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From pH levels, to packed-on pounds and sperm counts, your health is often measured by numbers. Get the facts on the stats vital to your wellbeing.
Blood CountYour immune system is your army, and your white blood cells are the soldiers that defend your body from bacteria and viruses. The normal range of white blood cells is between 4,300 and 10,800 cells per cubic millimeter. If the counts are elevated, it normally signifies minor infections, thyroid conditions, reactions to medication or allergies. Cell counts are also higher during pregnancy, to protect both mother and baby.
"Usually, an elevated blood count is nothing to worry about, unless your doctor raises a red flag," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
Acutely elevated blood counts may be due to a more serious issue such as cancer. If a doctor detects a high white blood cell count, he or she should perform additional tests to pinpoint the issue and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Bill, from Denver, Colorado, e-mails The Doctors and says he's young and healthy, but has been told by doctors that he has a very low sperm count. "Is there a magic number of 'swimmers' I need to get my wife pregnant?" he asks.
Only one sperm is needed to fertilize an egg. But while it only takes one to conceive, doctors do look for 20 million sperm per millimeter of semen as a normal count. Doctors also examine the structure and motility of the sperm to determine overall strength or weakness.
OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson recommends routine semen analyses to detect other factors, such as testicular cancer.
Sperm count can be weakened by such lifestyle choices as using marijuana and other drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and even taking certain prescription medications. To boost and maintain a healthy sperm count, exercise regularly and incorporate certain foods into your diet.
Foods that Increase Sperm Count
• Selenium: An antioxidant found in Brazil nuts, fish, meat and eggs. It improves sperm's speed and concentration.
• L-arginine: Found in nuts, sesame seeds, eggs and meat. It helps increase sperm count and quality.
• L-carnatine: Found in red meat and milk, and increases production and speed.
• Folic acid: Found in avocado, asparagus and spinach.
• Tips for maintaining a healthy pregnancy
The pH number represents the level of acidity in the body, and each part of the body requires a specific pH level to function properly. The normal pH of the esophagus is 6, and heartburn pain occurs when the acid has a lower-level pH and splashes through the stomach opening and into the esophagus. This causes a burning sensation and damage to the esophageal walls. Gastroenterologist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez joins the doctors to discuss pH numbers and how they can cause heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux or Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD).
The stomach purposely produces acid to help digest food and absorb two main chemicals: calcium and iron. Medications for acid reflux and GERD tend to be overprescribed; antacids are only meant to be taken for four weeks, but are now being sold over-the-counter and taken on a daily basis. Overuse of antacids reduces stomach acid to levels that cannot properly absorb calcium and iron, which can lead to osteoporosis and anemia.
"If you're suffering long term, talk to your doctor. There are a number of procedures available," Dr. Travis says. "Cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and big fatty meals will also help."
If you constantly experience severe heartburn and other treatments aren't helping, your doctor can measure your esophagus' pH with the Bravo Chip. A microchip is temporarily placed in the esophagus, where it will continuously send information to a pager-style receiver over a 48-hour period. During this time, the patient should not use any antacids to ensure an accurate reading of hours, frequency and severity of changing pH levels. Once all the data is gathered, your doctor can determine how best to treat the issue, often with diet and lifestyle changes first, and surgery if necessary.
The 17 Day Diet Challenge
Dr. Mike Moreno,
author of The 17 Day Diet, joins The Doctors to check in with The 17 Day Diet Challengers, who have been hard at work cleansing their systems to burn fat and accelerate weight loss. Team Doctors and Team Dr. Phil weigh in to see which team is in the lead after the first 17 days!
• Dr. Mike answers some of the most common questions about The 17 Day Diet!
• Join the 17 Day Diet Club yourself! Post photos, take quizzes and get involved for your chance to win great prizes.
• Enter for a chance to win an ActiFry by T-Fal!
• The 17 Day Diet Challenge ladies get surprised and pampered at a glamorous photo shoot!
• See how the 17 Day Diet Challengers have dramatically improved their fitness levels.
• Professional chef and Team Doctors member, Clint, reveals how his kitchen habits have changed as a result of the diet.
• Dr. Mike explains how to kick up the flavor, and health benefits, of your food.
• See how pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears helped one 17 Day Diet Challenger fulfill her dream, and find out what goals other Challengers have reached!
The amount of sugar in your diet can greatly affect your health. But it's not just white table sugar you have to be aware of; high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners are often found in your favorite foods and drinks. Dr. Travis explains how the process of creating high-fructose corn syrup diminishes corn's natural fiber and nutrients.
"A lot of companies will now say that their foods are made with pure sugar," Dr. Travis points out. "But in reality, any type of processed sugar will increase weight gain and can be detrimental to your health if overused."
Steer clear of table sugar, sodas, white bread and most other packaged foods, and be mindful of all nutrition labels; seemingly healthy foods, like certain brands of yogurt, actually contain high-fructose corn syrup.
The average American consumes approximately 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of sugar every day!
The suggested daily intake of sugar:
• Adult women: 5 teaspoons (20 grams) or less
• Adult men: 9 teaspoons (36 grams) or less
• Children: 3 teaspoons (12 grams) or less