In the 1993 movie “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” every time Prince John appears on screen, the large mole on his face is in a different spot. His right-hand man finally points this out, saying, “Your majesty, stop me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t your mole on the other side?” Prince John responds: “I have a mole?”
The prince’s denial of this glaring facial feature is comical. But it’s no laughing matter that many of you are ignoring more serious health problems. In a survey, researchers gathered information on over 45,000 people’s heart-attack risk factors: high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking, chronic stress, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption. Participants also were asked what they should do to improve their physical health.
Almost three-quarters of respondents said they should improve their health, but around 55 percent of those folks also said there were barriers to doing so, such as lack of willpower and time. And almost 20 percent of people with five or more risk factors didn’t see any need to improve their health.
You have the power to change every risk factor. But don’t think you should do it alone. Enlist a workout buddy or a supportive friend; get your doc’s help with seeing a diabetes educator, nutritionist and/or physical therapist; for help with addictions, find a support group. You’ll reduce your risk of diabetes, depression, some cancers, a lousy sex life — and don’t forget heart disease! And have that mole looked at, too.
Probiotics or antibiotics to treat acne
The standard acne treatment uses antibiotics to wipe out bacteria that contribute to the chronic infection. But researchers from UCLA have discovered that it’s an imbalance of skin-loving and skin-damaging bacteria on your skin that is the real culprit. Wiping out either side of the bacterial equation may cause a greater imbalance in the skin microbiome, and more breakouts. (Yup, just like in your gut, you have a world of microbes living on your skin ... and you want them there and healthy.)
That’s why it may be more effective to promote a balance of those microbes by using oral and/or topical probiotics instead of antibiotics. We know you’re familiar with ingesting probiotics in yogurt or kefir, or taking oral supplements like Digestive Advantage and Culturelle, but you can offer your skin biome some direct probiotic help, too.
Several studies have found that applying probiotics acidifies the skin, prevents pathogens from sticking around and lets a balanced skin biome flourish, reducing acne lesions and redness. So talk to your dermatologist to find out how to use this new approach to get your acne under control and your skin biome back into balance.
Rosemary’s brain-boosting powers
In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Hamlet’s lover Ophelia becomes unhinged. When she makes her final appearance of the play, she hands her brother Laertes sprigs of fresh rosemary, saying: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray, love, remember.”
Rosemary has long been thought to have memory-boosting properties, and now modern science is backing up this theory. In a study presented to the British Psychological Society, researchers found that children in a room scented with rosemary did significantly better on memory tasks than those who didn’t get a whiff of the herb. These findings line up with an earlier study the team did that found that when adults were exposed to higher concentrations of rosemary aroma, they performed better on cognitive tests. Scientists think a compound in rosemary called 1,8-cineole might help boost an important neurotransmitter in the brain.
To enjoy rosemary’s benefits, you can make rosemary oil by adding a sprig of rosemary to a bottle of olive oil. Use on salads and chicken. Or grow a houseplant or outdoor bush and enjoy the fragrance.
Considering aromatherapy? Use only pure essential oil (no phthalates, please) in a diffuser — and use it carefully. If applying topically, first dilute in a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation.
Pregnant and breastfeeding? No essential rosemary oil for you, in any form. And no one should ever ingest it. Dr. Mike’s Wellness Center at the Cleveland Clinic says: “Although its common use as an herb suggests low toxicity ... it can be toxic [if taken internally] even at low doses ...”
Veggie-free toddler? It’s time for a green revolution
In the 2011 documentary “Vegucated,” three happy-go-lucky meat lovers decide to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks, never expecting they’d be transformed mentally and physically by their encounter with all the stuff that grows from the ground. But they are, and it’s a pretty rough, though comic, journey.
Well, that’s a transformation your child should never have to go through. It’s essential that infants get a varied menu of fruits and vegetables when they first encounter solid foods. The right mix of plant-based nutrients shapes brain development and allows the child to reach his or her optimal emotional and intellectual abilities. And it sets them on a path of good nutritional habits for a lifetime.
According to new research published in Pediatrics, in the U.S., 25 percent of 6 to 11-month-olds and 20 percent of 12- to 23-month-olds ate no veggies at all on the days they were surveyed from 2005 to 2012. And on any given day, most toddlers are more likely to eat French fries than a green veggie.
Our bet: Mom and Dad aren’t eating fresh veggies, either. So here’s our challenge to getting everyone vegucated: Serve your children at least one vegetable serving (1/4 cup cooked or 1/2 cup salad) and one fruit serving (half a fruit) in every meal. And show them how good greens and root veggies are by making sure you get 7 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day too. It can be a tasty and fun journey to better health.
Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.