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Health & Balance

22 Live-Long Tricks

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Switch to whole-wheat bread and brown rice.

Let go of your nostalgia for the refined white stuff you grew up on — it's basically an empty-calorie food that takes your blood sugar for a roller-coaster ride. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain slow-digesting complex carbs that help keep blood sugar levels steady, plus they're high in fiber, which has been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Sandquist. Swapping white for whole- wheat bread can also improve regularity and help you feel full faster, so you're less likely to overeat. Aim for three servings of whole grains a day.

Snack on blueberries.

Compared with more than 40 other fruits and vegetables, blueberries pack the greatest antioxidant punch per serving, according to USDA data. Other research also shows that the antioxidants in blueberries may protect vision and improve motor function and short-term memory. Since berries aren't in season right now, grab a bag from the freezer section — frozen berries are just as good for you as fresh ones — and toss a handful into your homemade pancake batter or blend them into smoothies.

Lift with your legs.

Women are more likely than men to suffer back pain because we tend to have weaker back muscles, says Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., author of Strong Women, Strong Backs. When you're heaving heavy items, kneel down to pick them up — don't bend over from the waist — and clench your abs as you stand up to take the strain off your lower back.

Chew, chew, chew.

Taking the time to thoroughly chew and break up your food makes it easier for your body to extract and absorb nutrients, explains Jack A. Di Palma, M.D., director of the gastroenterology division at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Plus, keeping food in your mouth longer increases production of saliva, which helps neutralize the stomach acids that cause reflux. And because it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that you're full, the more slowly you eat, the fewer calories you'll likely consume before you're ready to drop your fork.

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