If you took a moment to ask your great-grandmother what she did to stay healthy when she was your age, she probably wouldn’t mention going to pilates classes or drinking kombucha — both healthy habits that are very popular today. Instead, she probably had her own remedies that she swore by for feeling her very best. These old-fashioned health tips might seem dated, but they certainly aren’t ineffective, according to experts.
There are plenty of health tips from the past that shouldn’t resurface, of course. For example, sunbathing to get your daily dose of vitamin D is one that you should definite skip, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, tells Bustle. “Melanoma is the leading cause of skin cancer,” she says, so be sure to wear sunscreen whenever you’ll be outdoors, and get plenty of vitamin D by eating a well-balanced diet.
There are plenty of old-fashioned cures and remedies that shouldn’t make a resurgence, whether its your grandmother’s insistence that waiting for your hair to dry before going to bed will prevent you from getting sick, or putting raw potato slices on your forehead to prevent headaches. But these tips from the olden days are scientifically-backed, and can do anything from boosting your energy to improving your cardiovascular health.
Here are a couple of old-fashioned health tips to try out for yourself.
1. Going Dancing
If you’ve ever gone to a nightclub, you know that dancing is not extinct. But going to dances on a regular basis was a big part of old-fashioned social life. “Back in the day, people used to hold balls where people came to dance, socialize, and mingle,” Leon Turetsky, a certified personal trainer, NASM-CPT, and professional ballroom dancer, tells Bustle. From the graceful waltz to the more spirited polka, dancing is the perfect way to exercise without feeling like you’re exercising. “Ballroom dancing is a great form of exercise since you’re literally having fun while exercising,” Turetsky says. “It is especially great for a cardio workout. Lastly, it is also great for your memory since you have to remember different steps and patterns all the time.” If you’re not feeling up for taking a ballroom dancing class, try out another form of dance, whether you join Zumba at your gym or get a few friends together and learn the choreography to music videos.
2. Oil Pulling
“Oil pulling is one of the oldest and most healthy remedies you can incorporate into your daily routine,” registered and licensed dietitian Allie Gregg, tells Bustle Take a tablespoon or two of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for about 20 minutes before spitting it out. For some extra freshness, you can even add peppermint essential oil. This ancient health tip not only reverses gingivitis and helps to freshen your breath, but it could also potentially remove bacteria from your mouth before you swallow it into your system.
3. Getting A Fern
In Victorian times, buying ferns was all the rage because they’re so effective at filtering harmful chemicals out of the air, Tiernach McDermott, a horticultural expert for Candide, tells Bustle. “London smog was appalling back then, but the air quality in most of our cities is still dangerous today,” he says. “If everyone had a fern or two in their home and on their desk, fewer people would get sick and suffer from respiratory diseases.” Plus, bringing a couple of green plants into your home or workspace can double as great decor.
4. Moisturizing With Olive Oil
The next time you run out of your favorite luscious body lotion, put off going to the store and instead turn to your kitchen for a good substitute. “Use plain olive oil on dry skin or eczema,” Dr. Nesheiwat says. This old-fashioned remedy is a great natural way to keep your body’s largest organ feeling great. “It works great to soothe, hydrate and moisturize,” she says, “and helps maintain a barrier on the skin to help prevent infection.” In fact, go all the way and use the olive oil for a nourishing hair mask while you’re at it.
5. Taking Korean Red Ginseng
“Korean red ginseng is a widely acclaimed medicinal root known for its remarkable health benefits, and has been lauded as the ‘elixir of life’ for over two thousand years in Korea,” Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CND, founder of Nutritious Life, tells Bustle. This supplement is basically a gold mine of health benefits, she says, such as a stronger immune system, sustained long-term energy, improved circulation, and better stress management.
6. Moving All The Time
You may be pretty good about fitting in a workout in the morning or going to the gym after work, but shifting your focus to incorporate movement into your everyday life is one way to benefit from an old-fashioned health tip. Registered dietitian Katie Chapmon, MS, RD, tells Bustle that in earlier years, exercise was more of a way of life. “Walking to and from a destination such as work, social activities, and errands were commonplace,” she says.
This is also beneficial for these days, as regularly moving (rather than being active only within a set time) can improve your circulation and your energy levels. Try eating lunch at your desk and then using your break to stroll outside with a coworker, or set a reminder on your phone to stand up and go refill your glass of water every hour. If you use public transportation to get around, exit a few stops early and explore your city on foot.
7. Eating Locally
Being able to ship avocados all over the country is a beautiful thing when you’re craving guac, but it isn’t necessarily the best choice for the environment. Eating locally-grown or raised foods is an old-fashioned health tip that should definitely work its way back to our current age, says Chapmon. “Transportation of food items, as well as less availability for long-term refrigeration and storage made purchasing local food necessities the natural choice,” she says. “This is one that can increase health and environmental benefits in today’s world.”
8. Cutting Back On Coffee
“While most Americans are consuming coffee to get their minds moving, consider swapping out one cup of coffee a day for a glass of water,” Dr. Garth Graham, tells Bustle. Generations past were certainly no strangers to a morning coffee, but these days, having multiple cold brews, energy drinks, and sodas is how many people stay energized throughout the day. But Dr. Graham says that several cups a day can have negative health effects.
“For example, coffee has a negative effect on blood pressure,” he says. “The caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened or even release more adrenaline which causes your blood pressure to rise.” If you love your morning espresso too much to completely cut it out, just opt for small changes. Swap out one cup per day for cold water with mint or a cup of lemon tea and you’ll be benefitting your heart health.
None of these old-fashioned health tips require totally upending your current routine or giving up anything you love. But with a few simple tweaks, you could be taking care of your body, and maybe finding a new passion for dancing in the process.