6 Good Habits You Can Make Healthier Without Even Trying

The physicians of The Doctors explain how to extend these wellness practices with little effort.

By The Physicians of The Doctors
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine September 2014
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    When you sip tea, make sure to steep tea bags for five minutes.

    Research links this beverage to lower risks of heart attack, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. More antioxidants were unleashed in tea steeped for five minutes than for just one or two, according to a British study.

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    When you blow your nose, do one nostril at a time.

    A University of Virginia study found that honking your nose hard produced a lot of pressure and pushed mucus into the sinuses, which could increase infections. Gently blow one nostril at a time instead.

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    When you get a flu vaccine, make sure to exercise the same day.

    Flu vaccines are the best way to prevent the virus, but they’re only 50 to 70 percent effective. Exercising before or after getting the vaccine may prime your immune system to produce more infection-fighting antibodies. In one study, Iowa State University students who jogged or biked at a moderate pace for 90 minutes after receiving the shot had nearly double the amount of antibodies of those who were sedentary.

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    When you eat more protein, make sure to add it to breakfast.

    It’s common nutrition advice for anyone on a diet: Eat fewer refined carbs, more protein. But timing matters. Americans typically eat three times more protein at dinner than at breakfast. However, studies show that people who eat protein-rich morning meals have fewer blood sugar spikes throughout the morning (which can prevent cravings) and are less likely to snack on junk food at night.

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    When you stand up, make sure to do it in a work meeting.

    Getting off your duff is undoubtedly good for your health: Research links too much sitting—even if you hit the gym regularly—with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Now new Washington University research suggests that standing during work meetings can lead to more creativity. Workers were given 30 minutes to create a university recruitment video. The group that worked in a room without chairs suggested more inventive ideas and produced better videos than the team that was more sedentary.

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    When you floss your teeth, make sure to do it after, not before, you brush.

    Once you’ve removed large pieces of food with your toothbrush, floss to better clear tiny particles and bacteria that remain between your teeth, some dentists say. Don’t jerk the floss up and down. For a more thorough cleaning, make a C shape with the floss around each tooth and gently move it up and down.

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