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Smart Tips for Staying Healthy in 2014

12 ways to focus on your health, from January to December

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Eating berries may lower your risk of heart disease. — Ocean/Corbis

En español l The AARP 2014 Almanac features useful information about topics ranging from financial scams to film trivia to how to get free stuff! The almanac also contains these smart tips for staying healthy all year long.

January

Feeling groggy, a little sick and lethargic? It might not be a hangover. Over-the-counter sleep aids can mimic the effects of too much booze. Resolve to get on a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and long daytime naps, exercise regularly and keep stress in check. Staring at cellphones and computers can make dry eyes feel even worse. The Mayo Clinic recommends using the 20/20/20 rule: For every 20 minutes you're on the computer, look away at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more.

February

Flossing may protect you from Alzheimer's, says a British study that found bacteria from gum disease in brain samples of some people who died of the disease. So while you're sampling Valentine's Day chocolate, remember your dentist's advice: Brushing is not enough. You should floss at least once a day.

March

March is National Kidney Month, the perfect time to remind adults 60 and older to get an annual urine test to screen for kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation recently changed its guidelines in light of research showing that 59 percent of Americans will at some point have moderate kidney disease. Persons with high blood pressure or diabetes face a special risk.

April

A 15-minute walk after eating can lower your blood sugar level for hours, and significantly reduce your risk of diabetes. More important, taking a short walk after meals can be much more effective at preventing blood sugar spikes than taking one 45-minute walk daily. What better way to get started than National Walking Day on April 2?

May

This is Celiac Awareness Month. Some 3 million Americans have celiac disease, which means they're unable to digest gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The Food and Drug Administration has new guidelines for foods labeled "gluten-free," including a requirement that they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

June

Eating berries can lower your risk of heart disease significantly. A study of nearly 94,000 women found that those who ate three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack. With peak mosquito season here, it's important to remember they spread diseases to humans and animals. Electric fans are an effective way to keep mosquitoes away from people and pets in the backyard. If you're unlucky enough to get bitten, a dab of simple household ammonia will counter some of the chemical reactions that make your skin itch.

July

Packing for a trip to the beach or lake? Keep food safe by making sure your cooler stays cold enough during the drive. Block ice keeps food colder than cubes. Plastic bottles filled with water and kept in the freezer overnight work well, too. Remember that a full cooler stays cold longer than one that's partially filled, and be sure to keep frozen meat and poultry securely wrapped and away from produce or snacks.

Next page: Try a fitness tracker to help keep you in shape. »

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