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10 quick tips for boosting your health in 2006

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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From the February issue of Consumer Reports, here are 10 tips for staying well in 2006 and beyond:

1. Break out of the exercise rut: Varying your exercise routine can help slow the aging process. Switching among different activities keeps boredom at bay, creates exercise options regardless of the weather, and reduces the risk of injury by overusing a particular muscle, joint, or bone.

2. Skip the sunscreen for brief periods: Sunshine stimulates your skin to synthesize vitamin D, which may help ward off osteoporosis and other diseases. People under age 60 can get a year's supply in most parts of the US by going outdoors without sunscreen for several minutes between midmorning and midafternoon a few times a week during the spring, summer, and fall.

3. Start to eat early: Eating breakfast every day may reduce the risk of weight gain and possibly heart disease and diabetes. But avoid an unsound breakfast loaded with fat and carbs.

4. Don't worry about “super” foods. You can get nutrients you need by eating 9 servings a day of diverse fruits and vegetables such as dark, leafy greens, the broccoli-cauliflower family, berries, and red and orange produce.

5. Take charge of your own medical information: You have a right to your medical records and eyeglass and contact-lens prescriptions. Ask for copies of all lab results, imaging studies, and immunization records, and keep them in your own medical file at home.

6. Consider digital mammograms: They appear to be more accurate in women under age 50 and those with dense breasts. A benefit for all women: digital mammograms expose you to just three-quarters of the radiation of film x-rays.

7. See if diet changes can replace drug therapy: People can improve their blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in just six weeks through dietary changes alone. For some people, such changes may mitigate the need for medication.

8. Ask your dentist for this test: At your next regular check up, ask your dentist to examine the sides of your tongue, the inside of your cheeks, and the roof and floor of your mouth. Most insurance carriers cover a brush biopsy test to evaluate whether any small red or white spots are benign or potentially cancerous.

9. Get serious about easing stress: Stress-management programs are part of the treatment plan for a growing number of disease and conditions. Maintaining good emotional health may be nearly as important for preventing heart attack and stroke as proper diet and exercise.

10. Learn to sleep: Sleeping pills produce faster short-term results, but biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy may be safer for improving sleep.

© Consumers Union 2005. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.

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