Health & Fitness

You Docs: Get extra water through fruit, vegetables

Every year, North Americans each chug down more than 26 gallons of bottled water in a seemingly unquenchable attempt to satisfy our thirst. That amounts to millions of plastic bottles clogging up landfills, and billions of dollars spent on what’s often no more than recycled municipal water. So we have a tip: Eat some of your daily dose of water in fruits and vegetables. You’ll not only quench your thirst, you’ll rev up your disease-fighting powers.

What you do drink can include plain water and juice, nonfat milk, even coffee (the diuretic effect of caffeinated beverages goes away if we drink them regularly, and 1 cup of coffee gives you about 2/3 cup of water). And remember, drink when you want to; don’t wait until you get parched.

But you also can pull down 50 percent of your daily dose of H20 with fruits and vegetables. Broccoli is 92 percent water, a tomato is 94 percent and a pear 84 percent. That means one serving of broccoli (4 ounces) gives you 3 ounces of water. Get your four to five cups of fruits and vegetables a day, and you’ll take in a third to a half of the recommended intake of fluids. You’ll know you’re getting enough water when your pee is pale (think light beer, maybe). So set ’em up, Jack. We’ll take a watermelon shot and a cucumber chaser, hold the ice.

Tame your talkative tummy

Belches can come on unexpectedly. They are typically a signal that you’re swallowing too much air too quickly – from gulping down food and drink, feeling a bit nervous, drinking through a straw, chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy. Sometimes, though, burps could signal gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a malady that releases stomach acid up into the esophagus. And while GERD should be treated to avoid complications, mild and occasional burps generally do little harm, except to your social standing.

But if you’re one of the 24 million or more folks in North America who feel you’re losing the battle of the burp, and want them to stop now, we can help you make them cease and desist. Here are a few smart self-care tips:

•  Take an antacid if you must, but first

•  Slow down when you eat; chew your food completely before swallowing; don’t talk during meals or exercise right after eating.

•  Try drinking a teaspoon of lemon juice added to a glass of water or a cup of peppermint or chamomile tea.

•  Calm down with a bit of mindful meditation; it reduces stress and slows down your breathing, which can help quiet your noisy belly.

Conquering claustrophobia

Many folks – like Jennifer Love Hewitt, who gets antsy in elevators, and Paris Hilton, who spent days in the medical wing of L.A.’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility when she saw the size of her jail cell – have had a negative reaction to being closed into a tight spot with no way out.

Fortunately, the condition can be diagnosed and treated quite successfully, and many health insurance plans cover the cost. The two ways claustrophobia is best managed are through the appropriate use of medications to ease anxiety and cognitive behavioral therapy – what we like to call “talk therapy with a homework plan.” (You can do it one-on-one or in a group.) This form of therapy helps you learn how to reduce your fear by changing thinking patterns and handle anxiety-provoking situations by adopting new ways of reacting to them.

So call your local medical facility. In the meantime, work on managing your phobia with meditation, yoga, a healthy diet and the support of friends and family. You may be surprised at how wonderful closeness can feel.

Avoiding weekend warrior foot pain

As you ramp up your outdoor workouts, we want to make sure you aren’t one more candidate for foot pain – and the performance problems that come with it.

Lots of strains, sprains and pops happen when the rubber meets the road (we’re talking about the soles of even top athletic shoes). A pair of pricey running kicks may be Err Jordans for you. How come? Your stride is unique, like a fingerprint — and if you don’t get your sports shoes fitted properly, you can end up with joint and muscle problems from foot to shoulder.

But you can custom-fit your sports shoes to your footfall with an orthotic insert. Some shoe stores have pressure-reading footfall analyzers that customize the insole of the shoe right there. Or start your spring training with a visit to an orthopedist or podiatrist for a mold or a 3D scan of each foot. They reveal if you need more support on your arch, or if you turn your foot in or out when you stride. This can guide your doc to create a perfectly fitted insert to protect your feet and body from injury.

Bonus: Dr. Oz is a fan of stretching to avoid injury: Loosen hips and hamstrings, pecs, torso and lower back. Use your body weight to gently pull your body in all directions. Hold each move for about 15 seconds.

Ways to tame your seasonal allergies

With a little smarts, you can turn down the volume on your nose-orchestra. We want to pass along the latest how-to-feel-better news:

1. Make a stay-strong grocery list. Dark leafy vegetables, 100 percent whole grains, unsaturated fats and lean protein boost immune strength. And avoid pollen allergy co-conspirators: 70 percent of those with allergies to birch or alder trees also get an itchy, swollen mouth from celery, cherries and apples. And 20 percent with a grass allergy react to tomatoes, potatoes or peaches. Cooking them may quell irritants, or leave them off your menu.

2. Get a great air filter. Whole-house systems with HEPA air filters are most effective. Stand-alone room filters have to pump out a lot of pollen-free air to make a difference, but do help.

3. Create a safe zone the bedroom. Shut windows to minimize pollen on upholstered furniture and surfaces. Take shoes off at the doorway, and keep pets out – their coats can get loaded with pollen. Avoid compounding seasonal allergies with a dust mite allergy: Use 1 micron allergy-proof pillow cases and mattress pads.

4. Stay fresh. Take a shower and wash your hair before bed to remove accumulated pollen.

5. Get an allergy checkup to ID what’s getting you. Consider allergy shots to reduce sensitivity to specific pollens. Also consider antihistamines, if needed. Then head out for a healthy dose of springtime physical activity.