Recent scientific discoveries have uncovered a host of peculiar habits that are now deemed good for your health. Behaviors such as surfing the web, chewing gum, or simply looking through old photos have been proven to improve some aspects of your health. Learn what effortless strategies you can employ to double your brain activity, sharpen your wit, and boost your mood below.

Mess Around on the Internet

Who knew all that time you thought was wasted just messing around on the Internet was actually stimulating your brain? According to researchers from UCLA, browsing the celebrity gossip slideshows and old high school buddies’ Facebook pages puts older adults at an advantage over those who don’t know their way around the Internet. Such activity provides increased stimulation in brain areas connected with decision-making and complex reasoning. In fact, Internet searching stimulated brain areas more than reading. Another interesting tidbit from the study: surfing the Web doubled brain activity! So, surf away and know it is keeping your brain active.

Rediscover Your Love of Juicy Fruit

Some people can’t stand to see others smack a wad of gum, but it turns out that chewing gum improves your memory and sharpens your mind – if for a short period of time. There is speculation that minty gum actually increases brain activity. Researchers haven’t figured out how or why just yet; nevertheless, chewing gum seems to give an edge when taking tests, prevent sluggishness, and keep the urge to take an afternoon siesta at bay. A study from Wales even suggests it can bring on a calming effect and lighten the chewer’s mood. Hubba Bubba, here I come!

Check Out Your Photos

Speaking of a better mood, research from Britain has shown that flipping through old photo albums (or viewing your online slide shows) provides an 11 percent increase in relaxation and calmness, whereas indulging in chocolate or an alcoholic beverage only provides a one percent boost. Next time you feel down, flip through those photos and notice how you feel more valued and popular. Then, feel even better because you just engaged in an activity that was good for your health!

Be Your Own Chef

A new study in Public Health Nutrition that followed 1,888 men and women ages 65 and older over a ten year span finds that cooking at home adds years to your life. The study also concluded those whipping up tasty sensations in their own kitchen usually prepared more nutritious meals. Put your apron on and have some fun experimenting with your own creations.

Dress Up Your Salad

Can’t stop drizzling salads with those creamy dressings? I had a hard time breaking that habit as well until I discovered a healthier and tasty alternative. No, it’s not a fat free or low calorie dressing! It is olive oil, spicy mustard, and apple cider vinegar. Studies have shown that olive and canola oil-based dressings consisting of monounsaturated fats promote more absorption of fat soluble carotenoids from the salad greens than dressings consisting of saturated or polyunsaturated fats. Translation: your body absorbs more nutrients from the leafy green vegetables when they are covered with olive or canola oil. Consider making your own dressing with an olive or canola oil base. Throw in some random spices and a dash of one of your favorite sauces (peanut or tahini) to mix it up. Your body and taste buds will thank you.

Yawn it Out

Simply reading the word ‘yawn’ induces a yawn reaction from me. The contagiousness of them can be annoying, but new research shows yawning brings blood to the area of the brain that organizes, plans, and makes decisions.
By cooling the temperature of the brain, yawning relaxes our mood and helps us focus. Yawn in the morning to rev you up, or yawn in the afternoon to snap you out of a stupor. Make sure others catch your case of the yawns so you can help everyone around you to become more alert.


Information taken from:

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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