Health & Fitness

Fruits, veggies can help you win the hunger game

“The Hunger Games” may provide you with a good movie-going experience, but if you’re trying to maintain or achieve a healthy weight, feeling hungry can be a game-losing strategy. That’s why we say: Aim to shed a pound a week, and make sure you eat five to nine servings of fruits and veggies every day. You’ll change your eating habits for a lifetime, and your weight won’t bounce up and down, something that’s hard on your metabolism, insulin regulation and cardio system.

Here’s more information from the Institute of Food Technologists on controlling your hunger and binge eating.

1. Become a lean-protein pro. Add one serving of protein (a poached egg, three egg whites or 3 ounces of lean chicken or tuna) to breakfast and snack on one serving midafternoon.

2. Get 100 percent whole grains: These tasty carbs digest slowly, contain lots of fiber and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

3. Go nuts. Snacking on 12 walnut halves (with heart-friendly anti-inflammatory omega-3s) or 23 almonds (they equal 1 serving) protects your brainpower, quells hunger and improves your love life.

4. Hummus a happy tune – chickpeas, as well as lentils and dried peas and beans, are fiber-rich and packed with protein; it’s one more way to help tamp down cravings.

Now you can head to the movie theater and just say “no” to sugary, fatty concessions.

Check out the checkout

IM-pulse buys (think Instant Messaging) are sent your way whenever you wheel a grocery cart into the checkout lane or stroll up to a cash register to pay for a gallon of gas. “Hey, Sugar Brain, pick me! Pick me! Unwrap me now and scan the empty wrapper. Come on. You know you want me!” And the message is getting through! Around 90 percent of you comply. No wonder the quick-snack business is a billion-dollar industry (and a zillion-calorie obesity machine).

One business analysis firm found that the typical American woman (men are worse) devours more than 14,300 calories in grocery store impulse purchases annually, packing on an extra 4.1 pounds each year. That means you’ll be almost 25 pounds heavier in six years, all due to the checkout lane. And the problem is everywhere, whether you’re buying duct tape at the hardware store or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy – 90 percent of the edibles around you will be junk food, and 60 percent of the beverages will be sugar bombs. No wonder the Center for Science in the Public Interest points to the snack-food industry as a major contributor to North America’s obesity epidemic.

Smart steps: When you’re shopping, make it a habit to bring a healthy snack (fruit or nuts) for you and your kids. Keep it in hand as you head for the register. Offer your child sitting in the cart a book to read (distraction is good) and repeat “I’M not IM-pulsive anymore!” Then you’ll avoid those extra 25 pounds.

Sleep apnea

In “The Mask,” mousey Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) discovers his inner flame and wins the heart of the luscious Tina (Cameron Diaz). Seems his ghoulish green mask didn’t interfere with his love life at all; in fact, it improved it. Well, the same can be said for CPAP – the continuous positive airway pressure device used to relieve sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the throat relaxes, allowing fat and sagging muscles to obstruct the airway. This causes breathing to stop and start throughout the night. Sleep apnea can cause or aggravate heart disease, high blood pressure and liver problems, and damage brain cells.

Enter CPAP. If you use it, you can help prevent or reduce those health threats. Combine CPAP with weight loss, smoking cessation and avoiding excess alcohol and drugs, and you’ll see huge health improvements. Unfortunately, some studies find that 83 percent of folks who are prescribed CPAP use it fewer than four hours nightly. One reason is that people worry that the nasal mask, headgear and motor will turn off a bedmate.

A new study should help put those worries to bed: Guys who regularly use CPAP (either before or after a roll in the hay) report the same sexual quality of life as those who aren’t using it. And dodging health complications can make things get better between the sheets. So breathe easy and sleep well.

Get the lead out

Marauding Huns. Invading Visigoths. What really caused the fall of Rome? Some historians suggest it wasn’t outsiders, but lead poisoning. Lead was used extensively in the upper classes’ plumbing, utensils, even makeup, and the aristocracy suffered from poor decision making, erratic behavior, a low birth rate and early death – all symptoms of lead poisoning.

Today, a new source of lead poisoning in the U.S. is menacing the 19 million folks who go to indoor shooting ranges annually. When fired, lead-based bullets and primers shed a cloud of toxins. Poor sanitation and inadequate ventilation let lead dust hang in the air and settle on surfaces, contaminating workers and shooters. The dust also settles on range visitors’ skin, clothing and hair, and in car interiors. It’s then transported home, where it exposes family members to dangerous levels.

There are around 16,000 to 18,000 indoor firing ranges in the United States. But only 201 were inspected in the past decade, according a report from the Washington state newspaper The Columbian. That explains the more than 2,000 police and firing-range workers who were found to have elevated blood lead levels from 2002 to 2012. Almost 3,000 more folks also were affected just by visiting ranges.

So before you spend time in a range, ask how often it cleans its HEPA air filters and washes down the entire area, and if any workers have ever tested positive for elevated lead levels.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

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