When redheaded Scott Thompson, aka Carrot Top, told his friends he wanted to get into the comedy business, they laughed at him. He thought that was a really good sign! Now, after major success for a couple of decades, he says that when he gets older and turns gray, he’ll change his name to Cotton Top.
He never thought of dying his hair green, we guess, even though that’s the color of actual carrot tops. And they are, like the orange (and now multicolored) roots, packed with serious nutrition.
“Superfood.” That word gets tossed around a lot, but researchers have found that carrots are packed with powerful phytochemicals that are antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer (for example, research has found that they may help fight the recurrence of breast cancer). Interestingly, the powerful punch of disease-fighting chemicals is greatest in white carrots, followed by orange, purple and yellow. Well, at least orange is second.
Carrots also deliver beta (and alpha) carotene, essential for forming vitamin A in your body. That vitamin promotes eye, skin, mucous membrane and immune system health.
As for carrot greens; they add great flavor when sprinkled into chicken broth or salsas. And according to the UK’s Carrot Museum (we kid you not!), these greens contain six times more vitamin C than the root, and lots of potassium and calcium. We recommend organic carrot tops.
Juiced, grilled, sliced into a salad or a soup, various colored carrots can help you top off your day’s nutrition; the greens are an added bonus.
How to have more birthdays
The Beatles’ “Birthday” song acknowledges the joy you often feel when it’s time to celebrate your arrival into this world. And it should be joyous! After all, being a human being bestows you with remarkable abilities to think, create and do wonderful things. But to maximize your journey through your birthdays requires energy -- and we’re talking on a cellular level.
The power plant in each cell in your body is its mitochondria. These dynamic organelles convert oxygen and nutrients into a chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that fuels a cell’s metabolic activity. Some cells have one big mitochondrion; others may have thousands!
If these Mighty Mitos cannot deliver the energy your body needs, various organ systems suffer, your heart most of all. That’s because it’s a huge consumer of energy, beating around 3 billion times by age 80! But you can make yourself feel younger.
What prevents mitochondria from doing their job? Often, obesity and diabetes. A new study in Circulation Research found that in folks with diabetes, the mitochondria become misshapen and cause heart cells to overuse fat as fuel. This lipid overload increases your risk of heart failure two- to five-fold.
If you want to see as many birthdays as possible, protect your Mighty Mitos by embracing a diabetes-preventing or diabetes-reversing lifestyle: That’s 7 to 9 servings of produce and walking 10,000 steps or the equivalent daily and avoiding all trans and most saturated fats, added sugars and syrups, and highly processed foods. So, take care of your Mighty Mitos!
Kicking Internet addiction
On a 1996 episode of “Roseanne,” David finds Jackie on the computer: “I’ve been playing around with it a little … ,” she said.
“Jackie, aren’t those the same clothes you had on yesterday?”
“I don’t know, maybe …what’s your point?” she responds.
“Oh my God, you haven’t left this thing,” David exclaims. “You’re addicted to the Internet!”
“No, I’m not,” she protests.
“Yes, you are! I’ve seen this before,” he says. “I lost two of my friends to this!”
Two decades later, studies confirm that punchline: Brain scans show that for someone with an Internet addiction, being online activates the brain’s reward center just like an abused drug does.
Signs of IA
• Preferring being online to spending offline time with others
• Feeling empty without Internet access
• Losing sleep because you’re online
• Getting defensive if others say you spend too much time online.
The results of addiction? Just like drug addictions, IA diminishes one’s physical activity, causes a lack of face-to-face time with family and friends (and the world in general), and contributes to everything from obesity and lower self-esteem to problems at work, school and with friends.
How to get unhooked? One study found that when problematic Internet users had Internet access cut off, their withdrawal symptoms included increased anxiety, depression, heart rate and blood pressure. That’s why to disconnect you may need:
• A healthy habit substitute: The best is regularly-scheduled physical activity.
• Enforce a family Internet schedule and whole-house Internet vacations so you spend time together talking, adventuring, or cooking.
• Help from cognitive behavioral therapy.
Kids who eat fish sleep better and are smarter
In the final episode of season two of “The Sopranos,” Tony finds a “wire” at Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s house (which means that Big Pussy has been talking to the Feds). Tony, Paulie and Silvio take him for a ride in Tony’s new boat, and Big Pussy ends up, you guessed it, sleepin’ with the fishes.
Sleepin’ because of the fishes is what’s behind a much more positive new study from the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers report that 9- to 11-year-old Chinese children who eat fish at least once a week sleep better and have IQ scores 4 points higher than kids who eat little or no fish. That’s great, but how do you get American kids to eat fish?
Last week we reported that moms-to-be who ate vegetables while pregnant, passed along a propensity for their kids to enjoy vegetables. The same goes for fish. But let’s get realistic here. To get American kids to eat fish -- researchers say it’s the omega-3s in the fish that’s the real brain starter -- a nice tuna salad or an oven-fried salmon filet sandwich could do the trick. However, if that doesn’t work, an added supplement of DHA omega-3 algal oil might have the same effect, even though no supplements were cited in the Penn study. Those supplements are known to help improve eyesight too.
So whichever you choose, it’s important to try, so your child will sleep better and be more attentive in school (always the case following a good night’s sleep).
Is your tote causing back, neck and shoulder pain?
In the 1964 movie “Mary Poppins,” one of the first things nanny Poppins does when she arrives at the Banks’ house is unpack. To the shock of her new charges, Jane and Michael, she pulls massive items out of her carpetbag: a hat stand, a large mirror, a tall houseplant and finally a standing lamp.
Not so far-fetched! We’ve noticed you (gals and guys) load your totes with weighty stuff too (computers, books, tablets, phones, gym shoes, lunch, water bottles), hike it up on one shoulder and head out, causing serious neck, back and shoulder problems.
Research shows that carrying a heavy load on one shoulder strains the trapezius, a back muscle covering most of your upper back and the back of the neck, and the erector spinae, a series of muscles that run up the back from your tailbone to your head. You also can cause tendinitis or irritate your shoulder bursa (the cushion in your shoulder joint), causing bursitis. One small study even found that regularly carrying a bag on one side can alter your gait.
So ignore online articles proclaiming “20 Things Every Modern Woman Should Have in Her Purse,” and “13 Things Every Man Should Carry in His Bag” and get rid of the nonessentials. Still shoulder-breaking? Divide the contents into two bags. Carry one on each side. Better yet, consider a rolling computer/briefcase (wheels really were a great invention!) with dual backpack straps for when you need to carry it around. For a healthy back and shoulders, lighten your load(s).
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.