Don’t buy too much food…

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It’s better to have a kitchen pantry and fridge that’s a little on the empty side. Because when our kitchen coffers are stocked, we feel pressure to eat more food. In fact, when people stockpile groceries, they gobble them down twice as fast! So only keep as much food on hand as you and your family can eat in a week.

Need to chill out fast?

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Load these two classical pieces on your phone: Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and “Air on a G String” by Bach. Both are about 70 beats per minute – which mimics your resting heart rate. So listening to them can slow your breathing, and heart rate, to a calmer pace.

Ever wonder WHY it’s healthier to have a big butt, than to have a beer belly?

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Here’s the answer, courtesy of researchers at the University of Oxford. Belly fat – also known as abdominal fat or visceral fat – is dangerous because it often surrounds vital organs and releases inflammatory chemicals into your system on a consistent basis. And those chemicals have been linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes. But extra padding around the hips and thighs produces beneficial hormones that trap fatty acids, which boosts heart health and keeps blood sugar spikes in check. So what should you do if you have more abdominal fat than lower body fat? Eat fiber-filled foods to lower insulin and cholesterol levels. You should also do aerobic exerciseat least 30 minutes a dayto lose the fat. And get your blood sugar and blood fats tested to check for abnormalities.

Take your pills with water!

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Are you one of those people who can swallow a pill without water? You may want to stop. According to the American Pharmacists Association, popping pills dry can cause heartburnor worse. Without water to wash it down, a pill can release chemicals that could potentially damage your esophagus. Plus, the water helps you absorb the medicine better. So, even though it’s a cool party trick, take your pills with water.

So you fell asleep on the couch in front of the TV…

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Can you add that to your recommended 8 hours of sleep? Not really. That’s according to Dr. Raj Dasgupta from USC’s Sleep Medicine division. He says the type of sleep we get when we conk out during the nightly news isn’t quality sleep that will help us wake up feeling refreshed. Its more like a nap, that only takes you to the lightest stage of sleepnot the restorative, deep sleep which clears away harmful brain proteins, improves memory and encourages the formation of new cells. So, just because you caught 20 winks on the couch, doesn’t mean you can sleep less once you go to bed for real.

You’ve heard of “white coat hypertension,” right?

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Where the minute a doctor or nurse starts taking your blood pressure, it spikes, simply because you’re stressed about being examined. Well, next time they’re about to put a blood pressure cuff on you: Take 3 or 4 deep, slow breaths over 30 seconds. In a study, people who did that lowered their systolic number by 15 points – that’s the top number. Deep breathing works to slow your heart rate, which triggers the reflexes that control blood pressure, and brings it down to where it normally is when you’re not on an exam table..

Your smile could help you live longer!

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People who smile a lot live longer than people who tend to look somber and seriousA whole seven years longer! Researchers at Wayne State University studied photos of hundreds of baseball players taken in 1952. Of the players who’ve since died, those who were seen smiling the most, lived an average of 80 years – while non-smilers lived to only age 73, on average. The researchers say it’s because being happy reduces stress, which also lowers our risk of heart disease.

Lavender for sleep and digestion

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We’ve talked about how the scent of lavender is soothing and can help promote better sleep. But did you know you can EAT lavender, too… and it’s really good for you? Culinary lavender can help beat bloat and improve digestion. That’s because the polyphenols reduce bad gut bacteria. Dr. Christine Gerbstadt is a diabetes and nutrition expert, and she recommends sprinkling dried culinary lavender onto Greek yogurt, which also promotes good gut health.

To reduce stress in under a minute:

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Inhale deeply, while raising your shoulders toward your ears. Then exhale slowly, and push your shoulders down. Repeat 5 times. Stress management experts say combining a shoulder shrug with deep breathing releases tension in our neck, shoulders and upper back. It also produces endorphins, which cancel out stress hormones, and reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Allowing you to literally shrug off your stress in under 60 seconds.

Get motivated at the gym with an audiobook!

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If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym – or go for a run – try this: Download an audiobook. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people went to the gym 50% more often when they had an audiobook to listen to.
And once you get to the gym, focus on exercises that use your legs. You’ll burn a lot more calories. That’s because our legs house the biggest muscles in our body – so working them increases our calorie burn.