1. Cheer Yourself Up: Take a Walk
Exercise is a bona fide mood booster, whether or not you are depressed. If you’re down in the dumps, try climbing out by breaking a sweat.
A four-year study, which published results in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that depressed patients who do not find relief from their medication could improve, or even go into remission, by adding aerobic exercise.
After 12 weeks of daily sweat sessions, 30 percent of the depressed volunteers (who had been depressed for an average of seven years) achieved full remission, while another 20 percent showed significant improvement. For men, vigorous exercise worked better than moderate levels. For women, moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, was more effective when they had a family history of mental illness. Those without fared better with higher-intensity activities (Cleveland Clinic 360-5, Oct. 26, 2011).
2. Check your snacking habit
To avoid unwanted calories, stop habitual snacking. Routine snacking makes us crave food during certain times, such as when we are watching TV, watching a sports game, or traveling, even when we’re not hungry.
Check your snacking habit. Try to eat only when you’re hungry, and then choose something healthful like carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, grapes, oranges, apples, nuts, or dried fruit (Cleveland Clinic 360-5, Oct. 29, 2011).
3. The Potato: A Healthy Choice After All
The poor potato! We load it with butter, cheese, or sour cream, or we fry it into French fries or chips. Then we have the nerve to call it fattening. But if you take away all the condiments and oil, potatoes are neither high in calories nor nutritional slouches.
A plain medium potato has just 150 calories and nearly 30 percent of your day’s vitamin C—and it’s a good source of folate and iron. To get all the health benefits that plants offer, enrich your diet with vegetables that run the full color spectrum (Cleveland Clinic 360-5, Oct. 28, 2011).
4. Protect Yourself
Reduce your risk of breast cancer by eating a diet that’s rich in lignans, which are protective plant compounds found in flaxseed, beans, and whole grains.
The more plants you include in your diet, the better off you’ll be. Case in point—a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets rich in lignans were associated with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Structurally similar to estrogen, lignans may protect against cancer by lowering estrogen levels in women. Many foods that contain lignans are also rich in other healthful plant compounds, like polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber. Though flaxseed is the most concentrated source of lignans, other good sources include sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, apricots, and broccoli (Cleveland Clinic 360-5, Oct. 10, 2011).
5. Kick This Habit
Can’t get by without your daily fix of diet soda? You might want to rethink the habit. Drinking diet soda every day may raise your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and death.
Research presented at the International Stroke Conference found that those who drank diet carbonated beverages every day had a 61 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other deadly cardiac event. This isn’t the first research to find a link between diet soda and health issues.
A 2009 study found that diet soda was also associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome—a cluster of symptoms, including obesity, belly fat, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Though these studies do not prove that diet soda is the cause of these conditions, it does sound a warning bell.
If you have a serious soda habit, you might want to think about cutting back and drinking water, or even seltzer, instead (Cleveland Clinic 360-5, Sept. 28, 2011).