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10 Tips for a healthy lifestyle★

1. Let it beet

It sounds bizarre, but beetroot could be
a secret weapon against high blood
pressure. The condition is a major
cause of heart disease and stroke, but
many people aren't aware they have it
as it has no symptoms. Now,
researchers from Barts and the
London School of Medicine say
drinking 500ml of beetroot juice could
dramatically reduce blood pressure
after just one hour. So drink up the
pink stuff.

2. Think outside the box

Us lazy Brits will spend 17 years of our
lives on the sofa, with seven years of
that devoted to watching TV. Next time
you hear yourself say, "I haven't got
time to go to the gym" or you opt for
ready meals because you're too busy
to cook fresh food, think about
switching off the box and doing
something healthy instead.

3. don't take the biscuit

It may be a good idea to steer clear of
the biscuit tin before you go shopping.
A team from the University of
Singapore recently discovered that the
smell of chocolate chip cookies could
make women splurge on unnecessary
clothes when they hit the shops. The
smell activates the part of your brain
that wants instant gratification,
although that's no excuse for maxing
out your credit cards.

4 . Embracing good health

Giving your partner a hug doesn't just
warm the heart, it can protect it too. A
study by the University of North
Carolina in 2005 found that hugging
your other half for 20 seconds could
lower blood pressure and reduce levels
of the stress hormone cortisol. High
levels of cortisol have been linked to
heart disease and other conditions
such as diabetes.

5. Pouring salt on the wound

We eat around 9.5g of salt a day, but
the Government wants us to cut this
to no more than 6g, as high levels of
salt can push up your blood pressure,
raising your risk of cardiovascular
conditions. Many food labels only list
salt as sodium however, but you can
do a simple sum to work out their real
salt content; just multiply by 2.5. So
0.8g of sodium becomes 2g of salt.

6. Sunny side up

Get outside in the sunshine for a
natural boost. The sun's rays on the
skin help your body produce vitamin D,
which has been shown to fight heart
disease, depression, osteoporosis and
even some types of cancer. There's not
a lot of sun around at this time of year,
so make the most of it when it does

7. One is the magic number

One of the largest studies into diet and
cancer – the Europe-wide EPIC study –
found that eating just one extra
portion of fruit and vegetables a day
could cut your risk of dying early from
any cause by 20 per cent.

8. Holding back the years

Add 14 years to your life by following
four very easy principles; don't smoke,
take regular exercise, drink sensibly
and eat five portions of fruit and veg a
day. These simple steps can have a
huge impact on your life expectancy,
say scientists from Cambridge
University. If you only manage one
thing, give up smoking as the study
found this had the biggest impact on
your health.

9. A step in the right direction

Previously, experts thought taking
10,000 steps a day was enough to
control your weight, but a world-wide
study has just established that women
up to the age of 40 and men up to 50
need 12,000 steps a day to help shift
that middle jiggle. Invest in a
pedometer to make sure you're hitting
your target.

10. Laughter is the best medicine

Become a glass-half-full person!
Studies have found that those with a
positive attitude suffer less from
conditions such as heart disease. Find
something to laugh at every day to
give your feel-good hormones a boost.

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