What causes burping and farting?
Many of you logged on to Oprah.com and told us your most embarrassing health questions. Thirty-eight percent of you said that gas was a major problem in your lives. On a previous show, Dr. Oz explained that the average person...both men and women...passes gas 14 times a day.
What's causing this phenomenal natural gas leak?
"Many of those bacteria that are on your side and protecting you normally will eat up the foods that you're eating and release their waste product: gas, which, by the way, is good for you. You want to have a regular amount of gas. The problem happens when you eat certain foods that give you more gas than you want."
Probably the most infamous gas-producing foods are beans, which, Dr. Oz explains, contain sugar. "In fact, sugars in general are the problem." Bacteria love simple sugars and simple carbohydrates because they're so easy to digest.
Dr. Oz says it's not just what you eat. It's also in the air you breathe. "Twenty percent of the gas comes from the air you take in your mouth," he says. "That comes because you're eating too quickly, you're drinking carbonated beverages, you're chewing gum, you're smoking cigarettes, you're sucking air into your body that gets into your intestines."
Think of your body as a refrigerator, Dr. Oz says. If you let food sit in there, it's going to smell after a while. In your body, sulfur-rich foods like eggs, meat, beer, beans and cauliflower are decomposed by bacteria to release hydrogen sulfide—a smell strong enough to flatten a bear. Avoiding these foods is the ideal solution, but when stinky gas persists, the best solutions are leafy green vegetables and probiotics, specifically lactobacilli GG. These can be found in some yogurts. The product Beano can sometimes work with beans, but soaking the beans ahead of time is useful as well.
What is sweat good for?
If you listen to commercials, you should never let anyone see you sweat. However, that sweat is very important. "During heavy exercise, your muscles generate enough heat to boil several cups of coffee," Dr. Oz says. Without sweating, "heat would literally cook your internal organs and kill you."
Just below your skin are 3 million sweat glands, each a coiled tube four feet long loaded with liquid. As your body heats up the tubes contract and squeeze a droplet of sweat out onto your skin. As the sweat evaporates, it draws heat away from your body, cooling you.
And, as a special bonus feature, sweat can influence and attract people around you. "The apocrine glands—they're the ones in your armpits and in your genital areas—they actually release chemicals that signal to each other like animals: pheromones. You will instinctively like somebody or not based on their smell," Dr. Oz says.
Can sweat be bad?
"First of all, sweat by itself doesn't smell," Dr. Oz says. "What does smell is when the sweat gets bacteria in it. Some people's sweat have chemicals that are particularly attractive to bacteria. Sweat itself comes out normal in its shape and its smell but the bacteria love it, so they just grow and grow and grow and multiply."
A particularly strong smell signals one of two things: diet and bacteria. This smelly sweat may contain some sugar, but sometimes sweat actually inhibits bacteria growth and sometimes it encourages it. Those with particularly smelly sweat may have bacteria already colonized on their body, Dr. Oz says. "Anti-bacterial soaps are sometimes helpful to get those out. In terms of how much you sweat, that varies a lot, and sweat's not a bad thing because it means you're getting rid of some excess energy. That stated, for a lot of Americans it's related to hormonal problems, so thyroid gland issues are of concern."
What is earwax?
Are you like the 85 percent of respondents to an Oprah.com poll who said they use cotton swabs to clean their ears? Dr. Oz says you may as well be "taking a muzzle-loader and shoving it in there."
"Wax is the sweat that the body deposits in the ear lining," he says. "When our ancestors were walking along in the sub-Saharan desert, the dust would get caught like an insect trap and prevent it from getting into your eardrum. When you take this cotton swab and you start shoving that wax into your eardrum, you risk not only blocking off the pathway, but you also risk perforating—making a hole—in your eardrum which is just a millimeter thick."
If you have an excessive buildup of earwax and want to get rid of it, Dr. Oz suggests using "a little mineral oil, drop it in there, it will melt it, and it will come out by itself. You don't have to go plunging in there."
So what are you supposed to be using those cotton swabs in your medicine cabinet for anyway? "Taking off makeup," Dr. Oz says.
Are all germs dangerous?
Do you buy industrial size bottles of Purell?
Have you continued getting yearly booster shots to prevent cooties?
Are you rubbing antibacterial soap on your hands right now?
Warning: You may find the following information to be extremely
Scientists have found:
- bacteria on the handles of doors, the toilet and the towel dispenser of public restrooms
- drool from three different people on an airplane cushion
- saliva from three people on the inside of a bar glass
- germs usually found in feces in the back of a taxi cab
- B. strep, usually found in vaginal secretions, on a movie theater seat. They say it was probably from a woman wearing a short skirt.
- dangerous E. coli bacteria, most likely from fecal matter, on a pair of public headphones
And that's not all! Forensic scientists say they recently uncovered sperm mixed in a soft drink served at a neighborhood restaurant!
Despite how utterly revolting this all is, Dr. Oz says, "the vast majority of these germs are not dangerous. In fact, a lot of the secretions, if they're dry, have already lost their ability to hurt you."
"The most dangerous thing we get exposed to is spit," he says. "That's how the flu gets transmitted. It's the way that we're most commonly able to hurt each other. In fact, the human bite is the most dangerous of all animal bites because that's where we actually can hurt each other the most."
So why do we get sick more often in the winter? It's not from going out without a hat and scarf, but because we start to congregate together indoors. "When you sit in a small space with a lot of people and they start coughing on you, that's how viruses get transmitted. That's why we have a flu season in the winter.
Can I get an STD from a toilet seat or a hot tub?
One of the most enduring urban legends concerns getting a sexually transmitted disease from a toilet seat or a hot tub. But can that really happen? "Do not worry about the toilet seat," Dr. Oz says. "No one catches STDs on toilet seats."
So what could you get from a toilet seat? "You can theoretically catch some bacteria that can bother your skin," Dr. Oz says, "but toilet seats are a relatively safe place because they're inert, they're just a plastic covering. Here's what the reality is: We're living with bacteria; we're alive because of bacteria; we ought to get comfortable with the fact that we live in a dangerous world and what we really want to do is make sure that our immune systems are ready to do battle. As long as you're able to protect yourself, then you're okay sitting on any toilet seat you want."
Catching something in a hot tub is "more possible…because often the hot tubs aren't kept clean," Dr. Oz says. "People have bodily secretions that they're sweating or leaving in the hot tub and you're hopping right into it. That's a place that I don't like to hang out too much."
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