I just heard that the latest research says 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, or twice what we eat daily, offer a lot more than twice the health benefits. How am I supposed to double my family’s intake?
—Maureen F., Oakland, California
It’s great that your family is eating five servings of fruits and veggies a day and wants to do more. What you heard about is a British metastudy that looked at 96 individual studies and found that when people increased their fruit and vegetable intake from 14 ounces to 28 ounces daily, they had a 31 percent reduction of premature death, a 33 percent lower risk of stroke, a 28 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 24 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 13 percent lower risk of cancer. The researchers are talking about what they call “portions” — and one portion equals just under 3 ounces. To get 28 ounces a day, you need a total intake of a bit less than 10 three-ounce portions.
So how to do that? Well, Maureen, in addition to what you regularly eat, try these:
—Drink your veggies and fruit. A breakfast berry smoothie (check out www.Doctoroz.com for recipes) dishes up 4 ounces of berries and 2 ounces of banana. Dr. Oz’s green drink is made with 2 cups (16 ounces) fresh spinach, 4 ounces celery, 2 ounces cucumber, 3 carrots (4.5 ounces or more), parsley, mint, half of a lemon, lime, orange, 2 apples, and 1/4 pineapple.
—Change your snacking habits. Stock the fridge with celery and carrot sticks and florets of broccoli or cauliflower. You can make a dipping sauce with lemon/lime/low-fat yogurt/fresh dill. Fruit makes a great pick-me-up midafternoon and an after-dinner dessert; 1 pear, 1/2 grapefruit, 2 kiwi, 1 apple — each is one portion.
And make sure you have walnut halves and almonds on hand. With these snacks, you can easily add 1 to 4 portions of veggies and fruits.
3. Discover new ways of preparing veggies. Creating entrees that are all-veg (whole-wheat or spinach pasta primavera, or a hearty lentil and vegetable soup) is a great way to increase intake substantially.
I have terrible toenail fungus. What’s the best treatment?
—Frank R., Mentor, Ohio
Nail fungus is very common and happens most often to toenails. The symptoms include thickened, brittle or crumbly, discolored and misshapen nails. Sometimes the nail can separate from the nail bed. When the same fungus attacks your skin on the bottom of your feet and between your toes, it’s called athlete’s foot.
Summertime lets you wear sandals, which helps keep foot skin and toenails dry, so it’s a prime time to tackle the problem.
First step: Have your doc take a sample scraping from under an affected toenail to send to the lab. Although fungus is the most common cause, such nail problems can also be triggered by yeast or mold. Knowing the culprit will let you target the treatment more effectively.
Toe the line: Oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine and itraconazole can knock out the infection, but you have to take them for six to 12 weeks, and it takes four or more months for a fully healthy nail to grow back. On top of that, the meds aren’t as effective for folks over 65; and they have side effects that make them off limits for anyone breastfeeding or with heart failure, liver disease or taking certain other meds — 306 different over-the-counter and prescription drugs are known to have negative interactions ranging from severe to minor.
Alternatives: An antifungal nail cream or nail polish (ciclopirox) may help, but the polish needs daily application for up to a year. In the why-not-try-it department, a small study found topical application of Vicks VapoRub for 48 weeks was beneficial: 83 percent of participants saw positive results, and almost 28 percent were able to be called “cured.”
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. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)sharecare.com.