnerable to get ill quicker than adults and one of those is their weak immune system. Children, especially toddlers and pre-school aged are sensitive and need additional care. Here, in this post, I am going to tell you five ways to protect your kids in winters.
1. Give them Enough Sleep
When winters come, kids get excited and become hyperactive. They just want to go out and play in the snow or with school playground equipment. Just like other seasons, your little ones need the right amount of sleep in winters as well in order to stay healthy.
What is more, our bodies inevitably need more sleep when days become shorter and nights get longer. However, children need it more than adults, so make them sleep enough during winters.
2. Keep them Hydrated
Kids usually don’t feel thirsty during winters, but their bodies need enough amount of water to keep hydrated and function properly. Children almost forget to drink water the entire day and this makes them sick really quickly. Keep a 1.5 bottle for each kid and ask them to finish it during the day. Make it a challenge for them and promise chocolates or their favorite snacks for the one who finishes earlier.
3. Seasonal Foods
Nature provides us with foods according to seasonal demands. These fruits are given to us by nature according to the seasonal requirements. With cold breeze outside in winters, we need to stay warm inside and these foods perform that function for us. All the foods should be cooked prior to eating to get the best taste and intake nutrition. Your little ones will be healthy and remain warm and their energy stores will be filled if you feed them seasonal foods.
4. Additional Vitamins
Even though vitamins are needed throughout the year, they are required in larger amount during winters when diseases are likely to attract because immune systems function at a slow pace. Vitamins, especially vitamin D helps to make kids’ immune system stronger, which, in turn, aids in fighting diseases. Give them either enough exposure to sunlight or vitamin D3 supplements to fulfill deficiency. Moreover, vitamin C is also needed to strengthen the immune system, so make sure you give them food rich with vitamins in winters.
5. Wash Hands
It’s not just for winters but for every time of the year. However, you should be stricter in winters because of cold and flu around and your kids are likely to attract infections. Make it their habit and do not allow them to come to the dining table if they do not wash their hands, especially if they were messing around in playground structures. When you teach them to wash hands, also tell them the reason and importance of doing so.
My husband and I recently took a relaxing and fun vacation to Maine. The weather was enviable in August coming from hot and humid Charleston. So were the food, landscape and the Mainer’s way of life. Yes, there were plenty of lobsters, haddock, and halibut up there on which to dine.
Also plentiful and tasty were tiny, wild blueberries that seemed to be growing everywhere. One day our curiosity got the best of us and we stopped to see how the berries were picked. As I stood there watching and listening to this “local,” I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s so special about these little fruits and how were they different from the larger kind I buy at my local grocery store?
But since we all know that fruit is an important part of a healthy diet and that you should be consuming the equivalent of 1.5 to 2.5 cups a day, I wanted to find out more. What I found out is these wild blueberries plants are only one of three fruits native to North America. They have grown naturally in the rocky barren fields of Maine and Canada for thousands of years. Unlike commercially produced blueberries, they grow on a low bush and are “raked” off the plant. Most are sent to packing sheds where they are cleaned, frozen and put up for worldwide distribution.
Wild blueberries are a nutrient-rich food packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have twice the antioxidant capacity of cultivated blueberries because their battle for survival all these years yields a particularly hardy fruit packed with megadoses of antioxidants and medicinal compounds.
However, all blueberries are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C and K and manganese. And they have the highest antioxidant power of any other fruit. These antioxidant compounds are found in their deep blue colors. The pigments, called anthocyanins, are known for their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help us win the battle against cognitive decline, prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, aid in having healthy gut bacteria and reduce the risk of cancer. Need I say more?
So whether you prefer the wild varieties, which are mostly frozen at the height of their ripeness, or the fresh kind you buy at the produce stand or grocery store, consume blueberries and lots of them. Use them in your smoothies, in homemade pancakes and muffins, and on cereal, yogurt, and salads. And, if you want to splurge a little like we did in Maine one evening for dessert, enjoy a slice of wild-blueberry pie chocked full of blueberries, real sugar, and a buttery, flaky pie crust. Yummy!
Life expectancy rates have always interested me. We read about Biblical figures living well past 100, and yet most Europeans seem to have died quite young. Part of these averages were brought down by the many women who died in childbirth, and deadly diseases which swept through villages, wiping out entire populations. But what eventually made the difference in elevating longevity rates was, quite simply, hygiene.
In medieval Europe, early Christian leaders declared bathing to be non-spiritual. Fortunately, this belief was limited to small regions and was short-lived. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the popularity and knowledge of bathing and sanitation were on the rise. (After all, wasn’t cleanliness next to godliness?) During the “Dark Ages” primitive soap making became an established trade. And the Roman baths and unique aqua duct systems were legendary.
Across the pond, many of the British royalty were known for their not-so-healthy lifestyles, which might include wearing the same clothes for months on end, and even sleeping in them. (No wonder leprosy was so rampant.) It is noted that King James VI of Scotland, who reigned during the mid-sixteenth century, was famous for wearing the same hat until it literally fell apart. And word was that he never bathed, believing it was bad for his health. (Pity poor Mrs. James VI.) Early Americans slept with closed windows at night, believing that disease drifted in on the night air. Ignorance of germs and cleanliness contributed greatly to poor health, especially tuberculosis and smallpox.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a very observant physician theorized that women who were assisted by medical students during childbirth had a high likelihood of dying. His theory proved accurate when the students were required to wash their hands prior to midwifery. After just a few months, death rates dropped dramatically. It seems many of the med students came to assist births directly from performing autopsies. With the discovery of bacteria, hand washing took on a new importance and helped reduce the spread of germs and viruses.
About the same time in England, cholera epidemics were raging. A Dr. John Snow believed that cholera was spread primarily via contaminated water, brought on by lack of sanitation and sewage disposal. A few improvements in his part of London had dramatic results, and happily the epidemics soon departed. Other cities began to follow suit, and disease in highly populated areas declined significantly.
Amusingly, the first flushing toilet is attributed to the appropriately named Thomas Crapper in 1861. While his involvement in the invention is often debated, he clearly understood the mechanics and made significant contributions to the modern septic tank system, which pumped dirty water out of buildings and sent it on its way. This vastly improved the primitive sewage and waste systems (or lack of) in London, which set a precedent for other cities with similar problems, along with reducing the need for chamber pots.
In the 1920’s, the introduction of a disinfectant named Lysol was incredibly first sold as a genital cleanser for women and possible birth control device (don’t even go there). Lysol advertised a list of benefits for every female need and was actually used for such purposes until 1960. The fact that Lysol was and remains a caustic poison which can cause skin burns and intense itching apparently didn’t deter women from applying it to their skin, not to mention delicate tissues. Nor did it deter the advertisers from promoting it for gynecological purposes for over 30 years. Fortunately, now it is (hopefully) limited to household and commercial cleaning. Ouch.
It is almost inconceivable to imagine life without our modern conveniences and cleanliness standards. The things we take for granted, like hot and cold running water, washing machines and daily bathing, are only recent inventions. From the caveman up until the twentieth century, hygiene was pretty much absent in most people’s lives. Happily, we now honor its importance. Long life, my fellow Americans.