Want a slimmer you? Start slurping soup. OK, the slurping is optional, but if you need to shed some pounds, the soup shouldn't be. Developing a soup habit will have you stepping out in clothes you haven't worn for ages.
Here's the simple soup science: The more often you eat soup, the more likely you are to shrink your waist, lose weight and lower your total body fat — your body mass index, or BMI. That's all according to new research confirming previous soup-slimming studies. And it means you'll also cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other unpleasantness that come with big bellies and excess weight. All because soup makes you feel fuller on fewer calories.
Now for the fun. You don't have to know a thing about cooking to make great soup.
Here's our three-step, soup-for-dummies secret:
1. Fill a pot with water and turn on the heat.
2. Throw in lots of fresh, colorful vegetables. Carrots, celery, red peppers, onions, garlic and any other firm ones first; then tomatoes, dark greens, zucchini, whatever. All are chock-full of nutrients with almost zero calories and fat. Enrich the flavor and up the protein with beans (fiber plus flavor), or chicken or fish.
3. Be bold with spices. Cayenne and hot peppers, rich in capsaicin, not only rev up the flavor but even help you burn fat a little faster.
For store-bought-soup days, choose low-sodium varieties (under 260 milligrams a cup).
Spice up your love life
Remember the days when you and your partner barely could take your eyes (and your hands) off each other? Maybe what you need to bring back that rush is a walk down the aisle. The grocery aisle! We've got a food list that'll spice up your sex life.
But before the feast, try doing something else with your mouths: talking, which triggers oxytocin, a warm-and-fuzzy chemical that makes people bond together.
Now for the love snacks. Stock up on:
Bananas. They're rich in bromelain, an enzyme that may boost male libido.
Oysters. They contain zinc, needed to produce libido-enhancing testosterone.
Garlic. Any dish with it can increase blood flow to sexual organs.
Figs. They're rich in amino acids that heat up desire.
Chocolate. It has several ingredients that trigger that loving feeling.
Nibble one or go for the lot. Satisfying sex can make you feel great and make your RealAge years younger.
Your lungs get much of the credit for sweeping out the germs and gunk you breathe in. During peak pneumonia season, they work overtime.
Pneumonia might sound as old-fashioned as an outhouse; it's not. More than half a million cases will wind up in doctor's offices like ours this year and kill 50,000 people. The older or younger you are, the more dangerous it is. You can't avoid the bugs that cause this nasty lung infection. But you can cut your risk, and stop the spread.
Cover up coughs. With your elbow — Dracula-style — or with a tissue. That's better than using your hands. Those germs fly out of your lungs at 600 mph when you cough or sneeze, so they cover a lot of territory in search of victims.
Stop shaking hands. Instead, try to greet friends with a big hello and say goodbye with a cheerful wave (think royal family).
Swipe 'n' wipe. Bacteria and viruses can live for days on those hard surfaces that get shared by friends, family, neighbors and strangers: doorknobs, cell phones, game controls, computer keyboards and the No. 1 germ monster: TV remotes. Airplane trays aren't far behind. Swipe with alcohol wipes.
Don't smoke. Your lungs have enough to cope with as is.
Get vaccinated. There's a pneumonia shot for grown-ups, and the Hib vaccine series for infants and little kids that protect against several types of pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infections. It's a no-brainer.
Help your child dodge heart disease
Childhood obesity is rising faster than the national debt. About one in five school-age kids is obese. You might even think that if "baby fat" is still accumulating in elementary school, kids don't run the same scary health risks adults do. There's time to turn things around, right?
Not so much.
Heart disease isn't for grown-ups anymore. If you have overweight preteens, they can have heart disease by age 15 or 16, according to new research. And while girls' heart health seems to bounce back to normal if their weight does, in boys, cardio dangers can hang on.
Ready? Help your child get healthy now:
1. Do as I do: Kids are often like a video camera with the sound off: They tune out what you say but watch everything you do. If you and your partner are obese, there's an 80 percent chance your kids will be, too. So ditch the junk and be a role model.
2. Relax as you eat: Family meals should be fun. Playful conversation ("Hear any good jokes today?" "What superpower do you wish you had?") allows everyone to slow down and savor the meal so the brain has time to signal "You're full" before you overeat.
3. Make life a playground: Pumping up activity is critical to losing weight. Turn off the TV and get the whole family outside for a game of touch football, sledding or just a walk around the block.
Got psoriasis? Take care of your heart
Coping with psoriasis' signature patches of scaly, itchy, inflamed skin? Give yourself a star if you took a walk today and another if you dug into a salad bar's worth of fruit and veggies, plus some whole grains. Psoriasis nearly doubles your risk for heart and blood sugar troubles.
We know it's hardly fair, but the immune-system snafu that speeds your skin cell growth also boosts body-wide inflammation, increasing your risk of heart attacks and your odds of metabolic syndrome, another silent-but-deadly heart and brain destroyer. Red flags: A widening waistline (over 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men), low healthy HDL cholesterol (under 40 for men, 50 for women), high triglycerides (over 100) and fasting blood sugar of 100 or more.
You can manage psoriasis so that it doesn't cause trouble on or under your skin. If you're among the 8 million North Americans with this chronic condition, aim to keep a lid on every risk factor. Besides doing your daily 30-minute walk, toss these bad guys outta your kitchen:
* Saturated fat, in red meat, poultry skin, full-fat dairy, and palm and coconut oils
* Trans fat, still in many snack foods and commercial desserts
* Simple or added sugars/syrups
* Any grains that aren't whole grains.
All of these attack your heart and arteries the way a Super Bowl defense team slams the opposing quarterback. It's ugly.
Carving out 15 minutes of stress-melting time daily can help, too, and may ease psoriasis flares as well.