6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Health
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5. Have some hemp. The plant that can be used to make paper, plastic, rope and cloth—among many other things—is also making a name for itself as a seriously nutritious superfood (and, unlike its THC-rich plant cousin, marijuana, it won’t get you high). “Hemp is one of the very few plant-based complete protein sources,” says Ashley Koff, R.D., Los Angeles-based dietitian and co-author of Mom Energy (Hay House). That means it contains sufficient quantities of all the essential amino acids—including those necessary for cellular detoxification, the production of vital enzymes, muscle growth and repair, and even DNA repair. “Hemp also delivers your essential fatty acids—including the elusive (but key for women) gamma linolenic acid (GLA)— which makes it a powerful part of an anti-inflammatory diet and effective for balancing hormones,” Koff says. If you’re unsure of—or a little wary about—how to incorporate this awesome ingredient into your diet, start by sprinkling some hemp seeds onto salads or have a splash of unsweetened hemp milk in your tea or coffee, Koff suggests. You can also find a variety of recipes—including Hemp Hummus, Chocolate Hemp & Oat Bars, and Black Bean-Hemp Protein Patties—in the recently released cookbook Superfood Kitchen: Cooking With Nature’s Most Amazing Foods by Julie Morris (Sterling Epicure). “I recommend a variety of nuts and seeds, so you don’t always have to have hemp—but it should be in your dietary mix,” Koff adds.
6. Do the deed. A bit of hedonism can be good for you. “Healthy sex is potent medicine,” say Brian R. Clement, Ph.D., N.M.D., and Anna Maria Clement, Ph.D., N.M.D., certified nutritionists, naturopathic doctors and health counselors at the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the authors of 7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality: The Hippocrates Institute Guide to Sex, Health, and Happiness (New World Library). “Sexual activity reduces depression, anger, anxiety and stress. It releases chemicals into the body that reinforce your immune system. It even improves your memory by producing chemicals that help to create new dendrites, which facilitate neuron communication in the brain.” Indeed, Wilkes University researchers found that people who have sex once or twice a week have 30 percent higher levels of immunoglobulin A, a virus- and bacteria-fighting antibody, than people who have sex less frequently. No partner? No problem: The researchers also conducted a study in which they discovered that petting a dog for 18 minutes a day resulted in similar effects! No partner or pooch? Again, no problem: Experts suggest that masturbation also benefits our health in various ways— helping to prevent cervical infections, relieve pain, improve cardiovascular health, lower risk of type II diabetes, minimize insomnia and increase pelvic floor strength. “Masturbation supports your body and its quest to remain healthy—biologically and emotionally,” say the Clements.