Recently at a woman’s wellness weekend I was listening to a well-known nutrition guru touting the health benefits of a daily glass or two of wine. And I was thinking to myself, when is he going to mention the risks of alcohol? Because, sure, wine is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, but also an increased risk of breast cancer. In the same way, sunlight is associated with increasing your levels of vitamin D, which can decrease your risks of all sorts of nasty diseases—but as we all know, sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer, too. And exercise can lead to all sorts of physical and mental health improvements, but too much can lead to injuries and possibly impaired fertility. The list goes on and on: For every study that comes out and promotes the benefits of something, a counter study says the exact opposite, or so it seems. What’s a girl to do? How can you possibly sift through all the info, try to follow all the rules—and still have a life? The first thing is to learn how to interpret clinical studies.Each time you read about a new study—especially if it contradicts what you’ve already heard—ask yourself these four questions:
Once you understand study basics, how do you apply their advice? Use common sense. What you do over the course of years and years will have far more of an impact on your long-term health than what you do for a day, a week or even a month. Skipping your workout tomorrow isn’t going to harm you—so go ahead and watch a movie or hang with your friends instead. Blowing your good eating habits at a wedding or on vacation won’t hurt you, either. As long as you tend to exercise regularly and eat well over the long haul, these minor deviations are simply part of living a full, vibrant—and healthy!—life.
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