52 Super-Fast Health Boosters
Stop a cough. Soothe a bee sting. Get better sleep. Sharpen your brain and save your heart. These quick solutions will keep you in tip-top shape.
You want to delay the decline-and-fall as long as possible. Here's how to start: This week, pick five of the easiest health changes you can find in our action plan. Make them part of your life. Do likewise the following week, and so on. These are the smartest and simplest health tips—thousands of dollars' worth of medical advice for free. And once you've run through the list, check out our exclusive report on 100 Ways to Live to 100!
Never catch a cold
Cold viruses are transmitted through the air and by touch, so the best way to prevent a cold is to keep your distance from someone who has one, wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes and nose—prime entry points for offending viruses. For more on avoiding colds, read up on these 7 Cold and Flu Myths Busted.
Hold a stretch for 60 seconds
By your 40s, your muscles are less pliable. Stretch for a full minute to reduce injury. If you're younger than 40, then 30 seconds is adequate. Try one of The 5 Best Stretches That Will Warm You Up for Any Workout.
Sidestep a hangover
Drink lighter-colored alcohols, such as gin and vodka. They are less likely to cause a hangover than darker alcoholic beverages (brandy, whiskey, red wine) because they have fewer congeners, the by-products of fermentation, aging that give beverages their distinctive flavors and colors. For more on alcohol, read up on these 20 Cocktails Every Man Should Know How to Make.
Don't drink soda
Aside from providing you with more than your share of empty calories, soft drinks contain high amounts of fructose, which researchers have found may weaken your bones. Try these 7 Ways to Sneak Away From Sugar!
Avoid cold sores
If you are prone to them, limit your intake of arginine-rich foods, such as beer, chocolate, cola, peas, and peanuts. The herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores needs the amino acid arginine to initiate its dirty work.
Prevent kidney stones
Drink at least eight glasses of lemon water a day. Lemons contain potassium citrate — a chemical that may stop kidney stones from forming. And while you're at it, try these 10 Home Health Tests That Can Save Your Life.
Dry-brush your teeth
It cuts tartar by 60% and reduces bleeding of the gums by 50%. Using a dry, soft brush, start scrubbing the insides of your bottom teeth; then hit the insides of the top ones before working your way to the outer surfaces. Finally, rinse, spit, and brush again briefly—this time with toothpaste.
Walk for 30 minutes daily
That's all you need to do to move from couch spud to moderately fit, a change that will provide you with significant health benefits. For example: It's one of the 10 Drug-Free Ways to Fight Depression!
Order the petit filet mignon
The Big Tex might trigger a heart attack. Researchers found that some healthy men produced 60% more clotting agents after they ate meals with about 55 g of fat. So stock your kitchen with these 25 Foods Men Over 45 Should Eat!
Don't blame the burritos
If you feel a persistent, uncomfortable pressure in your chest, head to an emergency room. A study of 2,404 heart-attack patients showed that 40% waited more than 6 hours before seeking treatment. That's too long. The longer you wait, the more heart muscle you lose.
Get off the couch during commercials
Swiss researchers recently found that men were up to 60% more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack during a televised sporting event. Apparently, it's the combination of stress, anger, and excitement. Get up and move around every half hour or so to reduce the risk of clot formation. And pop an aspirin before the game begins.
Raise your HDL
The higher, the better. Once you get over 60 mg per deciliter, it's a strong positive factor in avoiding heart disease. The best ways to boost HDL include drinking three glasses of orange juice per day, running at least 7 miles per week, and dropping 10 pounds if you're overweight. Try The Best Workout to Banish Your Belly … and Boredom!
Keep your BP normal, have more sex
A study of 220 men found that those with normal blood pressure had sex 25% more often than did men with high blood pressure. Why? Men with normal BP have more testosterone, doctors say.
Drink diluted fruit juice to trim calories
Natural fruit juices contain lots of calories. Cut the calories in half by adding water to the juices. That quick trick is just one of the 7 Easy Ways to Sneak Away From Sugar!
Drop pounds without ever going hungry
Stop when you've eaten 80% of your normal amount, and wait for 20 minutes. You'll feel satisfied afterward because it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you're full.
A survey of more than 2,000 people who lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for at least 5 years found that 78% ate breakfast 7 days a week. Fill your breakfast plate with these 20 Amazing Healing Foods!
Cut 100 calories a day
This is roughly the amount of calories in a handful of chips or a light beer. Eliminating one of these a day would be the equivalent of 700 calories a week and could lead to nearly a 10-pound weight loss in a year. Jump-start your beach-body goals with The World's Fastest Full-Body Workout!
Keep a food journal
Recording what, when, and how much you eat can help reveal unhealthy eating patterns. But you have to write everything down— even those olives in your martini. Why? A USDA study found that men typically eat twice the amount of grains, fats, and sweets and half of the fruit they estimated.
Eat your largest meal at lunchtime
And lighten up on dinner. This gives you hours of activity to burn off the calories. If you consume a lot of calories late in the day, you're more likely to store these calories as fat. Avoid snacking and drinking alcohol after 7 P.M. That's just one of the 30 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After 30!
Talk to strangers
When you're in line, strike up a conversation, and you'll feel happier. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, acting extroverted has a positive effect on mood, even if you're not gregarious by nature.
Start collecting friends
To live long, you need friends. One study estimates that being social can gain you nearly half a decade.
Skip the second cup of coffee
The caffeine in 2 cups adds 16 beats a minute to your heart rate and makes you more irritable and anxious.
Manage stress by being optimistic
People handle stress more effectively if they can believe that things are improving. So make sure you always have something you're looking forward to. Hope makes stress manageable. And try these 10 Workplace Stress Busters!
Boost your brainpower
Exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, thereby making you mentally quicker and maybe even protecting you against Alzheimer's. Researchers found that 4 months of daily walking improved mental agility in those 55 to 75 years old.
Check in with yourself
Just as you do with voice mail and e-mail. Take 5 minutes at the end of the day. During this respite, ask yourself two questions: What have I done today that was meaningful? and What meaningful change do I intend to make in my life tomorrow? If you practice this daily, you'll find life less troubling and your place in it clearer. It's one of 25 Ways to Be Happier Now!
Take a nap to relieve stress
The ideal nap time is between 2 and 3 P.M. if you get up between 6 and 7 A.M. For the most benefit, keep it short — around 20 minutes.
Find your ideal bedtime
If you're not getting enough sleep, move your bedtime back a half hour every night until you awaken when you want to without an alarm clock. Getting adequate sleep is one of the 30 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism After 30!
Munch on dry cereal to fall asleep faster
A low-fat, low-calorie carbohydrate snack eaten 30 minutes before bed will help make you sleepy.
Improve your sleep efficiency
The amount of sleep you need (typically 7 to 9 hours a day) remains constant throughout your life. To increase your sleep efficiency, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in the late day and evening; establish a regular go-to-bed routine; don't watch TV, read, or eat in the sack (beds are for sleeping and sex); and if you don't fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you do feel sleepy. For more tips, try these 10 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight — Guaranteed!
Cool down your fatigue
If you wake up unusually early, say 4 or 5 A.M., head for the bathroom and dampen a hand towel with cool water. Spend a few minutes lightly wiping your arms, legs, and torso, then go back to bed. The body is very warm when it comes out of REM sleep. Once you have cooled it down and you get back into bed, your body will heat up even more, almost as if you have a slight fever. The result should be a deep, restful sleep and more dreams.
Get a better night's sleep
Tune your radio to a spot between stations. This produces low-level "white noise." Research shows that a constant low level of noise helps people fall asleep. Electric fans also do the trick.
Get an extra hour of sleep
It provides the energy equivalent of 2 cups of coffee, but only if you go to bed earlier than usual. Sleeping later doesn't work, because it disturbs your circadian rhythm, making you feel somewhat groggy and out of sorts for the rest of the day. Getting more sleep is one of the 10 Ways to Look 10 Years Younger.
Snooze someplace else
If you're suffering from insomnia, you may want to spend a night at a hotel, a relative's house, even a different room of your home. Many insomniacs come to associate their bedrooms with their inability to sleep. By getting solid slumber elsewhere, you'll restore your confidence in your ability to sleep.
Eat more marinara
Two to four servings of tomato sauce a week can cut your risk for prostate cancer by 34%. Fill your shopping list with these 20 Amazing Healing Foods.
Eat more watermelon
Like tomatoes, watermelon contains lycopene, a phytochemical that may reduce your prostate-cancer risk by as much as 34%. A single 1-inch slice has as much lycopene as four tomatoes.
Thwart cankers with yogurt
If canker sores are a constant, annoying presence, your mouth may be screaming for more acidophilus, a beneficial bacterium found in yogurt. Acidophilus can help regulate your mouth's natural flora, which can otherwise run amok and cause sores and gum problems. Eat a cup of yogurt as a snack every day. Look for yogurts that contain active cultures.
Drink cranberry juice
The tannins in cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract and causing painful inflammation known as prostatitis. And while you're at it, snack on these 25 Foods to Keep You Young Forever.
Sip your vegetables
During days when you can't eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables, drink one tail glass of low-sodium V8 at lunch and dinner. For your fruit fix, have a 12-ounce blend of 100% pink grapefruit and orange juice.
Get rid of hiccups
Rub an ice cube on your Adam's apple for 1 minute. The coldness interrupts the reflex arc from your brain to your diaphragm that causes hiccups.
Fade a black eye
Eat pineapple and papaya; both contain an enzyme that helps your tissues absorb blood more easily, so your shiner will disappear faster. Avoid aspirin, which prevents blood from clotting. It's the seepage of blood that leads to the black and blue. These 20 Amazing Healing Foods are the first-aid kit in your kitchen.
Break a high fever
Anything below 102°F is mild and can be treated by drinking plenty of fluids. But to quickly bring down a reading above that, put an ice pack under your arm or near your groin. Icing either spot will cool your body's core.
Crunch away back pain
Seventy-five percent of all lower-back problems can be prevented by building your ab muscles. Aim for 12 to 15 crunches a day. And try The Best Ab Workout That Isn't a Situp.
Chew away your heartburn
Chewing a stick of sugarless gum for a half hour after meals can prevent or reduce heartburn. Chewing increases saliva flow, which neutralizes stomach acid and washes it away from your esophagus.
Fix low-back ache caused by driving
It's caused by slouching. Tilt your rearview mirror up a bit. That way, you make yourself sit up perfectly straight to see the cars behind you. If you can't see the cars, you're slumping. Out of the driver's seat, keep your core strong with The World's Best Cardio Machine!
Support a crumbling arch
To relieve plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation in the ligament that runs the length of the foot, roll a can of frozen fruit juice back and forth under the arch. This applies ice therapy while stretching your ligament.
Wipe out cold sores with aspirin
The herpes simplex virus can be fatal to your social life, so control it with aspirin. Popping 125 mg of aspirin daily can cut the duration of a cold sore from an average of 8 days to 5. Aspirin helps to reduce the inflammation from a cold sore, so the area heals faster.
Soothe a knock to the nuts
If you take a hit to the groin, put your jewels on ice to reduce swelling. To get the blood flowing, lie down and lay a rolled-up T-shirt underneath your testides, with the ends of the roll resting on your thighs. Take Tylenol for the pain. If there's swelling or bruising, go to an E.R.
Take the bite out of bee stings
Reduce the soreness with ice. Then rub aspirin or meat tenderizer on the site to break down the venom. Relieve the pain and itching by dabbing the area with a paste of water and baking soda.
Quiet a cough in a theater
The trick isn't to stifle the cough, but to let air explode out quietly. When you feel a cough coming on, blow air forcefully through tightly pursed lips. This gets rid of the air a cough would expel but short-circuits the vocal cords. You may have to do this a few times until the urge to cough subsides.
Lose the wallet, beat back pain
If you're having lower-back pain, take your wallet out of your back pocket. Sitting on your wallet can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, the major nerve running through the buttocks.
Speed pain relief with coffee or tea
Ibuprofen washed down with a caffeinated beverage relieves headaches and other pains more effectively than ibuprofen taken with water. And that's not the only reason you should put on a kettle: Learn how drinking tea can help you lose 10 pounds in one week!
Knock out jaw tension
Clenching your teeth can provoke jaw pain. For quick relief, press a fist under your chin, and then try to open your mouth, applying resistance with the fist. Hold for 10 seconds. For more on health, check out The 10 Essential Subreddits for Health-Minded People.
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