Squeeze More from Tea
Squeeze a lemon wedge into your iced or hot tea. The acidity can boost antioxidant concentrations in green tea by 20 percent, according to a study in the journal Food Chemistry. Researchers believe the same trick works with all kinds of tea.
10-Second Health Check
Taking your pulse is an easy way to check the overall health of your heart, says Kenneth Ellenbogen, M.D., vice-chairman of cardiology at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia Hospitals in Richmond. To take your pulse, place the first two fingers of one hand lightly on the inside of the opposite wrist, just below the thumb. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiply that number by 6. The normal range while at rest is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Highly trained athletes can have rates in the 40s. Take your pulse first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. If your heart rate changes significantly, check with your doctor.
Place Fresh Cut Flowers on the Breakfast Table
Looking at a vase of fresh daisies, tulips, roses, or other cut flowers while eating your morning oatmeal may improve your mood. New research from Harvard University shows that even people who say they're not "morning people" report feeling happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the a.m.
Get a 60-Second Funny Fix
Prevent colds and flu with a little Will Ferrell. Before work starts, enjoy a morning chuckle at the funny man’s website, funnnyordie.com, or some other source of quick yucks. Research suggests that a moment of mirth increases the body's secretion of immune-boosting growth hormones and endorphins.
30-Second Stress Buster
Stress can make you do things that are bad for your health—such as eat an entire box of chocolate-dipped doughnuts. Researchers say anxiety creates a whacked-out connection between brain and belly, with the former ordering the latter to consume everything in sight. When you feel the need to eat in times of stress, try this 30-second breathing exercise. Inhale, allowing your belly to rise before your chest. When your lungs feel naturally full, take in even more air. Hold briefly, then exhale. When you feel your lungs are empty, push out even more air to a count of 10 until you have made your lungs as empty as possible. Repeat at least two more times.
Order the Blue Plate Special
Swap in a blue tortilla for a white one. The benefit: fewer late-night hunger pangs. Scientists recently found that blue tortillas contain 20 percent more hunger-satisfying protein and 16 percent less blood-sugar-spiking starch than white ones.
Just Say Moo to Cigarettes
People trying to quit smoking can stifle cravings with a sip of milk. In a recent survey of smokers from Duke University, nearly 20 percent agreed that milk makes cigarettes taste bad. "Your brain can eventually connect the taste of milk with a decreased desire to smoke," says lead researcher Joseph McClernon, Ph.D.
Kill Those Krusty Krabs
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Sponge-bob Square-pants. Who lives in your kitchen sponge? Millions of bacteria. Moist and full of tiny food bits, your sponge is a breeding ground for germs like salmonella and E. coli, germs that you spread every time you wipe your counter. Kill ‘em efficiently by zapping your sponge in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, or boiling it in hot water for 5 minutes.
Take Vitamin G
Improve your attitude with a dose of gratitude daily. Studies have shown that 90 percent of people say expressing gratitude made them happier people and more than 75 percent said it reduced stress and depression and gave them more energy. Start by making an effort to thank people more often. Then advance to counting your blessings at least once a day for 30 seconds. Need some suggestions? Be thankful for your health, your food, your family, and friends. Heck, thank your letter carrier even if all he brings is bills. He or she may be out of a job next month.
60-Second Office Super Stretch
Boost blood circulation and reduce fatigue with a 60-second at-your-work desk stretch once every hour. Do these three exercises from The Women’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts:
• Rag Doll. Sit on the edge of your chair and slump your upper body forward over your legs so your chest rests on your knees. Wrap your arms under your knees and press your back toward the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds.
• Seated Twist. Sit tall in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Reach across your body with your right arm and place your hand on your left upper arm. Reach across your chest with your left arm; then immediately twist to the right and grab the edge or back of the chair with your left fingers. Bring your chin over your right shoulder as you turn. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
• Hung Buster. Sit on a chair with your pelvis tilted slightly forward. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together and down, away from your ears. Extend your arms at 45-degree angles and reach slightly behind you, palms facing forward. Hold for 20 seconds.
Go to Sleep Without Sheep
Instead of counting fence-hurdling sheep to fall asleep, just wear socks. Swiss researchers found that people fell asleep quickest when their hands and feet were warmest. This happens because warm feet and hands cause blood vessels to enlarge, allowing more heat to escape your body, which in turn lowers your core temperature faster and causes you to nod off sooner. The researchers say putting on socks may help you fall asleep in half the time it normally takes.
I Found My Abs on Blueberry Hill
Blueberries may aid in burning belly fat, decreasing cardiovascular disease and reducing risk of diabetes, according to the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. In a study conducted by researchers at the university, rats consuming only 2 percent of their diet in blueberries significantly reduced their abdominal fat within 90 days, as well as lowered triglyceride levels and increased insulin sensitivity. These results are thought to be a result of the high percentage of antioxidants—agents that rid the body of toxins—that occur naturally in blueberries.
Make a daily habit of swallowing low-dose aspirin. (Check with your doctor first.) You know it can help prevent heart attack, but did you know it may also prevent colon cancer? Although daily low-dose aspirin isn’t for everyone, new research suggests that middle-aged people on aspirin therapy may have as much as a 25 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer. In one study, aspirin cut the risk of cancer in the proximal colon, where it’s harder to detect, by 70 percent. Again, no one should start aspirin therapy without first consulting their doctor.
Stuff Your Burgers
Scoop a hole in the middle of your hamburger before grilling, and fill it with olives, mushrooms, or any vegetable you like. This makes the recommended 3-ounce serving of beef look and feel like a massive hunk of burger, when it’s actually much leaner than that.
Wait 60 Seconds
Take a minute to think about the consequences of your actions whenever faced with an important decision—from having a fourth glass of wine to contemplating quitting your job in anger, swallowing a pill to making a pass at a coworker, blaming your spouse to screaming at a child. Sixty seconds of thought can prevent a world of hurt.