There's nothing pretty about hemorrhoids, but they've afflicted the world's most beautiful women (Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor) and most dashing men (Ernest Hemingway and, it's rumored, George Clooney). In fact, by age 50, half of all men and women develop them. But what are they, exactly?
A hemorrhoid is an inflamed vein in the lower part of your intestine, the rectum, or around your anus. Some never announce themselves; others trigger pain, itching and bright-red bleeding. Occasionally rectal 'roids protrude out of the anus.
Pregnancy and obesity can trigger hemorrhoids because of added weight pressing against veins in the lower intestines. Age can weaken intestinal membranes and tissue, allowing veins to bulge and bleed. But for many folks, they're a result of a fiber-deficient diet, low water intake, inactivity, chronic constipation (or diarrhea) and straining while going to the bathroom.
Treatments include bulk stool softeners (psyllium or methylcellulose). Take a little at the start of every meal. You can use over-the-counter creams and suppositories and soak in a warm tub.
The best solution? Prevention. You can do that by maintaining a healthy weight; eating only grains that are 100 percent whole; and every day enjoying nine servings of fruits and veggies, drinking around 64 ounces of water and walking 10,000 steps.
Now you're dodging 'roid rage.
Can broccoli make you happier?
With apologies to the Founding Fathers: If they had mentioned “life, liberty and the pursuit of broccoli” in the Declaration of Independence, they would have covered both the pursuit of health AND happiness. New research confirms these facts: Eating more fresh produce every day (essential for good health) coincides with feeling more curious, content and purposeful (essential components of happiness).
It may be that when you are happy, you eat more nutritious food — you aren't drowning your sorrows in a sea of depressing sugar and fat. Or maybe fueling your body with the right nutrients makes everything, from your brain to intestines, work more smoothly, and that creates a happy glow.
Here are some of the mood-enhancing powers of fruits and veggies:
n Carrots, walnuts, squash and lima beans deliver an omega-3 called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) that's key for decreasing inflammation. You want to keep your gray (and white) matter happy.
n Polyphenols in globe artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, rosemary, oregano, apricots, blueberries, green tea and turmeric help prevent cell aging and fight off cognitive decline. They also may fight anxiety, depression and stress.
n And broccoli? Along with other cruciferous veggies, it contains a good dose of calcium, essential for maintaining healthy levels of the happy neurotransmitter serotonin, and for reducing your chances of needing wooden teeth.
Take the A Train for weight loss
When Duke Ellington started playing “Take the A Train” during the 1940s and 1950s, around 30 percent of North American adults were overweight. Now the rate's near 70 percent. If you want to avoid (or escape) that expanding demographic, listen to Duke's advice: Take public transportation.
Seems guys who use what researchers are calling active transportation (walking, biking and taking public transit) are 7 pounds lighter than average; gals are 5.5 pounds lighter. Proof comes from an analysis of 15 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and North America.
So instead of singing Duke's hit “Don't Get Around Much Anymore,” consider using active transportation the next time you head to the mall or to work. You'll reduce your carbon footprint and extend the benefits of your daily planned physical activity (start with 30 minutes a day and ramp up to 10,000 steps every day). You didn't think you could get out of that, did you?
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.