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6 Easy Ways to Stick to Making This Your Healthiest Year Ever


The beginning of the year always brings about establishing good habits and ideally sticking to them for months to follow. These natural strategies will not only cut the risk of illness in half, but they will continue ensure that 2021 will be your healthiest year ever!

Reduces Blood Pressure: A Cozy Blanket

Keeping blood pressure below 120/80 not only cuts heart disease risk by 50 percent, new European research suggests it halves the risk of severe covid-19 symptoms. Turns out low blood pressure allows more nutrient-rich blood to reach your lungs, heart and other tissues that fight viral invasions. Just spend a few hours each evening toasty warm to trim up to 15 points off your blood pressure. Warm skin prods the release of artery-relaxing nitric oxide.

Slashes Stroke Risk: Happy Thoughts

Lowering levels of artery-clogging triglycerides (a type of fat the liver produces from excess sugars) can cut the risk of a stroke by 55 percent. And it’s easy! University of Connecticut researchers say your triglyceride levels will drop by up to 32 percent if you start focusing on little things that make you feel content each day — like a loved one’s smile, the way the sunlight sparkles off the snow, or how 2021 will be your healthiest year ever. That’s because happy, feel-good thoughts quickly quash the production of the stress hormones that can make it harder for the liver to keep triglyceride levels optimized.

Blasts Belly fat: Creamy Avocado Toast

Avocados are rich in phytosterols and monounsaturated fats that reduce hunger, prevent carb cravings and switch on liver genes that help you burn abdominal fat for fuel. In fact, scientists at California’s Loma Linda University say enjoying one small avocado daily could help you slim down 40 percent faster — and burn up to 4 pounds of belly fat each month. More good news: CDC researchers report shedding belly fat (which releases tissue damaging inflammation) cuts your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in half.

Lowers ‘Bad’ Cholesterol: Berry Extract

Black raspberries are in season only a few weeks each summer, but the freeze dried powder like BerriHealth’s 100% Authentic Black Raspberry Powder (Buy on Amazon, $28.95) is available year-round. Add 1 teaspoon to your daily diet, and you’ll trim artery-clogging LDL cholesterol by 22 points, cutting heart disease risk by 25 percent, suggests a study in the journal Phytotherapy Research. Explains Jim Kwon, MD, the berry’s ellagic acid helps your liver keep blood fats in balance.

Protects Your Heart: A Nightcap

Cheers to your healthiest year! A daily tipple (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of spirits) can cut your risk of heart disease by up to 55 percent. Researchers at Virginia’s Old Dominion University say small daily doses of alcohol prod the liver to make 18 percent more HDL cholesterol — a protective blood fat that blocks formation of artery-stiffening plaque. Adds Anne Eggen, MD, HDL cholesterol also nourishes and energizes immune cells that quickly kill precancerous cells, reducing cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.

Steadies Blood Sugar: Crafting

Knitting, scrapbooking — calming your busy brain by focusing on your crafting hands can cut cortisol production by 60 percent in 20 minutes. And that’s key, say University of Utah scientists, since cortisol doesn’t just rattle your nerves, it hinders the release of sugar-controlling insulin and makes immune cells sluggish. Take time for a little crafting daily, and you could boost blood-glucose control by 60 percent, plus cut the risk of covid-19 complications in half.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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