These lazy, hazy days of summer strain more than power-grid managers. The three H’s — heat, haze, humidity — make it crazy-hard for many folks to breathe: the very young or old (especially those with heart or lung problems) and anyone with allergies or asthma. Get proactive. Our simple tips can help prevent trouble before it starts:
1. Check your AQI. The Air Quality Index (part of most newspaper and TV weather reports) measures five sneezy pollutants that can leave you wheezing: ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. The AQI runs from 0 to 500. Up to 50 is good, up to 100 is OK. After 150, things plummet from bad to worse; hope you don’t see 300 to 500. The higher your AQI, the smarter it is to stay indoors with the AC running; it filters your air.
2. Do indoor activities in the a.m. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early hours and on hot, dry days. Work out indoors (or sleep in!).
3. Go outside after rain. Rainfalls wash away lots of pollen. But stay in if you’re allergic to mold spores; they increase after a rain shower.
4. Shower and change. If you have to go out when it’s HHH, take a shower after you get back, put on fresh clothes and toss worn ones in the laundry to get rid of pollen and pollutants.
5. Be extra-careful about asthma meds. Even if you have no symptoms most of the time, polluted air can trigger sudden, scary flare-ups.
HOW FIBER KEEPS YOU YOUNG
Chew more, live longer. It’s almost that simple, as long as what you’re chewing is delicious fiber. Think strawberries, nuts, sweet potatoes and asparagus. Just eating more of those and foods like ’em can lengthen your life and make you thinner and healthier.
Eating fiber-packed fruits, vegetables and 100 percent whole grains helps you lose weight, and not just because they’re naturally low in fat. These foods keep your mouth busy (very satisfying) longer than mushy, highly processed foods do. And because fiber resists digestion, you feel full longer, which keeps you from grabbing that between-meal Twinkie.
That’s not nearly all. Regularly loading up on waist-friendly high-fiber foods also helps you live longer and keeps your RealAge younger. That’s because they slash your chances of dying of heart disease, and infectious and respiratory diseases by up to 60 percent, and of any disease by about 20 percent. Fiber also protects against some cancers (by binding to troublemakers and increasing the chances they’ll be excreted) and diabetes (by slowing the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream). All that, and it makes you regular, too.
We YOU Docs aim to eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day. It’s easy with high-fiber veggies like uncooked carrots, lettuce, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cooked asparagus and vegetable juices. Fruits highest in fiber are bananas, apples, pears and berries. Don’t forget nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, barley and cereals, breads and pasta made from 100 percent whole grains.
SPORTS FOR KIDS: PLAY IT SAFE
Every parent must have said these words 1,723 times: “Go outside and play!” It gets youngsters involved in sports and encourages lifelong fitness, and it’s fun.
Just make sure your youngsters aren’t among the 3.5 million kids a year who get sports injuries. Play it smart:
Protect their brains. Helmets are non-negotiable for all kinds of sports: biking, skating, skiing, boarding, horseback riding, motocross, football and more. Wearing a helmet makes your child seven times less likely to suffer a skull fracture while snowboarding or skiing, and could prevent 85 percent of bike fatalities.
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.