Between Tom and Gisele’s recently revealed dietary restrictions and Victoria Beckham’s placenta facials (no, that’s not a joke), the celebrity health and beauty standard is becoming increasingly unattainable. But good news, folks: You don’t have to change your life for life-changing results. Here, the health hacks to master this year.
Like we needed another reason to make getting busy a priority. Turns out, regular romps actually improve our brain function and memory. A recent animal study by Manchester University shows that more sex means better cognitive performance. Apparently, sex stimulates cell growth in the part of our brains that control long-term memory, allowing us to store those steamy bedroom sessions into the memory bank for a lot longer. (Insert Barry White here.)
Eat an apple
An apple a day keeps the… mental fogginess away? Yup, quercetin, the powerful antioxidant found in apples, is a major VIP when it comes to protecting the brain from free-radical damage that causes cognitive deterioration. Just make sure you don’t pass on the peel—that’s where most of the goodness comes from.
Smell an orange
Lavender is like the Kim Kardashian of aromatherapy—it might be the most famous of the scents, but it’s not necessarily the most worthy of our attention. Studies show that smelling an orange helps reduce anxiety and makes us happy. Next time you’re having a meltdown, grab an orange, cut a small line into the rind and take a few whiffs—it has fast-acting effects that are shown to last long after the aroma is removed.
Meditate in the shower
For most of us, setting aside a chunk of time in the morning for meditation is simply too difficult to budget into our iCals. But you can get zen before you even start your day by meditating in the shower. The trick is to close your eyes and focus on what the water feels like on your skin. You can try this at a few different temperatures to further heighten the senses: Take a few breaths with warm water and then a few under slightly cooler temps. This brief exercise will help wake up the body, clear the mind and improve your mood.
Smile in the mirror
Unlike in the bedroom, faking it when it comes to smiling could actually be extremely beneficial. That’s right, even if you’re not feeling super cheerful, a full-faced smile—smize included (thanks, Tyra)—is proven to instantly reduce stress and make us happier. Sure, you might feel silly, but don’t worry: Experts say that just a few seconds in full-grin mode will do the trick.
Rub a banana peel on your teeth
Out with the oil pulling, in with the banana? Sorry, Gwyneth! Bananas aren’t just amazing for the body (buh-bye Charlie horse!), but they’re also proven to be effective for whitening the teeth. Experts say it’s the minerals like potassium, magnesium and manganese that help to polish our pearly whites. Rub the inside of a banana peel against the teeth for a few minutes, let it sit for about 10 minutes before bushing off the residue with regular toothpaste and voila!
Scrub your nails with toothpaste
While bananas take care of the teeth, try using toothpaste on your nails. Ever notice how your nails never really recover after that midnight blue mani? Beauty insiders say that whitening toothpaste is best to remove nail stains and discoloration. For best results, they recommend scrubbing each hand gently with a toothbrush for one to two minutes.
De-puff with potatoes
Puffy-eye sufferers, look no further than the potato. Beauty experts agree that potato slices are far more effective for improving tired-looking eyes than cucumbers. Mind. blown. Spuds contain an enzyme known as catecholase, which helps to reduce visibility of dark circles. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that help dial down the puffiness.
Dry-brush your skin
Wouldn’t it be great if you could detox and reduce cellulite without having to go on a juice cleanse? Well, good news—you can! Try dry-brushing. This ancient technique involves gently rubbing the body with a long-handled bristled brush from toe to head with brisk, upward strokes. It is most effective in the morning, so try doing it in the shower before turning on the water. The process is said to stimulate the lymphatic system and eliminate toxins in the body, as well as reduce the visibility of dimples in the skin. Sold!
Scrape your tongue
It might not sound super glamorous, but tongue scraping is another ancient health practice that is seriously underestimated. It helps round up and eliminate toxins, bacteria and other gross stuff that accumulates on the tongue (yuck!). If we don’t wash them down the sink, they can be reabsorbed back into the body. Get your scrape on in the morning. For the hard-core health nuts, invest in an authentic traditional metal tongue scraper. But if you’re noncommittal, buy a toothbrush that has a rubber scraper on the end and see how you do. #Babysteps
Drink lemon water
Just adding a squeeze of lemon takes a regular glass of water to 2.0 territory when it comes to health benefits. Sipping on tangy, room temperature H2O in the morning helps wake up the digestive system and stabilize the body’s pH balance. It’s also been shown to speed up the metabolism and aid in weight-loss efforts. Excuse me while I go take a sip.
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