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Editor's note: Today's essay is a little unusual... but it's become a "tradition" here at DailyWealth to publish one of our colleague Dr. David Eifrig's most popular annual reports. Every year, Doc gathers his top ideas for improving your health. And every year, it's one of the most popular things we publish. After all, if a person has enough sense to save and invest for the long term, that person usually has enough sense to take care of his health.
We'll run Doc's insights as a "two part" series... counting down to his top health tip of 2013. The first half is below...

One of These Ideas Will Change Your Life

By Dr. David Eifrig, editor, Retirement Millionaire
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All year long, I research and think about the most important things people can do to improve the quality of their health.
They need to be simple things... no agonizing P90x-style workouts or 400-calorie starvation diets with growth hormone supplements. None of these tips are hard to incorporate into your life. All of them are based on substantial scientific evidence, as well as my personal experience.
I encourage you to take your time reading the 13 items on this year's list... I can nearly guarantee one of these ideas will change your life for the better.
Try one a month (or even better, one a week). I've heard some readers post the list on their refrigerators like I do.
I hope you enjoy reading the list as much as I've enjoyed putting it together again...
13. Listen to music: Years of research shows the health benefits of listening to music. It can reduce stress and improve heart health. A 2008 study in Brain found music improved the recovery process for stroke victims.
It doesn't matter what music you choose. Just listen to whatever you're in the mood for. I always keep music playing in the background in my office. When I'm writing, I enjoy listening to Mozart or Bach, but I also like listening to R&B and jazz piano to get my feet moving.
12. Have your blood drawn regularly: For years, the fat in red meat has been blamed for cardiovascular disease. But several studies show the problem could be related to your blood's viscosity or even the amount of iron in your blood. Viscosity refers to a fluid's resistance to flow. Low viscosity means your blood flows easier, and high viscosity means your blood has a harder time flowing.
Iron is a necessary mineral in our body... It carries oxygen throughout our bodies via red blood cells and hemoglobin. Too little leads to anemia (some symptoms included a weakened immune system and dizziness). But too much iron actually increases your risk of heart disease. Swedish researchers found men with elevated levels of iron more than doubled their risk of heart attacks.
There are ways to decrease the iron levels in your blood, which also lowers the viscosity of your blood. One 1998 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who donate blood on a regular basis reduced their risk of a heart attack 88%. This might be due to a lower iron level or viscosity, but research hasn't clearly identified the mechanism of action... But the message is clear... donate blood if you're male or a post-menopausal woman.
And you get the added benefit of helping people who are ill while improving your own health.
I'm so concerned about the dangers of iron and viscosity, that this year, I'm going to have my blood drawn regularly.
11. Surround yourself with good smells: Whenever I travel away from home, I carry a bottle of rose oil. Smells have an interesting way of triggering memories and feelings. Sprinkling a little oil where I'm staying unifies the place I sleep, so I always feel as if I'm at home.
Smells and aromas do many other things, too... The smell of many flowers can instantly improve your mood, the smell of coffee can ease stress, and studies show simply smelling cinnamon boosts brain function.
I go to a nearby Whole Foods (any health food store will do) and ask for "essential oils." Different oils serve different purposes... For example, use lavender for relaxation and sleep, or try orange for invigoration. And of course, don't forget... lavender and pumpkin together to increase male libido.
10. Take aspirin regularly: Aspirin is perhaps the most powerful drug on Earth. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute recently published a study that found people who took aspirin once a month decreased their risk of developing liver cancer by 49%. Liver cancer isn't that common, but this is just another one of the findings touting the benefits of taking aspirin regularly. Aspirin also lowers the risk of colon and lung cancer... It can slow age-related mental decline in women... and it relieves pain.
Over the years, some people have told me they're concerned about the side effects of aspirin... particularly the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. But the benefits far outweigh the risks. To decrease risks, do what I do... I take aspirin with an "enteric" coating that keeps it from sitting in my stomach as the drug is released. This helps avoid the potential for upper gastrointestinal bleeding. And I only take one 325 milligram aspirin every week. (The effects last seven to 10 days.) 
9. Eat these salts: Salt is a recent addition to my list (only added last year). There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding salt. Unlike what you've probably been told, salt isn't bad for you. The salt most people label "bad" is sodium chloride – table salt. (Chloride is a co-molecule found in many other salts.) But sodium is probably only bad in extreme amounts... you can have too much or too little.
There is another salt called magnesium that comes in the form of magnesium chloride (among many other forms). There is good evidence magnesium helps with mood, energy, and mental stability. Magnesium reduces your risk of osteoporosis (or even reverses it through increasing bone mineral density) and even relieves depression.
So do what I do... Include these essential salts – sodium and magnesium – in your diet without worry. Processed foods have plenty of sodium, so there's no need to add more. But diets lacking whole and fresh foods commonly lack magnesium. Foods that contain magnesium include leafy greens (like spinach and collards), cocoa, seeds, and brans. I get magnesium regularly from oatmeal and green salads.
8. Don't share drinking glasses or utensils: One of the easiest ways to catch a cold this time of year is sharing a glass or a utensil. I used to be a big offender... At parties, I'd share spoons, forks, and glasses. Soon after, I'd wind up with a cold. The first year I stopped sharing utensils, I avoided the usual winter holiday colds, sore throat, and GI distress.
The next time someone offers to share food or drinks... do what I do and use a clean spoon, fork, or glass. And if you're taking food from someone's plate – or letting someone take food from yours – only use clean utensils for that first taste. More than that is just like sharing utensils. So this season, stop spreading those germs around.
Look for the second part of this two-part series – and my top seven health tips for 2013 in tomorrow's DailyWealth.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,  
Dr. David Eifrig 

Further Reading:

Over the years, Doc has shown DailyWealth readers how to save 97% on prescription drugs, how to take a nearly free vacation, and how to use your retirement savings, penalty free... at any age.
Steve has offered some of his keys to being healthy and wealthy, too. Last month, he shared his secret to losing 13 pounds... during the holiday season. And in 2011, he explained the "Sjuggerud Advantage" – which costs nothing and could make you dramatically more productive.

Market Notes


Investors who flocked to the "safety" of Treasury bonds last summer are learning that Treasurys can lose money, too.
Over the past few years, Treasurys have been on a rocket ride. Falling interest rates since 2008 – plus, no sign of inflation – have created the perfect environment for bonds. Big Treasury funds like the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (NYSEARCA: TLT) soared about 50% from early-2011 to mid-2012.  
With many investors fed up with the volatility in stocks, Treasurys became a popular "safe haven" play. Amateur investors often think they're accepting a low return with virtually no chance of losing money. However, as we mentioned a few months ago, the uptrend looks like it's coming to an end… or at least taking a break. Since peaking six months ago, TLT is down about 9%.
Bond investors who didn't think it was possible to lose money in Treasurys are getting a nasty surprise.
– Larsen Kusick
20+ Year Treasury Bonds (TLT) Down 9% Since Last Summer

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