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USA WEEKEND and The Doctors
USA WEEKEND and The Doctors: Starting with the Sept. 24-26 issue of USA WEEKEND, The Doctors from the Emmy-winning show will be our exclusive medical content contributors.
Almonds are an awesome source of vitamin E. / EISENHUT & MAYER-WIEN, GETTY IMAGES

Win a trip to see The Doctors tape in Los Angeles!

One lucky reader and guest will get to meet The Doctors and watch a taping of their show. They'll fly to L.A. and stay four nights at The Crowne Plaza Hotel at Commerce Casino, which is known as the place to meet in L.A. Breakfast, dinner and a complimentary spa treatment are included. Ten readers also will receive copies of The Doctors 5-Minute Health Fixes. Click the link below to enter.

Biking can help your brain.
Locally made honey can help with allergies. / BRIAN HAGIWARA, GETTY IMAGES


The Doctors are now making house calls. That's right: TV's favorite daytime TV physicians are our new HealthSmart columnists.

Each week, the Emmy Award-winning quartet - obstetrician and gynecologist Lisa Masterson, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, pediatrician James Sears and ER physician Travis Stork - will deliver practical advice in our pages to help you stay well. Just as they do on their daily show, The Doctors (check local listings), they'll report on ways to create and maintain a healthy life.

In this debut, we asked them to share advice from their new book, The Doctors 5-Minute Health Fixes: The Prescription for a Lifetime of Great Health (Rodale Books). We think you'll find these quick tips clever, timely and helpful — plus a taste of the great things to come in the weeks ahead.

Lie in bed an extra minute.

Then, take your resting heart rate. Your pulse, ” the rate at which your heart pumps blood through your arteries," tells a lot about your overall health. And your resting heart rate, when taken upon awakening in the morning, is a great indicator of cardiac fitness. As a person's cardiovascular health improves, his or her resting pulse tends to decrease. To find your resting heart rate: Put a watch or clock with a second hand on your bedside table before you go to sleep. Allow your body to wake up gently the next morning (not with an alarm clock). Place your index and middle fingers on the inner side of your wrist, toward your thumb. Feel for a pulsing sensation under your fingers. When you find it, look at the clock and wait until the second hand hits the 12. Count your pulse until the second hand hits the 6. Double that number; that's your heart rate. Most adults'resting heart rates fall in the range of 60 to 80 beats per minute (bpm), but your risk of heart attack is greatly increased when your resting heart rate is 70 or above.

Eat for 1.1 instead of for 2.

Contrary to that old wives' tale, you don't need to eat for two when you're pregnant. If moms-to-be were at a healthy weight when they conceived, they actually need only about 10% more calories during pregnancy. Work with your doctor to determine the optimum number of calories to get you to your recommended weight range.

(Page 2 of 4)

Grab local honey.

Research has found that honey is a much more effective cough suppressant than most over-the-counter cough medicines, and without the extra drugs. A bonus for allergy sufferers: Eating local honey (made by bees that live near the sources of your allergies) could stimulate your immune system and act as the equivalent of allergy shots. Seek out a honey producer within 10 miles of your home and ask for honey produced during the season when your allergies are the worst. With your doctor's approval, start taking a teaspoon three times a day or a tablespoon twice a day a month before your normal allergy season begins. Then track your symptoms. You might find quick relief.

Mom-to-be, meet your husband, the masseur.

The University of Miami medical school did a study of women with prenatal depression (depression before the birth instead of after, which is more common) who received massages twice a week from their partners beginning at 20 weeks gestation and continuing until the end of their pregnancies. When compared with the control group, these women reported lower levels of leg pain, back pain, sadness, anxiety and anger. When asked about their relationships, both the husbands and the wives reported improvements there as well. Buy some nice lotion and let him get to work. Bonus: It just might lead to more than a massage, which is great for both of you.

Clear off the table.

It turns out that the same clutter that's distracting to most of us could be downright painful to people who have migraines. Scottish researchers studied the effect of 'visual noise' on people who have migraines. When compared with folks who didn't get migraines, those who did were more likely to have trouble searching for and pinpointing a specific object when it was surrounded by other visual distractions. The clutter might even provoke migraines by triggering whole clusters of nerve cells to become overactive, just like a muscle spasm. Cutting the clutter not only helps migraine patients; it also relieves stress for everyone.

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Make a 'happy list.'

When we get overwhelmed by how hard life is, that's when it's even more important to remind ourselves to think positively. That's not being Pollyannaish: Research funded by the National Institutes of Health found that happier people are significantly less likely to develop heart problems. Researchers followed more than 1,700 men and women for 10 years and rated their happiness levels on a 5-point scale. They found that every extra point of happiness corresponded with a 22% lower chance of heart problems. Do this: Turn a piece of paper sideways and, across the top, write five things in your life that make you happy: your dog, your kids, your favorite football team. Then, under each one, brainstorm all the ways you can increase your enjoyment of those things in five-minute blocks. (Example: Brush the dog. Play fetch. E-mail my son. Put his picture in a frame.) Keep that list nearby for a happiness infusion after a hard day.

Swap your sour cream for fat-free Greek yogurt.

The DASH diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, developed by the National Institutes of Health — includes plenty of calcium, a mineral that helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Just don't count on sour cream as a source of that calcium. If you typically use 2 tablespoons of sour cream on your burrito or baked potato, you're getting zero calcium and just 2 grams of muscle-building protein with those 120 calories and 10 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat. In contrast, tangy, fat-free Greek yogurt has a similar flavor and texture, but it packs almost 15% of your daily requirement of calcium and 5 grams of protein into 30 calories — with zero saturated fat.

Put down that fork and head for the door.

Fewer than one in four pregnant women get as much exercise as they need. Adhering to a regular exercise program not only protects the baby; it helps you, too. Going for a brisk 10-minute walk after lunch and dinner can help you manage your body's postprandial (after-eating) insulin response better than if you stay at the table chatting. Aerobic exercise of any kind helps your body process insulin better. Walks count, and so do vacuuming, dancing around the living room and taking the stairs. String together enough of these to make up 30 minutes a day, and you might lower your diabetes risk in the years to come.

(Page 4 of 4)

Stop counting the calories (if you're a woman over 65).

Finally, right? Here's the thing: It may be better for you to stay at your current weight than to lose more, especially when it comes to your bones. Older women who lose weight can double their risk of hip fracture. If you're dead set on losing weight, get adequate calcium by drinking three or four glasses of fat-free or low-fat milk a day (or the equivalent), and definitely get your exercise in.

Take natural vitamin E.

A study found that people who have lived to age 100 with vitality and mobility were more likely to have dramatically lower rates of insulin resistance than much younger people. Researchers believe this backs up a theory that those who live beyond 100 have much greater sensitivity to, and efficient use of, insulin than any other group. These healthy centenarians also were much more likely to have lower levels of oxidative stress and higher circulating levels of vitamin E. Oxidative stress may increase risk of heart disease, and vice versa. Does vitamin E help manage that? Scientists aren't sure, but we say it may be worth a try. Get natural vitamin E, d-alpha tocopherol, not dl-alpha tocopherol. You also can get it from almonds, sunflower seeds and avocados.

Pump up the bike tires.

A German study found that people who rode bikes three times a week for 30 minutes each over a span of three months increased the volume of the hippocampus -” a brain region associated with spatial navigation and long-term memory-” by 16%. Researchers also found improvements in short-term memory. Riding your bike around town is a great way to challenge your brain "you have to recall the best route to your destination, navigate narrow alleyways and react to potholes” all of which pushes your brain to work in ways that it might not during everyday life. You will burn calories, decrease your carbon-footprint guilt and likely run into a neighbor or two along the way "all good things for your brain.

Cover and cover story photographs by Robert Sebree for USA WEEKEND; wardrobe: Yuri Sanchez; grooming: Helen Robertson, Lancome; makeup: Donna Cicatelli

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The Doctors

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check for local listings.