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75 Ways To Be Your Healthiest Ever

Smart ways to stay well, eat right, get fit

WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

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From its first year of publication, GH has urged readers to live healthfully — to take "a walk before breakfast" (1885), "eat more fish" (1932), and get "at least eight hours of sleep" (1933). The tips here, whether from our early days or fresh from the latest journals, have one thing in common: They are based on the best expertise of their time.

Smile Savers

Brushing, flossing, and eating right keep your teeth strong — and promote overall health

Make it tea for your teeth: Fruit drinks, sodas, and citrus juices (like orange) have sugar and acids that wear away tooth enamel. The better dental choice — as safe as just plain water — is tea without milk, lemon, or sugar.

Listen to your hygienist: In a two-week study of identical twins — one brushed and flossed, the other simply brushed — flossers developed significantly less plaque-causing bacteria than their brush-only siblings.

Spoon up some culture: In a new study, people who consumed at least 1/4 cup of yogurt or a lactic acid drink every day were less than half as likely to have serious gum disease. The magic ingredient? Probiotics, researchers believe.

Get plenty of fruits and veggies: The higher your consumption of folic acid from food (produce is a great source), the lower your risk of bleeding gums, research shows.

2 Twofers

With these, you burn calories and curb hunger

Cardio before meals: An aerobic workout cuts your hunger by lowering levels of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone. Count on about two hours' benefit, including workout time. Weight training helps, too, but not as much. Not exercising at all leaves you hungriest.

A short walk: In a "gotta have chocolate" mood? Hit the sidewalk for 15 minutes. The walk will cut calories and — a study of chocolate lovers showed — curb your cravings as well.

Medicine Chest Must-Haves

These two can be lifesaving while you're waiting for the ambulance to arrive:

Aspirin (325 mg, not baby) to chew on in case you, a family member, or a guest has a heart attack
Liquid Benadryl in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction

4 Sleep Helpers

In 1896, GH advised insomniacs, "Upon retiring ... take a bowl of hot broth, like oatmeal gruel or clam soup." Our contemporary advice:

1. Chill, baby, chill. A cool bedroom lowers core body temperature, which initiates sleepiness. How cool? The ideal temp varies from person to person (and from husband to wife!), but try 65 degrees to start.

2. Hire a specialist — online. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps even longtime insomniacs sleep better. Try the online course developed by a Harvard researcher at cbtforinsomnia.com($25); also on CD.

3. Turn off appliances. Artificial light (from lamps, TVs, maybe even a glowing clock) can keep you up. But if it's still not dark enough, try a sleep mask. The favorite in GHRI testing: Bucky's 40 Blinks Mask ($13).

4. Practice tai chi. When researchers compared this Eastern meditative martial art with standard health education programs, tai chi won — heads down — in improving both sleep quality and duration.

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