While experts agree that regular workouts, a healthy diet and staying away from nicotine are three of the most important habits for women’s health, reducing your likelihood of developing the most common diseases that impact women—cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s—can be as simple as making small changes to your daily habits. Start with these three tips for staying healthy and happy.
1. Get Flossing. Last year, researchers from Columbia University found that looking after your gums cuts your risk of heart disease by slowing plaque build-up in the arteries. Less mouth bacteria is good news for your noodle too: a recent study showed that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria linked to gum disease, can enter your bloodstream, and later your brain, through everyday activities like eating and chewing, triggering an immune system response that releases chemicals and kills neurons associated with memory, which may contribute to dementia.
2. Let the Light In. Simply having an office window and being exposed to daylight during the workday helped employees in a recent Chicago-based study sleep 46 extra minutes per night. That’s huge if you’re aiming for between seven and nine hours of sleep per night – the “perfect” amount that’s been linked with reduced risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease and anxiety. “Sleep is restorative and a very important part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Marci Goolsby, MD, primary care sports medicine physician at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and much research has shown that natural light can help regulate your body’s internal clock, resulting in a better snooze.
3. Reach for Tomatoes. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has long been tied to a reduced risk of disease, and even if you can’t agree on which camp tomatoes belong under, the latest science shows they offer a significant health benefit to women: reducing breast cancer risk. In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, women who ate a diet rich in tomatoes for 20 weeks showed an increase in levels of adiponectin, a hormone that plays a part in the regulation of fat and blood sugar levels, lowering their breast cancer risk.
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