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The Best of 2010: Health Tips to Take With Us Into 2011
As the New Year approaches, people are thinking about changes they can make to improve their health and overall well being in 2011. Many of the discoveries made in 2010 illuminate the path to better health, making the steps you can take to better health and feeling good a little clearer. TheDoctor thought it would be helpful — and perhaps inspiring — to take a look back at some of the health highlights of 2010, and see how putting these findings into action can help all of us ring in a happy and healthy New Year.
1. Turn of the TV Add A Little Activity to Your Day
For many of us, increasing activity level is high on the "To Do" list, but it’s somehow easier said than done. Happily, an increasing amount of research suggests that just adding a little bit of exercise to our daily routine can do a world of good. One study found that just turning off the TV helped people burn 120 extra calories per day, while another study showed that taking the train instead of driving helped people lose over six pounds over the next year to year and a half. And, as many people may already know, exercising helps people boost moods as well as overall health: remember the study that found that just 25 minutes of exercise per day can have an immediate effect on your mood and stress level? Another found that just five minutes of being active outdoors improved people’s mood and self-esteem considerably. So if you’re thinking of getting more active in the New Year, remember that there are some simple and creative ways to add just a little activity to your day —doing so will benefit both body and mind in 2011, and in the years ahead.
2. Eating Healthy Isn’t So Hard
Much research took as its starting point the fact that we know what we should eat; we just don't do it. So studies looked at simple ways to sneak healthy foods and fiber into our diets without our having to think too much about it — like grabbing an apple or popcorn for a antioxidant and fiber-rich snack instead of the chips. One study proved the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away:" because apples (or the pectin in the apple’s fiber) boost the healthy bacteria in the intestines, which have been linked to less risk for colon cancer.
Adding olive oil to the diet is also another simple way to improve health: one study found that, likely due to its phenol content, olive oil is the magic ingredient in the now-famously healthy Mediterranean diet (which, by the way, also seems to preserve cognitive function as we age). And a slew of studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can improve heart health and ward off certain types of cancer by reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. So grab a piece of fruit or a veggie, a handful of nuts, a low-fat yogurt, whole grain snack or some fish (drizzled with olive oil, of course), and know that your body — and brain — will thank you.
3. Sleep and Breakfast: Your Base Layer of Well Being
If you’re bent on trimming down in the New Year, you’re not alone. It’s one of the top New Year’s resolutions year after year, and it’s one of the hardest to accomplish. We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this year, science backed up that adage: people who skipped breakfast in one study were much more likely to favor fatty foods later in the day, compared to people who ate breakfast. Eating a healthful breakfast (of protein and whole grains) will trim belly fat, keep you fuller, and help prevent you from making bad food choices later in the day.
Sleep more. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more likely you’ll be to reach for unhealthy foods — in one study this year, men who were going on four hours of sleep ate over 500 more calories per day than their well-rested counterparts.
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