22 Live-Long Tricks
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.
Toast with wine.
Red or white, take your pick. The latest research suggests that drinking
wine of any hue helps protect against cardio-vascular disease, tooth decay, and
upper respiratory infections. But there can be too much of a good thing:
Downing two or more alcoholic drinks a day has recently been linked with an up
to 82 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Stretch after a hot shower.
Increasing your flexibility with regular stretching can prevent muscle
soreness, improve posture, and reduce your risk of injury. "It's best to
stretch when muscles are warm and more elastic, whether from exercising or
simply standing under hot water," says Nelson. She recommends doing the
following three post-shower stretches, which target women's tightest zones
(hold each stretch for 20 seconds and repeat three times):
For your lower back: Stand 2 to 3 feet away from a chair and hold on
to the back. Keeping your abs tight and your back straight, bend forward at the
waist as far as you can comfortably go.
For your calves: Place your hands on a wall in front of you, step
your right leg back about 2 feet, and gently press your right heel down; repeat
with your left leg.
For your shoulders: Stand with your fingers laced behind your head
and gently pull your elbows back.
Cleaning between your teeth helps get rid of the bacteria-laden plaque that
causes gum disease and possibly a plethora of other problems, including heart
disease, stroke, and premature births.
When nature calls, go!
Even if you feel too swamped to take a two-minute potty break, don't put it
off. "Stagnant urine in the bladder can lead to urinary tract infections in
healthy women," says Jacques Ganem, M.D., a urologist in Charlotte, NC.
When you do go, don't hover over the seat, even in public restrooms. It may
cause you to rush and not fully empty your bladder, plus the seat's not as
dirty as you think: Out of 14 different areas in kitchens and bathrooms, the
toilet seat was found to be the least contaminated in a study published
in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. If you're still feeling
squeamish, wipe the seat with toilet paper and line it before you sit (which,
by the way, keeps it dry for the next customer so she can sit