Benjamin Franklin said, "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Considering healthcare and prescription drug costs, you have to be healthy to be wealthy! Think about this: Even if you only made minimum wage, the cost for losing five days of work due to unpaid sick leave is over $260. According to a 2006 report, the average cost for an emergency room visit is $560, and that's before a single prescription is written. Check into a hospital and you'll shell out on an average of $5,226 a day! Even with insurance, the co-pays and deductibles are enough to make you nauseous. So what's a frugal person to do? Here are some of the best tried-and-true tips for staying healthy, even when those around you fall ill:
Stay hydrated. Your body needs water to function optimally. Water carries waste out of your system. It brings needed nutrients and chemicals to every cell. It provides lubrication for your joints and digestive tract. As a matter of fact, there are over 50 reasons why your body needs water! Dehydration can play a part in many illnesses like headaches, fatigue, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Did you know you can even avoid catching a cold from re-circulated airplane air by keeping your nasal tissues moist? Inhaling a light mist every few hours keeps the delicate membranes from drying out and cracking, which allows easier entrance for airborne viruses.
Get off your duff. You've heard it before, but it bears mentioning again. Exercise makes you healthier. There's no getting around it. Exercise improves energy, boosts immune function, improves sleep, increases good cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, improves concentration, and can even contribute to weight loss. One doctor commented, "There is no drug in current or prospective use that holds as much promise for sustained health as a lifetime of physical exercise." Eighty percent of the health problems once associated with aging are now thought to be preventable or at least able to be postponed if a person stays fit. A 30-minute walk most days of the week is enough to boost your longevity by 29% and reduce your health costs by an average of 24% over your sedentary neighbor.
Build in some margin. Take it easy on yourself. Rest is equally as important as exercise for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Over two-thirds of doctor's office visits are for stress-related illness. Stress contributes to 50% of all illnesses in the U.S., including the number one killer of Americans, heart disease. Building in margin means leaving some room around the edges. Don't over-schedule yourself or your family. Make sure you have some down time, some room for those little irritations that turn into major headaches. Don't wait until the gas tank reads "E." Instead, fill up at 1/4 full. Schedule a morning to sleep in, with nothing else to do until noon. Don't try to make a 3:30pm dental appointment for little Sally when she gets out of school at 3:15pm. Build in some wiggle room. Give yourself time to breathe.
Boost your brainpower. People who keep their minds sharp take better care of themselves. A study of 678 elderly nuns shows that those with the highest educational and intellectual life suffer the least symptoms of Alzheimer's. Good concentration and focus enable people to react faster, make better choices and feel better about themselves. Do a crossword puzzle. Learn a new language. Calculate your gas mileage in your head.
Reduce your exposure to toxins. Consider Sick Building Syndrome, air pollution, water pollution, and pesticides. The list of chemicals that assault us goes on and on. Many common household products contain alcohol, ammonia, bleach, formaldehyde, and lye. These substances can cause nausea, vomiting, inflammation and burning of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system, and are linked with neurological, liver and kidney damage, blindness, asthma, and cancer. EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor air levels of many pollutants may be two to five times and, occasionally, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. Cleaning products and other household products are among the many culprits. New "green" products that are both safe for humans and safe for the environment are much better alternatives for cleaning and disinfecting. Many essential oils are more effective than their synthetic counterparts at cleaning and healing but don't have big advertising budgets like some of the more profitable, "patentable" products. Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is also safe, cheap, and effective!
Eat real food. Don't eat fake food. I'm not talking about plastic fruit or rubber chickens. Instead, I'm talking about all those artificially flavored, artificially sweetened, fortified, enriched, nutritionally empty non-foods. The supermarkets are filled with "pseudo-food." Cut down on the stuff that is boxed, bagged, or canned and go for food you can actually see. That way, you at least have a shot at consuming a vitamin or two.
While illness can be quite expensive, you can see from these tips that health doesn't cost much. If you really want to stretch a dollar, the proverbial "Apple a day" is a good way to start. To be healthy and wealthy, be wise.
Viola Horne is a free-lance writer and owner of God's Country Botanicals in Colorado, which produces chemical-free essential oil products that are safe for the whole family. Visit her web site at GodsCountryBotanicals.com.
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