Little health tips for big results
As hosts of the Emmy award-winning show The Doctors and as medical professionals with 78 years of experience under our stethoscopes, we can tell you firsthand that you don't need huge chunks of time to stay healthy. In fact, very small, quick moves -- like getting (or giving) a back rub or drinking more water -- can soothe little ailments today and protect your heart, brain, and entire body tomorrow.
Hold your husband's hand tonight
In 5 seconds: Put the snuggle back in your marriage
Weave more small touches into conversations with your spouse, family, and friends -- it's another way to show loved ones how much they mean to you. Squeeze your spouse's hand when you're riding an elevator together, or rub your daughter's back when you chat about her day. We're cuddle bugs by nature -- our endocrine systems release a cascade of positive pleasure chemicals when we receive a caring touch, making us feel more connected and content and less anxious. (One study found that waitresses who touched their customers even earned bigger tips.)
Pop your allergy meds before bed
In 10 seconds: Keep allergies at bay
Allergies often flare up first thing in the morning. If that's the case for you, take your allergy meds at night so they'll still be working come dawn. And because many allergy drugs cause drowsiness, what better time to lie back, relax, and let the remedy do its job?
Snooze on your left side
In 15 seconds: Outsmart indigestion
As many as 80% of heartburn sufferers experience symptoms at night. Steal back a good night's sleep by fluffing up two pillows instead of one. In an Archives of Internal Medicine study, people who propped up their heads about 11 inches reduced their symptoms dramatically. Also, sleep on your left side and you'll cut your heartburn risk in half -- that's because snoozing on your right side relaxes the muscle that keeps gastric acids in your stomach.
Add healthy fats to every snack or meal
In 20 seconds: Reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes
When your meal contains protein, fiber, and even fat, your body's insulin response slows, stabilizing your blood sugar. Munch bread with some butter or olive oil, or make a PB&J sandwich with more PB and less J. In one study of more than 32,000 women, those whose diets had the highest glycemic load (a measure of how quickly a food spikes your blood sugar) had more than twice the risk of heart disease compared with those whose diets had the lowest load.
Take 6 little calming breaths
In 30 seconds: Lower your blood pressure
Six calming breaths in 30 seconds can reduce your systolic blood pressure by nearly 10 mmHg, Japanese research has found. Even occasional blood pressure spikes -- like those during an insanely nonstop day -- might put you at increased risk of stroke, according to a study in the Lancet.
Add more ice to sugary drinks
In 40 seconds: Cut a junk food craving
If you just can't give up your soda -- a known contributor to obesity -- here's one way to lessen the impact of all that sugar and phosphoric acid: Take a glass that's twice as big as your can, pack it with ice, and then pour in the soda. It will last longer and, by the time you're finished, you'll have an extra helping of hydrating water as well. This works with any sweetened drink, such as iced tea or orange juice.
Email your doctor
In 60 seconds: Have a smarter doctor visit
Just left the doctor and -- oops -- forgot to ask about your achy knee or can't remember what she said about calcium supplements? Don't be afraid to call back after you leave or send an e-mail. Most doctors will be happy to address any lingering questions that slipped your mind.
Guzzle water with your wine
In 90 seconds: Sidestep a hangover
Of course, you shouldn't drink to excess. But when an extra round or two is unavoidable, alternate a glass of water with every one of wine. Rehydrating minimizes alcohol's diuretic effects, staving off headaches. You'll also likely drink less alcohol overall because you'll fill up on water.
Get rid of messy sticky notes on your desk
In 2 minutes: Head off a migraine
Pull those sticky notes off your computer and straighten that stack of papers on your desk. The same clutter that's merely a nuisance to most of us can be downright painful to people who get migraines, say Scottish researchers. Office litter may provoke debilitating pain by overstimulating whole clusters of nerve cells, much the way an overused muscle will spasm. Even if you're not migraine-prone, clearing away junk helps relieve stress and improve focus.
Swap in cereal for bread crumbs
In 3 minutes: Reduce bad cholesterol
Instead of bread crumbs to coat chicken breasts, chop up General Mills' original Fiber One cereal for a nutrition-packed crunch. For every extra gram of soluble fiber in your diet -- a 1/2-cup serving of Fiber One has 1 g -- you can trim your LDL cholesterol by almost 2 mg/dL. Other sources include beans, peas, and citrus.