How vitamin D helps D-feat COVID-19
When Cab Calloway sings the refrain “hi-dee hi-dee hi-dee hi” in the classic jazz song “Minnie the Moocher” he’s not advocating that you take high doses of vitamin D supplements. But it turns out, that would be good advice — especially these days. A new study published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research found a correlation between low blood levels of vitamin D and susceptibility to and death from COVID-19.
It’s been previously reported that low vitamin D levels are associated with the risk of contracting a respiratory infection, because D affects how your body’s white blood cells battle invading microbes. It also helps control the release of inflammation-triggering cytokines — an over-the-top cytokine storm is what tips some COVID-19 infections into the danger zone.
So, we recommend you take a 1,000 IU D3 supplement daily and make sure to eat foods that provide around another 1,000 IU a day. Some ideas:
■ A 3.5-ounce serving of farmed Atlantic salmon delivers around 525 IU of vitamin D; wild-caught salmon amps that up to 988 IU per serving. Canned light tuna has around 270 IU in 3.5 ounces.
■ Wild mushrooms such as morels and chanterelles are loaded with vitamin D. Some sources have 2,300 IU in 3.5 ounces. Farmed cremini mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light offer you a substantial part of your needed boost, too.
■ One cup of unsweetened soy milk can deliver 107 to 117 IU. A cup of almond milk may contain around 100 IU.
■ Fortified tofu and breakfast cereals also are good sources.
One more way sodas and sugary drinks KO your health
Did you know that every day, at least 50 percent of the U.S. population — that would be 165 million people — have a sugary drink such as a soda, energy/sports drink, sugar-added juice or flavored coffee or tea. It’s 65 percent for boys ages 2-19!
Chances are, you have heard over and over that these sugar bombs increase your risk of metabolic disturbances (metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes) and are related to weight gain and all its associated issues, including some cancers, dementia and depression. But, if none of that has made you break your sweet-drink habit, maybe the newest research out of the University of Buffalo will get your attention.
Researchers there tested the impact of drinking beverages laced with high fructose corn syrup on kidney function, and found that it reduces blood flow to the vital organs — fast. Drinking around 17 ounces of a soft drink sweetened with HFCS increased vascular resistance in the kidneys within 30 minutes. If that happens over and over, you’re at risk for increased blood pressure and reduced kidney function.
So if you don’t want to join the ranks of the 37 million folks in this country who have chronic kidney disease — which kills more people than prostate and breast cancer combined — put down that sugary sip. Aim to enjoy around 64 ounces or more a day of the pure flavors of water and unsweetened, paper-filtered coffee and teas.
Did you hear about the perils of sudden hearing loss?
Lance Allred, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 and 2009, was the first deaf NBA player. Hearing impaired since birth, he was able to excel in high school and college ball, become a pro and, after he retired, an in-demand motivational speaker. But many folks don’t have years to learn to manage their hearing challenges; instead, they’re surprised in their 50s or 60s by sudden hearing loss. Too many fail to act quickly enough to prevent it from becoming permanent.
What’s called sensorineural hearing loss is a type of nerve deafness that affects at least 60,000 people in the U.S. annually. Researchers think it may be triggered by a viral infection, immune system dysfunction, blocked blood flow to the ear or an inflammatory injury. According to Dr. Steven Rauch from Harvard’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear, you may notice a “pop” or feel like one ear is blocked up. Then he says, there “is a gradual decline over several minutes or even hours, like air leaking from a tire.”
Unfortunately, many people ignore the problem. But there’s only a window of 10-14 days before it becomes permanent. Prompt treatment with oral and/or injected corticosteroids is effective if the symptoms are mild.
So, if you have sudden hearing loss in one ear, set up an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist to rule out a more benign cause like excess earwax. Then if needed, get treatment that will let you enjoy all sports broadcasts when they’re up and running!
Are your food choices triggering inflammatory bowel disease symptoms?
John F. Kennedy suffered from digestive problems, including persistent diarrhea. He took antispasmodics to ease his stomach cramping. Not much was known about his condition at the time, but now, some doctors suggest he suffered from inflammatory bowel disease.
IBD is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. It affects around 3 million Americans. There are two types: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Common symptoms include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or bloody stools, weight loss and fatigue. IBD is also linked to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. And, it’s costly. According to some research, annual out-of-pocket medical costs for folks with the condition are more than twice what folks without IBD spend ($2,213 versus $979).
The physical, emotional and financial hardships caused by the disease are why it’s so important to manage IBD symptoms with healthy lifestyle choices, especially dietary ones.
A recent study published in the journal PlosOne exposed the harmful food choices that are associated with IBD: french fries, sodas and energy drinks, cheese and cookies — in short, what the researchers from Georgia State University called “junk foods.”
If you want to make smart food choices that can help control your IBD symptoms, here’s what to do:
■ Choose veggies that are lower in fiber, such as carrots, asparagus tips, green beans, peeled cucumbers and bell peppers. Eat them steamed, not raw.
■ Opt for fruits, such as applesauce, melons, papaya and bananas.
■ Skip red meat and enjoy salmon, white meat chicken and tofu.
■ Drink plenty of water!
Green tea for weight loss
Jennifer Aniston, 51, is known for her disciplined exercise regimen and a diet filled with nutrient-dense foods. She has often touted green tea as one of her go-to favorites that helps maintain her seemingly boundless energy and slim, strong physique.
She’s not the only one. A metastudy that looked at 26 randomized, controlled trials, involving 1,344 people, found that folks who regularly consume green tea extract had a lower body weight and body mass index. The results, published in Phytotherapy Research, showed that taking in less than 500 mg of extract a day for 12 weeks produced the greatest weight loss. (The various studies use green tea extract instead of the liquid for easier dosing control.) But that’s not all green tea can do for you.
Other studies suggest that even one cup a day can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Several have reported that green tea lowers your level of lousy LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.
How does it work its magic? A serving of green tea contains 25 to 86 milligrams of epigallocatechin gallate (ECG), a phytonutrient that protects the body from the effects of toxins and inflammation-producing and artery- and organ-damaging free radicals.
Our advice: Stick with fresh-brewed green tea, not extracts (they’re unregulated). Aim for one to four cups daily, with no sugar added. Wondering about green tea’s caffeine content? An 8-ounce cup delivers around 30-50 mg; a cup of coffee contains 70-140 mg.
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.