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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.

Floss.

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 down!).

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