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6 Health Remedies That Work Double-Duty to Ease Anxiety, Deepen Sleep, and More

Whether you’re feeling anxious, tired, or dealing with allergies, sometimes it can feel like there is always something going on with our bodies. Bu these simple yet powerful remedies not only outsmart stubborn hassle, they boast a bunch of feel-great side effects as well. 

Ward off colds + prevent hot flashes

Getting just 20 minutes of exercise a day switches on genes that increase the production of virus-fighting white blood cells, report Harvard University scientists — and that cuts risk of colds and other viral infections in half, plus helps you bounce back 75 percent faster if you do get sick. 

Bonus: Daily walks reduce the severity of hot flashes by 75 percent, say Swedish researchers. That’s because exercise stimulates the release of endorphins and norepinephrine hormones that improve your brain’s ability to control body temperature.

Calms anxiety + controls appetite

There’s a good reason adult coloring books are so popular: The repetitive motion and fine motor control required to color trigger the formation of relaxing alpha brain waves, cutting stress in half in 10 minutes, say British scientists. Additional research suggests that you can effortlessly shed 2 pounds a month if you spend 5 minutes coloring when cravings strike. 

The reason: Coloring distracts the cerebral cortex-the brain region that causes you to be preoccupied with food, derailing healthy eating.

Improves memory + sharpens night vision

Nibbling on a 2 oz. serving of dark chocolate (about half a regular-size bar) can improve your memory, concentration, and energy for 2 1/2 hours. “Cocoa’s antioxidants open up blood vessels, enhancing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to hardworking brain cells,” explains neurologist Joseph C. Maroon, MD, coauthor of The Science of Cocoa. 

What’s more, British researchers found that enjoying chocolate after dinner improves night vision by up to 20 percent for 3 hours, due to the increase in blood flow to eye tissues.

Deepens sleep + quells heartburn

It’s known best as a sleep aid — taking 3 mg of quick-dissolving melatonin at bedtime cuts the risk of restless sleep in half, say Cornell University scientists. But Egyptian researchers note that melatonin has another plus: It strengthens the valve that stops stomach acid from washing up into the esophagus, nixing heartburn flareups for 83 percent of women in two months. 

To try: Twinlab Melatonin Dots ($5.77, the Vitamin Shoppe).

Lower BP + halt headaches

A daily 10-minute foot rub can reduce blood pressure by 5 points in 8 weeks, report scientists in PLOS ONE. Foot massage stimulates acupressure points that signal blood vessels to stay relaxed, explains study coauthor Eri Eguchi, PhD. Massage also lowers the production of pain-triggering cortisol-an effect that prevents tension headaches for 84 percent of women, say Canadian scientists. 

To do: Start with a firm, allover foot rub, then gently squeeze and roll each toe, moving from base to tip.

Soothes allergies + stabilizes blood sugar

If fall allergies have you sniffling and sneezing, Japanese scientists offer a tasty Rx: sipping 36 oz. of fruity rooibos tea daily, which eases symptoms in as little as 72 hours. The credit goes to the sip’s flavonoids, which dampen the immune system’s production of symptom-triggering histamine. 

Bonus: According to a research team in South Africa, rooibos is rich in aspalathin, a phytonutrient that slows carb absorption and helps muscle cells soak up and burn glucose for fuel, improving blood-sugar control in one week.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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