healthy heart

  1. How to beat the dentist every time

    The heart-healthy benefits of a clean mouth

    It's the kind of research only a dentist could love: People who get the most intensive dental cleanings have a lower risk of a heart attack or stroke.

    The more cleanings you get, the lower your risk -- with patients who get scalings every year having a 24-percent lower risk of a heart attack and a 13-percent lower risk of a stroke than people who never have the procedure, according to a new study out of Taiwan.

    Scalings, if you don't know, are the hellishly painful "deep cleanings" in which a dentist pulls plaque and other junk from between your teeth and gums using sharp instruments that would be right at home in a medieval torture chamber.

    I can't help but think that some dentists enjoy using those instruments just a little too much -- but if that was the only way to get the job done, I'd say strap in and brace for the pain.

    After all, this isn't the first study to find a clear link between a clean mouth and a healthy heart.

    But don't make that appointment yet -- because visiting a dentist is like having lunch in a toxic waste dump: mercury, fluoride, radiation and more, all aimed right at your kisser.

    You might leave with clean teeth, but at what price?

    You can do a much better job of keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape, and all you need is baking soda and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

    Mix the two into a paste and gently massage it into and around your teeth with your fingertips. Then, rinse with (but don't swallow) the peroxide. Don't forget to floss, and be sure to use a water irrigator like the Waterpik.

    Believe me, your trips to the dentist will be quick and painless -- and you'll never have to suffer through a scaling.

    One more note on this: The most careful dental habits in the world won't do a thing to protect your teeth or your heart from the ravages of a diet loaded with sugar and other processed carbs.

    In other words, don't just watch your mouth -- watch what you put in it as well, and you'll avoid both the dentist and the cardiologist.

  2. Exercises in futility

    Why working out won't beat disease

    Muscles will lower your diabetes risk! Working out will save your brain! And let's not forget that old standby: Exercise for a healthy heart!

    A slew of new studies is pumping all my favorite exercise myths -- and rather than go after them one at a time, I'm going to take them all on at once, right here, with one hand tied behind my back (you'll have to trust me on that last bit).

    First, researchers claim a steady workout habit will slash the odds of diabetes -- with each 10 percent boost in skeletal muscle index reducing insulin resistance by 11 percent and pre-diabetes risk by 12 percent.

    No kidding -- if you've got some muscles, you're probably not fat. And if you're not fat, you've got a dramatically lower risk of diabetes right off a bat -- regardless of your exercise habits.

    Someone had to do a study to figure this out?

    Next up, dementia: Researchers measured actual energy expenditure in 197 seniors with an average age of 75 and found that those who spent the most energy had a fraction of the cognitive decline risk of those who spent the least.

    But if you're thinking that's a reason to hop on the hamster wheel every day, think again: The seniors who had the highest energy expenditures weren't the ones who reported the most exercise.

    The researchers admit they're stumped by that one, but I'm not. As I've told you before, the best way to spend energy is to get light natural movement throughout the day -- not 30 furious minutes on a treadmill after eight hours of sitting at a desk.

    Finally, researchers claim obese patients at risk for heart disease need both aerobic exercise and weight training... despite the fact that their study found no such thing.

    The study started out with 196 overweight adults assigned to one of three different workout programs -- but so many dropped out or had other problems that the researchers were only able to include data from 86.

    And of those, those who did aerobics and weights -- the "best" of the lot -- lost just four pounds over eight months.

    I've got news for you: If an overweight person loses four pounds, he's still overweight -- and still at risk for heart disease no matter how much he works out.

    Heck, if you want to push a ticker on the brink of a heart attack over the edge, put in a little time at the gym -- I guarantee you, you can make it happen.

    Forget the new studies -- here's the real deal: Eat right and try not to spend too much time on your bottom. You'll lose weight, beat disease and never have to break a sweat.

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