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Smoking not only cuts your lifespan by affecting your internal organs, but it also ages you on the outside by causing skin damage. Tobacco smoking can give you wrinkles, create pucker lines around your mouth, stain your teeth and fingers, rob your skin of nutrients, break down youth-enhancing collagen and make your skin look grey. It makes you wonder how smoking is often marketed as glamorous and attractive.
All humans have to eat food for growth and maintenance of a healthy body, but we humans have different requirements as infants, children (kids), teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. For example, infants may require feeding every four hours until they gradually age and begin to take in more solid foods. Eventually they develop into the more normal pattern of eating three times per day as young kids. However, as most parents know, kids, teenagers, and young adults often snack between meals. Snacking is often not limited to these age groups because adults and seniors often do the same.
Chocolate has gotten a lot of buzz in recent years as a heart-healthy treat. Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, plant nutrients that help repair cell damage. Flavanols—cocoa's main kind of flavonoid—help lower blood pressure, promote proper blood clotting and boost blood flow to the brain and heart. Add to that a hefty helping of minerals, fiber and other powerful antioxidants, and you have one sweet package. And the heart benefits are impressive: In one study of nearly 5,000 people, nibbling on chocolate five or more times a week was associated with a whopping 57 percent lower risk of heart disease, compared to non-chocolate eaters. (Keep in mind, though, that this was an observational study, so the research didn't prove a cause and effect.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Great article and insight. Education is key when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. I am curious as to why stress management was not looked at? Numerous research studies have shown stress to be a factor in heart disease, reducing life expectancy. Also, hydration is important and often overlooked. So many factors are involved when it comes to our health.

One of the more difficult situations to handle is the morning tea treat that may well present itself in an office environment courtesy of someone’s birthday, a reward or thank you to your team or a team meeting that requires a snack. These snacks usually include cakes and savories filled with sugar or carbohydrates. Do you have a plan for avoiding these? Do you like to keep quiet about your healthy food choices, or do you prefer to let your team know about the lifestyle changes you’re making? An alternative morning tea snack is a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit.


Tools to deal with temptation: the more you say no to the unhealthy options, the better you get at it. It’s almost like you’re forming a new habit in saying ‘no, thanks.’ The planning process is crucial in being able to say no. If you’re well prepared and have either eaten a nutritious meal or snack or have one with you ready to go, it’s so much easier to pass up those spur of the moment opportunities that crop up. In taking the healthy option more often, you’ll also be more aware of which shops are health-friendly and which options are the best for you to take with you out of the house in case you have been unorganized or are in a rush.

If you skip meals, you’re going to be hungry and more likely to make bad food choices. Many of us skip breakfast and go straight for the morning coffee and muffin break. Café style muffins not only contain around 10 teaspoons of sugar, but more than a fifth of our recommended daily salt intake. If you’re still tempted, why not make your own, that way you know exactly what’s going into them. Savoury muffins are healthier – try our sweet potato and cheddar muffins.
Make your own snacks using a mixture of fresh and baked ingredients. They don’t have to be complicated either. If you have children, get them to help make their own snacks for school. Experiment with new recipes, and replace your favourite snacks with healthy versions. Replace chips with homemade potato wedges or cut up some vegies and make a dip or salsa. Try our quick and easy avocado salsa. As you get better in the kitchen, you might like to share recipes with friends or make up your own.
Cheat meals once or twice a month: you might find you have less interest in your all-time favourite meals because of how they make you feel, but still allow yourself to indulge in moderation. Two meals a month isn’t going to have a significant impact but it allows you to work your lifestyle into your social life. While everyone likes meeting up with friends and family for dinner, this ensures you won’t be that difficult person who requires a ‘special’ meal.
At one of your meals today, double the amount of vegetables on your plate and skip the starch. A simple way to do it: Serve stir-fry over a bed of broccoli instead of rice. (Or turn the broccoli into rice!) The florets of the broccoli will soak up the sauce and juices from your dish just like the rice would have. Plus, you have the added cancer-fighting addition of indole 3-carbinol, a potent anti-cancer nutrient found in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. (Also try making vegetable steaks instead of meat.)
Fruit – this is easy to carry as a snack and can be included in most meals. For example, try a banana with your breakfast cereal, an apple for morning tea and add some berries in your yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Fresh whole fruit is recommended over fruit juice and dried fruit. Fruit juice contains less fibre than fresh fruit and both fruit juice and dried fruit, and are more concentrated sources of sugar and energy. Dried fruit can also stick to teeth, which can increase the risk of dental caries.
Set a regular sleep schedule. When Shives treats insomnia patients, she tells them that although they can't make themselves fall asleep, they can make themselves get up at a certain time the next morning. And though they may be tired at first, if they don't nap, they may start sleeping better during the following nights. "We're going to get nowhere if they take big naps during the day and keep a very erratic sleep schedule; it's chaos then," Shives says.

A 2018 analysis found a surprising link between yogurt and heart health in people with high blood pressure. In the study, researchers looked at data collected over 30 years from more than 55,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study, and more than 18,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They found that those who ate two or more servings of yogurt a week had a roughly 20 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate less. Adding yogurt to an already healthy diet upped the benefits even more.
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