Doctor Knows Best: 5 Health Tips Top Docs Use to Stay Healthy

iStockPhotoiStockPhotoBy Ted Spiker

Along with all the disease stomping, heart reviving, baby delivering, and overall people healing they do, doctors have another full-time job: keeping themselves healthy. Scratch that -- keeping themselves healthiest. So instead of peeking into their medical practices, we looked at what they actually practice -- in their own lives. Use personal strategies and insider tips from the best medical pros to supercharge your health this year.

Related: 8 Medical Tests Every Woman Needs

How to Head Off a Headache

Start double-fisting beverages the minute the throbbing begins. "I'll have a bottle of water in one hand and a coffee in the other," says Jennifer Ashton, MD, author of Your Body Beautiful and cohost of ABC's The Revolution. That's because many headaches are caused by dehydration, while caffeine is known to curb them. If the drinks don't alleviate the pounding in an hour, she pops ibuprofen.

Related: Find the Right Doctor for Your Pain Problems

Take a Time Out

"As soon as I feel an illness coming on, I go to sleep for at least nine hours," says Hilda Hutcherson, MD, clinical professor of ob-gyn at Columbia University Medical Center. "I also lie on the floor with my legs elevated and propped against the wall and breathe deeply for five minutes." It helps lower stress, which weakens the immune system.

Related: Simple Ways to Chill Out Now

Stay Sharp

An app a day keeps brain farts away. Gary Small, MD, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Alzheimer's Prevention Program, plays Scrabble and Words With Friends on his smartphone most days. These word games are perfect brain boosters, because they build not only verbal and math skills but also spatial abilities as you position letters to create words. "Combining several mental tasks strengthens multiple neural circuits," Dr. Small says. "It's like cross-training for your brain."

Related: 7 Mental Tricks That Shed Pounds

Fight Cravings

Mehmet Oz, MD, host of The Dr. Oz Show, eats raw walnuts (about one ounce) a few times a day for their hunger-quashing protein and heart-healthy fat. "The rap against nuts is that they're high in calories, but research is showing that our bodies may not actually absorb all the fat they contain," Dr. Oz says. "So we probably end up taking in fewer calories than what's listed on the package."

Related: Scientifically Proven Ways to Stop Cravings for Good

Prevent Skin Cancer

In addition to getting annual skin checks from your dermatologist, recruit your hairstylist to scope out your scalp each time you visit, says Mona Gohara, MD, a FITNESS advisory board member and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Scalp cancers often occur because people neglect to protect their heads, especially the part in their hair, with sunscreen or hats. And the cancers go undetected because they're hard to spot. "Tell your hairdresser to look for any sores that are bleeding or crusting or don't seem to be healing," Dr. Gohara says.

Related: QUIZ: What's Your Skin Cancer Risk?

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