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Drs. Oz and Roizen: Exploring nonmedical pain relief for endometriosis

  • Published Monday, May 20, 2013, at 11:11 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, May 20, 2013, at 11:11 p.m.

Padma Lakshmi (“Top Chef”), Susan Sarandon (“The Big Wedding”), Whoopi Goldberg (“The View”) and another 100 million women worldwide contend with endometriosis, in which endometrial cells that line the uterus grow outside the uterus, causing adhesions, scarring, severe pain and a 30 to 40 percent risk of infertility.

Even though 10 percent of all women develop endometriosis, we’re just beginning to understand the causes: possibly a combination of immune-system misfires, exposure to environmental toxins (such as hormone disrupters in plastics), plus a genetic predisposition. Effective nonmedical treatments are emerging, but until recently, only hormone therapy, pain pills and surgery were offered, at a cost of $22 billion a year.

Our suggestions:

•  Stress reduction. Life stressors can aggravate immune-system misfires and amplify pain, so it’s important to meditate regularly. Acupuncture, biofeedback and massage also may ease stress and discomfort.

•  Vitamins E (1,200 IU of mixed tocopherols) and C (1,000 mg) daily. One study reports a 43 percent reduction in everyday pain and a 25 percent reduction in painful sex within eight weeks. Check with your doc if you are taking a statin or have smoked, as this amount of vitamin E may cause problems.

•  Eliminate all trans fats and boost your intake of omega-3. Eat salmon and ocean trout two to three times a week and take 900 IU of DHA from algal oil daily. In one study, women with the highest intake of trans fats were 48 percent more likely – and those with the highest intake of omega-3 were 22 percent LESS likely – to develop endometriosis.

The sanest food choices ever: nuts

Eating nuts regularly can help cool bodywide inflammation, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome (a heart-risky precursor to type 2 diabetes), lower blood pressure, reduce heart attack risk by 30 to 50 percent, shrink your waist (more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women means you’re obese), aid digestion and protect your brain. Eating 2 to 4 ounces of nuts a day may lower total cholesterol by up to 21 percent and LDL by up to 29 percent.

So here’s our scoop on nuts. And remember, substitute nuts for unhealthy carbs and fats in your diet; don’t add them to what you already eat.

•  Almonds: 1 ounce equals 23 nuts; 160 calories; 6 g protein; 14 g fat (1 g saturated); more calcium than any other nut, vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium and manganese.

•  Hazelnuts: 1 ounce equals 21 nuts; 176 calories; 4 g protein; 17 g fat (1 g saturated); a good source of vitamin E, copper and manganese.

•  Pecans: 1 ounce equals 19 halves; 195 calories; 3 g protein; 20 g fat (2 g saturated); a good source of manganese.

•  Pistachios: 1 ounce equals 49 nuts; 160 calories; 6 g protein; 14 g fat (2 g saturated); and thiamin, B-6, copper and manganese.

•  Walnuts: 1 ounce equals 14 halves; 185 calories; 4 g protein; 18 g fat (2 g saturated); the most alpha-lipoic acid of any nut, and the only nut with appreciable amounts of omega-3, plus copper and manganese.

Walk a mile for a veggie burger

Nowadays, some menus tell you how many minutes you must walk to burn off your meal. And the info produces pretty good results: Most people who see what it takes will order lower-calorie foods. (It takes two hours for a burger, another two for fries. Add sugary soda? We won’t even go there!)

But two hours spent walking does more than burn calories; it builds muscle and improves heart health, respiration, appetite control and cognition. So let’s see menu info on the power of walking 10,000 steps a day.

And – this is a biggie – walking off a burger doesn’t negate the risks that come from eating it. Red meat increases bodywide inflammation, cardiovascular damage and cognitive decline. Order fish (grilled, never fried) or a veggie burger.

In the meantime, when you read the menu, remember:

1. Don’t order anything that’s fried.

2. Watch out for calories and fat in salad dressings, sauces and dips.

3. Say “no” to sugary beverages.

4. And whether you’re inclined to eat a burger or not, aim for at least 30 minutes of daily activity. Walk that mile for a longer, healthier life.

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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