On this week’s episode of Health + Happiness, Joy and Vivien explain how having a pet can benefit your health, whip up good-for-you cinnamon buns, and discuss what’s really going on when you crack your knuckles. Here’s a brief recap of what we learned in Episode 10. In case you missed it, you can watch the full episode here.

Pet Perks
We love our furry friends: 45 percent of Americans have a Fido or Max under their roof, and a third, a Kitty or Felix, according to statistics. And they love us right back—pets can actually help benefit our health and happiness. Grooming, petting and walking beloved animals provide an immune-boosting kick. Pets can also be heart-healthy because they reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, and they increase the amount of exercise folks get. They may reduce depression and feelings of loneliness as well. Not a pet owner? Visit a friend with a cute and cuddly creature to reap all these benefits.

Knuckle Cracking Know-How
About half of us crack our knuckles, and habitual knuckle crackers can do it more than five times a day! But does the common habit cause damage? A quick anatomy lesson: Synovial fluid is the lubricant that surrounds your joints all in your body. The sound that we call “cracking” is actually bubbles in the fluid bursting in the finger joint, similar to bubble wrap. Knuckle crackers have the same function, grip strength, and range of motion as non-crackers, but their cartilage can be thicker than in knuckle crackers. Bottom line: If it doesn’t cause you and pain and your family members don’t complain, you don’t have to stop popping.

Edible Headache Helper
A simple food remedy that may be able to help an achy head: flaxseed, a plant-based source of omega-3 fats, which have been shown to reduce the frequency, duration and severity of headaches. Look for ground flaxseeds; the powdered form is easier to digest and then mix into yogurt, oatmeal, cottage cheese, add to smoothies, or stir into pancake batter. Ground flaxseed can also serve as an egg substitute in recipes; mix 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds then toss into your recipe.

Joy Walking
How many teaspoons of added sugar are in the average cinnamon bun? If you guessed 14, you’re right! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons added sugar for women and 9 for men, which means you’d have to skip most store-bought or mall-made versions. Instead, whip up a batch of Joy’s homemade buns, which she calls CinnaYums. You are in for a real treat.

Supermarket Smarts
Be a savvy shopper with these five tips:
• Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
• Stick to the perimeter, which is where you’ll find the essentials, like fresh produce, dairy and protein.
• Bring a list and stick to it; this will cut down on impulse buys.
• Hit the frozen food aisle to cut down on waste and spoilage (it can also save you cash).
• Avoid highly processed foods and check ingredients lists.

Joyful Note 
Step outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself to take on a new hobby, make a new friend or try something adventurous. Become comfortable with discomfort. New and exciting opportunities await you!

Here’s hoping your week is filled with health, happiness and a daily dose of Joy. To catch up on episodes of Health+Happiness, click here.