Saturday, October 7, 2017

For a Better Brain, Say No to These

You Miss Out on Sleep

You do a few things you know you shouldn’t -- we all do. But some of those bad habits can take a toll on your brain. For example, lack of sleep may be a cause of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It's best to have regular sleeping hours. If you have trouble with sleep, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and electronics in the evening, and start a soothing bedtime ritual.

You Have Too Much Alone Time

Humans are wired for social contact. It’s not about how many Facebook friends you have -- what matters is a real sense of connection. People who have that with even just a few close friends are happier and more productive. They’re also less likely to suffer from brain decline and Alzheimer’s. If you feel alone, call some friends or start something new -- salsa dancing, tennis, bridge -- that involves other people.

You Eat Too Much Junk Food

Parts of the brain linked to learning, memory, and mental health are smaller in people who have lots of hamburgers, fries, potato chips, and soft drinks in their diet. Berries, whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, on the other hand, preserve brain function and slow mental decline. So next time you start to reach for a bag of chips, grab a handful of nuts instead.

You Blast Your Headphones

With your earbuds at full volume, you can permanently damage your hearing in only 30 minutes. But it’s not just your ears: Hearing loss in older adults is linked to brain problems, such as Alzheimer’s and loss of brain tissue. This may be because your brain has to work so hard to understand what’s being said around you that it can’t store what you’ve heard into memory. So turn it down -- no louder than 60% of your device’s maximum volume -- and try not to listen for more than a couple of hours at a time.

You Don’t Move Enough

The longer you go without regular exercise, the more likely you are to have dementia. You’re also more likely to get diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure -- all of which may be linked to Alzheimer’s. You don’t have to start running marathons -- a half-hour in the garden or a brisk walk around the neighborhood will work. The important thing is to do it at least 3 days a week.

You Still Smoke

It can shrink your brain -- and that’s not a good thing. It makes your memory worse and makes you twice as likely to get dementia, including Alzheimer’s. It also causes heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.

You Overeat

If you eat too much food -- even the right kind of food -- your brain may not be able to build the strong network of connections that help you think and remember. Overeat for too long and you may get dangerously overweight, which can cause heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure -- all linked to brain problems and Alzheimer’s.

You Stay in the Dark Too Much

If you don’t get enough natural light, you may get depressed, and that can slow your brain. Research also shows that sunlight helps keep your brain working well.

10 Secrets to Brighter, Whiter Teeth

Want Brighter, Whiter Teeth?

Have your pearly whites lost their luster because of dingy gray or yellow stains? Stained teeth can occur as we age, but some common foods, drinks, and even mouthwashes can stain teeth. Do-it-yourself remedies can help whiten teeth, and avoiding substances that stain teeth can stop further discoloration. Use these secrets to whiter teeth to restore your bright smile.

Do-It-Yourself Teeth Whitening

You may be able to get rid of superficial stains by yourself. A number of at-home tooth-whitening products -- kits, strips, toothpastes, and rinses-- may lighten stains. There are even some old-fashioned remedies you can try. Tooth-whitening products available on drugstore shelves use mild bleach to brighten yellow teeth. Toothpastes use abrasives and chemicals to remove surface stains. For deep stains, you may need a dentist's help.

Tooth-Whitening Kits

A home tooth-whitening kit contains carbamide peroxide, a bleach that can remove both deep and surface stains and actually changes your natural tooth color. If you have coffee-stained teeth, a tooth-bleaching kit can help. With some kits, you apply a peroxide-based gel (with a small brush) to the surface of your teeth. In other kits, the gel is in a tray that molds to the teeth. The tray must be worn daily (for 30 to 45 minutes) for a week or more.

Home Whitening Strips

Tooth-whitening strips will help get rid of tooth stains. These strips are very thin, virtually invisible, and are coated with a peroxide-based whitening gel. You wear them a few minutes daily for a week or more. Results are visible in just a few days, and last at least a year. The results with strips are not as dramatic as with whitening kits, but the strips are easy to use and pretty much foolproof.

Whitening Toothpastes and Rinses

How to get stains off your teeth? Over-the-counter toothpastes, gels, and rinses help remove some surface stains. Many of these products contain mild abrasives, chemicals, or polishing agents. Unlike bleaches, they don't change the natural color of teeth.

Home Remedies for Whiter Teeth

Some people still prefer the age-old home remedy of baking soda and a toothbrush to gently whiten teeth at home. Also, some foods such as celery, apples, pears, and carrots trigger lots of saliva, which helps wash away food debris on your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum is a tooth-cleansing action and also triggers saliva. A bonus from all that saliva: It neutralizes the acid that causes tooth decay. With teeth, more saliva is better all around.

Tooth Whitening and Dental Work

Approach tooth whitening with caution if you have lots of dental veneers, bonding, fillings, crowns, and bridges. Bleach will not lighten these manufactured teeth -- meaning they will stand out among your newly whitened natural teeth. In order to match your whiter teeth, you may need to investigate new dental work, including veneers or bonding.

Preventing Teeth Stains

As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away. The underlying layer, called dentin, is yellower. That's why it's important to try to avoid staining teeth in the first place, especially after whitening. If you take care with foods and drinks that discolor teeth, the results of whitening may last up to one year. Whitening teeth too often could make them look translucent and blue, so you'll want to maintain your new smile.

To Keep Teeth White, Don't Light Up

Not only is it bad for your health, smoking is one of the worst offenders when it comes to staining teeth. Tobacco causes brown stains that penetrate the grooves and pits of tooth enamel. Tobacco stains can be hard to remove by brushing alone. The longer you smoke, the more entrenched the stains become. Smoking also causes bad breath and gingivitis (gum disease), and increases the risk of most types of cancer.

Foods that Cause Teeth Stains

There's another reason to watch what you eat. Some common foods can discolor teeth. Here's an easy way to tell if a food might be at fault: Anything that can stain a white cotton T-shirt can stain teeth, say dentists. Coffee stains teeth, for example. Other top offenders are beverages such as tea, dark sodas, and fruit juices. These teeth stains develop slowly and become more noticeable as we age.

Think As You Drink

They may be packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, but a glass of red wine, cranberry juice, or grape juice also stains teeth easily. That doesn't mean you should give them up, but remember to rinse your mouth after you drink. These aren't the only teeth-staining foods to be aware of.

More Foods That Stain Teeth

The deep color of these fruits and veggies gives them their nutritional punch. But blueberries, blackberries, and beets leave their color on teeth as well. Eat up for your health, and prevent tooth stains by:

o Brushing teeth immediately after eating.
o Rinsing your mouth with water.

Sports Drinks Tough on Teeth?

While all sweetened drinks are bad for teeth, some energy and sports drinks may be worse, according to one study in General Dentistry. Researchers found that these drinks -- as well as bottled lemonade -- may erode tooth enamel after long-term use. The result is thin, translucent, discolored teeth. To prevent tooth erosion:

o Don't sit and sip these drinks for a long time.
o Rinse your mouth with water when you finish drinking.

Medications That Can Stain Teeth

The antibiotic tetracycline causes gray teeth in children whose teeth are still developing. Antibacterial mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride can also stain teeth. Some antihistamines, antipsychotic drugs, and blood pressure medications cause tooth stains, as can iron and excess fluoride. If bleaching doesn't help, ask your dentist about dental bonding, in which a tooth-colored material is applied to teeth.

Don't Forget Daily Maintenance

One simple strategy can help maintain white teeth: brush. Brush at least twice daily. Even better, brush after every meal and snack. Brushing helps prevent stains and yellow teeth, especially at the gum line. Both electric and sonic toothbrushes may be superior to traditional toothbrushes in removing plaque and surface stains on teeth. Also, don't forget to floss and use an antiseptic mouthwash daily.

Open Wide and Say 'Whiter Teeth!'

See your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleaning. The abrasion and polishing methods dentists use can remove many teeth stains caused by food and tobacco.

Inspirational Quote – October 7, 2017

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it’s letting go.”

Occasionally, in life, things, situations or people are only meant to be with us for a certain length of time. However, if we’re not ready to let them go then we’ve got a problem. Holding on with all you’ve got may cause them to reconsider and stay but, if their heart isn’t in it, or it’s just not meant to be, then it’s time to take a step back and consider your options. Perhaps you’re not being strong by hanging on if it’s not meant to be, just deluding yourself. Letting go isn’t being weak it’s being realistic and therefore taking the best course of action for them or it and, ultimately, you.

Getting to Cleveland: Seth Godin on Gratitude

According to writer Seth Godin, there are two ways to live in the world: with a "have to" attitude or a "get to" attitude. The latter mindset opens up the world and all the possibility of goodness therein and the former shuts down the heart and closes the door on the world. So the question is, how do we want to live? Too often, we have taken the gifts around us for granted and end up feeling entitled. We can begin to find gratitude by looking at our lives with open eyes and take steps toward being grateful, even in the hard times. We may not always know where this will take this, but -as Seth Godin says no one gets "to Cleveland by knowing every turn from here to Cleveland. You start driving and get directions as you go." This is the essence of living a life of gratitude.

Friday, October 6, 2017

How to Help Teenagers Manage Risk

Dr. Jess P. Shatkin explains why teens take risks, and how we can help keep them safe.

Teenagers. We’ve all been one at one time or another, and we probably remember how fraught those years were. Growing up is risky, there’s no way around it. But why did we, as teens, get pulled toward taking dangerous chances in the first place? And, now that we’ve grown up, how can we help the next generation of teens develop good judgment, especially when whatever we say seems to fall on deaf ears?
These questions are at the heart of Dr. Jess P. Shatkin’s new book, Born to Be Wild. Shatkin, a nationally recognized expert on child and adolescent psychiatry, has learned that giving kids dire statistics or telling them to just say “no” doesn’t work. Chronicling the latest research on the adolescent brain and effective parenting programs, he provides a path for parents, teachers, and others who want to help guide kids toward making better choices around risk.
I interviewed Shatkin about his book and what it has to teach us about the trials and tribulations of adolescence.
Jill Suttie: In your book, you write that research shows teens don’t actually think they are invincible to risk, like many adults assume. What are the consequences of this false adult belief?
Dr. Jess P. ShatkinDr. Jess P. Shatkin© Jeremy Folmer
Jess P. Shatkin: Most health education programs targeting risk-taking behavior in young people are predicated upon the idea that kids think they’re invincible. Why else would young adults have unprotected sex, or drive so fast, or swim across the river when they’re drunk? They think their primary job is to remind teens over and over that they’re not invincible, and to explain to them what terrible things can happen to them if they engage in risk. 
But our kids already believe that they’re far from invincible. In fact, they believe their risks are much higher than they are. For example, teens commonly believe that the risk of getting pregnant from one-time unprotected intercourse is 90 percent or greater—much, much higher than it actually is. As a result, our programs are targeting the wrong thing—a teen’s belief in their invincibility—and are not effective.
JS: If a sense of invincibility isn’t why teens take risks, what are the primary factors that contribute to teen risk-taking?
JPS: The research points to a number of things, which I articulate in the book. The first is the neuro-imbalance theory—this idea that the emotional part of the brain develops earlier than the prefrontal cortex, or they’re not wired together very well until later in life.  Because of that, adolescents take risks that most adults wouldn’t take—not because they think they’re invincible, but because emotions rule the day and they’ve got dopamine at very high levels in their brain. So, things are more exciting, more enticing to them. They are more driven by reward, and they want to go after things that have a high potential yield reward—like the thrill of the rollercoaster. But if you can’t take a rollercoaster ride, you can hit 100 miles per hour on a freeway or do drugs, and that’s exciting, too.
Now, this brain chemistry is evolutionarily advantageous to the species, because we need young, healthy risk-takers, who can run faster and tolerate extremes of temperature and pain. We need these adolescents to find new food and water sources, new mates. But teens also get sick and die in greater numbers, because of the behaviors they engage in, the emotions they feel, and the way they think about things. That’s the adolescent paradox.
JS: You mention that teens can benefit from learning emotional regulation and self-efficacy. What do you mean by these?
JPS: One of the major developmental milestones of becoming an adult is learning how to manage your emotions, so you don’t get fired from a job or ruin all of your friendships. We learn how to control our passion, and this is partly in line with the brain growing, the dopamine lowering, the hormones settling down, all those things.
But it also has to do with us growing up and learning and having more experience and building our repertoire of things that we can do when we feel upset or angry. Some of this just happens with maturation; but it can also be encouraged or taught.
Self-efficacy is about feeling powerful in this world, like you can have some impact. It may not be that you’re going to be an astronaut or the president; maybe you’ll do other things that matter and are important. You have to discover through trial and error what you’re good at, what you can commit to doing. That reckoning generally happens from about 13 to 30 years of age, and it can really empower teens when they figure it out.
<a href=“”><em>Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe</em></a> (TarcherPerigee, 2017, 320 pages)Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe (TarcherPerigee, 2017, 320 pages)
JS: Do you think teens should be taught these skills or should we focus on setting up an environment where that will happen naturally?
JPS: The answer is “yes” to both. We are built to develop this way; so, most of us—with some exceptions—will take on more responsibility and learn to manage our emotions and function better naturally.
But adolescence is a big transition, and there’s a lot more we can do. We’ve learned a lot in the last several years about practices that work. For example, when I grew up in the ’70s, I went to YMCA camps where they would teach kids progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. But it went out of style in the ’80s and ’90s because there was no real data for it—no evidence-based medicine. Well, now we’re getting some evidence that these practices actually work, beyond just subjective report.
We’re learning that exercise and arts programs in school really help our kids to learn better. A lot of this has to do with giving kids opportunities, coaching them, supporting them, mentoring them, tutoring them, getting the kids with disabilities—whether it’s learning or emotional disabilities—supports they need. The vast majority of kids with these problems don’t get that.
JS: Let’s assume teens haven’t learned these self-management skills. What can parents still do in the moment to help their kids make better choices?
JPS: There are lots of different kinds of tools. Parent management training, which I talk about in the book, is especially effective. That involves learning how to give kids a lot of positive reinforcement and to tell kids your expectations in a less ambiguous way. Though, to be really effective, it’s better to practice and teach those skills to parents of young children.
But let’s take something that you can do in the moment. One thing you can do is recognize that kids are driven by reward and that positive reinforcement works better than punishment. So, what parents want to do is identify things their kids want and steer them towards that.
I give an example in the book of an oncologist I know who can’t get teens to take their leukemia medicine, even though she tells them they’re going to die if they don’t take it. You want to flip that on its head. Ask teens: “What do you want? Do you want to drive one day? Do you want to get laid one day? Here’s what you’re gonna have to do to survive so you can do those things.” And maybe not say “one day.” Maybe there is something to do tomorrow, like going to the amusement park or going mountain climbing—something engaging for them.
I always encourage parents to look at what kids want, and support that, and use those as enticement, so that they move in the direction of what they want.
“Adolescents take risks not because they think they’re invincible, but because emotions rule the day”
―Dr. Jess P. Shatkin
JS: I know research says that parents are still very important to a teen’s healthy development and that teens long for connection with their parents. But what about parents who just get the silent treatment from their teens or whose teens avoid contact with them?
JPS: There’s no question that our kids sometimes get a little moodier, and they want to be alone. Adolescents go from spending a lot of time with their parents before puberty to spending a lot less time with their parents after puberty. That is part of the normal trajectory; so, we have to understand that as parents.
Still, I would argue that most kids want a satisfying relationship with their parent. When my daughter was 16—she’s now 19—she still liked to cook together or go shopping together. Even my 16-year-old son, who can be pretty irritable, still wants to take a bike ride with me or watch Game of Thrones together. There’s still an opportunity to go after the reward.
JS: What do you think schools could do to help more?
JPS: If you ask high school parents what they want for their kids, they say things like, “I want him to be a good citizen or fair-minded; I want her to be a team player and contribute to society.” They don’t say, “I want him to really understand Shakespeare or be great at geometry,” even though those are important things, too. But schools could purposefully teach character education more than they have in the past and give kids practice at building self-efficacy, by involving them in bands or sports, for example. When they do those kinds of things, our kids feel better about themselves.
A lot of schools let kids have their phones in school. That’s not useful. Students get distracted; phones take them away from other things they could be learning. It really does make a difference to pull kids off of technology for a few hours every day, unless they’re using that technology for school.
Schools should also be teaching media literacy. Kids get an awful lot of information from the media; but they’re unprepared to question it. They just absorb it. Take advertising: We can’t necessarily stop it in a free society, but we can teach our kids to be savvy consumers. I think that every kid should have a media literacy course in high school.

Inspirational Quote – October 6, 2017

“When a friend does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.”

Of course you won’t! Lovely person that you are. When a friend does something we consider wrong, that’s when we remember all the things they’ve done for us in the past. The times they’ve given us a shoulder to cry on, hugged us when we’ve needed a hug, been patient when it’s obvious we’re driving them loopy, loaned us money when we’re hard up. The list goes on and on doesn’t it? Also, this is the perfect time to think about the boot being on the other foot so to speak! If, positions were reversed, wouldn’t we expect our friends to take the time to think about all the good things we’ve done for them….. Of course we would, so there’s your answer…simple!

Finding Your Moment of Obligation

People who successfully tackle big social, environmental, and economic problems are driven by what Lara Galinsky of Echoing Green calls a moment of obligation -- a specific time in their life when they felt compelled to act. These moments become their North Star and keep them going in a positive direction when everything seems dark. Activists or social entrepreneurs aren't the only ones who are moved this way. We all have experiences that deeply inform who we are and what we are supposed to do, but only if we allow them to flower into action. Don't let such moments pass by and lose out on creating meaningful careers and lives. Here are tips that can help you recognize your own moments of obligation...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What Makes People Cooperate with Strangers?

A new study finds that having a reputation for cooperation may be key to getting other people to cooperate with you.

Human beings are among the most cooperative species on the planet. Yet it’s not always safe to cooperate with a stranger. What if they don’t have your interests at heart?
The ability to decide when to cooperate is an important skill for our survival. That’s why we’ve evolved to turn to our social groups for guidance, conforming to group norms when the situation is unclear. In fact, the pull to conform can be so strong that we will not even identify what’s right in front of us if our group says they see something different.
But group conformity is not the only force at work in the decision to cooperate. Research has found that, if strangers act cooperatively towards you or have a reputation for being cooperative, you will likely work with them, because of the expected reciprocal benefits of doing so.
So, which is more powerful in cooperation—those group norms or a reputation for reciprocity? And what happens when they happen to conflict? A new study aimed to find out.
Researchers recruited hundreds of participants online for a two-part experiment. A group of six would engage in a “survival task”—prioritizing a list of items needed for survival on a spaceship traveling to the moon—to help them form a cohesive group. Then, individual group members were paired up with a new participant—a “partner”—to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma game.
In the game, participants were given 100 chips and told they could give all, some, or none to their partner, with that number doubling for the recipient. So, if they gave 50 chips, their partner received 100 chips. They were also told their partner would be given the same opportunity to give back to them. The number of chips served as a proxy for their willingness to cooperate.
Before deciding what to give, participants were shown how their partner had allegedly behaved in the Prisoner’s Dilemma game with other members of the six-person group. Unbeknownst to the participant, this was false information that presented one of four possible scenarios: 1) fellow group members gave away almost all of their chips and so did the partner; 2) group members gave almost nothing away, as did the partner; 3) group members gave away almost all of their chips, but the partner gave almost nothing; 4) group members gave almost nothing, while the partner gave away almost all of the chips.
After analyzing the results, the researchers found that participants cooperated under scenario 1 and didn’t under scenario 2. No surprises there. But, in the more ambiguous situations, participants continued to cooperate with a cooperative partner, even if their group was not cooperative. And they didn’t cooperate as much with an uncooperative partner, even if fellow group members did. This suggests that reciprocity is a stronger factor in cooperation than group conformity.
“We were surprised by these findings—especially the size of the effect—because past research found that individuals tend to conform with their groups even when the group is clearly wrong,” says the lead author of the study, Angelo Romano. “Reciprocity was able to outperform conformity to promote cooperation.”
 These results held even when the six-person group’s most influential member was observed not giving chips to a very cooperative partner.
What would happen if participants didn’t know anything about their new partner? Romano and colleagues repeated the experiment without letting participants see their partner’s past behavior—only their group members’ behavior. They also measured how connected participants felt to their group after the survival task and how much they cared about their reputation within the group.
Analyses showed that, when their partner’s past cooperative behavior wasn’t known, participants used group norms to decide how many chips they gave. In addition, higher concern for one’s group reputation and stronger commitments to the group both strengthened those results.
Romano says that these findings show that “conformity, especially in situations where reciprocity is less relevant, is still an important process that may elicit cooperation.”
What does all of this mean for us? Romano believes that it points the way towards encouraging more cooperation in society. If you consider issues that may require cooperation among different groups to solve—like global warming, social justice, or international conflicts—it’s important to recognize that having a reputation for cooperation yourself may increase reciprocity and cooperation in opposing groups. It may even overcome group forces against cooperating.
“Our research should encourage practitioners to stress the importance of a positive reputation to promote cooperation within and between groups,” says Romano. “Reciprocity is an incredibly powerful tool.”

Inspirational Quote – October 5, 2017

“A head full of fears has no space for dreams.”

That would be our imagination working against us rather than for us. Filling our heads with the fear of things that may never happen, situations or feelings which might entrap us, fear of failure, ridicule, etc., etc., etc. Hold on a minute….if our heads are full of only negativity and fear where is the space holding our dreams? Nowhere that’s where? Doesn’t that sound awful? So, what should we do? Allow fear to hog all the space? No, I don’t think so either! So let’s all just spend some time decluttering, or should I say de-fearing? Good riddance fear and hello dreams, we hope you will be comfortable in your new home and decide to stay forever.

To Honor the Sacred

It was after losing the sight in his right eye that David Ulrich began photographing the Hawai'in Islands. As he struggled to capture the intense beauty and the terrifying destruction of Kaho'olawe he learned "right seeing." In this article, he describes how he was tested by the island. He took a step back and listened. He began seeing the dark sacredness of the land, the higher energies that cannot be used for personal, even if creative, needs. He learned to move beyond his ego's desire and his habitual practiced ways of photography, and to stand humbly in service of a larger purpose, to act as a vehicle for creativity. In the deep, volcanic contrasts he saw the possibilities inherent in destruction for renewal and regeneration and the similarities between the wounding of the land, the wounding of the earth, and the wounding of a person.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Real Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

What Is Vinegar?

It's made when bacteria feed on sugars and alcohol in fruit juices, wine, honey, and similar liquids. The result is an acetic acid solution that may have other nutrients, too. Apple cider vinegar starts with juice made from apples. There doesn't seem to be anything special about its health benefits, compared with other types of vinegar. Perhaps the milder flavor and smell have helped boost its reputation.

Lose Weight

In one study, overweight people who drank 1 or 2 ounces of vinegar (diluted with other liquid) lost weight at a slightly faster rate. And they lost belly fat. But there's no evidence that lots of vinegar will help you drop lots of pounds, or do it quickly.

Lower Blood Sugar

Vinegar can help someone with diabetes control the amount of glucose in their blood after a meal as well as their A1c, a measure of "average" blood sugar for the past few months. A couple of teaspoons in water or food at mealtime works best. High blood sugar over time can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.

Insulin Control

Vinegar can also help keep insulin levels lower after you eat. Your cells need this hormone to take glucose from your blood to use for energy. But too much insulin released too often can make your body less sensitive to it -- a condition called insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes or make it worse.

Fighting Germs

Apple cider vinegar -- any vinegar, really -- will kill some germs because of the acetic acid in it. It works best in your food -- to clean up bacteria lingering on your salad leaves, for example. It's not very good at disinfecting a cut or wound. And because it's an acid, there's a chance it could chemically burn delicate skin.


It's long been suggested -- for different reasons -- as a rinse to tame a flaking scalp. But there's no evidence to confirm that vinegar kills yeast bacteria or fungus, or that it removes shampoo residue or product buildup, or that it makes your scalp more acidic (or why you'd even want that). Stick to products made to treat dandruff, and follow the instructions. If the problem doesn't clear up, see a dermatologist.


Some people say vinegar is a good way to get rid of these little critters and their eggs. Science says otherwise. Even when tested against other home remedies -- rubbing alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter, petroleum jelly -- vinegar came in last.

Jellyfish Sting

Yep! Tuck a bottle of vinegar into your beach bag. It stops the work of the special jellyfish cells (nematocysts) that deliver the venom -- the stuff that makes a sting hurt.

When you get home, dunk the wound in hot water. That stops the venom itself from working.

Whiten Teeth

Vinegar may brighten your teeth, but it also wears away their enamel -- the thin, hard, outer layer of protection. In fact, wait for at least 30 minutes after you eat or drink diluted vinegar to brush your teeth. If your teeth are discolored, look for whitening toothpaste or products approved by the American Dental Association, or talk to your dentist.

Healthy Gut

That murky, thicker liquid that collects at the bottom of some vinegars, called the "mother," is made up of the fermenting bacteria and their harmless waste. Most brands warm vinegar to kill the bacteria before packaging, but mother can develop once air hits the product. Some say the mother gives vinegar more health benefits because the live bacteria act as "probiotics," but there's no scientific evidence yet.


Is a little apple cider vinegar just the ticket for those painful, itchy bumps on your behind? Doctors say no. Even if it feels good in the short term, it can burn your skin and end up making your symptoms worse. Sitz baths and medication are better choices. See your doctor if you can't soothe the burning.

Protect Your Cells

Polyphenols are chemical compounds in fruits, vegetables, wine, coffee, and chocolate. They're antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage linked to cancer and other disease. There's no reason to think the polyphenols in apple cider vinegar can't be just as helpful, but we need more studies to be sure.

Blood Pressure

Scientists know that vinegar will do wonders for your blood pressure -- if you're a rat. Unfortunately, they're not so sure that the same holds true for humans. It's possible, but there's just no evidence to back it up yet. Keep an eye out for more research.

Curb Your Appetite

When vinegar was served with white bread for breakfast, people said they were more satisfied afterward. But when vinegar was served with cream of wheat, made from a more complex grain that takes longer to digest, it made less of a difference, and the fuller feeling didn't last very long. Stay tuned on this one.

Ear Infection

Though some studies show that diluted vinegar (2%) may help with ear infections, the solution can also irritate swollen skin in the area. It could also damage specialized hairs of the cochlea, a part of the ear that helps you pick up sounds. Don't try it.

More Is Not Better

Usually, 1-2 tablespoons a day is plenty to drink. There's little evidence that more can help, and too much can cause stomach problems, wear away your teeth, and lower potassium levels. It can also affect the way some drugs work, including water pills (diuretics), laxatives, and medicines for heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking vinegar.