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Habits for Healthy Living: Natural Ways to Promote Cognitive Health

Many health conscious people agree that maintaining habits for healthy living comes down to making small, everyday health choices that eventually become routine over the years. This Week’s blog post focuses on habits for healthy living you can choose to learn right now to keep your mind, heart, and body healthy for years to come.

Can meditation’s benefits last for years?

For decades, research was inconclusive on whether meditation’s initial cognitive and emotional benefits could last longer than a few weeks. However, a recent 7-year follow up study with practitioners who attended an intensive retreat found evidence that gains can last for months and even years. Over time, most participants in the long-term study continued meditating after the retreat—often accumulating up to 1 hour of meditation a day. While their gains from the meditation retreat 7 years ago didn’t disappear, those gains did seem to plateau over time. Since these benefits included better emotional regulation, longer attention span with age, and decreased stress, it seems that beginning a meditation practice—even for just a few minutes a day—can be a key step for maintaining cognitive and mental health. For more on training your brain with meditation, take our daily quiz.

Can you really manage heart disease without medication?

While medication remains necessary for many heart disease sufferers, research on the effects of lifestyle change are showing more and more that they can be another important component of treatment—possibly replacing long-term medication for some. Exercising after a heart attack is safe and beneficial, eating a Mediterranean diet can lower risk of another cardiac event considerably, and stress management training shows great promise at helping along healing. For more on heart healthy lifestyle changes, take our daily quiz.

Can thin people develop type 2 diabetes?

While many associate being overweight with having type 2 diabetes, even thinner people should be concerned about insulin resistance—which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Evidence seems to suggest that having an inactive lifestyle—not a person’s weight—is the greatest risk factor for increasing insulin resistance. Also eating sugar-laden, processed foods—and even foods high on the glycemic index—can increase risk of insulin resistance. So how can people of all sizes reduce risk of type 2 diabetes? The best way to ensure one won’t develop insulin resistance is to exercise regularly, including building muscle mass with high-intensity exercises or weight lifting, and to eat mostly unprocessed foods.

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