Drs. Oz and Roizen: Quit smoking now and reap the benefits

03/26/2013 8:53 AM

08/08/2014 10:15 AM

Even longtime smokers can get huge health benefits from stopping. But if they keep smoking, at 60 they’ll have the same risk of a heart attack as a 79-year-old nonsmoker.

If you’re a longtime smoker, here’s a short list of the better-health-right-now benefits of quitting.

1. Stop today and in 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse will decrease.

2. In 24 hours your chance of a heart attack begins to decrease.

3. In five years, you’re at half the risk for a heart attack or stroke as a smoker.

4. Quit at 50? By age 65, your risk of heart disease — and life expectancy — is similar to folks who never smoked.

Don’t resist the powers of resistant starch

Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that does not turn into sugar when you chew or digest it. Instead, it passes through your gastrointestinal system unchanged and emerges out the other end having done amazing good works along the way. High-fiber foods like legumes — navy beans, lentils, fava beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and edamame, for example — plus bananas, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice have a good dose of it.

Aim for 20 grams a day — that’s 1/2 cup navy beans and two slices of 100 percent whole-wheat bread, about four times more than most folks eat. The benefits?

• Good gut bacteria thrive, strengthening your immune system and protecting you from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
• Blood glucose doesn’t spike to cell-damaging levels, and your blood sugar levels stay relatively stable after a meal.
• And new findings: Cancer cells in the colon and gut are vanquished.

There’s one trick: Foods that contain resistant starch have to be eaten at room temperature or cooler. (Cook ’em, then cool ’em.) So enjoy a cold whole-wheat pasta salad (add salmon for double goodness) or four-bean salad with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Who’d want to resist that?

Are men and women more alike than we admit?

Somehow we’re still stuck with the idea that men and women come from two different planets. However, it seems that when researchers look at how each gender acts — in areas as wide-ranging as empathy, math ability, sexuality, fear of success and outgoingness — they find we’re all pretty much the same. There’s a wide range of variation between individuals, of course, but not between genders.

So if your true love seems bewilderingly “other,” what you think of as male or female qualities may not be what’s causing the confusion. (It seems that same-sex couples’ conflicts center on the same issues as heterosexual couples’: power/authority, money and intimacy.)

To get free of your gender biases here on Earth and have a nice launch together, here are a few dos and don’ts.

• Don’t start sentences with, “That’s just like a man/woman.” Do listen, pay attention and learn to empathize.
• Don’t focus on what “you don’t get.” Do focus on what you get.
• Don’t forget your goal: to have a loving relationship. Do find time to walk and to meditate together. It’ll open your hearts. And that makes your heart happier and healthier.

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