Health & Fitness

Drs. Oz and Roizen: Avoid injuries at the amusement park

As the calendar closes in on Labor Day, some may be closing in on a trip to the amusement park. Sound like fun? Darn right!

But as doctors, we’d like to give you a heads-up. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said that in 2005 (the last year with stats) around 7,400 people were injured on amusement park rides. More recent info from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions says things are improving: In the U.S. in 2010, 290 million folks took around 1.7 billion rides. There were only 1,207 reports of ride-related injuries. Those numbers, however, don’t include the stiff necks, headaches or bruised elbows that happen to riders. That’s why we’ve got tips on how to come back home from Wild Rollercoaster World with great memories, not aches and pains.


Stay hydrated.

Thrills crank up stress hormones and increase your heart rate and breathing, which depletes fluids. Low on fluids? That builds stress. Then, here comes that headache.


Follow the rules.

Don’t bend age and height restrictions; they protect kids from getting bounced around (or worse) and keep too-heavy or too-tall adults from injury. (If you can’t get the safety bar locked down over your belly, get off the ride — and walk away from the park’s food stands, too.)


You be the canary.

If you’re not sure a ride is for your child, try it out solo. We know the lines are long, but there are no excuses for safety. Now go have fun.

Staying healthy on the late shift

If late-night TV hosts actually did their shows around the time they’re broadcast, they’d be candidates for late-shiftiness. But they don’t. Doctors and nurses (especially), police and firemen, transit drivers, loads of waitresses and factory workers do. And that disruption of your body’s built-in circadian rhythms, which control many biological functions, triggers a low-level but persistent inflammatory response. (You’re not made to stay awake while it’s dark.) That’s why obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and cancer risks are amped up by nightshift work. (Breast cancer risk increases 30 percent in women who’ve worked nights.)

So the bottom line is this: If you’re working the late shift (more than a third of the working population in North America does at some time), you can protect your health by:


Exercising before or after your shift.

It helps reset your clock and eases inflammation.


Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables

that are high in flavonoids (orange juice) and antioxidants (berries). That also tames inflammation.


Managing stress.

Working nights can pump up stress hormones that fuel disease; stress reduction lowers cortisol levels.

•  Getting sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours a night, preferably during the same hours.

You can do late-shift work and stay healthy, but you have to work at it a bit more than a 9-to-5er. And consider that your good fortune. You’ll leave them in the dust.

’Rhoid rage

If you’ve experienced one, you may suspect what the subject of Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” was really reacting to: his first hemorrhoid. These painful and persistent intruders pop up (and out) of your rectum when you have chronic constipation; excess pressure on the lower intestines (they plague pregnant women and the obese); inflammatory digestive problems; or if you sit too much. They bleed (seeing red spots on your toilet paper is common), sometimes they clot, and they can trigger itching and embarrassment. About 75 percent of you will get them, commonly between the ages of 45 and 65. Most of the time, you can prevent or remedy them with lifestyle changes.

To avoid them or get relief:

1. Drink plenty of water. You may not need 64 ounces a day (you get moisture from food) if you’re not sweating a lot, but water helps keep stools soft.

2. Increase your fiber intake to 30 or more grams a day: That equals 1/2 cup of navy beans, 1/2 cup of raspberries, 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables, 1 pear, 1/2 cup of brown rice and 1 medium zucchini.

3. Get active for 30 minutes most days.

4. Don’t strain when you go. Fiber supplements with psyllium husks (Metamucil) help. We both put it in our green drinks before each meal.

Now see here

In 1984, almost a quarter of all adults 65 and older had a hard time reading a newspaper because of vision problems; by 2010, that number dropped to less than 10 percent.

A cataract is caused by a clouding of the lens, and by age 80, half of all North Americans traditionally have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. What causes cataracts? Your lenses are made of water and proteins. As you age, the proteins can clump together, making it harder to see. Diabetes, smoking and chronic exposure to sunlight also increase the risk.

Symptoms include cloudy vision, problems with night vision, halos or glare around lights and double vision. Surgery is effective 90 percent of the time: After using minimally invasive techniques that remove the old lens, the surgeon inserts a clear, new plastic lens.

But whatever your age, you can delay or prevent cataracts. Eat a vegetable-rich diet high in antioxidants: Blueberries, beans, artichokes and apples are superstars, as are any foods with beta carotene (carrots), vitamin C (citrus fruits), vitamin E mixed tocopherols (nuts), lutein (spinach), lycopene (tomatoes) and selenium (Brazil nuts). Also, a multivitamin with DHA (the key component in fish oils) seems to protect your sight, so aim for 900 milligrams of DHA a day. You can it get from algal oil supplements. And wear 100 percent UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses.

Waist not, want not

Older guys with expanding waistlines (40 inches plus) are at risk for more than just another pair of Sans-a-Belt pants. They’re chancing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental dysfunction, along with some below-the-belt problems, too. Lower-urinary-tract symptoms (LUTS) that make urination difficult are a common complaint. A study at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, Dr. Oz’s hospital, found that 39 percent of men with the biggest waistlines (more than 36 inches) urinated more than eight times a day, but only 16 percent of men with the smallest waists went as often. It also found that men with LUTS had a huge drop in sexual performance: 74.5 percent of the big-waisted guys reported erectile dysfunction; only 32 percent of men with smaller waists did.

Here’s a simple three-step program to help:

1. Measure your waist. Place a tape measure snugly around your bare torso at your belly button. Keep it parallel to the floor all the way around. Exhale and measure. (Taking 2.5 inches off your 40-inch waist will let you go less, and get going more.)

2. Start walking as far as you can, with a goal of at least 10,000 steps a day. And start off with two pedometers so you’ll never have an excuse for not having one with you.

3. Upgrade your diet to include lots of veggies and fruits, lean proteins, 100 percent whole grains and no sugar or sugar syrups.