In one of Homer Simpson’s most memorable eating scenes, he’s stuffing doughnuts in his mouth, using alternating hands for maximum speed. “Hey Homer, slow down! You’re gonna choke or something!” says Lenny.
“Don’t tell me how to eat doughnuts!” Homer protests as he starts gasping for air!
“Isn’t there a first aid chart around here somewhere?” asks Lenny calmly as Homer frantically runs around the kitchen. Finally, Homer spits out the doughnuts on his own.
Chances are you received the same warning as a kid: Chew slowly so that you don’t choke. Well, now there’s a new reason to chew with grace. Eating fast makes it more likely you’ll be obese and develop health problems, like diabetes and heart disease, that are associated with metabolic syndrome.
In a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, researchers followed over 1,000 adults for five years. At the beginning, none had metabolic syndrome. That’s when you have any three of these conditions: abdominal obesity, high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and/or low HDL cholesterol.
Five years later, they found that fast eaters were almost 12 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, compared with 6.5 percent for normal eaters and 2.3 percent for slow eaters. Faster eating was also linked to greater weight gain, higher glucose levels and a larger waistline.
So, chew more slowly, and wait longer between bites. Then your appetite-suppressing hormone (leptin) has a chance to kick in and help you eat healthfully.
When you’re hot
In 1971, Nashville superstar Jerry Reed hit the crossover charts with his No. 1 single “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” It knocked the record industry out of its comfort zone. Country was supposed to stay country, after all. But it makes sense that a tune with that title would shake things up. After all, hyperthermia (when you’re too hot) can make you feel pretty lousy. So, if you’re fleeing winter’s wrath and heading for the 80- and 90-degree embrace found in warmer climes, stay alert!
Your internal thermostat works to keep your core temperature within 2 degrees of 98.6 F. It’s commanded by your brain’s hypothalamus, which helps you stay hydrated, maintain salt concentrations and control the release of temperature-regulating chemicals and hormones — all in coordination with your skin, sweat glands and blood vessels.
But it can get overwhelmed because of a combo of high external temperatures, dehydration, prolonged exercise, medications (diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs), poor circulation and/or obesity. Then you can get hyperthermia. The stages range from heat fatigue and sudden dizziness to heat cramps and exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause a strong, rapid pulse, lack of sweating, flushed skin, faintness, staggering, delirium, inappropriate decisions, coma or death. Suspect heat stroke? Call 911.
Clearly, the best remedy is to avoid hyperthermia! Dress appropriately. Drink water BEFORE you get thirsty (avoid added-sugar beverages and alcohol). If you’re working or exercising outside, retreat to cooler spaces at least hourly. Then you’ll have it made in the shade!
Raise a rose to your health
In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1965 novel “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” the main character, millionaire Eliot Rosewater, leaves New York City and establishes the Rosewater Foundation in Rosewater, Indiana, where he “attempts to dispense unlimited amounts of love and limited sums of money to anyone who will come to his office.”
While rose water may not actually bring you affection or wealth, it may do many things for your health. Seems rose water has been used as a medicine as far back as the 7th century in the Middle East, and now modern research is proving that these civilizations were onto something. Here are some of the suggested benefits:
For Skin and Joint Pain: Studies show that roses contain powerful anti-inflammatory substances, which, when applied topically, may help soothe irritated skin and prevent damage. Those same anti-inflammatory effects may help ease sore joints if you drink rosehip tea.
For Your Brain: One study showed that rose extract in a petri dish stopped the plaques that form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Teas with rose water are available (get organic!).
To reap the skin and joint benefits of rose, rinse 3 cups of pesticide-free petals (thorns can be highly inflammatory, so handle with care), then steep in distilled hot water, just enough to cover the petals, until petals lose their color. Strain 1 tablespoon rosewater into 2-3 ounces water in a spray bottle. Spritz on skin. For tea, buy it prepackaged or add a few drops (to taste) of rose water to a cup of green or black tea.
Biotin can skew test results
Biofuel; biotin supplements; biosphere: Which “bio” does the Food and Drug Administration recommend you avoid if you want to get a proper reading on a specific heart enzyme or a thyroid hormone test? The answer is vitamin B-7, also known as the water-soluble vitamin biotin. It’s found in dietary supplements used for hair, skin and nail growth, as well as multi- and some prenatal vitamins.
The FDA wants you to know that too much biotin in your system can result in a falsely low result on a blood test for troponin, a clinical biomarker that helps in diagnosis of a heart attack. And according to other studies, high doses of biotin can skew lab test results for thyroid hormones, which can lead to an overdiagnosis of Graves’ disease, or hyperthyroidism.
The FDA also says, 30 mcg a day of biotin is adequate intake for adults and essential for good health of the skin, nails and the liver. Biotin deficiency is rare in healthy people. But moms-to-be and breastfeeding moms need to take supplements (ask your doc) to assure proper fetal development and infant health. For the rest of you, if you have two to three daily servings of 100 percent whole grains, eat plenty of nuts like walnuts, pecans and almonds, and have at least a couple of servings of wild salmon and ocean trout every week, you don’t need biotin supplements. However, if you’re taking antibiotics or meds for epilepsy, ask your doc if a supplement is a good idea.
If you see a pattern,
The Cleveland Browns football team has averaged about four wins and 12 losses every year for the past 10 years. They’re currently 0-15, after going 1-15 in 2016. See a pattern here? Sure you do, and it’s not improving! It has even prompted one Cleveland fan to secure a parade permit to celebrate “the perfect season” on Jan. 6, 2018, if the team finishes up 0-16.
A pattern of losing seasons doesn’t just spell trouble for a football team. Another losing pattern that spells trouble for guys is premature male pattern baldness — and premature graying. Doctors recently found an association between those two conditions and heart disease. They studied 790 men younger than 40 who had coronary artery disease and a control group of 270 healthy men. The young men with CAD had a higher prevalence of male-pattern baldness (49 percent vs 27 percent) and premature graying (50 percent vs 30 percent) than their healthy counterparts.
So heads-up: If you’re 40 or younger and turning gray and or losing your hair, consider amping up your heart-protection routines.
• Ask your doc to test for your heart-health numbers: blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, hsCRP — an inflammation marker, body mass index, HbA1C and/or fasting blood glucose and TMAO, an indicator of stroke and heart attack risk.
• Embrace heart-lovin’ habits: 10,000 steps a day; two days strength training weekly; 7-9 servings produce daily; no red or processed meats; stress reduction (check out the Sharecare app to assess your stress level). Then you’ll have a winning record, season after season.
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.