Health & Fitness

October 1, 2013

You Docs: The real brew-haha may be on you

Americans down 6.3 billion (yes, with a “b”) gallons of brewski a year without really knowing what’s in the brew. You may think you know, but most large American macro-breweries are hush-hush about what goes into their pale, watery, low-alcohol (around 5 percent) beers.

Americans down 6.3 billion (yes, with a “b”) gallons of brewski a year without really knowing what’s in the brew. You may think you know, but most large American macro-breweries are hush-hush about what goes into their pale, watery, low-alcohol (around 5 percent) beers. They care more about their bottom line and taking shortcuts to activate your taste buds than your health or your waistline.

It seems some of the suds that find their way to you from, oh, let’s say the Rocky Mountains, contain ingredients that hardly reflect a brewer’s art. Bad addition No. 1? Genetically modified high fructose corn syrup, a key player in our national obesity and diabetes epidemic. How does this happen?

Well, American beers are regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, not the Food and Drug Administration, and can contain GMO rice, sugars and syrups; dextrose, maltose and corn syrup; plus caramel coloring class III and IV, which are classified as carcinogens; and food colorings FD&C blue No. 1, yellow No. 2 and red No. 40, all linked to asthma, allergies and perhaps hyperactivity. Throw in some alcohol and a little BPA from the lining of the can or keg and this brew’s not for you.

Certified organic beers, however, are not allowed to contain GMOs, nor do many European brews, and microbreweries tend to go for traditional ingredients. And you can always enjoy a glass of heart-friendly wine (one a day for women; two for men) if you’re not at risk for alcohol-related problems.

Dodging the obesity bullet

John Candy, Dan Blocker and Marlon Brando shared more than talent, unfortunately. They’re not-so-living proof of the latest findings on the risks of body fat: Obesity kills. And contrary to that list of stars, it’s women who seem to be tipping the scales most dangerously. About 27 percent of deaths of Caucasian women and 22 percent of black women can be attributed to being overweight, while it’s only 5 percent for white men and 16 percent for black men.

You don’t have to be morbidly obese to die from carrying too much fat. Even an extra 10 to 20 pounds over your ideal weigh increases your risk of premature death if you’re between 30 and 64 years old.

Luckily, you can avoid becoming one of those statistics.

First, make a commitment to maintain a healthy weight – then enlist friends and family to join in. Sign up for classes and groups that aim for healthy exercise and diet choices. The power of two or more to help you stick with a new, healthy routine is amazing.

Get moving: You and a workout buddy should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day – or jog, swim or cycle for 30 to 60 minutes. A minute of exercise counts as 100 steps. And do strength training two to three days a week.

The power of two also applies to food. Arrange with a work pal to take turns bringing in healthful lunches. At home, get everyone involved in meal planning, with great-tasting veggies, lean protein and whole grains.

These three steps can reshape your body – and your future.

Cold sores

In the 1960s “Batman” series, Mr. Freeze, played by Otto Preminger, blasted Robin and Batman with his freeze gun. It was great fun. But when the herpes simplex 1 virus blasts its DNA into your cells, the resulting cold sore is not very amusing.

About 60 percent of folks in North America between the ages of 14 and 49 carry the cold-sore virus, and the sores do come and go (there’s no known cure). It seems that when your immune system has to fight off other infections, it’s less able to suppress this one, and you get a flare. Your best protection is to keep your immune system strong.

• Get plenty of vitamin D-3 (1,000-2,000 IU a day), and get your blood levels checked so you can adjust the dose to what you need.
• Take probiotics so that gut bacteria help you fight the good fight.
• Enjoy regular physical activity (10,000 steps a day) and eat an anti-inflammatory diet that avoids the Five Food Felons (added sugars and sugar syrups, any grain that’s not 100 percent whole, all trans and most saturated fats).

For treatment of flares, tune in to clues that one’s coming (burning or tingling at the future site), and act fast to cut it short. Use antiviral cream containing docosanol or acyclovir, or a combination of 5 percent acyclovir and 1 percent hydrocortisone. There also are antiviral pills. And concealing patches or medical makeup can make you feel less conspicuous as the sore heals.

Importance of omega 3s

On “The Patty Duke Show” (1963-1966), Patty’s adolescent brother Ross (Paul O’Keefe) was sharp as a tack and pretty resilient, considering how his sister Patty treated him. So, with a bit of retrospective forensic guessing, we’d say he definitely was not deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Turns out this powerful, healthy oil (found in salmon and ocean trout) not only helps protect your heart, brain and immune system, but for teens, it also affects dopamine levels and mood. A deficiency creates anxiety and depression.

If you think your adolescent seems extra moody – a good dose naturally comes with the territory, since all those hormones are flying around – consider this. A new study points out that a diet deficient in omega-3s can contribute to teenage angst. And for you not-yet-parents of teens, listen up. Parents’ omega-3 deficiency can trigger emotional and health problems in future children. You need to make sure you’re getting a good supply.

• Serve fish (salmon and ocean trout, plus tuna and mackerel) two to three times weekly. And encourage teens to snack on six to 12 walnut halves.
• For extra protection, adults should take 900 mg a day of DHA omega-3 (we like algal oil). Teens should be encouraged to get as much from food as possible, and then add a lower-dose supplement (about 400 mg of DHA daily).

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