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Amazing Benefits Of Greek Yogurt (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Greek Yogurt (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Greek yogurt stands out from other types of yogurt that you can choose at the grocery store for a lot of reasons. Thicker in consistency than its regular yogurt counterpart, this Mediterranean-style favorite undergoes a processing method that involves more extensive straining in order to remove most of the whey, lactose and sugar.

When you taste Greek yogurt, its thick and creamy texture will be incomparable to any other type of yogurt you’ve tried. Besides that, there are several good health-related reasons why you should consider making it a regular part of your diet.

1. It helps lower blood pressure

Some varieties of yogurt contain twice as much sodium as Greek yogurt, which can contribute to higher blood pressure levels and an increased risk of additional heart-related problems if your sodium intake surpasses the daily recommended value. A 100-gram serving of nonfat Greek yogurt contains just about 36 milligrams of sodium. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, most people should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

2. It improves digestive health

When you choose to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet, you’re also getting the added digestive power of the probiotics it contains. These are live, “good” bacteria that help balance out the bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics also have anti-inflammatory and anti-pathogenic effects, essentially giving your your immune system a bit of a boost so your body is better equipped to fight off any harmful bacteria.

3. It keeps you fuller for longer

Greek yogurt has twice as much protein per serving as regular yogurt does and cuts the sugar content down by nearly half (when you choose plain over flavored). A typical 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has about 10 grams of protein. More protein keeps you full for longer because it takes longer to digest, so you won’t be reaching for other snacks as soon as some other varieties of yogurt might cause you to do.

4. It helps you lose weight

With less than 4 grams of carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat per 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, it’s a perfect choice for people who are watching how many carbs or how much fat they’re consuming. And at only 59 calories, Greek yogurt can help you stick to your daily calorie intake–whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight.

5. It keeps your brain healthy

Greek yogurt contains Vitamin B12, which is only found in animal products. A 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt provides about 13 percent of your recommended daily value of this vitamin, which is necessary for a well functioning brain and nervous system. It also helps with cell reproduction and keeps your skin looking healthy.

6. It supports good heart, bone, muscle and nerve health

Dairy products are known to be among the best sources of absorbable calcium, providing some of the highest concentrations of it per serving. Greek yogurt doesn’t contain quite as much calcium as regular yogurt, but a 100-gram nonfat serving still provides around 11 percent of your recommended daily value. Calcium is necessary to keep your teeth strong, your heart rhythm beating at a healthy pace, your blood flowing and all sorts of other parts of your body healthy and functioning properly.

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7. It may be an appropriate alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy

People who are lactose intolerant may be able to add small amounts of Greek yogurt to their diet because it doesn’t have as much lactose as other dairy products, due to the fact that it undergoes a different processing method. When Greek yogurt is strained, much of the lactose is removed. Although lactose intolerant people may not be able to eliminate their symptoms entirely by adding Greek yogurt to their diets, they may at least experience less severe symptoms.

8. It gives your metabolism a boost

Humans need trace amounts of iodine to keep their thyroids healthy, and dairy products like Greek yogurt are a good source of this essential mineral. The thyroid gland helps regulate your metabolism–including blood cell production, nerve function and muscle function. Adding more iodine-rich foods in your diet may help you lose weight if you’ve been struggling to shed those extra pounds.

Reap the Benefits of Greek Yogurt with These Recipes

To get the full benefits of Greek yogurt, make sure you do your research and choose a brand that isn’t too highly processed. Always read the label to check that it contains “live and active cultures” for the probiotic component, and stick to plain, nonfat varieties to keep sugar and fat content as low as possible.

Plain Greek yogurt gets kind of boring after a while on its own, so here are a few delicious ways to get creative with using it:

Refreshing Strawberry-Banana Greek Yogurt Smoothie

    One of the best ways to pump up the flavor of your plain Greek yogurt is by adding fruit to it. Its thick, creamy texture makes it a perfect addition to smoothies.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large, ripe banana
    • 1 cup fresh strawberries
    • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
    • 4 – 6 ice cubes (optional)

    Directions:

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    Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add more ice cubes for an even thicker consistency, or instead add unsweetened almond milk (or even just plain water) for a thinner consistency.

    Homemade Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

      Whipping up your own salad dressing is one of the healthiest decisions you can make to cut out extra fat and sugar that’s packed into store-bought varieties. Greek yogurt is ideal for making creamy salad dressings like ranch and caesar.

      Ingredients:

      • 1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
      • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
      • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
      • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
      • 1 garlic clove

      Directions:

      Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store the dressing in a mason jar and refrigerate for up to one week.

      Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt Pancakes

        Greek yogurt can even be used as a creamy baking ingredient in pancakes, muffins and more of your favorite baked goods. If you’re tired of eating Greek yogurt in its original form, this is a great way to sneak more of it into your diet.

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        Ingredients:

        • 1 cup whole wheat flour
        • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
        • 1/2 cup quick oats
        • 1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
        • 1 egg
        • 2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
        • 2 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        Directions:

        In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg, followed by the brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla extract until it’s smooth.

        Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Coat a skillet with nonstick spray and set it on the stove over medium heat.

        Pour a 1/4-cup portion of the pancake mixture onto the hot skillet and let it cook for about a minute before flipping it over and cooking the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve right away with maple syrup and optional fruit like berries or bananas.

        Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac n’ Cheese

          For some comfort food with a bit of a healthier spin to it, you can use Greek yogurt instead of regular cream or excessive amounts of cheese. It’s one of the best ingredients you can use to create creamy, cheesy sauces for pasta dishes.

          Ingredients:

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          • 2 cups dry macaroni noodles (ideally whole wheat, if possible)
          • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheese
          • 1/2 cup of milk or unsweetened almond milk
          • 1/2 plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt

          Directions:

          Cook the noodles according to the package directions. In a pot placed on the stove over medium heat, cook the milk, cheese and salt until it all melts together. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt, stirring and cooking just until everything is mixed and hot. Add the sauce to the cooked noodles and serve.

          Chocolate Fudge Yogurt Popsicles

            Greek yogurt freezes quite well and can be eaten as a delicious, frozen treat. Mix it with your favorite flavors like fruit or chocolate for an indulgent dessert that’s actually pretty good for you.

            Ingredients:

            • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
            • 1 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
            • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
            • 2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
            • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

            Directions:

            Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth and then pour the mixture into popsicle molds with sticks. Place the molds in the freezer overnight and enjoy them the next day.

            One of the best things about enjoying the benefits of Greek yogurt is that it’s an extremely versatile food, and it can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Whether you’re eating a bowl full of it with fresh berries or using it as a creamy base for the sauce that goes with your next dinnertime dish, you’ll definitely want to keep a tub of Greek yogurt around in your refrigerator whenever you get the urge to experiment with some new and exciting recipes.

            Featured Image Credits: Strawberry-banana yogurt smoothie, salad dressing, pancakes, mac n’ cheese, chocolate fudge popsicle.

            Featured photo credit: Anna_Pustynnikova via shutterstock.com

            More by this author

            Elise Moreau

            Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

            Why You’ve Reached the Point of Burn out at Work & How to Deal with It The Benefits And Drawbacks To Your Preferred Sleep Position How Smartphones Are Affecting The Mind And Body Of Your Children Amazing Benefits Of Greek Yogurt (+5 Refreshing Recipes) 15 Free Resources To Get You More Organized In 2016

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            Last Updated on March 30, 2020

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

            Feeling tired all the time?

            Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

            I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

            Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

            If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

            In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

            What Happens When You’re Too Tired

            If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

            Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

            • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
            • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
            • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
            • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
            • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
            • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
            • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

            Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

            Unfortunately, yes!

            Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

            Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

            Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

            Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

            Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

            Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

            1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
            2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
            3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

            The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

            It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

            Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

            Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

            If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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            Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

            Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

            But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

            Symptoms of fatigue include:

            • Difficulty concentrating
            • Low stamina
            • Difficulty sleeping
            • Anxiety
            • Low motivation

            These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

            Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

            How Much Sleep Is Enough?

            The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

            Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

            So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

            The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

            Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

            Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

            If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

            And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

            It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

            4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

            Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

            1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
            2. Exercising regularly
            3. Using stressbusters
            4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

            So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

            After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

            In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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            I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

            Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

            • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
            • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
            • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
            • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

            The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

            And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

            But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

            L — Living Healthy

            Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

            So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

            In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

            As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

            Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

            1. Unplug

            Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

            So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

            2. Unwind

            Do something to relax.

            Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

            3. Get Comfortable

            Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

            Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

            Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

            Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

            If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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            Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

            This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

            E — Exercise

            Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

            That’s what happened in my case.

            But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

            As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

            My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

            That made sense to me.

            So, I decided to swim.

            I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

            Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

            Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

            So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

            If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

            A — Attitude

            Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

            When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

            Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

            Breathing.

            But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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            Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

            1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
            2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
            3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
            4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
            5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
            6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

            This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

            When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

            Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

            N — Nutrition

            Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

            If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

            Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

            For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

            Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

            Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

            1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
            2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
            3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
            4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
            5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
            6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
            7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
            8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
            9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

            Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

            That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

            Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

            The Bottom Line

            If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

            If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

            If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

            • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
            • Regular Exercise You Love
            • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
            • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

            Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

            More Tips to Help You Rest Better

            Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
            [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
            [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
            [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
            [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
            [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
            [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
            [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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