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    Is Stress Aging Your Immune System Prematurely?

    Have you ever noticed the way older people get sick more often? That’s due to an aging immune system, which can’t fend off bugs the way spring chickens can. Now, a new study suggests stress can dramatically age your immune system, leaving maxed-out people at higher risk of illness.

    “Adults who reported chronic ongoing stressors, major life trauma, and stressful life events tended to have cell percentages that indicated more immune aging,” says lead study author Eric Klopack at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles.

    There are two possible ways stress causes your immune system to age, says Klopack. The first is by leading to unhealthy behaviors like poor diet, which can shrink your thymus, an organ responsible for the growth of T cells (important for immune functioning). The second is that stress can activate a particular virus (cytomegalovirus or CMV) in the body that damages the immune system.

    “Since avoiding stress is often impossible, building up resilience and coping tools might be useful. A a strong social support network can help reduce the health risks associated with stress.”

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    Antibiotics Can Hurt Your Aerobic Performance Come Race Day

    If you’ve been fighting an infection and your doc recommends antibiotics, consider waiting until after your 10K or half-marathon to begin taking them. Researchers at the University of California at Riverside found that, in lab studies, a 10-day course of antibiotics decreased aerobic performance by 21 percent.
    “Antibiotics can kill many, if not most, bacteria in your gut that play an essential role in normal bodily functions,” says co-author Theodore Garland. Antibiotics don’t just kill off the harmful bacteria causing your infection, he explains, they also remove important bacteria from the gut that provide energy for muscles in the body.On the positive side, researchers found no indication of other negative health side effects from the antibiotics. Your takeaway? Weigh the severity of your symptoms against the importance of your sporting event. If the race takes precedence, hold off on your antibiotics until you cross the finish line to preserve your aerobic performance.

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    Is Lager the Secret to Boosting Your Gut's Microbiome?

    Want to give your gut health a boost? Take a page out of Homer Simpson’s book and grab a cold one. Beer and the gut microbiome might not seem like they’d have a symbiotic relationship, but drinking one brew every night for four weeks straight was found to increase the diversity of gut bacteria and improve intestinal function, according to a report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Science.
    Gut bacteria is big news these days, as research shows it’s associated with everything from greater immunity (good gut bacteria) to heart disease (bad gut bacteria).The current study, which split men into two groups, found both alcoholic and non-alcoholic lager yielded positive results for the microbiome. More important than alcohol content, it turns out, is the color of your beer.The darker the beer, the better it is for your microbiome. That’s due to a higher concentration of something called polyphenols—compounds researchers credit with giving beer its gut-enhancing, health-fortifying benefits.

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    How Athletic Greens Is Innovating AG1

    Origins storyFounder Chris Ashenden started Athletic Greens 10 years ago. He was experiencing a lot of health issues, from gut distress to low energy to nutrient deficiency and insufficiency. Experts recommended supplements—a whole lot of ’em—but taking 20 to 30 tablets a day to rectify the problem didn’t seem logical.To get all those vitamins and minerals, pre- and probiotics, and phytonutrients, “you’d need a whole cabinet and refrigerator,” says Ralph Esposito, a naturopathic physician and functional medicine practitioner specializing in integrative medicine at Athletic Greens. “If you look at nature, though, it does this organically. In ancient Indian culture, Ayurvedic medicine and cooking has a lot of yogurt, botanicals, herbs, and spices. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and apples—they have a lot of these pre- and probiotics and phytonutrients. Ashwagandha was a food first, then became a supp. When you boil it all down, it comes to establishing essentials of nutrition for proper gut health and looking at the body as a whole.”That’s where the idea of AG1 came in. Ashenden wanted to create a green drink that went beyond a multivitamin. He wanted it to contain herbs, nutrients, phytonutrients, flavanols, pre- and probiotics to make foundational health as simple as starting your day with a beverage, much like the ritual of having tea or coffee.When you’re experiencing a malady, like IBS, it’s not just one root cause of the problem. There are a multitude of systems communicating with one another—your gut, adrenals, vascular, skin, etc.—that need to find a sense of equilibrium to not flip the switch and short-circuit the whole system.So when it came to formulating AG1, Ashenden took the same symbiotic approach. There are nine synergistic products by way of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system and nervous system chugging along; a superfood complex comprising fruits and vegetables picked at peak harvest times for the most potent phytonutrient count; dairy-free probiotics to support the gut microbiome and aid nutrient absorption as well as digestion; antioxidants and plant extracts with adaptogens that help minimize stress at a cellular level; and an enzyme and mushroom complex to further aid digestion. More

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    7 Simple Life Hacks to Make You Happier, Stronger, and More Productive

    Now, we’d never, ever, try to stand between you and your first marathon, a major weight loss, or the job of your dreams. Thinking big—and having big goals—is important, especially as you set your sights on new life chapters. That said, sometimes thinking a little bit smaller—in fact, maybe making just a few minor tweaks to your routine—can yield some pretty big W’s, too. Simple life hacks don’t need to be major.
    That could mean just swapping out a single drink of the day for water and watching your weight plummet. Or using a simple timer at your desk that will up your productivity tenfold. Or even doing some very small, invisible exercises that will have a major impact on your sex life. Best of all: None of these tricks costs a nickel, and none of them takes much time. Yet according to experts from a range of disciplines—productivity, nutrition, dating, finance—they all offer measurable results.

    1. To get things done, try the “pomodoro” technique
    You know those red kitchen timers that are in the shape of a tomato?
    That’s the inspiration for this hack.
    Instead of trying to focus on work for hours on end, carve your time into 30-minute chunks. Work on a task for 25 minutes, then give yourself five minutes to goof off, zone out, or screw around on the Internet. Repeat.
    “It’s highly effective,” says productivity guru Michael Sliwinski, CEO of nozbe.com. “When you really focus on your task and work on it without any distractions, you’ll be surprised by how well you can perform.”

    2. To trim stress, do a “2 by 4”
    “The less stress you have in your body, the better you’re able to perform. Stress makes you stupid,” says Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva Meditation. She recommends a simple hack that requires no knowledge of Zen, meditation, or mindfulness: what she calls the 2x breath.
    “If you’re getting heated with a co-worker or your partner, simply stop and take a walk about the room or down the hall,” explains Fletcher. “As you walk, breathe in for two steps and out for four. Do this for a few minutes, then come back and finish the conversation. It gives you a way to calm the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the body.”
    3. To drop some fat, swap one drink for water
    “Stop drinking one soda and replace it with water every single day,” explains nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, co-author (with NFL legend Tony Gonzalez) of The All-Pro Diet. “Doing this every day saves you 150 calories, which adds up to a yearly weight loss of 15 pounds.”
    You might think, “Right, but I’m smarter than that, and I already switched to diet soda years ago.” Yet the same principle applies to healthier-looking drinks like juice. I used to drink OJ every morning because it feels healthy—vitamin C, right? But the average 12-ounce glass contains nine teaspoons of sugar…or nearly as much as a can of Coke.

    4. To have better sex, do kegels (yes, really)
    They might sound weird or scary or even, well, unmanly, but sex therapist Gloria Brame, Ph.D., (author of The Truth About Sex) says that kegels are the single best thing you can do to boost your performance in the sack.
    “Kegels are essential for male sexual health. They keep your anatomy healthy, enhance virility, and assist with proper bladder and bowel function.”
    Here’s how you do it: Clench down on the pelvic muscles for a few seconds, then release. Repeat three times. And you’re done. If you’re not sure exactly where these muscles are, go to a urinal. “Hold back your urine stream. Stop, let it start to flow, stop. Repeat two more times. Now you know which muscles you need to work,” says Brame. Doing the exercise is quick and easy. You can perform it at your desk, in your car, or in an elevator—whenever you have a free moment.

    5. To tame your schedule, plan your day the night before
    “Planning out your day the night before has significant benefits for both the early risers and the night owls,” advises Mike Vardy, founder of Productivityist. “Early risers can hit the ground running with their game plan, allowing them to be more productive from the get-go.” And if you’re a night owl? Suddenly you have an agenda that gives you direction in the grogginess of morning, letting you build momentum for later in the day.
    6. To get wealthier, turn nickels into the S&P 500
    A new crop of personal-finance apps will round up your purchases and invest the difference. “One of the best is called Acorns,” advises Andrew Schrage, partner and editor-in-chief of personal-finance blog moneycrashers.com. “Say you make a purchase for $4.50, then 50 cents gets invested into an ETF (exchange-traded fund) that holds a wide variety of different companies across different investing sectors.”
    7. To strengthen your relationships, (always) tell women the truth
    “Right now, say this sentence in your head: ‘I choose to tell women the truth, no matter what. I will be a man of my word,’” says dating and relationship coach Lindsay Chrisler. The logic? Too often we instinctively tell lies for her protection. This backfires. “Women don’t need protection. You may not sleep with the woman that night, but you will have integrity, a clear conscience, and higher-quality women surrounding you. The truth is the secret to a hot sex life.”
    That, and clenched pelvic muscles.
    Jeff Wilser is the author of Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life. Follow him on Twitter.

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    If You Stress More, You Need to Sweat More (for Your Heart)

    When it feels like depression is crushing you or anxiety is making you want to crawl out of your skin, the last thing on your mind is exercise. But hitting the ground running is just the thing you need—and you’ll be doing more than just blowing off steam. An analysis by Harvard University researchers of more than 50,000 people found that stressed individuals who get regular physical activity have twice the protection against stroke and heart attack compared to less-stressed exercisers. Stress was identified as those dealing with anxiety and depression.
    All exercisers were at 17 percent lower risk for heart attacks than non-exercisers, regardless of stress levels. But benefits were significantly higher in people with anxiety or depression, who had a 22 percent risk reduction vs. a 10 percent risk reduction in those without either condition.Physical activity affects stress-related neural mechanisms in the brain that have a direct impact on heart health, explains researcher Hadil Zureigat, M.D., a postdoctoral clinical research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and the study’s lead author.Aim for 150 minutes per week. That’s a 15-minute walk on your lunch break followed by 15 minutes of curls and crunches when you get home; a 30-minute daily bike commute to your office (bonus: save the environment); or three 50-minute spin classes a week.Added perk: Exercise itself is a mood booster, helping to melt some of that anxious energy off.

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    Doctors Are Prescribing National Parks Passes to Patients on the Mend

    Add healing-through-nature to hockey and Tim Hortons as Canadian gifts to world culture. Healthcare providers in four provinces—British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba—can now prescribe free national parks passes to patients as part of their health treatments.

    The country’s new PaRx program, an initiative of the BC Parks Foundation, is designed to help people manage stress and anxiety. More than 6,000 licensed healthcare professionals have registered to prescribe nature to their patients.
    With plans to expand to every province, the program aims to get people outside at least two hours a week. While the savings aren’t much (an annual Discovery Pass costs CAD$72), it’s more about improving health by getting people moving. Benefits touted by the program include increased energy, decreased anxiety, pain reduction, reduced stress and improved heart health.

    “The pandemic has helped people rediscover the importance of being outside,” says PaRx director Dr. Melissa Lem, “and prescribers are seeing its evidence-based advantages.”

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    The Newest Thing in Wellness: Beer Spas

    Romans bathed in wine. Cleopatra in milk. Why not beer? From the Rocky Mountains to Iceland, spas are tapping into what they believe is an emerging market—beer lovers soaking in suds to rejuvenate skin and muscles.

    In the tiny village of Árskógssandur in Iceland, the Beer Spa (Bjórbö›in) puts clients in a hot tub filled with “young” beer, still in the early stages of fermentation. The kambala wood tub is filled with water, live beer yeast, hops, water, beer oil and beer salt. Its low pH is said to tighten and soften hair follicles while cleansing hair and skin. Brewer’s yeast provides vitamin B, protein, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. The beer’s hops, meanwhile, are rich in antioxidants and alpha acids, while their oils and minerals are promoted as having an anti-inflammatory effect on joints and muscles.

    Taking the concept stateside, the new Beer Spa in Denver loads patrons in a bubbly beer bath steeped with hops, barley and medicinal herbs. The mile-high brew stew is the brainchild of Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French, who traveled the world before landing in a beer bath in Poland and bringing the concept home. Their 90-minute Beer Therapy Room treatment lets you soak in a cedar tub filled with an herbal beer bath blend. They tout the same effects as their cousins overseas, down to thousands of tiny bubbles enveloping your body in a beer-like fizz. The treatment includes an infrared sauna, rain shower, relaxation deck and self-pour taproom.

    “It felt great—and it smells like good beer, not a frat house floor,” says St. Louis entrepreneur George Lochhead, who partook in the beer soak after heli-skiing. “And it’s so good for your skin you don’t even have to shower afterward. We had fun guessing if it was an IPA or a lager.”

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