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Editor's note: This week we're featuring some of the best ideas from Dr. David Eifrig's Big Book of Retirement Secrets. "Doc," as we call him, just finished compiling roughly 250 of his top ideas to help readers earn more, spend less, and live a healthier and more fulfilling life. Today, we start with an essay that's a little different than our usual content. Find out below why it's...

The Most Important List You'll Read All Year, Part I

By Dr. David Eifrig, editor, Retirement Millionaire
Monday, March 2, 2015

Deciding the best ways to improve your health is tough.
One day, you hear a self-appointed expert tell you one thing. And the next day, a different talking head claims something that sounds like the exact opposite. Often, the advice is contradictory and confusing. Much of it also lacks scientific evidence.
That's why, in 2006, I started publishing a list of my top ways to improve your health. I wanted to give patients and readers a simple, straightforward way to start on the path to a healthier life.
I originally created this list for myself in 1997. I kept the list on my refrigerator to remind myself of the importance of these tips. I have continued to update it every winter since then...
Every year, I review the most recent research and use it to reorder the list and add or remove items.
In total this year, I'm reporting 12 ways to improve your health for 2015. (I'll show you six today. And we'll publish the top six in tomorrow's issue.) Please don't let the number of tips overwhelm you. Read the list and then pick out a couple each month to focus on as the year rolls on.
If you're a longtime subscriber, many of these may be familiar to you. And if you haven't been feeling well over the past year, look at this list again. Start at the top and try a few out for the next couple months. You'll feel better almost immediately.
I promise something on this list will change your life...
12. Control Your Digital Life – People spend more than eight hours a day in front of a screen... whether that's a computer, phone, or television. This is a hazardous habit. As I'll touch on later, these devices emit blue light, disrupting your circadian rhythms.
Moreover, the screen time is also making you fat. Have you ever sat in front a TV with a bowl full of chips and discover, before you know it, the bowl's empty? It's called mindless eating.
Screen time also increases stress. According to a study from the Univer­sity of British Columbia, people who check e-mail often at work are more stressed than people who spend less time checking e-mail. Frequently check­ing e-mail also hurts productivity. A study from the University of Lon­don found that interrupting a task to check e-mail or a text message low­ers IQ by 10 points.
More research is coming out on the dangers of digital equipment in our lives. I suspect that next year this category will move up a few notches. It's turning out to be that critical within our lives.
11. Blueberries – Blueberries are a true superfood. They're packed with antioxidants (like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, fiber, and manganese), flavonoids, anthocyanins (this gives them the blue color), and other chemi­cals. They lower cholesterol, improve eyesight, and reduce inflammation.
If you don't like blueberries, other berries – raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries – have similar benefits. To get even more benefits, pair your berries with yogurt. The probiotics in foods like yogurt, help break down the antioxidants in blueberries (called polyphenols) to more usable forms. This allows your body to absorb more of the nutrients and reap more benefits.
I eat berries year-round in yogurt, oatmeal, and by themselves. I always keep packages of wild blueberries in my freezer so I can eat them even when they're not in season. I eat about a half-cup per day.
10. Music – If such a thing as a "miracle cure" exists, music comes close. Music can improve mood, boost immune function, increase exercise stamina, reduce chronic pain, and reduce pain after surgery. Also, most of Mozart's music, as well as much Baroque music, greatly improves learning, test taking, creativity, and spatial reasoning.
I change the type of music I'm listening to depending on my activity and mood. As most people in my office could tell you, I listen to a mix of clas­sical and jazz during the workday. It keeps me calm and helps me to concentrate. Toward the end of the day, when people typically get tired, I'll switch to more upbeat music to keep me energized.
9. Stop Sharing – Eating and drinking from other people's utensils and glasses is one of the quickest ways to get a cold. And not just colds... It can result in cold sores. Known as the "herpes simplex virus type 1," cold sores are the painful blisters you get around your mouth and nose. They last for about a week and can lead to cold or flu-like symptoms. It's also the quickest way to spread a sore throat and gut bugs.
That's why I tell people every year to stop sharing utensils. During the winters I shared utensils, I'd suffer multiple colds. Once I stopped, I had only a rare cold during winter. Now when I feel the need to share food or drink, I get clean utensils and glasses.
8. Alcohol – Whether it's beer, liquor, or wine, moderate drinking of al­cohol is good for you. (I drink a large glass of wine a day.) Wine lowers blood sugar, decreases your risk of dementia, and protects your prostate. Beer is packed with B vitamins, which help maintain healthy insulin levels. Liquor has similar benefits to wine and beer, although to a lesser extent.
If you don't drink alcohol, there's increasing evidence than non-alcoholic red wine has health benefits as well. A 2012 Spanish study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research found that the antioxidants in non-alcoholic red wine were just as beneficial. While the study was small, it's promising for people who don't drink.
But if you do drink, remember, moderation is key... Too much disrupts your sleep cycles, increases blood pressure, and increases your risk of cancer.
7. Massage – Massage decreases inflammation and modulates the immune system. That means fewer aches and pains. Swedish-style massage is my preferred choice as it moves toxins out of the muscles and body tissues while assisting the immune system in its functions. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed Swedish massage helped patients with osteoarthritis improve their range of motion and decrease pain.
Massage is also a great way to relieve everyday pains and improve your mood. I try to get a full-body massage twice a month. If you find the right person, the energy flow and "recharging" alters your life for at least a couple days. If a professional massage isn't in the budget, find a partner who will exchange or barter with you.
There are also tools you can use to give yourself a massage. I use a Body Back Buddy to help relieve aches in my back. (You can find them on Amazon for less than $40.) You can even use a tennis ball. It's the quickest headache and back-pain reliever I know of. I travel with one and use the ball under my upper back and roll around until I find the pressure points. You can easily adjust how much weight is on the ball and the pressure points.

Look for the second part of this two-part series – and my top six health tips for 2015 – in tomorrow's DailyWealth.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig

Further Reading:

In January, Doc answered a question that's vital to your financial health. "It's possibly the most important question in personal finance," he writes. "How much cash should I hold?" Find out the answer here.
And just last week, Doc shared five simple tricks to help you save more money. "Remember that ultimately, how much you save will be the difference between a lifetime of poverty... or one of wealth," he writes. Learn all five of Doc's saving tricks right here.

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