10 Steps to protect your heart, brain and body from disease and premature aging – houston chronicle database graphic

4. Practice daily meditation to manage your stress response. Stress causes your body to secrete hormones that raise blood pressure, suppress your immune system, raise cancer and heart attack risks and shrink your brain cells. Meditation routines dispel stress hormones.

5. Dodge toxins. Steer clear of tobacco and secondhand smoke; eliminate unnecessary contact with hormone disruptors in plastics, personal care products and receipts; avoid pesticides; and dodge air pollution (exercise indoors on days with poor air quality).

6. Drink coffee — no additives, please — daily. Decaf and caffeinated coffee temper inflammation; are brain-friendly; lower postmenopausal women’s risk for Type 2 diabetes by 15 to 25 percent; lower the risk for esophageal, colon and rectal cancers by 20 to 30 percent; and reduce the risk for endometrial, aggressive prostate and estrogen-negative breast cancer.

Drinking several cups a day of caffeinated coffee does all that, plus it may help you dodge heart disease, kidney problems and diabetes — not to mention premature death.

8. Enjoy an infrared sauna for 20 minutes, four times weekly. Infrared spectrum light triggers heat within your body (but not in the room around you!) to ease aches and pains, and reduce stress. Ask your doc if it’s OK for you if you have heart issues.

9. Take Fab 8+ supplements daily. They are 1,000 IU vitamin D-3; a multivitamin with nutrient levels close to the recommended daily allowance (half in the morning and half at night); 600 mg calcium and 300 mg magnesium for bone and cardiovascular health; 900 mg daily DHA omega-3; two anti-cancer and heart-loving uncoated 81-mg aspirin (one morning, one night); 420 mg of purified omega-7 to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation; a probiotic (lactobacillus or spore form) containing 4 billion colony-forming units for gut and immune health and regulation of weight and insulin levels. Plus: 200 mg coenzyme Q10 to reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and NAD+, a coenzyme essential for delivering nutrients to cells.

The Basics: ACV starts off as apple juice, but adding yeast (for fermentation) turns its fruit sugar into alcohol, then bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid — the key ingredient that conveys ACV’s health benefits. Studies show that ACV can reduce the rise in your blood glucose level after a meal and help promote weight loss as part of a calorie-restricted diet. Dr. Oz recommends 1 teaspoon before or with each meal (add to salad dressing or a berry shake) in his apple cider vinegar detox.

However, Dr. Tod Cooperman, president and founder of ConsumerLabs.com, wants consumers to be careful with ACV. High levels (remember, it’s acidic) potentially can damage your teeth, throat and stomach. In fact, household products with acetic acid content above 20 percent should be labeled as poisons, but foods and supplements are exempt from such labeling!

All the liquid ACVs they tested had between 5 and 6 percent acetic acid in them. But when they tested the pills, they found a wide range of results, from an acetic acid level of 0.4 percent (ineffective) up to 30 percent (potentially dangerous)!

A: Back surgery is complex, and recovery takes time. Tiger Woods had his spinal fusion operation (anterior lumbar interbody fusion) in April 2017. After a year, he’s now playing golf at a level that can be attained only by a few people. We hope you recover as well as he has. But remember, Tiger also had a rough time getting away from the medications that were necessary for him to endure his operation.

A recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder sheds some light on why he, you and millions of others have found that taking pain pills isn’t always a simple solution to post-op pain and that “trauma, including surgery, in combination with opiates can lead to chronic pain.”

The study, published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, found that in animal tests, the longer test subjects were taking morphine, the longer their pain lasted after they stopped taking opioids. Something is going on inside the nervous system’s pain receptors that actually prolongs pain and the desire for pain relief.

That’s why you need a good pain-management specialist to guide you through your detox and regular physical therapy to make you ever stronger. Pain is a serious issue, and today’s meds are so good that it’s much easier to get hooked than it was in the 1970s, when pain meds had dysphoric or nausea-creating side effects. Let’s not forget that a few bad actors in medical care and some bad actors in society profit handsomely from you getting addicted. We cannot stress enough that if the pain or the need for narcotics lasts longer than three days, you should seek an immediate second opinion from a pain-management specialist.