Menstuff® has information on how to Disease Proof Your
How to Disease-Proof Your Body
Let's say you're stranded on a desert island. You know the game: You can have only 10 CDs. Or five books. Or one woman. For the rest of your life. Except, in this version, you can have only three organs. Which would you choose? A heart, natch. How about a brain? Definitely, otherwise the heart couldn't pump a single pint. And número tres? If you're really honest, you'd choose the organ you'd need to satisfy the woman with whom you chose to spend eternity.
Of course, if you had just those three organs, eternity would last all of 2 seconds. And that's the point of this gruesome hypothetical: We value certain vital organs more than others, but the fact is, they're all just that -- vital. So, while it's great if you work hard to keep your heart healthy, your brain sharp, and your penis -- well, you know -- it may be for naught if you aren't protecting your other anatomical all-stars, too. Don't worry; this guide will show you how to safeguard everything from your lungs to your liver. In other words, if your organs had to choose a single magazine article to be stranded with on a desert island, this would be their pick.
If you think the airbags in your car are high tech, consider the set in your chest. Not only do they extract oxygen from the air you breathe and exchange it for carbon dioxide from your bloodstream, but they also help filter out any bacteria and viruses you might have sucked in. The more efficiently your lungs function, the higher your energy levels and the lower your risk of an airborne infection.
Your best protection: A surfeit of flab isn't just hell on your heart. "Being overweight puts a tremendous strain on the lungs," says John Mastronarde, M.D., an associate professor at the Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at Ohio State University. "Excess fat in the chest wall can compromise lung expansion and possibly lung function." Fortunately, even a relatively small drop in total poundage can have a big impact: A study in the journal Chest shows that losing 10 percent of excess body weight can improve lung capacity by 5 percent.
As you cut back on high-calorie foods, increase your intake of the flavonoid-filled kind, particularly apples. "Flavonoids may have antioxidant properties that enhance lung function," says Dr. Mastronarde. London researchers recently found that people who ate at least two apples a week had as much as a 32 percent lower risk of developing asthma. And an earlier study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute determined that eating an apple a day may cut the risk of lung cancer by 40 percent.
Urban legends about organ theft invariably involve pilfered kidneys. And why not? Only really valuable stuff gets stolen, and by anatomical standards, kidneys are practically priceless. They're the twin treatment plants that remove excess water and waste products from your blood before recycling the blood back into your circulatory system. But that isn't all. "They also regulate all the fluids, salts, and acids in the body," says Leslie Spry, M.D., a spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation.
Your best protection: Because kidney stones are more painful than a Real World reunion show, we tend to think of them as the biggest threat to our blood filters. But a greater danger, one that can't be prevented by consuming copious amounts of water, is high blood pressure. Chronically elevated BP can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, causing them to slow down or stop their waste-removal function -- and that can raise blood pressure even higher. Left untreated, this can become a veritable death spiral.
Besides the proven pressure-relief measures, such as ingesting
less sodium and swallowing more potassium, there's also a benefit to
packing on more muscle. A study from the Medical College of Georgia
shows that participants with the most muscle mass had 11 percent
lower systolic blood pressure and 7 percent lower diastolic pressure
than those who weren't as buff. To achieve the maximum BP-lowering
effect from your workouts, do power exercises (see the 15-Minute
Workout); they train the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which grow the