The Guy's Guide to Good Health

Breath: If you forgot to stock up on mouthwash or breath mints before a hot date or an important meeting, sugar-free yogurt may do the job, according to researchers from Tsurumi University in Japan. They found that bacteria and volatile sulfide compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide (which is responsible for stinky breath), decreased in 80 percent of volunteers after six weeks of eating about 3 ounces of sugar-free yogurt twice daily. Not only were they more kissable, but they had less plaque and symptoms of gum disease, too.

Teeth
: They may taste sweet as sugar, but raisins fight the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, plaque and gum disease, according to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, who presented their results to the 2005 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Hot heads
: Mad as hell? Anger raises your chances of getting injured, according to researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia. And the more furious you feel, the more you're at risk. "People who describe themselves as feeling 'irritable' have a 30 percent increased risk for getting injured, while those who feel hostile, angry or mad have double the risk of injury," says lead researcher Daniel Vinson, M.D., MSPU, a professor of family and community medicine. To control your fury, visualize serene experiences or images. Try deep breathing while slowly repeating a calm word or phrase such as "take it easy." Meditative exercises like yoga or tai chi can boost your mood, ease tension and calm you down. "Meditation cultivates inner peace and serenity and improves our ability to approach life from a place of balance and calm," says Shirley Archer, author of Pilates Fusion: Well-Being for Body, Mind and Spirit (Chronicle Books, 2004). To get started, Archer suggests the following steps:

Choose a quiet place where you're not likely to be interrupted.

Sit with good posture, and put your hands on your thighs or clasped in your lap.

Close your eyes.

Focus on your breath. Be aware of inhaling and exhaling and the pause between breaths.

Feel your breath traveling through your body, in the nostrils, and into the lungs.

Frustrated?

Let go of the hair and take a deep breath.

Heart
: When you crave a treat, bypass fries, chips or beer. Instead, reach for these heart-smart snacks:

Fresh grapes are loaded with antioxidants that prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Several studies have indicated that unsalted almonds may reduce "bad cholesterol."

Sunflower seeds and cashews are a good source of vegetable protein, which can lower blood pressure.

Walnuts contain omega-3 fats that may protect against irregular heart rhythms.

Go ahead and have that chocolate bar. Cocoa -- whether you eat or drink it -- can lower blood pressure.

Wash it down with a hot cup of green or black tea to help lower bad cholesterol and prevent arterial plaque buildup that causes atherosclerosis.


Baby Your Back

Acupressure and activity can relieve pain.

Lungs
: So you decided to "cut back" on cigarettes. Don't kid yourself: Light smoking still means high risk when it comes to lung cancer. People who smoke between one and five cigarettes a day are almost three times more likely to die of lung cancer than those who've never smoked. What's more, people who smoke fewer cigarettes tend to inhale more.

Fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 40 percent. A compound called "phytoestrogens" -- abundant in apples, blueberries, spinach, carrots and broccoli, as well as whole grain and soy products -- gets the credit. "Researchers discovered that men and women who had a higher intake of phytoestrogens from food had a reduced risk of developing lung cancer later in life," says Abby Kallio, a registered dietician at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. "But this doesn't give smokers a green light. It means stop smoking and then eat more fruits and vegetables."

Back
: Prone to backaches? You might be able to lay off pain-relieving meds once and for all if you try gentler alternative remedies, such as acupuncture, acupressure, meditation or massage therapy, according to research from the Mayo Clinic.

Acupressure, in particular, has been shown to provide more relief than physical therapy.

Exercise, particularly walking and swimming, can speed healing, but skip the weight room until the pain is gone. Strenuous lifting, pulling, pushing or twisting will aggravate pain.

Take a gentle yoga class. A recent study of adults with persistent low-back pain found that after 12 weeks, those who practiced yoga had better back function than those who tried standard therapeutic exercises, with less than half the amount of pain medication.

Beer belly
: Have you been packing on the pounds around your middle and have love handles? Uh-oh. Men with a high waist-to-hip ratio-that is, a classic "beer belly" -- are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than guys with flatter stomachs.

To find out if you need to whittle your middle, take these steps:

Measure your waist just under the rib cage.
Measure your hips at their widest point.
Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.
The result is your waist-to-hip ratio. If it's higher than one, you're at risk.
Want to cut that gut? Despite what the infomercials would have you believe, you don't need expensive gear, machines, rollers or balls. Good old-fashioned crunches paired with at least 30 minutes of activity do the job just as well.

Upset stomach
: When that chili-cheese omelet wasn't such a good idea after all, ginger comes to the rescue. It may be an old folk remedy, but now studies show that the spice really can settle your stomach. "Ginger appears to have several medicinal qualities," says Suzanna Zick, ND, MPH, research investigator in family medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. You can take ginger in capsule form, sip ginger tea or ginger ale and even munch on gingersnap cookies. It's all good. Just be sure that the product contains real ginger -- not an artificial flavoring. ("Ginger" ale, especially, is notorious for not containing real ginger.) Fresh ginger root, available at the supermarket, is best of all.

Liver
: Real men can handle the heat. So reach for the chili peppers -- the hotter the better! The ingredient that makes them hot is the compound called capsaicin, and studies show that it may help protect against liver cancer. Spicy salsa? Bring it on.

Prostate
: When it comes to this organ, saw palmetto tends to be the supplement to reach for. But there are other promising natural agents for a healthier prostate, including turmeric (also called curcumin), the spice used in curries. Research shows that it may protect against and fight prostate cancer, especially when combined with vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, winter cress, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

A Swedish study published in the March 2006 issue of Cancer Causes and Controls indicated that beans, soy and berries may also help prevent prostate cancer.

Thirsty? Pour yourself a glass of pomegranate juice. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin say it may prevent and combat prostate cancer, according to their report in the Oct. 11, 2005 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Erectile dysfunction
: It's estimated that 18 million American men age 20 and older -- nearly one in five -- have erectile dysfunction (ED). Now researchers have found a lifestyle link. The same risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes -- especially lack of exercise -- can cause ED, according to review of data on 2,216 adult males in the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Or to look at it another way, regular physical activity can help prevent ED, as well as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The findings "should serve as powerful motivators for male patients for whom lifestyle changes are needed," says Elizabeth Selvin, Ph.D., MPH, lead author of the study and a research fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.

Fore! Keep your swing intact with supplements.

Hands
: When was the last time you washed your hands? It's the easiest and most effective way to prevent illness, yet 26 percent of men skip this simple step after using a public restroom. Even fewer wash up after other bacteria-laden activities, such as changing a diaper, petting a cat or dog, coughing and sneezing or handling money. Experts recommend washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before every meal and after every trip to the restroom. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers in your desk drawer and car for times that you're nowhere near a sink.

Knees and joints
: Your golf game may cause some pain -- and we don't mean your score. "Playing golf requires total body movement," says Kevin Plancher, M.D., a New York orthopedist and sports medicine expert. The golf swing involves the shoulders, back, hips, elbows and knees. "Pain in any of these key joints is enough to sideline even the most enthusiastic golfer," Plancher says. For relief, he recommends taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

Another proven joint pain reliever is the herb willow bark. "Willow bark acts as a prostaglandin/inflammation inhibitor," says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill, 2005). "Research has shown it to be safe and effective for treating osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. And a study on back pain not only found that willow bark was more effective and safer than standard prescription therapies; it also decreased the cost of care by approximately 40 percent." A cautionary note: Willow bark is essentially salicylic acid, so it may have some of the possible adverse effects of aspirin.

Source: Better Nutrition. Powered by Yellowbrix.