Little-known numbers can affect your health in a big way. Get the facts on the figures you need to lead a healthy life.
Millions of Americans live with chronic pain. Most turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medications to ease their suffering, but long-term use of these drugs can have serious health repercussions. Experts recommend not exceeding more than eight pills per day.
“Taking medications each and every day has consequences,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. He demonstrates the effects of OTCs on the stomach, liver and kidneys.
“If you’re taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen every single day, that medication prevents the mucous that protects your stomach from forming,” Dr. Travis continues. “Slowly, over time, that [mucous] will thin. [Digestive] acid will erode into the stomach wall and cause an ulcer.”
Download more information about over-the-counter pain medication.
Moderate drinking may improve heart health, lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of blood clots. The amount that men and women can safely consume differs greatly.
Women should have no more than five drinks per week. Research has shown that daily drinking can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by 10 percent. Consuming more than three drinks per day can increase the risk by 30 percent.
Men metabolize alcohol differently than women, and therefore, can consume seven to 14 drinks per week. “But not all in one night!” Dr. Travis says.
Fish has long held a vaunted place in a healthy diet. However, environmental pollutants release the element mercury, a toxin, into the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans, which accumulates and contaminates the fish supply.
As a result, people are advised to consume no more than 12 ounces of seafood per week, or no more than three sushi rolls, and to avoid fish high in mercury. Check local advisories about the safety of fish in your local waters.
Children are especially susceptible to mercury toxicity. Pregnant and nursing women are cautioned to avoid seafood altogether.
Fish that contain higher levels of mercury:
• King mackerel
Fish that contain lower levels of mercury:
• Canned light tuna
• Albacore tuna *limit to a maximum of 6 ounces per week because it has a higher mercury level than canned light tuna.
Doctors recommend consuming no more than 8 teaspoons of sugar per day. The average American consumes nearly four times that, which adds up to 97 pounds of added sugar every year! The Doctors outline surprising sugar traps in seemingly healthy meals.
Over time, a diet high in sugar can contribute to the development of diabetes. The average person has a 25 percent chance of developing diabetes. Although there is no cure for the disease, many serious consequences can be avoided if it is properly managed.
Learn more about diabetes and how to prevent it.
Oils and Saturated Fat
Saturated and trans-hydrogenated fats, or trans fats, are bad fats found in processed and fast foods that raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Trans fats lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and infertility.
Saturated fats, found mainly in foods from animals and some plants, are the biggest dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, and are typically found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. Doctors recommend consuming no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons of oils per day and that total fat intake should make up no more than 25 percent of a person's daily caloric intake, based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
Following a healthy diet, avoiding foods high in saturated fats, exercising regularly and maintaining an ideal weight are easy ways to keep cholesterol levels in check.
Oils to Avoid:
One out of three Americans will develop heart disease, and one out of four Americans will die from it. More American women die of heart disease than any other illness, and one out of two women will develop heart and vascular disease during her lifetime. Warning signs are often more difficult to detect in women than in men.
Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, untreated diabetes, obesity, stress and lack of regular exercise.
Test your heart health knowledge!
Muscles are critical to almost every function of our bodies. Muscles propel us through space, help us speak, hold our bones together, keep our heart pumping, digest our food and help blood move through our circulatory system. But as we age, our metabolism slows, weakening our muscles, making it harder for our bodies to recovery from illnesses and injuries. Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says that staying active is essential to maintaining overall health, and that regular cardio, resistance and strength training will keep muscles healthy and conditioned.
"As we age, we need to get our bodies moving, but eating right is equally as important” orthopedic surgeon and author of Guide to Thrive: Four Steps to Body, Brains and Bliss Dr. Vonda Wright says. “One of the key nutritional needs in aging bodies is protein."
It is important to ingest 25 grams of protein at every meal to maintain the body's muscles and internal organs. Lean chicken, fish, low-fat dairy and nuts are all great sources of protein to add to your daily intake.
"But it's important not just to rely on the foods we take in," Dr. Wright says. "I recommend to anyone who will listen to use Ensure® high protein shakes, which include 50 percent of your daily value."
Grabbing a shake on your way out to work, or during a late afternoon slump, will give your body the boost it needs while feeding it the protein it requires.
Ask Dr. Sears
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears tweets the question: “How many times a week should you bathe your baby?” It may surprise parents to learn that babies should only be bathed with soap twice a week because over-washing can dry out your child’s skin. “You can use a non-soapy bath as part of the bedtime routine,” Dr. Sears says. “And be sure to wipe and clean the diaper area after every change.”
Tweet your questions to @TheDoctors or @DrJimSears, and don’t forget to participate in Ask Dr. Sears Day every Tuesday!