Dr. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen

In the often-hilarious 2006 movie “Snakes on a Plane” you discover just how tough it is to get rid of a load of poisonous snakes during a commercial flight. However, there is one moment when a male flight attendant finds a possible solution: He puts a menacing reptile in a microwave and is very thankful to discover that there’s a preset button on the machine marked “Snake.”

Unfortunately, if you’re on a plane and are the source of menace to those around you because your digestive tract is acting up, there’s no push-button solution. So, to avoid flatulence and other such problems, here’s what NOT to eat before you board:

To spare your fellow passengers, ditch foods that expand your intestines, leading to bloat and gas. Lower cabin pressures mean the gases in your body are already expanding; don’t egg them on by eating onions, cauliflower, cabbage or beans, or by drinking soda.

Avoid foods packed with sodium and saturated fat. Fast and fried foods are hard to digest, especially at high altitudes, and that can cause cramping and smells. Plus, there’s a risk for you: Saturated fat contributes to constricted blood flow in a matter of hours, which can lead to swollen feet and can increase the risk of a blood clot.

Skip alcohol: It’s easy to get woozy at 35,000 feet, and the dry, recirculating air in the cabin can dehydrate you. Don’t be a sloppy seatmate; avoid a hangover! Stick with 12 ounces of water per hour.

Yoga for back pain

In one episode of the TV show “Louie,” comedian Louis C.K.’s character is suffering from back pain. His doctor says there’s nothing he can do to ease the discomfort, because “the back isn’t done evolving yet … it’s gonna take another, I’d say, 20,000 years to get straightened out.” The only thing the doc suggests is that Louie try “walking” on all fours.

Wrong! There’s a lot you can do to feel better! Ninety percent of low-back pain can be eased or banished completely using stress management, exercise and meds, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and/or muscle relaxers.

Your first move: Stress management, followed by physical therapy. But don’t worry if your insurance doesn’t cover it. You may pay for one session out-of-pocket ($75 to $125) to learn basic stretches you can do at home, or you can try yoga. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga, which combines stress management and physical activity, is just as effective as physical therapy for easing back pain, improving movement and reducing use of pain medications. Researchers followed 320 people with back pain for 12 weeks. The participants received PT, weekly yoga classes or educational materials on back pain. By the end, both the yoga and PT groups had equally beneficial outcomes — and benefits lasted for a year after the study!

Tip: If you decide to try yoga, tell your instructor about your back problems, and discuss what you can/should or can’t/shouldn’t do. You also can find online videos with yoga routines tailored to back pain.

Protect yourself
from damaging personal care products!

In the 1998 comedy “There’s Something About Mary,” Chris Elliot’s character, Woogie, breaks out in “love blisters” (hives) every time he encounters Mary (Cameron Diaz). But for most folks it’s much harder to predict what will trigger an unpleasant skin reaction, especially when it comes to encounters with personal hygiene products and makeup.

According to a new report in Jama Inter nal Medicine online, adverse reactions to personal care products are underreported, and the industry is under-regulated. Dr. Steve Xu, the study’s lead author, said that in Europe they’ve banned 1,000 chemicals from personal care products; in the U.S. only 10 are forbidden. The most common troublemakers (we know about) are hair and skin care products — triggering rashes, hair loss and other dermatological problems.

A recent Food and Drug Administration statement illustrates this point: “As of November 15, 2016, the FDA had received 1,386 adverse event reports directly from consumers about WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products … We also are investigating more than 21,000 complaints reported directly to Chaz Dean, Inc., and Guthy Renker, LLC …” The company hadn’t voluntarily informed the FDA, and the product is still being sold. The FDA cannot order a mandatory recall of a harmful cosmetic product!

So how can you know if a personal care product is safe for you? Try an at-home patch test before using it. Apply and leave the product on the inside of your forearm for 24 hours. It’s not an overly sensitive area, so if the product triggers a reaction there, chances are you’re at risk for a true allergic reaction.

Venturing for more veggies

We could make this week’s nutritional tip “Venturing for More Veggies” sound like a pronouncement from “The Big Bang Theory’s” Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons): “Are you aware that on Mars, as on Earth, eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent? Well it caaan.” But just knowing that may not be enough to get your kids (or you) to eat life-extending, delicious produce.

Well, a highly effective strategy was recently uncovered by scientists at Stanford University. They figured out how to get students, teachers and staff at one of the undergrad dining halls to pile more veggies on their plates: Get Decadent. For their study, they labeled vegetables at the self-serve food stations with: 1. just their names (carrots, broccoli, etc.); 2. info on what they didn’t contain (e.g. sugar-free, low-fat); 3. what they contained that was good for you (lots of antioxidants and vitamins); and 4. what they called “decadent” names, such as Twisted Citrus Glazed Carrots. Guess what? The foods with the decadent labels were gobbled up; they “outperformed all others.”

So if you have picky eaters, take a page from this marketing study and serve your family clearly labeled Rambunctious Rutabaga or Boisterous Broccoli — and don’t stop with the veggies. Offer Colin, your picky eater, Colin’s Crazy Cod and/or fish-averse Suzie a Superstar Salmon. You may find that you and your family get a big bang out of eating such tasty, body-lovin’ foods.

Home blood pressure monitor
readings can be very unreliable

Bill Murray’s rumored to have said: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me 350,000 times — you’re a weatherman.” That’s a lack of accuracy we often joke about, but for some things being that far off the mark is more disturbing.

According to a recent Canadian study from the University of Alberta, home blood pressure monitors are 100 percent accurate only about 30 percent of the time. And that’s not good, the researchers point out, since high blood pressure is a leading cause of death and disability in the world.

In the small but revealing study of 85 folks with HBP, the researchers identified what causes the problems with the readings: Occasionally, it’s a person’s ability to run the device properly. It also can be the one-size-fits-all design; the same cuff is used for both men and women, but in the study men’s readings were more accurate. Arm shape and size can make the difference.

Nonetheless, if you have HBP, it’s important to keep track of how it’s doing. So, how can you check the accuracy of your device? First, bring your at-home monitor with you to your next doctor’s visit and check it against the doc’s machine. Second, have your pharmacist instruct you in proper usage, and then try it out right there and compare its reading to the pharmacy’s in-store BP monitor. Almost all pharmacies now have stations where you can check your BP. Now you’re ready to challenge the best weatherman.

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. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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