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4 Bad Habits That Are Probably Making You Sick

4 Bad Habits That Are Probably Making You Sick

The winter months are fast approaching and, though we cheer at the oncoming holiday festivities, with winter comes the added woe of “cold and flu season” to contend with. So what do you do if you want to avoid sicknesses that often plague the colder times of the year?

Well, as much as being proactive and wrapping up helps to keep you healthy, there are also bad habits making you sick that are best avoided if you want to stay healthy over the winter months.

1. Getting Less Than 6 Hours Of Sleep

Several studies have linked sleep deprivation to obesity [1] and depression, as well as to suppression of the immune system [2], which is one of the main reasons not getting enough shut eye can lead us to get sick so often!

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    What can we do though? Well, many popular apps are now dedicated to improving users’ sleeping patterns. One app, in particular, called Sleep Genius even bases part of its method on the findings of NASA research aimed at getting optimal sleep cycles for astronauts. Others are dedicated solely to filtering out those blue light rays from our screens that are so disastrous to our sleep cycles. We don’t suggest a complete blackout, but simply reading a good book before bed instead of using a screen device can go a long way to getting you a much better night’s sleep.

    2. Being Inactive

    Getting a good amount of sleep is an important factor in healthy living that is often taken for granted, as is simply keeping active in our day-to-day lives. Amongst the ill effects on our health of having an inactive lifestyle are the added risk of heart disease, adult onset diabetes, and a doubled risk of obesity.[3] Hit the gym or exercise regularly, on the other hand, and you’ll be enhancing your immune system as you relieve stress.[4]

    The best way to deal with this problem is to set up an effective routine. Research points to both morning and evenings as being the best time for a workout. That being said, perhaps what best fits into your daily routine is the most likely to keep you motivated to keep going consistently. For those of you who like to do a morning routine though, there’s the benefit of not having to worry for the rest of the day once the morning sweat session is out of the way. An added bonus is the release of endorphins you feel post-workout which are a great way to kick off the day in a positive frame of mind.

    3. Touching Your Face Often

    Stop touching yourself! Research suggests that human beings touch themselves in a way that’s detrimental to their health 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. Dr. Wladimir Alonso and his team at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, however, carried out an illuminating study on human behaviour showing that we should be shifting our focus during flu season.[5] Illnesses are most commonly transmitted by touching a contaminated surface and then our face, allowing the virus to enter through our respiratory system. Alonso’s research though, showed that we touch our faces at a higher rate than we touch potentially contaminated surfaces.

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    Many medical initiatives strongly recommend washing your hands frequently to avoid transmitting diseases. Whilst this is undoubtedly sound advice, the study shows us that this may not be enough; we should also do our best to keep those fidgety hands away from our face.

    4. Not Eating Enough Vegetables

    A surefire way to put yourself at risk of getting sick during the winter months is by not ingesting enough of the essential nutrients necessary for keeping your immune system healthy. Vegetables are a must.[6] There’s another added incentive to getting your daily dose of vegetables as well. Recent research has shown that, aside from being an essential cornerstone of a healthy diet, vegetables also give us a psychological boost! Professor Andrew Oswald has spoken of this immediate added benefit of eating vegetables and fruit by saying, “it boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health.”[7]

    If you are a veggie fan, there are huge amounts of creative ways out there to treat yourself to a variety of vegetarian dishes that will have you satisfied for months. However, with research suggesting that a majority of people don’t eat the recommended daily intake of 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, another great way to reach the recommended amount is to incorporate more vegetables creatively, rather than relying simply on a side serving with each main meal.[8] Add some tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach to your morning omelettes or chopped basil to your bagel spread, for example. Adding small amounts throughout the day can go a long way!

    It’s never too late to adapt your diet to help you have a healthier veggie-filled lifestyle! Here are a few recipes to help you get started:

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    Easy and Healthy Lentil Soup

      via My Mommy Style

      Balsamic Soy Roasted Garlic Mushrooms

        via Closet Cooking

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        Vegetable Udon Stir Fry

          via Cilantro and Cintronella

          So, get a good night’s sleep, eat plenty of veggies, calm those fidgety hands, but also make sure to get your sweat on. You’re much more likely to have a comfortable winter, focusing on the important things in life rather than reaching for your handkerchief!

          Featured photo credit: Style404.com via style404.com

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          Christopher Young

          Freelance Blogger, Writer and Journalist

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          Last Updated on August 12, 2019

          12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

          12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

          Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

          But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

          I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

          Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

          1. Nuts

          The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

          Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

          Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

          Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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          2. Blueberries

          Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

          When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

          3. Tomatoes

          Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

          4. Broccoli

          While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

          Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

          Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

          5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

          Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

          The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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          Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

          6. Soy

          Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

          Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

          Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

          7. Dark Chocolate

          When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

          Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

          8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

          Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

          B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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          Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

          Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

          To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

          9. Foods Rich in Zinc

          Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

          Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

          Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

          10. Gingko Biloba

          This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

          It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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          However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

          11. Green and Black Tea

          Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

          Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

          Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

          12. Sage and Rosemary

          Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

          Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

          When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

          More About Boosting Brain Power

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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