Pop quiz: If you could pay to protect only one body part from the hands of time, which would it be? Your eyes, hair, body shape, face, teeth, or legs? Tough to choose -- we know -- but 60% of people say they'd be most willing to fork over money to protect their teeth, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 adults from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Other worries people would pay to protect: 48% would shell out to keep their body shape, and 33% would pay to protect their hair or eyes, with wrinkles and varicose veins following close behind.
You could start saving now, or you could take steps to protect yourself. Here are simple, science-backed ways to protect your favorite parts from these conditions:
- Give them a rest. Staring at a computer or TV screen for hours on end exhausts and dries out your eyes, says Cammie Menendez, PhD, an epidemiologist from the University of Texas-Houston. Give them a break every 15 minutes by focusing on something else that's at least 20 feet away. Look at the object for 10 seconds and blink often to help your eyes relax and stay hydrated, she recommends. Also try these two simple eye massages.
- Eat up. Five nutrients essential to good eye health, according to the American Optometric Association, include: lutein, vitamins C & E, zinc, and omega-3. Get your fill of foods that naturally contain lots of the eye-friendly nutrients, such as salmon, spinach, almonds, and eggs. (Are you taking in enough vitamins? Check out 5 Nutrients Even Healthy Women Miss).
- Up your fiber. Irregular or strenuous bowel movements are one of the major causes of varicose veins. That's why fiber is your best ally. Women younger than 50 should aim for 25 grams a day, while those 50 and older should ingest 21 grams daily, advises the Mayo Clinic. Just be sure not to overdo it, as too much fiber can prevent your body from absorbing vital nutrients.
- Consider horse chestnut seeds. Not familiar with this natural remedy? These seeds of the horse chestnut plant have been shown to help with chronic venous insufficiency -- a common blood circulation problem that causes varicose veins -- according to a study from the Norwegian Medical Association. Another study from the University of Heidelberg recommends taking 50 mgs of aescin -- the active ingredient in horse-chestnut seed -- twice a day; just make sure you get the okay from your doc first.
- Don't forget D. Calcium is essential for strong teeth, but your body needs plenty of vitamin D in order to absorb calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH recommends 600 International Units (IU) of calcium daily, and at least 400 IU of vitamin D. (Can you OD on D? Check it out.)
- Sip green tea. The brew is loaded with compounds called catechin polyphenols, which kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay and gum disease, finds a Japanese research team. Even one cup a day has been shown to help.
- Get your grains. Vitamin B5 is essential to maintaining healthy red blood cells, which ensure your scalp has the blood supply needed to produce hair strong enough to resist damage, finds a study from the University of Maryland. Foods such as whole grains, kale, and cauliflower are all rich in B5.
- Definitely don't forget the D. In addition to helping keep your teeth strong, vitamin D also protects your scalp and the cells that produce hair, according to a University of Texas study. Check out the best sources of vitamin D.
More from MSN Healthy Living:
- What Do You Want More than Sex?
- 10 Surprising Habits and Foods That Protect Your Teeth
- 9 Ways to Relax
- Bing: Secrets to a Great Smile
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