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December 19, 2018

Your guide to a healthier, happier 2019

Daily Briefing

    The Daily Briefing's editorial team in 2018 read through scores of news stories and studies on the lifestyle choices that we face every day—from whether to start a low-carb diet for weight loss to how long to exercise.

    As part of our Year in Review, we compiled this list of top stories to help you stay happy and healthy in 2019.

    Eat better

    Why you shouldn't trust the hype on that new low-carb diet study

    A study published in November suggests diets low in carbohydrates can help people burn more calories than other diets, but nutrition experts say most people might not be able to follow the strict regime low-carb diets require.  

    The evidence-backed way to avoid holiday weight gain

    Between gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie, it's no wonder adults gain up to two pounds over the holidays—but a study published this week in BMJ reveals that the annual holiday weight gain doesn't have to be inevitable.

    Are probiotics the 'key to good health'—or an under-researched gimmick?

    Marketers of yogurts and dietary supplements commonly tout probiotics as a "key to good health," but research shows for most conditions, probiotics are ineffective and might even be harmful, according to Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.

    4 rules to avoiding the 'Big Sugar' trap, from NYT's David Leonhardt

    In the New York Times, op-ed columnist David Leonhardt explains that the sugar industry has invested time and money "trying to trick" you into eating more sugar. Leonhardt offers a four-step guide, compiled with colleagues and experts, for how to reduce added sugar intake "without spending more money or losing the pleasure of eating."

    Inside the 'extraordinarily fine-tuned' diets of Olympic champions

    Olympic athletes are always looking for an edge to get them past the competition—and increasingly, that means following an "extraordinarily fine-tuned diet," according to the dieticians and nutritionists working with Team USA, Julia Belluz writes for Vox.

     A diverse diet is healthy, right? Think again.

    Nutrition experts have long held that the key to a healthy diet is balance across diverse food groups—but the American Heart Association is pushing back on that belief, saying it is unsupported by science and people instead should focus on consuming high-quality foods.

    Is coconut oil 'pure poison?' Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.

    Most experts agree that coconut oil is not the health-conscious food choice it has become known to be—but one adjunct Harvard University professor is going much further, arguing the oil amounts to "pure poison."


    How much exercise you need, according to new US guidelines

    HHS in new guidelines says even the briefest and lightest forms of exercise—such as walking or carrying heavy groceries—can improve an adult's health.

    Even a 10-minute walk leads to a 'rapid enhancement' in memory, new study finds

    A study published in September finds a brisk walk around the block might improve memory storage and formation.

    The right way to exercise for mental health, according to 'the largest study of its kind'

    A study published in September finds exercise can help improve mental health—and group activities and team sports have the biggest positive effects on one's mental wellbeing.

    What's worse than smoking, diabetes, or heart disease? (Hint: It's entirely under your control.)

    A Cleveland Clinic study published in October shows adults with sedentary lifestyles had a 500% higher risk of death when compared with adults who were considered top exercise performers.

    Don't stop moving': A week of inactivity could have long-term effects, studies suggest

    A recent pair of studies suggests a short break from exercising could have long-term health consequences, and the chances of negative effects increase with age.

    The fitness trackers you can (and can't) trust, according to research

    A study published in September reveals which fitness trackers are the most trustworthy—and which miss the mark.

    Be happy

    6 ways to protect yourself from 'secondhand stress'

    There are six expert-backed ways to spread positivity and avoid so-called "secondhand stress."

    Money buys happiness—but only up to this threshold, study finds

    Money can buy happiness—but there comes a point where the costs associated with that extra income might stop paying off, according to a recent study in Nature Human Behaviour.

    How happy is your community? These 12 factors can predict the answer.

    A study published in March identified 12 factors related to clinical care, demographics, social and economic status, and physical environment that explain more than 90% of the variation in community well-being in the United States.

    Stay well

    These 7 heart-healthy factors could cut your risk of dementia, a new study finds

    A study published in August finds diet, exercise, and smoking status are three of seven heart-healthy factors that might lower a person's risk of developing dementia—but few people score well on those metrics.

    Heavy drinkers face a higher risk of dementia. (But so do abstainers.)

    A study published in August finds adults in middle age who drink the equivalent of seven or more glasses of wine per week are at higher risk of developing dementia in their senior years than light drinkers—but the same is true for those who abstain from alcohol.

    The factor that might cut dementia risk by 90%

    A 44-year study published in March shows middle-age women with high cardiovascular fitness levels are nearly 90% less likely to develop dementia than their less active peers.

    Understand the wellness spectrum—and promote healthy habits at work

    understanding the employee wellness spectrum

    Programs aimed at promoting healthy habits among employees are likely to lead to improved employee engagement and productivity—but they're unlikely to reduce the total cost of care. To do that, you'll need to take a population health approach.

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