It is important to take the right preventative steps now to avoid health problems later on life. However, sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint which health problems will be the biggest stumbling blocks for you in the future. Often, doctors rely on family history to predict health issues, which doesn’t always guarantee you will exhibit the same health problems. But, according to scientists, women may be able to predict potential future health problems by simply listening to their body’s cues. In fact, women can use at least 10 indicators to predict future health problems.
- 1. Arm length: although this indicator may seem a little illogical, Tufts University researchers found that women with arm spans shorter than 60 inches were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later on in life. The reason? Nutritional deficits in the developmental years may predispose an individual to also have lessened cognitive abilities later on in life. However, there is something you can do to prevent a descent into Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors suggest taking up a hobby that will force you to use your arms and other appendages. In fact, a five year study at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center, found that women who spent time engaged in leisure activities were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, hobbies force the brain to practice its cognitive abilities and keep it from deteriorating as rapidly.
- 2. Finger length: another strange indicator, but one that can be equally as important as arm length. In fact, women who have index fingers shorter than their ring fingers are more prone to osteoarthritis. The science behind this factor is that women who have predominantly male characteristics also have lower levels of estrogen, which can lead to osteoarthritis. However, prevention is simple: exercise the muscles around the knees.
- 3. Height: unfortunately, according to scientists women who are taller than 5 foot 2 inches might be missing a gene mutation that will help them to reach their 100th birthday. Nevertheless, tall women can take heart: basic health habits to improve longevity still work. In other words, quit smoking, cut back on alcohol and eat less red meat.
- 4. Leg length: stockier legs can mean more liver problems. According to a group of British researchers, women with legs between 20 and 29 inches around tend to have higher levels of four enzymes that predict liver disease. Yet, simple dietary changes can impede liver disease from developing. Specifically, avoid consuming additional toxins for your liver to process, particularly alcohol. Also, wear gloves when working with toxic cleaning products.
- 5. Sense of smell: according to a study published in the “Annals of Neurology”, older adults who weren’t able to smell cinnamon, bananas, or lemons were five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease within four years. Specifically, the area of the brain responsible for olfactory function may be one of the first affected by Parkinson’s. In spite of this fact, adding omega three fish oil supplements to the diet can boost the brain’s resistance to MPTP, a toxin associated with Parkinson’s.
- 6. Earlobe crease: surprisingly, wrinkles in the earlobe can predict future cardiovascular problems. Although it seems odd, researchers say that wrinkles in the earlobe indicate a loss of elastic fibers that lead to the crease in the earlobe as well as hardening of the arteries. Again, simple dietary changes as well as increasing physical activity can help keep your heart healthy.
- 7. Jean size: a larger abdomen, especially for women in their 40s, can eventually lead to cognitive decline. The reason is that visceral fat (fat usually found in the abdomen) can cause the body to secrete hormones that lead to cognitive decline. However, eating a lower fat, Mediterranean- style diet with controlled portion sizes, can help you lose weight. Furthermore, the fatty-acids in most Mediterranean foods prevent the accumulation of visceral fat.
- 8. Bra size: women who wear a size D bra or larger at age 20 were 1.5 times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Researchers suspect that since the breasts are hormonally sensitive, they could be responsible for influencing insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. The best preventative measure is to exercise. Aerobic exercise, especially with high levels of intensity intervals, can help to regulate blood sugar.
- 9. Calf size: although it may seem counterintuitive, French researchers found that women with smaller calves were more likely to develop carotid plaque in their arteries, a risk factor for stroke. The researchers hypothesized that the subcutaneous fat in larger calves helps to pull fatty acids from the bloodstream and then stores it. Since fat in the calves poses a low risk factor for stroke compared to other areas of the body, women with larger calves have less of a stroke risk. However, instead of attempting to “bulk up” the calves, doctors suggest drinking green tea to stay heart healthy.
- 10. Blood type: people with Type O blood were less likely to develop pancreatic cancer when compared to individuals with Types A, B, or AB blood. This may indicate that certain blood types carry a genetic risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Taking a vitamin D supplement could decrease your risk: adults who consume 300 IU or more daily decreased their risk by up to 44%.
Overall, while you may not be able to change your genetic predisposition to certain health problems, you can take preventative measures to help decrease the likelihood that you will develop family diseases. Now, with these additional “risk indicators” for health problems, you can know even sooner if you should be doing more to protect yourself from certain diseases.