The old adage “little things mean a lot” is truer than you may think, especially when it comes to well-being.
In fact, one study has found that adopting such healthy behaviors as exercising regularly and not smoking was tied to not only living longer...but living longer free of serious disease.†
In that spirit, here are some habits you may want to adopt to live a longer, healthier life and to look your best.
Drink More Water
Yumi Sakugawa, author of The Little Book of Life Hacks (St. Martin’s Griffin), recommends drinking a big glass of water right when you wake up and sipping H2O throughout the day. Boost your morning water’s benefits by adding some lemon slices, which contain immunity-supporting vitamin C.*
“We all wake up dehydrated,” Sakugawa says. “Switch it up by drinking water at different temperatures, hot, cold, lukewarm; eat ice chips.”
When you’re properly hydrated, you have more energy—and it does wonders for the skin. “Water is the best face lift,” says Margaret Marshall, author of Healthy Living Means Living Healthy (Motivational Press).
Learn to Meditate
Christine Despres, RN, recommends meditating daily for as little as five minutes; ideally, that should be closer to 15.
“The benefits are endless, but setting the tone and the intention of your mind can change your day,” says Despres, a certified health coach. “It allows you to decide the thoughts that you will acknowledge and give your attention to and makes you more positive, grateful and loving.”
Eat More Superfoods
Include superfoods in your diet whenever possible.
Despres lists coconut, cacao, maca, seaweed, açai, goji, bee products and hemp as her favorites, saying, “They pre-load the cells with nutrient-dense organic matter that helps with immunity and detoxification, and gives overall vitality on a deeper cellular level.”†
Massage Your Face
To look your best, Sakugawa suggests making facial massages part of your evening skincare ritual. “This increases circulation, which adds a healthy glow, and relaxes muscle tension to help reduce wrinkles,” she says.
She recommends massaging areas that carry tension, such as the forehead and jawline, for one to five minutes with light to medium pressure after applying an oil “compatible with your skin type.”
And instead of using chemical-laden eye makeup removers, opt for jojoba, coco or almond oil on a cotton swab.
“It’s cheaper, it works and it’s also deeply moisturizing,” Sakugawa notes.
Get Lean and Mean (But Don’t Skimp on Healthy Fat)
Eggs, beans, lean meat… regularly consuming healthy protein is as good for hair and nails as it is for overall health, Marshall says.
“Your hair and nails are made from protein, and therefore they need protein,” she explains. “I can tell if someone doesn’t eat enough protein; their hair starts to fall out or it doesn’t have sheen or body.”
And Despres encourages healthy fat consumption. “Salmon, avocado, coconut everything, MCT oil, grass-fed butter and extra omega-3s feed the brain, skin, hair and nails,” she says. “Think of it as essential lubrication, like oil for an engine.”
Manage Facial Problems Naturally
Acne is normally seen as a teen thing. However, women may continue to get acne well into their 40s because of factors such as fluctuating hormone levels and stress.
When you feel that hidden zit growing, Sakugawa suggests dabbing it with a small amount of tea tree oil.
To prevent acne from occurring in the first place, she suggests creating a face mask from baking soda and water. “Make a paste, and leave it on the face for 15 minutes before washing it off,” she says. “It prevents zits and is a great exfoliator.”
And if you’re a black tea drinker, save those used teabags. Sakugawa says. “Put them in the fridge, and place one over each eye in the morning for up to 15 minutes to reduce swelling and circles.” (It’s the caffeine that does the trick.)
Help Hair Naturally
You needn’t go farther than your pantry to create treatments for shiny, healthy hair.
After shampooing, massage coconut oil or mayonnaise into the hair, leave it on for a minute, rinse, and shampoo again, says Marshall. Alternately, add melted coconut oil into dry hair and leave it on for up to 15 minutes, or overnight, before you wash.
To help your locks look even better, massage one part apple cider vinegar to two parts warm water into dry hair and leave it on for 15 minutes before washing.
“Whether hair is dry or oily, it’s going to calibrate the pH of your hair and scalp, making your hair look shinier and healthier,” Marshall notes.
Whiten Teeth—Without Chemicals
To keep your teeth smile-ready, Marshall recommends eating crunchy raw vegetables. “It’s a soft abrasion that helps clean teeth, and apples help freshen your breath,” she says.
For a natural whitener, mash one strawberry with enough baking soda to create a paste and brush with it once or twice a week, followed by a normal brushing.
“Strawberry has a whitening astringent and the baking soda will neutralize the acid so it doesn’t affect the enamel,” Marshall explains; the baking soda’s abrasiveness also helps to break up plaque.
In addition, Marshall recommends swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil around your mouth and spitting it into a paper towel (it can clog a sink). “It helps pull out anything stuck and moistens the gums for overall health,” she says.
Brighten Your Mood
On those down days, Sakugawa offers several tricks to get you back on track.
“One is a fake-it-’til-you-make-it body language trick. Sit up straight, breathe deeply and smile. If you embody a healthy mental attitude, it helps mental health,” she explains.
Sakugawa also recommends thinking about an event to look forward to—or planning one—to create feelings of anticipation, looking through photos of happy moments and…jumping on a trampoline. Don’t laugh: “It’s a good endorphin dose,” she says.
“Or do 10 jumping jacks; it gets the body moving, and you can often shake yourself out of” an emotional slump, Sakugawa adds.
Beat the Afternoon Slump
Afternoon crash? Try neatening up your space for five minutes or so. Sakugawa explains that clutter has a deflating, distracting effect; a quick cleanup “gives you a tactile experience and an energy boost.”
You can also boost energy reserves with a power nap, as long as its between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m., and is no longer than 20 minutes.
A cold shower can be another wake-up call. “Turn it cold, even for the last 30 seconds,” Sakugawa says. “It’s really going to give you an energy boost.”
Eat for Energy...
Treat yourself to dark chocolate for its healthful properties. “Dark chocolate is way better than sugary milk chocolate,” Sakugawa says.
For energy, she recommends foods that are rich in folic acid, such as beans and dark leafy green vegetables; it is one of the vitamins that converts food to fuel.*
Marshall adds that eating healthy can simply improve energy and overall well-being. “When you’re feeding yourself food that nourishes, you feel good in the mind and in the body,” she says. “As a general rule of thumb, people who are happier eat better.”
...But Don’t Overeat
On the other hand, “overeating makes you feel sluggish and tired, and even regretful,” Sakugawa says.
To ensure that you don’t eat too much, stop when you feel 80% full. “There’s a lapse between being physically full and the time it takes for your brain to register that. So when you feel 80% full, you’re more than that,” Sakugawa explains.
Marshall suggests paying attention to one’s breathing while eating.
“When you’ve had enough, your breathing changes; you may breathe deeper or start sighing,” she says. “Once you start paying attention to the breath, you might not be full but you will be satisfied and stop.”†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.