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A-Z Guide to Good Health

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Our primer on the latest research, tips and tricks to protect every inch of you.

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KEEPING UP WITH THE RECENT MIND, body and diet breakthroughs isn't easy.That's why we've compiled this ultimate glossary, which covers 26 simple ways to fight disease and feel great every day.Consider this your quick guide to cutting-edge news and stay-healthy secrets.

A. Antioxidants. Research shows that consuming foods containing these compounds-think vitamins A, C and E-can slash your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke and ward off the effects of aging. But there's no proof that getting these nutrients in pill form prevents cardiovascular disease, says a new study by the American Heart Association. Instead, aim to have five or more servings daily of antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The USDA has released a study showing that the following foods are top sources: small red beans, blueberries, cranberries, cooked artichokes, broccoli rabe and apples.

B. Bites. Leave a few on your plate from meals and snacks and you could lose up to 10 pounds in one year. Taking three bites less of a hamburger, a store-bought muffin or a burrito subtracts 75 to 100 calories from each.

C. Citrus Aurantium. This botanical—also known as bitter orange—is the main ingredient in a new wave of ephedra-free weight-loss aids. Despite its stimulant effect, there's no proof that it melts flab, according to a new study from George-town University. In fact, like ephedra, citrus aurantium can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels and cause potentially harmful interactions with many medications. Play it safe: Avoid products with this ingredient and stick to diet and exercise to lose weight.

D. Diflucan. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that taking this antifungal prescription drug once a week greatly reduced the number of yeast infections women suffered-with 91 percent of study participants remaining infection-free after six months.

E. Enamel. Protect your pearly whites by limiting your daily intake of soda and processed iced tea. According to a new study, the citric acids in these beverages are even more destructive to tooth enamel than sugar is. "These additives increase the acidity of your mouth and eat away at your enamel. Without that, you're more prone to cavities," explains Cindi Sherwood, D.D.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. Additionally, researchers found that light-colored drinks have a more detrimental effect on enamel than either cola or canned iced tea. Try switching to plain water, seltzer or freshly brewed tea, none of which contain citric additives. If you do have a soft drink, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water afterward to wash away the acids.

F. Fresh vs. Freeze-Dried Fruit. Don't rely on cereals that contain petrified-looking berries to fill the five-a-day requirement. Most don't have enough fruit to make a difference, explains Caroline M. Apovian, M.D., an associate professor of medicine and director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston University School of Medicine. Plus, the longer it sits on the supermarket shelf (and in your pantry), the more nutrients the processed fruit loses. You're better off with the real thing: One cup of strawberries has just 49 calories, provides 100 percent of your RDA for vitamin C and contains three grams of fiber.

G. Gut. Women are roughly three times more likely than men to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes chronic stomach problems such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Though it's not clear why women are more prone to the disease, experts suggest that reproductive hormones may play a role, particularly because symptoms can worsen during menstruation. Previously assumed by many doctors to be psychosomatic, this illness may actually be the result of a biochemical defect in the stomach, reports a recent study. If you've been experiencing gastrointestinal distress, talk to your primary- care provider, who can determine if you're a candidate for one of the new prescription medications that treat IBS.

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