Eat to beat that coughBefore you stock up on throat lozenges, try filling your plate with fish or eggs. Both of these foods are high in vitamin B12—and a new study from Italy’s University of Turin shows that nearly half of people with an unexplained chronic cough are deficient in the nutrient. “Nerves need vitamin B12 to function,” says lead researcher Caterina Bucca, M.D. “So not getting enough can lead to inflammation, which can irritate airways.” In fact, she found that participants who took one B12 supplement a week coughed less and breathed more easily after two months.
If you’ve been hacking for more than four weeks, make an appointment with a physician, who can test your B12 levels and screen for other culprits, such as a respiratory infection. In the meantime, cover your bases by getting at least 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of the vitamin daily from foods like trout (5.4 mcg for 3 ounces), eggs (0.6 mcg each), and lowfat yogurt (1.5 mcg per cup).
The healthy way to snackYou probably don’t think of your afternoon bag of popcorn as a superfood, but you should. A recent study from the University of Scranton found that the snack contains up to six times the amount of antioxidants called polyphenols as fruits and vegetables. (In the cereal category, raisin bran scored highest.) “We used to believe fiber was the reason whole grains protect against heart disease and cancer,” says lead researcher Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the university. “But our research suggests their polyphenol content may be more important.” Refined grains make up a whopping 85 percent of carbs consumed daily, so in addition to swapping pretzels for light microwave or air-popped popcorn, trade saltines for whole-grain crackers and cornflakes for whole-wheat flakes.
Try this! Pop a stick of gum. Research shows that people eat 67 fewer calories at lunch when they chew for an hour in the morning. Experts say the act of chomping boosts satiety and curbs hunger.