Your Body Tips
Few things are as annoying—and distracting—as having to sniff your way through a rehearsal. One quirky solution? Eat more probiotics, the “good” bacteria found in foods like yogurt. A study reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that taking a daily probiotic supplement during winter training helped elite runners cut the number of days they suffered from coughs and colds in half. What’s more, even when they were sick, their symptoms were less severe. Researchers believe that the active cultures strengthen the body’s immune system and mucus membranes, making it harder for germs to get through. This winter, stay healthy by stocking your fridge with foods like miso soup, sour pickles, unpasteurized sauerkraut, sourdough bread and soft cheeses like Gouda.
Could Yoga Make You Smarter?
Yoga benefits more than just your body—it affects your brain, too. A recent study found that older adults who regularly practiced yoga for two months significantly improved their executive functioning (which includes mental tasks like planning, working memory and troubleshooting), while those who simply stretched and strengthened did not. It makes sense: Previous research has shown that yoga increases activity in the brain’s frontal lobes, which are thought to be heavily involved in executive function. It’s just one more reason to add a few sun salutations to your day.
When a muscle cramps up, our first instinct is often to rub it out with a quick massage. But a more effective way to ease the ache is to firmly press your thumbs into where it hurts while breathing deeply for 15 seconds, then stretch it out and repeat that cycle until the cramp goes away. This strategy counteracts the tension and will eventually help the muscle relax.
Good News, Grazers
Always hungry between rehearsals? Don’t avoid snacking out of fear of gaining weight. Swedish researchers who studied more than 3,000 people actually found that those who ate more than three times a day had lower BMIs and smaller waists, and they consumed more fiber, less fat and less alcohol than those who ate three or fewer meals. To fill up and get a boost of energy, aim for a mix of produce and protein: an apple and string cheese, or carrots and almond butter.
Dancing on an Upset Stomach
When your stomach’s doing somersaults before a performance, don’t skip dinner because you’re afraid of making it worse. Instead, opt for these foods that are known to help you feel better faster.
Not only are they easily digestible, but they also contain a nutrient called pectin, which helps firm up bowel movements.
This tropical fruit’s enzymes papain and chymopapain help break down proteins, easing digestion. It also promotes a healthy acidic environment in the gut.
Choose a plain variety with active cultures to aid digestion and reduce bloating.
It’s True: You Are Superhuman
Research shows that athletes have the same pain threshold as everyone else, but a higher pain tolerance—meaning we feel the pain at the same time, but we’re able to stand more discomfort for longer.
Should You Try Oil Pulling?
Dancers often lead the way in new health trends, and lately, many have begun to try oil pulling. This ancient Indian folk remedy involves swishing a tablespoon of edible oil like coconut or sesame in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. It’s recently become popularized for its wild health promises like whitening teeth, detoxing your organs, improving the complexion of your skin and alleviating pain.
What do the experts say? Some small studies have found that oil pulling can reduce plaque, improving oral hygiene, which can have an impact on your overall health. But the American Dental Association currently warns against oil pulling as a replacement for brushing and flossing. It notes that there have been reports of oil pulling causing lipoid pneumonia (a form of lung inflammation), as well as diarrhea and upset stomach. Mostly, though, there’s just not enough solid research out there yet to support the practice.
Hopefully scientists might study the practice soon and find if there’s something to it. In the meantime, you’re probably better off swishing an ADA-approved mouthwash for 30 seconds twice a day. It’s got proven results—and a much better taste.