Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Making Healthy Habits Stick!

According to published research by Statistic Brain, 46 percent of us vowed to improve our health this year, and resolutions for 2018 will likely pan out the same. Another study reports that 80 percent of us will fall off that healthy bandwagon by February. Don’t be too hard on yourself. With commitments to your education and other interests, sticking to healthy habits is challenging. The goal of healthy changes is to focus on progress, not perfection. Here are a few tips to help you make healthy habits stick.

Start with Reasonable Goals

It’s the new year, and we’re all excited about getting in shape, but many of us bite off more than we can chew and end up getting frustrated. Healthy choices are not an all-or-nothing deal. Don’t blow off your workout because you have an exam. Try walking to class. 10 minutes of brisk walking will improve brain function while burning calories. Ignore commercials that promise you’ll lose 20 pounds in a month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a reasonable monthly weight loss goal is 4-8 pounds, but in one’s later years that could drop to 2-3 pounds per month. Just a few pounds a month will go a long way to improving heart health.

Use a Fitness Tracker

Better than tracking how long you spent at the gym, lay down some more valuable hardcore numbers like how many calories you burned and the maximum heart rate you achieved. Innovative technology like the Fitbit Ionic and Jawbone’s UP2 easily track your workouts, sleep, and more. Plus, these devices can enhance your favorite outfits. Good old standbys like MyFitnessPal.com has an excellent database of foods that make tracking calories easy and fun.

Find Joy in Everyday Changes

Making positive changes in your health shouldn’t feel like a huge burden. Figure out small changes that fit your personality and are exciting for you. Would you rather go for a hike than run a mile on a treadmill? Does a four-minute Tabata fit your schedule better than an hour of powerlifting? Are you a yoga guru? Go ahead and indulge yourself in whatever makes you feel empowered. If a bowl of ice cream after a stressful day of Monday classes makes you happy, then take that time for yourself. As long as you focus on the 80:20 nutrition plan of eight parts healthy and two parts indulgence, you will see positive changes over time.

Be Accountable to Yourself

Being part of an online community or hiring a personal trainer are all great choices if you actually commit to them. What’s more important is being accountable to yourself. Guilt doesn’t always motivate us. It often backfires and causes us to give up or lose sight of our ultimate goal of healthier habits. Only you can take charge of your health and reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, and obesity.

Many other serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes are also linked to poor lifestyle choices. Committing to a healthy routine now will pave the way to good health in the future. Once you find joy in healthy choices, your new and improved lifestyle habits will stick. You may want to share these healthy traditions with your own family someday.

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Red Pepper Soup!


for 2 servings
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 salt, to taste
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil, season with salt, and add the peppers. Cover and cook for 6-7 minutes, until a knife easily pierces the peppers.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppers from the water and transfer to a blender. Reserve the water.
  3. Add peppers, pepper, and 1 cup (235 ml) of reserved pepper stock to the blender blend until a smooth consistency is reached.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. https://tasty.co/recipe/red-pepper-soup

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Six ‘healthy’ drinks you should CUT out of your diet immediately!

When trying to lose weight we often curb our eating habits, but forget to watch what we’re drinking.
But even drinks we consider to be healthy can contain lots of calories and large amounts of sugar.
If you’re trying to be healthier this year it’s important to think about everything you’re putting into your body as many drinks can ruin your teeth and make you pile on the pounds.
A person on the scales, orange juice and fizzy drinksGETTY STOCK IMAGE
CHOICES: You might want to rethink what you drink after reading this
FRUITY: Juices tend to contain a lot more sugar than you think
Here are seven supposedly healthy drinks that you should consider cutting from your diet:
1. Fruit juice
Most labels will tell you that this fruit juice contains two of your 5-a-day, but you shouldn’t always take it on board.
Most shop-bought fruit juices are pasteurised (essentially boiled), which destroys a lot of the valuable nutrients while concentrating the sugars.
The juice is also extracted from the whole fruit, which leaves behind the fibrous part of the fruit that helps to slow sugar absorption into the blood.
“Diet” drinks may be sugar-free but they contain artificial sweeteners and research suggests that individuals who regularly consume these sweeteners are more likely to put on weight.
These alternatives tend to be sweeter than the original drink and will drive cravings that lead you to want more.
3. Shop-bought smoothies
Just because a drink is green, it doesn’t always mean it’s healthy. Some smoothies actually contain more sugar than fizzy drinks.
Avoid ambient smoothies – those that don’t need refrigerating – which will have been heavily pasteurised and will have added preservatives. Always check the labels.
4. Vitamin waters
If a drink is enriched with vitamins, it doesn’t always make it good for you. These drinks may have added vitamins, but it doesn't make up for the sugar and flavourings that are also added to them.
One bottle of “healthy” vitamin water will contain 31g of sugar, which is almost 8 teaspoons. You would be better off getting your vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables instead.
5. Sweetened nut milk
Unless the nut milk is unsweetened, then you’re getting a few extra heaps of sugar into your drink.
Always go for the unsweetened option, be wary of sweeteners used in these kinds of milk such as “date syrup” or “rice syrup”, as they’re just different forms of sugar.
6. Flavoured waters
Although they may seem like the healthier option, and for some who don’t like plain water, these actually contain more sugar than a fizzy drink. And to make it worse, you’re usually paying over double the price of a normal bottle of water.

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Monday, 15 January 2018


Raise your hand if you like white chocolate macadamia nut cookies! (Ooh me, me, me!)
OK, all of you come with me. We’re makin’ (vegan, gluten-free, almost raw) cheesecake.
AMAZING White Chocolate CHEESECAKE! 10 ingredients and SO rich! #vegan #glutenfree #cheesecake #easy #recipe #minimalistbaker
This cheesecake is inspired by my favorite cookie flavor, and one of my most loved cheesecake flavors.
White chocolate and macadamia nuts were seemingly meant for each other, and I did my best to capture their perfect flavor pairing in this 10-ingredient cheesecake.
The crust is a mixture of walnuts, macadamia nuts, dates, and sea salt. And the filling gets its creamy texture from soaked cashews, coconut milk, and olive oil. Plus, it’s naturally sweetened with maple syrup and gets that rich white chocolate flavor from cocoa butter – hubba.
AMAZING White Chocolate CHEESECAKE! 10 ingredients and SO rich! #vegan #glutenfree #cheesecake #easy #recipe #minimalistbaker
Throw a few macadamia nuts onto the bottom of the crust, pour in the filling, top with a few more nuts, and they’re ready for the freezer.
These set surprisingly fast, and, thanks to cocoa butter, they can set out at room temperature without “melting” for much longer than traditional raw cheesecakes.
AMAZING White Chocolate CHEESECAKE! 10 ingredients and SO rich! #vegan #glutenfree #cheesecake #easy #recipe #minimalistbaker
At room temperature, these cheesecakes are an absolute dream – super creamy and rich with tons of white chocolate macadamia nut flavor.
If you so choose to accept the mission, upgrade them with the addition of coconut whipped cream, toasted coconut, fresh raspberries, and macadamia nuts. Then you’re looking at a little slice of dessert heaven.
AMAZING White Chocolate CHEESECAKE! 10 ingredients and SO rich! #vegan #glutenfree #cheesecake #easy #recipe #minimalistbaker
I hope you all love these cheesecakes! They’re:
Perfectly (naturally) sweet
White chocolate-infused
Studded with crunchy macadamia nuts
& Seriously satisfying
These would make the perfect cheesecakes to enjoy this spring and summer, especially for graduations, baby and bridal showers, and summer BBQs. Just keep them in the freezer to for maximum freshness, and let thaw before serving. Don’t forget the coconut whip!
If you try these cheesecakes, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (which really helps us out!), and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram! We’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
AMAZING White Chocolate CHEESECAKE! 10 ingredients and SO rich! #vegan #glutenfree #cheesecake #easy #recipe #minimalistbaker
4.5 from 14 reviews

Prep time
Total time
10-ingredient vegan cheesecake infused with cocoa butter and macadamia nuts. Creamy and rich center with crunchy macadamia nuts throughout. A naturally sweetened dessert that's created entirely in the blender!
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup packed medjool dates (~20 dates or 200 g, pitted before measuring)
  • 1 cup (120 g) raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (67 g) roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
  • optional: 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (189 g) raw cashews (soaked overnight in cool water, or in very hot water for 1 hour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (30 ml) light or full-fat coconut milk (full fat for creamier texture)
  • 2 Tbsp (45 ml) olive oil (or sub melted coconut oil, though it will infuse coconut flavor)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup, agave, or honey if not vegan (use less for a more tart cheesecake)
  • 1/3 cup (28 g) cocoa butter, melted in the microwave or over a double boiler
  • 1-2 tsp tsp lemon juice (for “cheesy” tang | or sub apple cider vinegar)
  • optional: 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (67 g) chopped roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
FOR SERVING optional
  1. Soak cashews by adding to a small mixing bowl and covering with boiling hot water. Let set uncovered for 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, add dates to a blender and mix until small bits remain or it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.
  3. Next, add walnuts, macadamia nuts, and salt (optional) and process into a meal. Then add dates back in and blend until loose dough forms - it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more nuts.
  4. For serving dishes you have several options - muffin tins, ramekins (like these), or a springform pan of your choice. With whatever option you choose, be sure to line with parchment paper for easy removal.
  5. For the ramekins shown above, cut out parchment paper into circles the shape of your ramekins, as well as two thick strips of parchment paper per ramekin and lay them in an "X" shape at the base. Top with circle shape. This creates little tabs that make removing the cheesecakes easier to pop out once set.
  6. Divide crust among ramekins and carefully press with fingers to distribute. To pack it down, use a small glass lined with parchment paper (or the back of a spoon) to and really press it down, allowing some crust to come up the sides. Set in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up.
  7. Add soaked drained cashews, vanilla extract, coconut milk, olive oil, maple syrup, melted cocoa butter, lemon juice, and sea salt (optional) to the blender and mix until very smooth - up to 2-3 minutes - scraping down sides as needed. If it won't come together, add a touch more lemon juice, maple syrup/agave or a splash more coconut milk as the liquid should help it blend better.
  8. Taste and adjust flavor/sweetness as needed, adding more melted cocoa butter for chocolate flavor, lemon juice for brightness, salt for flavor balance, or maple syrup for sweetness.
  9. Add a small handful of macadamia nuts to the crust ramekins (see photo), then divide filling evenly among the ramekins (or another serving dish). Tap a few times to release any air bubbles, then top with a few more macadamia nuts and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  10. Freeze until set - about 4-6 hours depending on the size of the dish. Once set, run a butter knife along the edge and gently remove by tugging on the tabs in an upward motion. They should pop right out. If they aren't quite set, pop them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes and they should come out easily.
  11. To serve, slice and enjoy as is, or top with a touch of coconut whipped cream, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, and fresh berries.
  12. Store leftovers in a well-covered dish in the refrigerator up to a few days or in the freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate of 1 of 8 servings without additional toppings.
*Adapted from my White Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/8th of recipe (half of one ramekin) Calories: 546 Fat: 40 g Saturated fat: 8.9 g Carbohydrates: 46 g Sugar: 31 g Sodium: 8 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 9.2 g

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Cold cures: Foodstuffs and vitamins to relieve symptoms!

When it comes to food-based remedies, honey and lemon is just the beginning.
Can eating the “right” foods protect you from cold and flu? Doubtful. But eating well, in combination with rest and exercise, will support a stronger immune system which should help you recover faster if you do come down with a bug this winter. So while food might not be the cure, it could give you a fighting chance. 
So what to look for? 
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant and a key player in keeping our immune systems functioning well. Humans, unlike most animals, can’t make vitamin C, so we need to get it from food – it’s mostly found in fruits and vegetables. Top votes for vitamin C in your shopping cart? The usual suspects include citrus fruits – grapefruit, oranges and clementines, of course. But also think kiwis, strawberries and pineapple. In the veg aisle, look for peppers, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Potatoes are a great source too so make it a jacket potato for a healthy lunch. 
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is key for healthy vision and supporting organ function as well as the immune system. You’ll find vitamin A in meat, poultry, oily fish and dairy. Vegetarians should look for foods with good sources of beta-carotene as our bodies convert this into vitamin A. Some go-to fruit and veg include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, butternut squash, spinach, kale, chard, carrots and red peppers (basically think yellow, red and leafy green). On the fruit front, go for gold – fruits such as cantaloupe, dried apricots and mangoes are all winners.  
Zinc is a key nutrient our bodies need for everything from making DNA to helping fight off bacteria and viruses. One of the top sources of zinc is oysters, which seems as good a reason as any to splash out on a dozen on the half shell. Other sources include red meat, poultry and some seafood like crab and lobsters. For vegetarians, pulses, nuts, and whole grains are all good contenders. 
Vitamin E, like vitamin A, is fat-soluble. It’s an antioxidant, helps keep skin and eyes working well and supports a healthy immune system. You can find vitamin E in a lot of different foods, including plant oils, such as soya, corn and olive oil, nuts (almonds are particularly good), seeds and whole grains. Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli contain some vitamin E too. 
 Porcini mushrooms contain fibre, vitamins B and C, calcium, potassium and other nutrients and antioxidants (Shutterstock)
Can you get vitamins C, A, E and the nutrient zinc in tablet form? Of course. But most experts agree that getting it from foods is a much healthier option. Helpfully, many of the foods full of immune-supporting goodness are also in season, so keep your kitchen stocked with hard squashes like butternut squash and pumpkin, winter greens like kale and cavolo nero, potatoes (plain and sweet) along with oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Cure? No. But they just might make the lurgy linger less. 
While you’re out shopping, think about adding these for a healthier storecupboard.
Jars or tinned tomatoes
Tomatoes are full of lots of key vitamins and nutrients but they’re hardly in season. Luckily tomatoes in jars or tins are great options to have on hand. While research shows that vitamin C is reduced during the cooking process, levels of lycopene – a powerful antioxidant – increase. Splash out with a well-crafted jar of Abel and Cole’s Cherry Tomato Passata, at £2.25 for 330ml. 
Dried Porcini Mushrooms 
Mushrooms are rich in fibre, vitamins B and C, calcium, potassium and other nutrients. But what has people really excited is that they’re sources of two powerful antioxidants that could protect the body against some of the problems of ageing. Porcini mushrooms – also know as cepes – are particularly potent. Porcini are native to Italy but you can find these umami-rich mushrooms in dried form. Rehydrate them or add them directly into sauces. Best yet? They don’t appear to lose any of their nutritional credentials during the drying process. Try porcini mushrooms from Souschef, from £3.95.
Furikake was developed in Japan after the First World War as a way to boost nutritional intake (Shutterstock)
Furikake is a traditional Japanese condiment made of a blend of black and white sesame seeds and seaweed, often with chilli flakes added. It was developed in Japan after the First World War, as a way to boost nutritional intake. Sesame seeds provide lots of good things including protein, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin E, while seaweed is rich in protein, iron, calcium, iodine and vitamins. Sprinkle furikake on eggs, soups and salads, vegetables – basically anything that could use added crunch and zing. Pick up furikake from Mara Seaweeds, from £5.49. 
Miso soup mix
Miso soup is a Japanese culinary mainstay, often eaten with pickles and rice for a nutritious breakfast. Miso soup is made from a mixture of dashi stock and miso paste and is full of vitamin B and protein. It often has added seaweed and cubes of tofu for added nutritional punch. Check out Itsu’s miso soups at Sainsbury’s, for £2.00 for a pack of three. 

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Get food conscious!

Gorgeous young woman with a shopping cart looking at some products on a supermarket aisle
Gorgeous young woman with a shopping cart looking at some products on a supermarket aisle

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would've been swamped with news about - super foods and functional foods. One may wonder which is which, so as to gobble them up!
As it turns out, you might be asking the wrong question. Public understanding needs to keep up with these private marketing techniques. So, let us take a look at what these two terms mean, their trends and what savvy consumers like us, need to know.
Around the same time the iPhone was thought of, apples went out of business. You and I admit, with KFC, McD's, coke, cheese, pizza and the lot, emphasising the importance of consuming a diet low in saturated fat, and high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke, were inevitable.
Scientists also started identifying physiologically active components in foods from both plants and animals (aka phytochemicals and zoochemicals) at that time. These components could potentially reduce the risk of these chronic lifestyle diseases. These events, coupled with an aging, quick-fix health-conscious population, changes in food regulations, numerous technological advances and a market ripe for the introduction of health-promoting products, coalesced in the 1990s to create this new trend of superfoods and functional foods.
There is no scientific or regulatory definition for a 'superfood'. It is rather just a health marketing term used to describe a food with a 'superior' nutritional composition, and it is a term one shouldn't happen to like. If the superfood helps us meet our requirements for a particular vitamin, a mineral or a fatty acid, that's great. But that is all there is to it.
You might find it interesting to know that functional food is a canopy under which nutraceuticals, health supplements, individual vitamins or minerals and plant/animal extracts, exist. When a food is labeled as any of these terms, they are not a marketing gimmick, unlike a superfood. In fact, they are called so since a regulatory body (FSSAI) has scientifically established sets of nutrient compositions for each of the above terms.
Benefits of superfoods
There is no standard criteria or an approved list of superfoods. One could call the finger millet or ragi, a superfood because of its high fibre, calcium and phytochemical content. Superfoods worldwide are mostly international foods such as kale, chia seeds and quinoa. They have come into India at the cost of our rich variety of Indian foods. Lest we forget, people used to come to India in search for spices and food items, these superfoods have existed in India for centuries.
In India, the label "superfood" is being associated with the forgotten foods like millets, amaranth, basil seeds and the likes. For instance, chia is purely a product of the marketing efforts of the West. Compositionally, chia is similar to basil. Both are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acid and dietary fibre. Both swell and become a gel in liquid. However, when it comes to price, chia seeds are almost double the cost of basil seeds. There are many such examples - groundnut oil and olive oil, goji berry and amla, kale and cabbage or millets and oats.
Benefits of functional foods
Functional foods go beyond meeting basic nutritional needs in order to enhance or improve a physiological function or reduce the risk for a known disease. Functional foods are more holistic in nature or nutrient-dense, tailor-made for specific disorders. For example, papaya leaf extract capsules are prescribed to people suffering from dengue. Since one may not be able to eat kilos of the leaf all together, a high dose extract in a capsule is a convenient option.
Many of us have unrealistic expectations about functional foods thinking that we will be protected from chronic diseases and other ailments if we consume them. Although many functional foods may hold promise for public health, you should be cautious about one thing. A superfood is not an extract, powder or a single nutrient, but a whole food (unprocessed), so the chance of toxicity through a bioactive component present in the whole food is rare. However, a functional food not consumed as advised, could be toxic.
Analyse this. If you want to experience the benefits of garlic or neem, you would have to eat two to three whole garlic pods or an entire branch of a neem tree in order to attain the same concentration, the extract would have to offer as a functional food.
We know there is no magic potion for any disease or disease prevention. Somehow these 'Clark Kent' foods have been defined as panaceas. You will be shocked to know that as much as these bioactive nutraceuticals help particular parts or functions of the body, a higher dose or longer frequency tend to vitalize malignant cells in the body. A high amount of turmeric is a carcinogen.
It truly is a challenge to shop for groceries today. The labeling of foods are hyped and we are lured to buy them. However, their effect is masked because of our inconsistent dietary habits throughout the day.
As consumers, we are seduced to think that if we have one superfood or a functional food mix, we need not eat mindfully otherwise. These terms tend to detract us from healthy eating, which is to choose from a wide range of natural foods.
So if you want to keep the super in superfoods or the functionality in functional foods alive, you must incorporate them into your daily healthy diet along with an active life.
(The author is a nutritionist, Pristine Organics)

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Ways To Live Healthy: Numbers 1 Through 10!

Just for you! We have compiled 100 simple ways to be healthy and how you can change small things that lead to big results. Before long, you’ll find that these habits start to accumulate, and these changes can stick. In no time, you’ll wake up and discover that you’re leading the healthy, happy life you’ve been aiming for. This article contains the first 10 ways.

1. Sip Green Tea Before You Walk.

This habit will help you to shed those unwanted kilos. Research shows that the caffeine in green tea frees fatty acids so that you burn fat more easily. The antioxidant content in green tea has also been shown to increase calorie burn.

2. Switch Out Your After-Work Sweatpants For Workout Gear.

This will have two results. The first is that it will be easier for you to move, so you’re likely to put more energy into your chores and work up more of a sweat. The second is that it increases the chances that you’ll go out for a jog or engage in a little indoor strength training.

3. Oxygenate With Fresh Morning Air.

We all know how important oxygen is for our health. Neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart says it is crucial to proper brain function. But when is the best time for us to breathe deeply? Early-morning air is optimal for a deep-breathing session, as there has been little to no traffic throughout the night and the air is at its cleanest. Want to know more? Click here to find out.

4. Disinfect Your Office Doorknob.

Research from the University of Arizona has shown that using disinfectant wipes on commonly touched objects, such as doorknobs, can reduce the spread of cold-and-flu-causing viruses by up to 90%.

5. Make Your Own Salad Dressing.

While we all love to add a little flavor to our salads, most store-bought salad dressings are full of unhealthy ingredients. Don’t miss out; make your own version of your favourite salad dressing at home. There are hundreds of quick and easy, healthy salad dressing recipes online. Some of them are more cost-effective, too.

6. Read Labels.

To stay healthy, you must know what is going into your body. Dietician and former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Claire Julsing-Strydom, says there are no hidden salts and sugars. The amounts are right there on the label; you just have to look for them. It is also important to look up ingredient names that you don’t recognize, and decide which ingredients you are – and aren’t – happy to eat. Knowledge is power.

7. Know Your Numbers.

For better health and vitality, Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, advises: “High blood pressure and high cholesterol are known as ‘silent killers’, as they usually don’t present with any symptoms. It’s important to know your numbers by having your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels checked regularly, to know if you are at risk.”

8. Eat Sardines Twice A Week.

Sardines are packed with lean protein and omega-3. Omega-3 is crucial for brain functionality, gut health and reducing levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation. This form of inflammation has been found to be the root cause of all disease, and our modern lifestyle choices make it worse. Sardines are an affordable way to get good quality nutrition and fortify yourself against illness.

9. Kick That Addiction.

Addiction affects our physiology, making us more susceptible to premature aging, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Sandrina Haeck. Substance addiction can lead to long-term cognitive impairment, damage to neurotransmitters, increased stress levels, sleep disorders, weakened heart muscles, increased risk of stroke, cancer, liver disease, lung disease, sexual dysfunction, infertility and a damaged immune system. Click here to find out how addiction affects your health in different ways.

10. Meditate In The Morning.

Tiffany Cruikshank, an internationally renowned yoga instructor and the founder of Yoga Medicine, says: “I start my day with a simple meditation practice; it sets the tone for my day and clears my head to prepare for what is to come.”

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