By Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen

A good reason (besides taste) to avoid canned foods

In the late 18th century, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a reward to whomever could figure out how to safely preserve food for his traveling army. Nicholas Appert set to work, and found the solution (although 15 years later), sealing heat-processed food in glass jars with wax. In 1810, Englishman Peter Durand was the first to preserve food in a sealed tin can.

Canning is an important way to keep foods safe and allows us to enjoy their nutrients even when they're out of season. But new evidence indicates that with so many fresh options available year-round, it's smart to avoid canned foods when possible. A recent study in Food and Function examined the transfer of zinc oxide (ZnO), a substance found in the lining of some canned foods, to the foods themselves and explored whether that has an impact on your ability to absorb nutrients.

Examining canned corn, tuna, asparagus and chicken, they found those foods contained 100 times the daily dietary allowance of zinc! They then found that exposing cells in the gut to even low levels of ZnO did interfere with their ability to absorb nutrients.

Past studies have linked eating highly processed food, which often comes in cans (think SpaghettiOs), to higher risks of cancer and weight gain. Now it seems these canned foods also may keep you from getting the nutrients you need, even when you eat nutrient-rich food! So whenever you can, kick the can off your shelf in favor of fresh produce, unprocessed foods and even frozen foods.

Staying on daily low-dose aspirin is important

In one episode of the animated series "Rugrats," Angelica tries to kick her cookie addiction. But when she finds a stash of them, the gang chases her (and the cookie jar) into the laundry room, where the cookies go flying into a tub of soapy water. Angelica eats them anyway. Suddenly, she feels sick and begins burping bubbles. "Never let me eat cookies again," she pleads.

Withdrawal is hard, but luckily there's one drug you don't need to, and probably shouldn't, try to quit: aspirin.

Have you and your doc decided that you should be taking a low-dose aspirin once or twice a day to lower your risk of heart attack, stroke or colorectal cancer? Well, a new study in the journal Circulation reinforces several other studies we mentioned in our book "YOU: Staying Young, The Owner's Manual For Extending Your Warranty." Stopping your daily aspirin regimen, either for surgery or because you just forget for a few days, can have serious consequences.

Looking at data on more than 600,000 people who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin, researchers found those who had any gaps in treatment boosted their risk of a cardiovascular event by over 30 percent. One theory: If you stop taking aspirin, there's a rebound effect and your body produces more thromboxane, a hormone that promotes clotting and artery constriction.

So if you're thinking of stopping aspirin therapy, talk to your doctor to make sure you're either on another med that prevents clotting or that the benefits of stopping clearly outweigh the risks.

Fast food and fertility: The more you eat, the longer it takes

Sometimes fast is good: Ashley Henderson, 22, of San Diego State University recently ran the 100-meter dash in 10.98 seconds, making her the fastest woman on the planet in 2018. (She did it in 10.96 in 2016, but Florence Griffith Joyner's 1988 world record of 10.49 still stands.)

But sometimes fast isn't good, like when it's fast food that delivers high saturated fat with low nutrition, or meals and snacks crammed with processed ingredients, sugars (in McDonald's buns, for example) and additives (like gut-

disrupting emulsifiers). Those empty calories and health disruptors don't just increase your risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart woes, they also ding your reproductive system and make it more difficult to get pregnant.

A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that women who eat fast food four or more times weekly take an extra month to become pregnant. In contrast, those who eat fruit three or more times a day (a berry, banana, kiwi smoothie qualifies) became pregnant more quickly than those who eat fruit fewer than three times a month.

Why would fast food affect fertility? The researchers don't say, but we're convinced the chronic, bodywide inflammation that fatty, processed foods trigger interferes with hormonal balance, metabolism and a healthy circulatory system.

So if you're looking to start a family, plan ahead, and take it slow -- slow food, that is. Enjoy homemade meals with unprocessed grains, and seven to nine servings daily of produce. Skip red or processed meats and added sugars. Take prenatal vitamins and omega-3 DHA from algal oil.

How do you like your garlic?

On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kilauea volcano is spewing toxic sulfur dioxide gas, creating what's known as "vog" (volcanic fog). That toxic yellow cloud not only reduces visibility, irritates the skin and stings the eyes and throat, but, say recent evacuees, it also leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

That's not always the case with sulfur. Take the delicious-tasting garlic bulb. It's loaded with sulfur compounds that are essential and convey many health benefits. (It shouldn't be confused with sulfa drugs or sulfites, both of which people can be allergic to.)

As garlic grows, it builds its store of potential allicin, an antibacterial compound that fights off pathogens in the soil. At the same time, sulfate in soil is absorbed and packed into sulfur storage molecules (SSMs) within the individual cloves. Depending on whether you chop, roast, saute or press garlic for oil, you'll release the allicin-scented aroma that you associate with garlic, as well as various sulfur compounds from those SSMs, many of which are super-good for you.

In fact, garlic contains around 50

sulfur-containing compounds. That explains why there's such a wide range of results from studies looking at garlic's health benefits, which include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, tamping down inflammation, lowering high blood pressure and, in most studies, reducing lousy LDL cholesterol levels. It also helps reduce oxidative stress (wrinkles!), and some data indicate that it supports your immune system to help you fight off colds and flu -- not to mention those pesky vampires.

Saunas help prevent stroke

When you're in a hotspot, like Nawabshah, Pakistan, where the hottest April day ever (122.4 F) was recorded this year, it would be hard to imagine that voluntarily going into a traditional Finnish sauna with 20 percent humidity and temperatures of at least 150 F would be a boon to your health and happiness. But according to a study published in the journal Neurology, taking several saunas weekly reduces your risk of having a stroke. (Infrared saunas, where temps are 105-106 F, seem to have the same benefit.)

Finnish researchers looked at around 1,600 folks, ages 53 to 74, over a 15-year period and found that two to three saunas weekly cut the risk of stroke 14 percent, and four to seven slashed it by 61 percent, when compared with folks taking only one sauna a week

While we're not positive why saunas (Finnish and infrared) are so beneficial, the researchers say it may come from a sauna's ability to lower blood pressure, in part because it has a positive effect on arterial wall stiffness. They say it also may stimulate the immune system and have a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart and respiration rates, digestion and sexual response (a bonus).

Your best bet is to start a regular sauna routine when you're heart-healthy. However, if you have unstable angina or have had a heart attack, double-check with your doc before baking yourself. So if you can, enjoy a sauna with a friend four times a week.

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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