Health Tips: Put spice in your (longer) life

Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen


Variety may be the spice of life, at least folks have been claiming that since William Cowper coined the phrase in his 1785 poem “The Task.” But in 2019, science may have changed the saying by proving that spice itself is the heart of life.

Italian researchers have found that eating chili peppers four or more times weekly reduces your risk of dying from a heart attack by 40% and from stroke by over 50%! Their study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, tracked around 22,000 men for eight years, and the researchers say peppers convey those benefits regardless of whether you have any cardiovascular risk factors or eat a healthy Mediterranean diet.

This follows a 2017 study published in PLOS that found Americans who eat chili peppers (not counting dried pepper flakes) reduce their risk of death over a 19-year timespan by 13%!

What makes chili peppers so health-friendly when they can be so hot they seem heart-stopping? The benefits appear to be the result of the tongue-searing chemical capsaicin, which helps moderate your insulin response after eating and lowers your resting heart rate, and phytonutrients that help process fats, dilate blood vessels and knock out bacteria. 

So, enjoy whole wheat pasta arrabiata or diavolo using pepperoncini (like spicy Calabrian peppers that register 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale). And don’t shy away from Asian peppers found in dishes like Szechuan Dan Dan noodles or spicy vegetarian eggplant. 


Fight your diabetes risk with filtered coffee

“Two Joes” is a fan book about two of The Three Stooges, Joe Besser and Joe DeRita, who stepped into the madcap act many years after it first debuted. Besser arrived in 1955 after the death of an original Stooge, and DeRita followed Besser 15 years later.

The two Joes’ longevity echoes what researchers found in a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. The study indicated that consuming two cups of filtered Joe daily over a seven-year period slashed a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 60% compared with folks who drank less than a cup of filtered coffee daily! Seems coffee brewed with filter paper strains out a chemical -- diterpenes -- that raises levels of lousy LDL cholesterol. Boiled, drip, French press and espresso brews don’t offer the anti-diabetes, heart-friendly benefit. 

This finding comes after a 2013 study in Diabetologia that showed folks who reduced their coffee intake by a cup or more a day over a four-year period upped their risk for Type 2 diabetes by 17%.

Other health benefits of coffee, say physicians from Johns Hopkins Medicine, include a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and healthier kidneys and liver. So enjoy two or more cups daily, if you can do it without experiencing a headache, gastric upset, an abnormal heartbeat or anxiety within an hour of drinking a cup. (Decaf provides some of coffee’s health boosters.) But stay clear of sugary, fatty additives that negate coffee’s benefits. 


Your cellphone is dialing up health problems

Tech innovator Elon Musk launched Neuralink in 2017 to develop implantable electrodes that can directly link your brain to computers’ vast knowledge base. This neural lace technology is supposed to make us one with the digital world, but if the way people are interfacing with their smartphones is any indication of how well humans handle such entanglements, this bot-human hybrid could cause a lot of unforced errors. 

Cellphones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes annually, causing half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths. However, you don’t have to be driving and texting to get hurt by your phone.

According to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, cellphone-related head and neck injuries have spiked since 2007’s debut of the touchscreen smartphone. Many are among people 13 to 29 who are texting while walking. Another report found that teens are developing bone spurs on their necks from overuse! 

There’s evidence that cellphone abuse is associated with sleep disturbances because their blue light restricts production of melatonin, which regulates your body’s internal clock. It also increases the risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Plus, research shows cellphones dumb down many folks by making it hard to focus on important tasks.

So we’re calling on you to do these: never read or text while walking or driving; use your phone’s blue light filter; put your phone on airplane mode an hour before bed; turn off push notifications and use social media only on your laptop or desk computer. 

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 (c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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