By Michael Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, June 24, 2018
It’s estimated that 90 to 95 percent of cancers have their roots in environment and lifestyle; about 80 percent of people with diabetes are overweight or obese; more than 25 percent of deaths from heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke could be avoided; and between 33 to 90 percent of dementia is preventable.
Yet most people mosey along, thinking they can get away with being overweight (more than 70 percent of U.S. adults), having prediabetes or diabetes (more than half), fueling cancer with sedentary behavior (80 percent of U.S. adults don’t meet minimum activity guidelines) and continuing to inject toxins into their body through tobacco, highly processed meats and lots of ultra-processed foods. And lifestyle treatments — reducing your exposure to toxins, mold or heavy metals — have disappointing results at reversing dementia once it starts. So, start doing preventive stuff today! It’s time to:
Stop: Take a break and take time to smell the healthy coffee. Consider picking up some healthy habits.
Look: There are wonderful opportunities all around you. Seize a healthy lifestyle habit (or three) and revel in the positive results. Discover how to move, eat well and have a longer, healthier, happier life.
Listen: We’re offering you tips to launch you on the road to preventing disease instead of reacting to it.
Food is preventive medicine: Knock out cancer, dementia, diabetes and heart disease risks (not to mention wrinkles and a lousy sex life) by dodging added sugars, sat and trans fats and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole. Ditch “snake oil foods” that make claims about how they’ll make you sexier, stronger, more beautiful or more handsome; instead, chow down on 12 walnut halves and seven to nine servings of produce daily, use olive oil and eat 10 ounces of salmon or ocean trout weekly.
A study in the journal Neurology found that eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with a larger brain volume, more gray and white matter and better communication between neurons. And a recent Harvard study says that one-third of premature deaths could be avoided by switching to a plant-based diet.
Develop devotion to motion: Every day, find chances to move. Make sure you get an additional 30 or more minutes of activity (walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, you name it) five or more days a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that will reduce your risk for many cancers, heart disease, mental distress, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, plus provide weight control and strengthen bones and muscles. Exercise seven hours a week and you’ll slash your risk of dying early by 50 percent compared with folks who get only 30 minutes or less of activity weekly.
De-stress your distress: Find time to meditate, enjoy friends, sleep sufficiently, help others, and/or do yoga. It’ll lower your chronic stress response and dispel the harmful effects of too much cortisol pumping throughout your vascular system. A chronic stress response can suppress immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems, causing them to stop working normally. Over time it contributes to the development of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses, as well as depression or anxiety.
Find your fun: One study found the more enjoyable activities a person participated in, the healthier and happier they were. Writing in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine researchers associated fun with lower blood pressure as well as reduced levels of total cortisol, smaller waist circumference and body mass index, less depression and better all-around physical function.
Q: Why, when I am outside for a summer barbeque, do I attract 10 times more mosquitoes than everybody else?
Johnny D., Nashville, Tennessee
A: Lots of folks ask that question, and we have a few possible answers. But first, put on some insect repellant! According to Sharecare.com spokesman Dr. Clifford Bassett, 40 percent of you don’t even use it! That’s a big mistake. Not only does insect repellant ward off mosquitoes, it also repels ticks, jiggers and black flies. The most effective insect repellants are the ones with 30 percent or more DEET or picaridin. If you don’t want to use DEET (no studies have shown adverse effects), natural repellants such as lemon, eucalyptus and geranium oils also are effective.
That said, about 20 percent of you may be a member of that quick-to-itch subgroup for several reasons.
You’re a big target. Larger people, whether obese or pregnant, exhale more CO2, which is one way mosquitoes target you.
You use alcohol. Any alcohol you have at the BBQ can make you more of a target, perhaps because of increased body temperature or sweat.
You eat specific cheeses. Eating cheeses like Limburger can attract mosquitos to you.
You sweat. Mosquitoes are attracted to the chemicals found in perspiration.
You have type O blood. One study revealed that Aedes albopictus (one strain of mosquitoes) are 83.3 percent more likely to land on people with type O than people with type A, B or AB blood.
Solutions? Stick with spraying DEET on long pants, sleeves and any areas where your skin is exposed. Consumer Reports tested clothes treated with the insecticide permethrin and found that none of them was foolproof, plus the EPA classifies permethrin as a likely human carcinogen.
Contact Drs. Oz and Roizen at [email protected]