We are at the end of another eventful year, a time when we usually reflect on the 12 months that have just passed. Let’s take a look back on the most surprising tips for a better life experts shared with us over the past year.
- The most common brain disorders are strokes, and you can do a lot about that yourself
All organs are essential, but the brain is the most important. The human brain is the most complex system in the universe, many of whose mysteries we may never reveal. Yet there is also a lot that we do know.
What we already know for sure, and may also cause concern, is that strokes are the most common brain disorders. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, it is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
The good news is we can already do a lot about this ourselves, Professor Veerle Visser-Vandewalle, neurosurgeon and internationally renowned expert in deep brain stimulation, told De Morgen. A "healthy lifestyle" is essential. A simple insight, but not always easy in practice. The neurosurgeon gave four tips with which we can get started.
- Do not eat too much fat, because fats cause the blood vessels to clog up, causing brain tissue to die.
- Movement is essential: the blood flow of the brain improves, and also the areas that are responsible for thinking and intellect. Everyday movement already has an effect.
- Get enough sleep. Then fluid flushes through the brain tissue and waste products are cleared away that can lead to dementia. The less you sleep, the fewer cycles are completed, and the less is cleaned up.
- Try to think positively. If you think positively, your body will function better
- We tie our shoelaces incorrectly, and neglect our feet en masse
The body parts that are furthest away from our head are "our most neglected body parts", foot expert and physiotherapist Rob Donkers told De Morgen.
"We have gyms on every street corner and there we almost all do exercises on shoes that we have put on too tightly when tying, so that the foot muscles can hardly move," he says. For example, the muscles in our feet become limp and lazy, but they can be trained again according to the foot expert.
- Do mobility exercises for the ankle. A stiff ankle can lead to heel spur complaints or a pinching nerve in your forefoot and is also a risk factor for getting a crooked big toe.
- Do exercises with your little foot muscles: try to pick up and move small objects with your toes or put a towel on the floor in front of you and pull it towards you with your toes.
- Otherwise, learn to tie your laces, in toe position. Not with the foot flat on the ground, but with the foot curved, leaning on your toes. With the foot flat on the ground, the instep is at its lowest point. If you then tie the bow, the instep can never come up normally again.
- Our Western diet is a big problem, and it’s not all about calories
What we put into it our bodies is very important and essential to health. But contrary to what we've believed for so long, a healthy diet has little to do with counting calories or even the amount of fat or sugar we eat. "More important is the effect of nutrition on our intestines," Tim Spector, professor of genetics and author of the book The Diet Myth, told De Morgen.
"Because of our lifestyle, modern humans have only a fraction of the bacterial species in the intestines that our ancestors had, and that has mainly to do with our impoverished diet," he says. It is precisely that degraded microbiome that he believes is one of the causes of the obesity epidemic.
How do we take better care of our intestines? "I always say that you should treat your microbes like a garden," Spector advises, "and you can do that in different ways."
- Make sure that the soil, the large intestine, is well fertilised with prebiotics, fibre, polyphenols and fermented food, so that the good microbes can grow, and toxic bacteria do not get a chance.
- Eat as much diversity of seeds and plants as possible so that you have a maximum variety of nutrients. Try something new regularly.
- Give your intestinal floor an occasional rest by fasting.
- And don't poison your microbial garden with antibiotics, preservatives, ultra-processed foods, sweeteners and other chemical junk. You will then be more resistant to infections, tumours and other threats.
- A litre of hot water costs more than 70 times as much energy as a litre of cold water
A regular shower head consumes on average between 7 to 12 litres of water per minute. Others use as much as 20 litres of water per minute. With water-saving shower heads you can save a lot: they use between 4.5 to 7 litres per minute.
A litre of hot water costs more than 70 times as much energy as a litre of cold water. So, there is still a lot to be gained on showering.
- If you have money and space, fill your roof with solar panels
Those who look more long-term, and can afford it, should urgently start thinking about solar panels. "If you have money and space, fill up your roof," independent energy consultant Kris Voorspools told De Morgen. But what should you pay attention to?
One of the most important choices you have to make here is the choice of the inverter, which converts the direct current that the panels generate into alternating current. "The inverter is the most delicate link in the installation," says Ghyselen. "It may therefore make sense to invest in a slightly more expensive model."
More expensive inverters typically offer more options. "That can be interesting if you want the inverter to communicate with devices in order to maximize your own consumption," Bram Van Dun, energy advisor at citizen cooperative Campina, told De Morgen. "That kind of application will only gain in importance."
The high energy prices cause the demand for solar panels to peak. Talk to an expert before you decide which and how many panels to install.
- Moisture problems due to lower heating? Reduce the risk of mould.
Saving money can also leave you with new problems. For example, your energy bill will benefit if you turn down the heating and keep the windows closed, but it can also cause problems with moisture and mould.
- A rule of thumb to avoid condensation problems is that you should not lower the temperature in inhabited rooms below 15 degrees Celsius.
- It is important to limit moisture production. Do not forget to put on the extraction fan while cooking and open a window after the shower, until the condensation on the bathroom mirror has disappeared.
- If necessary, purchase a humidity metre. In rooms that are evenly insulated, without colder spots, you usually avoid problems by keeping the humidity below 60 to 70 percent.
- Stay connected with your partner
Possibly even more important than caring for your home is caring for your partner, even if you feel like you've lost connection with each other.
"It sounds like a platitude, but it's always about taking time for each other,” matchmaker Rika Ponnet told De Morgen. “Going for a walk together every night or cooking together, those can already be beautiful moments when you can create some time for coordination with each other. But you can also do household tasks together. Do the dishes together. That used to be the place where most conversations were held in our home."
We often do these kinds of household tasks separately: one does the ironing, the other the dishes. "But then you're both back on your own island. It's often better to say, ‘I'll help with the ironing and put the clothes in the closet, if you'll help me with the dishes afterwards.’ That's more fun, but you also make sure that you create an opportunity to talk to each other."
- Try to do something every day that makes your partner's life a little more pleasant or easier. Just listen, clean something up, make tea...
- Set aside time for each other. Go on a weekend trip together or go into the forest together for a few hours.
- Dare to talk about the problems in your relationship with the people who are close to you. You will feel supported and see that you are possibly not alone.