Eight simple ways to feel your best this month

From building confidence to beating allergies, see the latest health news, and how it can help you feel great!
Eight simple ways to feel your best this month

Health news | June 2014

1. Outsmart seasonal allergies (with shades?!)

Here’s new research that’s nothing to sneeze at: A new study in the International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology reveals sunglasses can do more than protect your eyes from the sun — they can ease sniffles, itchy eyes and other seasonal allergy symptoms. Turns out the lenses block most of those irksome pollens from reaching your peepers.

Bottom Line: Wearing specs is an easy way to reduce your need for over-the-counter antihistamines. Plus, think of the great pair you can buy with all the money you save!

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Dave & Les Jacobs/Getty Images.

2. Build confidence with team sports

Need a little mental health boost? Join a team this summer. A recent review from Victoria University in Australia reveals that playing sports in friendly group settings is one of the best ways to improve psychological well-being. And it’s all about upping the fun factor, not the competitive edge. Plus, the team atmosphere fosters a culture of camaraderie that helps people stamp out social anxieties.

Bottom Line: Group activities like volleyball or softball can help us develop personal strengths that extend beyond muscles.

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Michael Krinke/Getty Images.

3. Melt pounds with probiotics

We’ve got yet another reason to love yogurt. Beyond promoting good gut bacteria, researchers from Université Laval in Quebec found a daily dose of probiotics helps us lose weight — and keep it off. In the study, a group of obese men and women took two probiotics tablets a day (the equivalent of one serving of yogurt). Twelve weeks in, the women had lost an average of nearly 10 pounds (four pounds more than those taking placebo pills), and 12 weeks after that they continued to lose weight — at least two more pounds. Sorry, guys, the probiotics didn’t appear to have the same effect on the men. The lead researcher says probiotics promote weight loss because they keep certain inflammatory molecules from entering the digestive tract, stopping a chain reaction that contributes to weight gain.

Read more: Why probiotics are so effective in preventing cold and flu > 

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Istockphoto.

4. Power up your gym session with memories

This just in: Taking a trip down memory lane can motivate you to move more. Recalling positive memories of the last time you exercised (like feeling an endorphin rush after a spin class or finally nailing chaturanga in yoga) is one of the best ways to stick to a workout plan and feel more enthusiastic about it. In fact, the latest study from the University of New Hampshire reveals that happy memories actually increase our desire to exercise more, compared with negative or neutral ones.

Bottom Line: Thinking happy thoughts may be your best weapon for perfectly sculpted muscles.

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Lear Miller Photo/Getty Images.

5. Take two minutes for your heart

It’s time to step up your fitness routine — literally. Climbing a few extra flights of stairs during the workweek can increase your aerobic capacity by 17 percent and decrease bad cholesterol in your bloodstream by 8 percent, say Irish researchers. The study looked at stair-climbing women, who were told not to make any changes to their diets, and discovered those who climbed 199 stairs twice daily improved their heart health. It took just two minutes to make a difference.

Bonus: Stair climbing engages more leg muscles than walking.

Woman running up the stairsPhoto, Getty Images

6. Lower your blood pressure with vegetables

Want to lower your blood pressure without relying on pills? Look at what’s on your plate. A mostly vegetarian diet may be the answer to boosting your heart health, says a new review of several studies from a team at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan. The researchers looked at systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings (the stat your doc gives you in a ratio form, an ideal being 120/80) and discovered that strict vegetarians had the lowest BP readings, while semi-vegetarians who ate minimal meat products also experienced BP benefits.

Bottom Line: While more research is needed, vegetarian hearts may find extra strength from the high-fibre, low-fat nature of a vegetable-based diet. more protein than a piece of chicken?

Seven meatless options that make it easy to go green: Raw edamame (35 g per cup), boiled lentils, chickpeas and black beans (15 to 19 g per cup), Greek yogurt (15 g per 6-oz. container), spinach (13 g per serving), Seitan meat substitute (13 g per 3-oz. serving).

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Spenser Jones/Getty Images.

7. Pick healthier foods using fruity scents

Looking for a foolproof, hassle-free way to make healthier choices, especially when it comes to dessert? Get yourself a pear-scented fragrance! French researchers from the University of Burgundy discovered that the smell of fresh pear influences the types of sweets we choose. For the study, one group of people were confined to a room with a light fruity smell, and another to an odour-neutral space. Those who got a whiff of pear prior to approaching the dessert table were more likely to choose a light apple compote than a decadent brownie. Researchers speculate fruity fragrances may trigger past memories, influencing appetite.

Bottom Line: Making healthy food choices is as much about what we see as what we smell.

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Dean Turner/Getty Images.

8. Spice it up, slim it down

Turn up the heat and you’ll eat less without thinking about it. We’ve already told you spicy foods help rev your metabolism, but now Dutch researchers reveal they also help us eat fewer calories. Why? A new study in the journal Appetite says adding red chili peppers to foods can cut calories by forcing you to slow down and really savour the flavour. (It might help that you also tend to guzzle more water to compensate for the extra heat!) For the study, a group of people eating pizza consumed 30 percent less when it was sprinkled with red-chili-pepper flakes.

Bottom Line: Spices help us focus on taste and keep us from mindless eating. Discover our favourite spicy dishes here.

Eight simple ways to feel your best this monthPhoto, Sodapix/Getty Images.


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