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A mother and daughter holding grocery bags filled with healthy foods in the kitchen

Women are generally considered to be the healthiest gender. Again, in general. They tend to eat better, go to the doctor when there’s something wrong, and consistently practice healthier habits.

This said, according to an MSNBC report, 43% of all U.S. counties saw increases in female death rates over a recent 14-year period, while male mortality rose in just 3% of counties.

Why?

Scientist are pointing to many reasons for this sudden decline, particularly an increase in smoking among women. However, there are some simple, everyday things that women could also improve upon to help boost their health significantly.

Focus More On Your Food

If you think about it, eating well makes your body work better. When your body works better, you feel better. In fact, a recent study of more than 80,000 people suggested that how much produce you eat can influence your overall happiness, as well as your sense of well-being. Really!

So what’s the formula for eating better without feeling deprived?

Eat more fruits and veggies. Vitamins, nutrients, fiber, water…what more is there to say?

Limit added sugar. Study after study is proving that too much added sugar can be detrimental to your health. The American Heart Association, as well as WHO, recommend that women consume no more than 20 grams of added sugar a day.

Eat proper portions. Super-sizes aren’t helping anybody. Particularly your heart, your organs and your waistline. Read food labels to help educate yourself about what one serving size is, and try, and try, and try again to exercise portion control.

Cook more. Unless you like asking your server to run down ingredient listings each and every time you go out, it’s very important to have at least a handful of healthy recipes that you can make at home. Not only can you better control the ingredients, particularly if you have a health condition, but you can control the calories, sodium and sugar your meal contains.

Monitor your calorie intake. Some people love writing down every single thing they eat. Others use phone apps to help them keep track of their calories. Others guesstimate. Depending on your health goals, it’s never a bad idea to have an idea of how many calories you need to stay healthy, and then monitor your food intake to make sure you’re hitting that goal most days of the week.

Admit that you’re human. You’re going to eat a slice cake at some point in your life. Several slices, in fact. The key to eating well is consistently establishing a healthy balance, eating right most of the time, and forgiving yourself for an occasional indulgence.

Seriously…Sleep More

What’s the big deal about not sleeping as much as you should? Think of it this way…sleeping is like hitting a great big reset button on your entire body. It’s also the main opportunity your body has to restore itself, heal itself, and recharge. When your body isn’t able to do this, your health can suffer. As can your weight – studies show that people tend to weigh more when they don’t get enough sleep.

So…turn off all those gadgets an hour before bed, engage in a relaxation ritual every night to help prepare yourself for sleep, and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every single day.

Be More Active

Working out most days of the week is actually only the first step. It’s also important to try and be more active throughout the day – desk job or not. Stand, stretch, take a little walk after your lunch, walk over to a co-workers desk instead of emailing them – all of these are little ways to seriously help your health. The key is to get in some form of movement for two minutes every 20 minutes, if possible.

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