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75 Ways To Be Your Healthiest Ever

Smart ways to stay well, eat right, get fit

Sip Gingerly

Beyond quelling nausea, ginger also eases menstrual cramps. To brew your own relief, peel 1 inch of fresh ginger root, cut into fine rounds, and put in a saucepan. Cover with 2–3 cups of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain, pour into a pretty cup, and sweeten with honey.

If Only It Were That Simple... an excellent and never-failing cure for nervous headache is the simple act of walking backward. (July 1896)

Better Bones

1. Do An Upward Dog: Yoga postures can ward off — and help correct — the dreaded dowager's hump that can occur with age. In a six-month study, even people who already had serious curves in their upper backs improved with yoga classes three times a week.

2. Follow a Big (Low-) Fat Greek Diet: Women who eat Mediterranean-style — consuming plenty of fish and olive oil, and limiting red meat — have the greatest bone density, researchers recently found.

3. Eat Like Popeye: Spinach, along with other fruits and veggies, promotes the best acid-base balance in your body for keeping bones strong.

Don't Bar Chocolate

If you're worried about weight gain, indulging may be a solution. A study found that women who put their favorite snacks on the no-no list actually ate 40 grams more of them when given the chance than those who didn't set such strict limits. (In the case of dark chocolate, that would be 180 extra calories.) The payoffs associated with as little as half an ounce a day: Lower blood pressure
Less-stiff arterial walls
Lower bad LDL cholesterol
Inhibited formation of blood clots
Reduced stress hormones

Germ Warfare

Be wary of sand castles: Concentrations of E. coli bacteria are often much higher in beach sand than in the water. Wash your hands after playing in the sand. For a cold, try chicken soup: When one researcher tested his wife's family recipe, he found the soup inhibited movement of cells called neutrophils by 75 percent, which could translate into milder symptoms. (For the recipe, go to goodhousekeeping.com/chicken-soup.)

Turn to the pro: Taking probiotics daily helped kids have fewer coughs, fevers, and runny noses, and cut antibiotic use by more than two-thirds in a recent study. Benefits likely apply to grown-ups, too: Look for supplements or yogurt with lots (think billions, not millions) of live, active bacteria.

Wash after cuddling your dog: You're most likely to pick up disease-causing bacteria through fur-to-hand contact (a.k.a. petting).

Do the wave to avoid bugs. Or greet pals with an air kiss. What you shouldn't do: shake hands.

Be a Savvy Patient

Schedule your doctor's appointment for first thing in the afternoon. If doctors do hospital rounds in the early A.M., they're often running late by the time they get to the office, but then catch up by lunch.

In the ER, let the triage nurse know if your condition changes. Otherwise, don't talk to her — let her stay focused so that she can move all those patients ahead of you.

Keep a list of all your medications in your computer, with dosages and how often you take them. Add or delete as needed; print out a copy for doctor visits.

Check out ills on uptodate.com. The site offers a wealth of reliable info on everything from colds to cancer.

Getting a mammogram? Ask for an extra set of eyes (or a computer) to read your X-rays. Either double readings (two doctors) or a doctor plus CAD (computer-aided detection) will boost detection rates.

Originally published on April 1, 2010

Related content on goodhousekeeping.com

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