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Drs. Oz and Roizen: Zinc a necessary but overlooked mineral

  • Published Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, at 10:13 p.m.

It’s estimated that about 40 percent of people 60 and older are deficient in the often overlooked zinc nutrient because they don’t get enough in their diet and their body can’t absorb or use it as efficiently as it once did. You need this mineral because zinc affects DNA synthesis, wound healing and the activities of up to 100 essential enzymes.

If you’re low on zinc, you’re at an increased risk for cancer, immune deficiency, bodywide inflammation, gastrointestinal problems and loss of brain power. And it’s just as important to teens (it promotes growth and avoids behavioral problems) and young adults (those looking for good reproductive health).

Fortunately, you can get a good dose of zinc from food: oysters (3 ounces deliver almost 500 times the recommended daily value), crab, beans, nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals are some of the best sources. Unfortunately for vegetarians, zinc is harder to absorb from grains and vegetables than from low-fat, no-sugar-added dairy, seafood and meat. Daily supplements can help you make sure that you’re getting enough (the body can’t store it), but don’t overdo it. Too much interferes with absorption of copper and other vital nutrients. Aim for no less than 15 milligrams (from food and supplements) and no more than 30 milligrams, and you’ll be zinc-ing a happy tune.

Diabetic? Reclaim your fit self

With the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (there are 25 million and 79 million of each in the U.S.), it’s time to revisit that intensity with an innovative exercise routine that helps you move it, lose it, and prevent and control diabetes.

It turns out just 2.5 minutes of concentrated effort (call it hammering), followed by a protracted cooldown, burns an extra 200 calories a day. That adds up big time. Even if you have diabetes and are out of shape, 12 weeks of regular exercise (with some hammer time) can boost your fitness level 40 percent and get your blood sugar levels into line.

We love a walking routine that takes you through a fast pace (say 130 steps a minute) followed by 10 to 15 minutes of a steady stride of 100 steps per minute. You also can follow that pattern while cycling, jogging, swimming. Talk about amplifying your well-being.

Want more immediate results? Combine your new exercise routine with Dr. Oz’s 90/10 kick-start plan for weight loss: For 1 week, make your diet 90 percent veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts, beans and whole grains; the remaining 10 percent from lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy oils. Losing 10 percent of your body weight can normalize glucose levels and reduce your risk of diabetes, prediabetes and all those related complications. Feel the burn.

Gum health is whole-body health

As you get older, you tend to neglect your teeth (one-third to one-half of adults in North America don’t make their yearly dental check-up, and only 36 percent of women and 14 percent of men floss even four times a week), which is a big reason why 75 percent of adults have some form of gum disease.

When that happens, the health issues aren’t just in your mouth. Gum disease increases the risk for kidney cancer by 49 percent, pancreatic cancer by 54 percent and blood cancers by 30 percent. It also ups the chances for type 2 diabetes and related complications, rheumatoid arthritis, impotence, memory dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. There’s still debate about whether it triggers heart disease; the American Heart Association says no. But we think the proof is out there. Clearly, you want to brush up on your dental routine.

Fortunately, we’ve got two smart ways to give your whole body a reason to smile.

1. Brush, rinse, floss. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day; floss once; and use a non-alcohol-based mouthwash (the alcohol may contribute to risk for oral cancer).

2. Opt for the two Cs: crunchy foods (apples, celery and carrots are tooth-brushing wonders), and a cuppa tea (green or black — both kill bad bacteria).

Multivitamins prevent cancer

A 14-year study of more than 14,000 middle-age male doctors reveals that taking a daily multivitamin cuts the risk of cancer by 8 percent — and, if you factor out prostate cancer (it accounted for half the cancers, which in many cases were caught early and treated effectively), a steady supply of vitamins and minerals is a lot more powerful cancer deterrent than that.

So how can a guy grab this advantage? We say, take your multivitamin and then rev up your health with even more cancer-proofing nutrition and supplements.

The foods that cool: Reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system and ride roughshod over your cancer risk by eliminating trans fats, most saturated fats, all added sugars and sugar syrups and any grain that’s not 100 percent whole. Now don’t slow down. Add in phytonutrient and antioxidant-rich veggies like kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli, and lycopene-packing tomatoes. Choose fruits loaded with cancer-fighting lupeol: grapes, mangoes and strawberries.

Super-boosters: Take 900 milligrams of DHA omega-3 a day. If your D-3 levels are OK (a blood test will tell you), get 1,000 IU a day from food and supplements. Make it 1,200 after age 60.

From instant gratification to lifelong happiness

Our fast-food, living-off-credit culture has turned up the volume on what-I-want-I-want-now. And kids and adults who opt for immediate gratification often are obese and have to deal with what that leads to: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more. But you don’t have to get hooked on that feeling, or suffer the health repercussions that go along with it.

So here’s our step-by-step guide to taking the long view — and dodging the health problems of immediate gratification. You’ll be surprised how much willpower you can exert and how the rewards will last a lifetime.

1. Choose a mantra that moves you. To stop yourself from automatically grabbing a cookie, or opting for couch-potato land, come up with an inspiring motto to say out loud when temptation hits. Try: “I can feel better,” or “I am not going to do that today; instead, I’ll take a walk.” Then take a walk outdoors — 30 to 60 minutes will transform your attitude and banish cravings.

2. Set a realistic goal that will make you happy. Maybe it’s to lose 10 pounds, stop smoking or walk for 45 minutes a day. You get the idea.

3. Get a buddy, and enlist supporters to help you achieve your goal. Support will give you the willpower and confidence you need to be powerfully effective.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

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