2010ís Most-Fun (& Healthy) New Yearís Resolutions
Why not get healthier and feel more attractive with New Year’s Resolutions
you can enjoy? For example, solid scientific research data suggests the
Take More Vacations. Americans take fewer
vacations than citizens of any other industrialized nation. Medical
research warns against such Puritanism.
Studies indicate that even short getaways can lower your blood pressure,
heart rate and epinephrine (stress hormone) levels. A recent
collaboration between New York and Pennsylvania investigators finds
that men who take regular vacations are 21 percent less likely to
die of any cause, and 32 percent less likely to die of a heart attack.
Unrelated research finds that women who take two annual vacations
are eight times less likely to suffer from heart disease and only
half as prone to depression.
Read More Books. Researchers have
known for years that a good brain workout, done regularly, reduces
your risk of dementia. More recently, investigators found that good
readers enjoy relatively better overall health. Now scientists suspect
that reading actually helps the brain develop “cognitive reserves” which
improve and protect neurologic function. Yale University researchers
think that reading is healthy because it forces various parts of
the brain to connect in a specific way that enhances cognitive ability.
The best brain workout, they say, demands a lot
from the reader, coaxing the mind to make subtle
inferences. Still, experts agree that even gossip tabloids are better
for you than television. Just processing the words boosts
Eat More (Dark) Chocolate. Dark chocolate
(at least 65% cocoa content) is a powerful antioxidant, protecting
the body from heart disease. Research shows that it
can lower your blood pressure and contribute to better cardiac function.
By stimulating endorphin production, it promotes an overall
sense of well-being and its serotonin works (at least temporarily)
as a natural anti-depressant. Sadly, chocolate is a high-calorie,
high-fat food. So eat just 1.5 ounces, a few times weekly, and compensate
by consuming 200 fewer calories (and 8 grams less fat) from other
foods that day. Finally, don’t mix dark chocolate with milk
because it will disrupt your body’s ability to absorb the cocoa’s
Have More Sex. No joke: sex is good for
your health. Several studies show that it lowers blood pressure.
Others indicate that the oxytocin hormone that surges through the
bloodstream before and during orgasm regenerates cells and accelerates
healing. Orgasm has also been shown to provide powerful pain relief,
increasing pain tolerance by 75 percent. For women, semen absorbed
by vaginal tissue has been found to act as a natural antidepressant.
Meanwhile, the Journal
of the American Medical Association reports that more frequent
ejaculation correlates to decreased risk of prostate cancer. Admittedly,
research has not yet concluded that sex makes you healthier. But
scientists do know that healthier people engage in more sexual activity.
Have a Massage More Often. Investigators
say that by
boosting your immune system, massage helps ward off colds and flues.
Also, according to the NIH National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, massage has been
found to ease migraine and fibromyalgia pain, with benefits lasting
up to a year after treatment. A small
clinical trial finds that massage can reduce water retention, pain
and mood swings in women with severe PMS. And several studies
show that massage diminishes the body’s cortisol (stress hormone)
while boosting serotonin and dopamine (feel-good hormones).
What’s the bottom line? Done properly,
massage feels great and is good for you. Done incorrectly, it can
certainly prove harmful. So before you get started, learn which techniques
would be best for you at http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307001_1,00.html
Baby Carrots Get a Bum Wrap
These healthy snacks, packed in convenient plastic bags, are sometimes
accused of having unhealthy white spots because they’re washed in
chlorine. Unfair! That “white blush,” explains Environmental
Nutrition newsletter, happens because these munch-size edibles aren’t
really “babies” at all. They’re just cut out of full-size
carrots that are too knobby or twisted to be visually appealing. After
cutting, they’re washed with a dilute solution of chlorine to kill
bacteria, just like all ready-to-eat vegetables (including bagged salad).
The white discoloration is due to abrasion and loss of moisture from the
cutting and peeling. It doesn’t affect taste or signal spoilage. Amazing-Health Tip: You can temporarily remove the blush by soaking carrots in cool water for 10 minutes.
Men Are Better at Curbing Cravings
Is eating a gender-based issue? Based on their study of brain response
to food craving, researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory
suspect that men actually may be less neurologically compelled to eat.
In a recent study, the team asked women and men to name their favorite
chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls or pizza—and then asked them to
fast overnight. The next day they underwent brain scans while
being presented with their personal food favorite. Both men and
women claimed that a cognitive-inhibition technique they’d been
taught decreased their hunger; but only the men’s brains actually
showed a decrease in hunger signals. Women said they were less hungry,
but their brains showed strong activity in all regions that control
the drive to eat. Amazing-Health Tip: Grapefruit and peppermint are great appetite suppressants. Chew them. Drink them. Or use their essential oils as aromatherapy in Suppress.
Home Remedy for Fine Lines & Wrinkles
Achieve the look of younger, smoother skin simply by reaching for
the milk carton in your refrigerator. First of all, the lactic
acid in milk acts as a natural exfoliant, gently sloughing off
dead surface cells. Vitamins A and D provide skin with vital nutrients.
Milk also reduces the appearance of red splotches, puffiness,
fine lines and wrinkles. Morning and night, apply milk to your
face and neck with cotton balls. Reapply 2-3 times, letting it dry
between applications. Then rinse with warm water. Also: if you add
cosmetic-grade almond oil to hot milk and let it cool, you’ll
create a wonderful (and lightly fragrant) facial & neck moisturizer. Amazing-Health Tip: Itís
best to use full-fat milk because fat is one of the milkís nourishing
Hibiscus Tea Lowers High Blood Pressure
Results from a study at Tufts University point to this fruity-flavored,
caffeine-free tea as a potentially all-natural way to lower high
blood pressure. A group of 65 participants with mild high blood
pressure were enrolled in the study. Half drank three cups of
hibiscus tea daily for six weeks; the other half received a placebo
beverage containing artificial hibiscus flavoring and color. All
were told to follow their usual diet and physical activities,
and their blood pressure was measured weekly. Those who drank
real hibiscus tea averaged a 7-point drop in systolic blood pressure
(seven times the decrease observed in the placebo group). And
those with the highest initial reading showed the most significant
reductions: an average drop of 13 points. Amazing-Health Tip: Tea
that goes into teabags is generally not as high quality as loose
leaves. So look for bulk hibiscus tea, available in most health
food stores and online.