It’s better for your health to be optimistic.

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optimism

Are you a “glass is half-full” type of person? A study from the University of Kentucky in Lexington found that optimism helps your body fight off cold and flu viruses. The immune systems of volunteers responded more aggressively to germs injected into their skin on days when they felt more hopeful, and less so when their moods were more pessimistic.

Count those calories during the holidays!

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calories-holiday

If you’re not counting calories during the holidays, doctors say you should at least watch your salt intake. Because hospitals see a lot of heart patients between Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas. Most of the time it’s because of too much salt in holiday meals. Salt can be very dangerous because it promotes water retention, which can be fatal for anyone with a weak heart. To avoid a trip to the Emergency Room, instead of flavoring your holiday dishes with salt, use herbs, spices and other natural flavorings.

Trim a Christmas tree – or take a walk on a Christmas tree lot.

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xmas-tree-lot A study by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that the scent of Christmas trees reduces tension and stress instantly. Why? Because it makes us think of the outdoors, which makes us more relaxed.

Get in the holiday spirit!

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caroling

Go do some caroling…MRI scans show that singing slows neural impulses in the brain, making you feel more relaxed. Singing also forces you to take deeper breaths and hold them longer – which slows your nervous system almost as much as meditation.

Want a healthier snack?

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healthy-snack-popcornSwap your whole-grain tortilla chips for popcorn. Popcorn contains 15 times more disease-fighting antioxidants. Why? Because unlike corn tortilla chips, popcorn includes the nutrient-packed hull of the corn kernel. Plus, your kids can use it to make a fun garland to hang on your Christmas tree.

What can an innocent candy cane do?

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candy-caneGive you heartburn. Dr. Byron Cryer is a gastroenterologist in Dallas. And he says peppermint oil has been shown to relax the muscle at the opening of your esophagus, allowing food and acid to back up, and cause that telltale burning sensation. That’s why peppermint is actually good for nausea – it quells your stomach, but that relaxed state can cause acid to creep up your esophagus.

Go ahead and bake some cookies today!

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bake-vanilla-scentYou have permission to bake cookies – because it’ll relieve your stress! The scent of vanilla is proven to reduce anxiety by nearly 70%. Plus, research shows that eating a little bit of fat increases feel-good endorphins and the happy chemical serotonin in the brain.

Which is the healthier choice, fruitcake or gingerbread?

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gingerbread-or-fruitcake

A slice of gingerbread contains almost twice as many calories as fruitcake! And the fruit in fruitcake has antioxidants and fiber, so you’ll feel fuller longer.
However, if it’s gingerbread or nothing, don’t sweat it too much. The compounds in ground ginger help battle two major types of cancer. Plus, ginger helps break down protein, so after dinner it’ll help with your digestion.

Here’s a better way to recover from a workout than having a sugary drink.

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workout-recovery

If you want to avoid sugary, artificial sports drinks and still get the nutrients you need after a workout – eat a banana instead. Researchers say it’s the one food item that can replicate the benefits of a sports drink. With its mix of electrolytes and minerals, a banana has everything our bodies need to recover from a workout – without all the artificial additives.

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