Published on Prevention (http://www.prevention.com)
And for 2,000 more fast-working tips and techniques that will flatten your belly, sharpen your mind, and keep you healthy for life, check out The Better Man Project—an all new book from the Editor-in-Chief of Men's Health. It's a jam-packed user's guide to every aspect of health—fitness, nutrition, sex, and more!
1. The 3-Ounce HDL Booster
Instead of chips with your sandwich, switch to unsalted pistachios. In research at the Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, people who ate 2 to 3 ounces of unsalted pistachios a day for 4 weeks raised their HDL cholesterol (the good kind) by 6%.
2. Dry-Brush Your Teeth
Before squeezing toothpaste onto your brush, take 30 seconds to brush your teeth with a dry toothbrush. Doing so cuts tartar by 60% and also reduces the risk of bleeding gyms by half.
Use a dry soft-bristle brush to scrub the insides of your top and bottom teeth, then buff the outer surfaces. Rinse, then brush normally with toothpaste.
3. Exercise Your Ears
Music can either be a sledgehammer or a tuning fork. If you want to be able to hear your great-granddaughter when you're 97, fine-tune your ears with music.
First, turn down the volume to a sane level (you should be able to listen to the music and still carry on a normal conversation), then practice singling out a single instrument and listening to it. This exercise will help you develop the ability to perceive more details in everyday sounds, says Gail Whitelaw, PhD, past president of the American Academy of Audiology.
4. Energize For Less
When you're tired and need a lift, coffee isn’t the only drink you can turn to. Have a club soda with lime. The carbonation and aroma will energize you.
5. Don't Forget Your Lunch
Thinking about what you ate for lunch could keep you from bingeing on afternoon snacks. In a study, subjects were told they were taste-testing 3 different types of salted popcorn. They were encouraged to eat as much as they wanted.
Interestingly, those who were first asked to recall exactly what they had eaten for lunch consumed 30% less popcorn than those who didn't review their lunch menu beforehand. The researchers say that taking a few seconds to remember what you had during a recent meal might enhance awareness of how satiating the food was, which then might reduce future noshing.
6. Kiss And Tingle
Before you plant a kiss on your partner, swipe on mint lip balm to engage your sensations of touch, taste, and smell. "Menthol triggers the body's cold receptors, and when that's combined with your warm breath, you'll feel a tingly sensation from your lips straight down to your genitals," says sexologist Ava Cadell, PhD.
MORE: Do You Suffer From Post-Bingewatching Anxiety Disorder?
7. Kill ANTS
ANTS are Automatic Negative Thoughts that trigger anxiety and flood the body with stress hormones. Whenever an ANT enters your mind, write it down and forget about it for now. Later, review your ANTS, try to determine where they are coming from and devise a plan to correct negative thinking.
8. Compliment Your Spouse
One study found that an unhappy marriage increases your chances of getting sick by 35% and shortens your lifespan by 4 years. An easy way to instantly improve a marriage (and your health) is to regularly tell your spouse what you admire and respect about him or her.
"It takes less than a minute and it can have a profound impact," says marriage counselor Mario Alonso, PhD, founder of the personality website PsychDNA.com. "Partners who feel secure and well-loved suffer from less depression."
In a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, 74% of the happiest couples reported that their spouses “often” made them feel good about the kind of person they are (in comparison to 27% of moderately happy or unhappy couples.)
9. Slice Thin, Eat Less
Slicing thinly will make your portions seem bigger and more satisfying. In a study at Japan's National Food Research Institute, participants who compared equal amounts of sliced and whole vegetables rated the sliced piles up to 27% larger. When you believe you're eating a larger portion of food, you'll trick yourself into feeling more satisfied with fewer calories.
10. Make The Medicine Go Down
A few seconds before swallowing bad-tasting liquid medicine, suck on an ice cube. It’ll numb your tastebuds and make the medicine taste less nasty.
11. Double-Team Your Headache
12. Ask For Extra Vinegar
Hoagie, Grinder, Po Boy, or Hero—whatever you call your favorite submarine sandwich, make it a bit better by ordering extra splashes of vinegar. Nutritionists at Arizona State University say that the acetic acid interferes with enzymes that break down carbohydrates, keeping blood sugar levels from rising quickly. You can also get the same result by starting a high-carb meal with a salad drizzled with vinaigrette.
13. Fight Your Pillow
Fold your pillow in half, then let go. If the pillow springs back, it’s in good shape. If it just lays there bent like a soggy potato chip, get rid of it. It’s not worthy of supporting your head and neck adequately while you sleep.
14. 10-Second Prevention
Avoid low-back pain on long car drives by tilting your rearview mirror up. Doing so will prevent you from slouching (which causes the pain) by forcing you to sit up straighter to see the cars behind.
15. Squeeze More From Tea
Squeeze a lemon wedge into your iced or hot tea. The acidity can boost antioxidant concentrations in green tea by 20%, according to a study in the journal Food Chemistry. Researchers believe the same trick works with all kinds of tea.
16. Chew More, Weigh Less
The researchers say that chewing stimulates satiety hormones, and whole food takes longer for your intestines to process, helping you to feel fuller longer and consume less.
17. Place Fresh Cut Flowers On The Breakfast Table
Looking at a vase of fresh daisies, tulips, roses or other cut flowers while eating your morning oatmeal may improve your mood. New research from Harvard University shows that even people who say they're not “morning people” report feeling happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the a.m.
18. Kill Those Krusty Krabs
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Sponge-bob Square-pants. Who lives in your kitchen sponge? Millions of bacteria. Moist and full of tiny food bits, your sponge is a breeding ground for germs like salmonella and E. coli., germs that you spread every time you wipe your counter.
Kill 'em efficiently by zapping your sponge in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, or boiling it in hot water for 5 minutes.
MORE: Why Some People Ignore Their Cancer Symptoms
19. Take Vitamin G
Improve your attitude with a dose of gratitude daily. Studies have shown that 90% of people say expressing gratitude made them happier people and more than 75 percent said it reduced stress and depression and gave them more energy.
Start by making an effort to thank people more often. Then advance to counting your blessings at least once a day for 30 seconds. Need some suggestions? Be thankful for your health, your food, your family, and friends. Heck, thank your letter carrier even if all he brings is bills. He or she may be out of a job next month.
20. Go To Sleep Without Sheep
Instead of counting fence-hurdling sheep to fall asleep, just wear socks. Swiss researchers found that people fell asleep quickest when their hands and feet were warmest.
This happens because warm feet and hands cause blood vessels to enlarge, allowing more heat to escape your body, which in turn lowers your core temperature faster and causes you to nod off sooner. The researchers say putting on socks may help you fall asleep in half the time it normally takes.
21. Wait 60 Seconds
Take a minute to think about the consequences of your actions whenever faced with an important decision—from having a fourth glass of wine to contemplating quitting your job in anger, swallowing a pill to making a pass at a coworker, blaming your spouse to screaming at a child.
Sixty seconds of thought can prevent a world of hurt. And for even more great health hacks, check out The Better Man Project today!