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health as it happens

Health tips from Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen for 8-17-21 - The Dispatch - The Commercial Dispatch

Attitude and action to win over this past year’s challenges “Live long and prosper.” That famous line from the Vulcan Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) should be your motto for the coming year. And here’s how to do it — despite the recent news about just how tough it’s been.

A study that looked at 29 folks, ages 90 to 100, uncovered two powerful secrets to longevity: acceptance of and recovery from things you can’t change and an impulse to fight for the things you can alter. This is valuable information — especially now that life expectancy in the U.S. is falling.

COVID-19 contributed to a decline in life expectancy from age 78.8 in 2019 to age 77.3 in 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In addition, more than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses — a 30 percent increase over 2019. Homicides and deaths from diabetes and chronic liver disease also made major dents in longevity.

So what can you do to buck this trend? 1. Get vaccinated pronto. 100 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 in June in Maryland were among nonvaccinated people.

2. Reassert control over your health. See your doctor for checkups and tests, especially if you have diabetes or other chronic conditions and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Reach out to support groups if you have alcohol- or substance-related disorders or suicidal thoughts and behavior.

3. Revamp your nutrition and your physical activity routine. Nutrition influences everything from longevity to mood. There’s great guidance in Dr. Mike’s book “What to Eat When” and at DoctorOz.com, click on OZtube/Body.

If you aren’t getting vaccinated for yourself — do it for your pet! When John Legend did the ad “This Shot Is Our Shot” to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine and then put his inoculation up online, he was thinking about all the heartache that could be prevented by protecting folks from contracting the sometimes-fatal infection. But we bet John and his wife Chrissy Teigen — who posted info on her shot on Facebook — didn’t know what a huge benefit their inoculations would be to their bulldogs Pablo, Penny and Pippa and their poodle named Petey.

It turns out that when a pet owner gets COVID-19, 67 percent of housecats and 43 percent of dogs also become infected. That’s the conclusion of researchers from Canada’s University of Guelph, who did a study of 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 households in which an owner had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Their paper, presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology Infectious Diseases 2021, found that while most infected pets were asymptomatic, 20 percent of the dogs experienced lack of energy and loss of appetite, a cough or diarrhea; 27 percent of cats ended up with a runny nose and difficulty breathing.

The researchers’ advice: If you get COVID-19, stay away from your pet, and don’t allow it to sleep with you. Also smart: If you have COVID-19 in your house, keep your pet away from other people and pets. Once a cat or dog becomes infected, pet-to-pet and pet-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out say the researchers.

How to stay cool in a heat wave Martha and the Vandellas sang about the torment of a “Heat Wave” in their 1963 hit: “It’s like a heat wave/burnin’ in my heart/ It’s like a heat wave/It’s tearin’ me apart.” They did a pretty good job of predicting the effect of the scorching temperatures the U.S. has been experiencing this summer.

At least 67 weather stations from Washington State through New Mexico have recorded their hottest temperatures ever, according to the National Weather Service. And as risky as that is for the earth’s — and people’s — future, it also poses an immediate threat to you. High temperatures can cause dehydration, heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps; strain the cardiovascular and respiratory systems; and even increase interpersonal conflict. Research also shows strong links between climate crises and development of depression, anxiety and PTSD. So how can you stay cool, calm and collected when it’s steamy outside?

BIG NEWS: Don’t use an electric fan when the indoor air temperature is over 95 degrees. The breeze can actually cause your body to gain heat instead of losing it!

■ If you have air conditioning, use it or go to an air-conditioned building or cooling center. For locations, Google “cooling centers (and the name of your town)”. And (duh!) wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

■ In a cool environment, drink a tall glass of plain water every couple hours. In the heat, have a water bottle with you and sip every 10-15 minutes. Nothing sugary.

■ Exercise (keep doing it!) indoors in a cool place.

Think, sweat, think sweat — that may delay dementia Brute strength: 6 feet 9 inch tall “Game of Thrones” actor Hafthor Bjornsson set a world deadlifting record by lifting 1,104 pounds. Brain power: Dr. Sho Yano has an IQ of 200, started college at age 9 and earned an M.D. and Ph.D. by the time he was 21.

Imagine if such brains and brawn were found in one person. Well, they can be — in you! And you don’t have to hold the world’s record in both strength and intelligence to get the benefits of that combination: a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and a healthier cardio and respiratory system. So here’s how to harness the benefits.

A study in the journal Neurology followed 1,978 people, average age 80, and found that doing simple cognitive “exercises” such as reading, writing letters, playing card games and doing puzzles may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by up to five years. And brain workouts later in life — not as a younger person — are what delayed the participants’ cognitive decline.

While you’re strengthening your brain, pay attention to your body. Another research team found that one year of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic walking two to three times a week for 30 minutes — gradually increasing to four to five times weekly with two sessions of high intensity — improves cardiorespiratory fitness, cerebral blood flow, memory and executive function in folks with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers say that also may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s. We say combine brains and brawn and you’ll have a win-win well into your 80s and 90s!

The alpha and omega-3 of a longer life An adult male bear on Kodiak Island in Alaska eats more than 6,000 pounds of salmon a year; females gobble up about half of that. And without any bagels! Fortunately, to get the remarkable benefits of eating omega-3-rich foods, you only need to eat a 3- to 6-ounce serving of salmon regularly. Dr. Mike loves salmon burgers — even for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, he adds olives and broccoli or grilled vegetables.

A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at data from blood tests on more than 2,200 people over age 65 for an average of 11 years. The researchers from The Fatty Acid Research Institute in the United States and colleagues in universities in the U.S. and Canada found that folks with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood saw an increase in life expectancy of almost five years. That’s a huge increase in longevity from simply enjoying incredibly tasty foods.

The alpha and omega-3 of your choices: In every 3.5-ounce serving, wild salmon has 2,260 milligrams, herring 2,366 milligrams, sardines 1,480 milligrams and anchovies 2,113 milligrams. Flaxseed delivers 7,260 milligrams per tablespoon; and chia seeds and walnuts dish up 5,060 milligrams and 2,570 milligrams per ounce respectively. The benefit of adding these foods (in human size portions) is clear. According to the study author: “It reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.”

Shades of brain health In 1986, when Cyndi Lauper sang “True Colors” — “I see your true colors shining through/I see your true colors and that’s why I love you/So don’t be afraid to let them show” — she had no idea just how important it was for everyone to put those true colors on display … on their breakfast, lunch and dinner plates! But a new study in the journal Neurology reveals the power of colorful fruits and vegetables to protect you from cognitive decline as you get older.

The study, led by renowned Harvard nutrition researcher Walter Willet, followed almost 50,000 men and women, average age 51 at the start of the study, for 20 years. It revealed that eating flavonoid-rich, colorful foods such as apples; celery; red, blue and purple berries and grapes; hot and sweet peppers; eggplant; plums; carrots; citrus fruits; and even thyme and parsley can reduce your risk for encroaching dementia by 20 percent.

The study found that taking in 600 milligrams of flavonoids a day is what it takes to help combat cognitive decline — 3.5 ounces of strawberries dishes up around 180 milligrams; a medium apple, 113 milligrams. In the U.S., adults only get about 200 to 250 milligrams a day, just a bit above the study group with the lowest intake and greatest risk of cognition problems.

If you make an effort to increase your intake, you’ll gain flavonoids’ neuroprotection. They also turn out to be anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic. So make your life a bowl full of cherries — and other colorful flavonoid-rich foods.

Foods that damage your immune strength Kryptonite immobilizes Superman. Spider-Man’s archenemy, Venom, changes from predator to weakling at the sight of a flame. And you? Well, it turns out certain foods have superpowers that weaken your immune system, transforming you from super-germ fighter to a target for everything from the common cold to COVID-19. The most immune-weakening consumables are:

Excess alcohol. Whether it’s a daily overdose or you binge once a week, you’re increasing your risk for pneumonia and acute respiratory stress syndromes. That could potentially impact the outcome of COVID-19. It also leads to slower recovery from infection and post-op complications.

Too much salt. That causes a cascade of events, starting with the kidneys excreting excess sodium and ending with a reduction in your body’s ability to fight bacterial infections. As little as 6 extra grams a day has that effect. Your daily average should be below 3 grams a day.

Added sugar. As little as 3.5 ounces (that’s in a 16-ounce Coke, a Big Mac and a slice of pecan pie) can reduce the ability of immune cells to neutralize bacteria for up to five hours.

Highly processed foods. Stripped of fiber, these alter the mix of microbes in your gut biome, where 70 percent to 80 percent of immune cells hang out, making them less able to battle viruses. Getting adequate fiber (25 to 30 grams daily) has been shown to strengthen your flu-fighting powers. Whole cereals, veggies and fruit, and beans are go-to sources — plus they supply vitamins A and C, folate and bioactive compounds that also boost immune health.

Playing hooky from your statin? Look for some new alternatives There are over 1 million students in the New York City public school system, and more than 22 percent of them are chronically absent from the classroom (pre-pandemic). That’s not good for their future. But even more adults — around 50 percent — fail to show up for their life-saving daily dose of a statin. Now, that really threatens their future.

Fortunately, there are new cholesterol-fighting medications that even your doc might not be aware of, according to a new JAMA Insights Clinical Update. So if you’re not taking your prescribed statin or your lousy LDL cholesterol level is too high, ask about trying one of the following drugs on its own or with a statin. Most are covered by insurance — if you’re statin resistant or have had statin myopathy from two different statins.

PSCK-9 inhibitors. A monoclonal antibody administered by injection every two to four weeks, it reduces LDL by 50 percent to 60 percent and is well-tolerated. Check to see if your insurance covers it. Ezetimibe. An inexpensive generic, this cuts intestinal absorption of cholesterol and reduces LDL levels by 10 percent to 20 percent. Good in combo with a statin.

Bempedoic acid. It lowers LDL by about 20 percent with few side effects. It’s not yet known how much it reduces the risk of atherosclerotic-related cardiovascular disease; check price and insurance coverage.

Icosapent ethyl. An omega-3 fatty acid that, when added to statin therapy for patients with high triglyceride levels, can reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk by 25 percent. Highly variable out-of-pocket cost.

As you age you may need fewer calories — but more nutrients The world’s oldest magic trick, acetabula et calculi, reportedly dates back to early Rome. Today, it’s known as cups and balls and while there are endless variations, it all comes down to trying to figure out how small balls pop in and out of three upside-down cups unseen.

Making sure you get enough nutrition as you get older also requires a sleight of hand. You need extra nutrients to protect your strength, cognition, immune function and bone, eye and heart health, while you take in fewer calories daily. Here are four nutrients you should pack into every day.

Calcium: For bone health, aim for three servings a day of fat-free dairy, two servings daily of dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards. Also good: canned fish, like sardines.

Vitamin D: Get a good daily dose from fish such as salmon, mushrooms and fortified foods. Get your blood level checked: Most folks need a supplement too. It helps with immune function and bone strength.

Vitamin B12: Essential for nerve and blood cell health, it’s in fortified whole-grain cereals, lean meat and fish. A blood test will show if you need a supplement.

Protein: Whole grains and legumes, tofu, fish, nuts and lean poultry can deliver the protein you need to gain and maintain muscle mass and function. A 150- to 160-pound senior might need 65 to 70 grams daily. That could come from 6 ounces of salmon (40 grams), 3 ounces of white meat turkey (24 grams) and 1 cup of brown rice (5 grams).

The amazing power of diet to cool menopause hot flashes In 2014, then 61-year-old Emma Thompson joked about her hot flashes as she accepted a best actress award from the National Board of Review for her role in “Saving Mr. Banks”: “It’s such a cold night. You know, it’s the first time I’ve been actively grateful for the menopause.” Sound familiar?

Around 85 percent of postmenopausal women say symptoms such as hot flashes, palpitations and insomnia define the months or years around the cessation of menstruation. Many just tough it out, because for years they were told to take hormone replacement therapy, then told, “No, hormone therapy is too risky,” then, that it’s really OK if done immediately after menopause and for no more than 10-20 years (the correct information in our opinion — if you also take low-dose aspirin).

Too bad this new study, led by Physicians for Responsible Medicine’s founding president Neal Barnard, wasn’t around sooner. It’s a real game changer. During the 12-week study, the research published in the journal Menopause found that a plant-based diet, rich in soy, reduces moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84 percent! Close to 60 percent of participants became totally free of moderate-to-severe hot flashes — and women who experienced mild hot flashes saw them decrease by 79 percent.

The diet that produced these remarkable results was low-fat and vegan, based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, reduced intake of added oils and fatty foods, and — here’s the kicker — 1/2 cup of cooked non-GMO soybeans daily. In our humble opinion, this diet deserves to be adopted by any woman who’s contending with menopause symptoms.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.