Health & Fitness

It's quiz time. Each question has one single best answer. Don't keep score; just read and think. The answers are on page 2.

  1. What's usually the most effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis?
      a. Antinflammatories.
      b. Antibiotics.
      c. Bee stings.
      d. Antioxidants.
      e. Pain killers.
      f. Phoenix, Arizona.
  2. What causes most cases of irritable bowel syndrome (alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea)?
      a. Stress.
      b. Genetics.
      c. White bread and pasta.
      d. Too much meat.
      e. Intestinal inflammation or infection.
      f. Your mother-in-law.
  3. What's the best way to permanently lose weight, presuming no limiting health problems?
      a. Exercise.
      b. The Mediterranean Diet.
      c. Low-carb diets.
      e. Avoid fats.
      f. Divorce.
  4. How beneficial is carrying small weights while you jog or run?
      a. It isn't.
      b. It adds strength and aerobic benefit.
      c. Adds no strength but pumps up the cardio workout.
      d. Builds both heart and skeletal muscle.
      e. Handy for dogs and muggers.
  5. Which of these breads is the only kind we should eat?
      a. Any, as long as it's fresh.
      b. Whole wheat.
      c. Wheat.
      d. Enriched wheat.
      e. Dark wheat.
      f. 7-grain or multi-grain.
      g. Almost none. Carbos are fattening.
  6. Brussels sprouts are actually edible, even quite tasty, when:
      a. Raw.
      b. Covered with sufficient ketchup or sugar.
      c. Nuked or steamed.
      d. Cooked for less than seven minutes.
      e. Pigs fly and you hold your nose and drink enough wine first.
  7. Your tennis (or golfer's) elbow is best treated by:
      a. Physician
      b. Physical therapist.
      c. Time and rest.
      d. Electric shock treatment.
      e. Injection.
      f. Surgery.
  8. The major cause of heart attacks emerging from the health puzzle seems to be:
      a. Obesity.
      b. Lack of exercise.
      c. Chlamydia.
      d. High Cholesterol.
      e. c-reactive protein.
      f. Smoking.
  9. One vitamin stands out as missing from enough diets to require supplementation. The need increases as we age, and overdose is very unlikely. It is:
      a. Vit A.
      b. B12.
      c. E.
      d. C.
      e. B6.
  10. Which oils are best for us?
      a. Corn.
      b. Canola.
      c. Olive.
      d. Safflower.
      e. Peanut.
      f. Soy.
  11. Which fat burner supplements work best?
      a. Metabolife.
      b. Super Fat Burners.
      c. Generic ephedra.
      d. Shape-Fast Plus.
      e. Ripped Fuel.
      f. Herbalife Thermojetics.
      g. Exercise.
  12. Which is the leading cause of death in American women?
      a. Heart disease.
      b. Stroke.
      c. Lung cancer.
      d. Chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema.
      e. Breast cancer.
      f. Flu and pneumonia.
      g. Diabetes.
  13. How long does food poisoning last?
      a. Overnight.
      b. 24-48 hours.
      c. Days.
      d. Weeks, to feel 100% recovered.
      e. A lifetime.
      f. Until you get back home from Mexico.
  14. The best predictor of longevity for men is exercise capacity. It can override:
      a. Smoking.
      b. Obesity.
      c. High blood pressure.
      d. High cholesterol.
      f. Diabetes.

Here come the answers:

  1. a. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually caused by treatable infection, not untreatable genetic or autoimmune problems. Prompt treatment of the underlying infection with a long course of the right antibiotics can often cure it before it leads to permanent joint damage. This is true to a lesser extent even for osteoarthritis. If the doctor treating your joint pain doesn't know that, find a physician who reads more before irreversible damage is done.
  2. c. Overly processed grains - AKA white bread - is the primary IBS trigger. For details read the first half of the IBS story in the March 1998 issue. The second half is in the April issue.
  3. a. Exercise is tops, especially if accompanied by the Mediterranean diet, or a close facsimile. c and e deny us too many critical nutrients, and f costs too much money. See the any of the following articles:

    Or just cut right to "26 Diets Rated" in the March 2002 issue, which reviews diets.

  4. a. Those little running hand-weights are too light to develop strength and slow us down enough to decrease the aerobic benefit.
  5. b is the only whole grain bread, so eat plenty of it. See the January 1999 column for details.
  6. d. 7 minutes. Cooking even 7.5 minutes forms the sulfur compounds that trigger their stench.
  7. b. Physical therapy is vital after a doctor rules out specific injury. c helps, but does nothing to prevent reoccurrence. d is new and successful, and much quicker than surgery. See the June 1999 column.
  8. c. Evidence is increasing that chlamydia infection causes the fatty plaques which form in arteries to cause heart attacks. This infection is indicated by c-reactive protein, making high levels of it a leading predictor of the risk of heart attack and strokes. Long-term treatment with the right antibiotics can cure the infection and lower heart attack risk.
  9. It's b, vitamin B12. A normal daily dose is six micrograms per day, but even 100 times that is harmless. Growing numbers of young people are deficient in it, and people over about 50 have reduced stomach acid, which significantly cuts its absorption. So people of or past middle age should take at least 25 micrograms a day to prevent permanent nerve damage. I take a couple of hundred micrograms daily because I take the proton pump inhibitor Prevacid to reduce stomach acid 24/7.
  10. If we had to pick one, it would be c, olive oil. Peanut oil survives the heat better when stir-frying, otherwise b, c, and f are best for most other reasons and applications. Corn and safflower exacerbate arthritis.
  11. This one doesn't even deserve comment. The only way to safely control a weight problem long term is exercise and proper nutrition. A through f are all dangerous stimulants over which the FDA has no authority.
  12. These are listed in decreasing order of their significance. Heart disease kills more than b through g combined. Notice that all of these deaths except maybe f are largely self-inflicted with cigarettes, excess calories and/or insufficient exercise.
  13. e. Food Poisoning can last forever. Evidence is just surfacing that it may cause thousands of cases of temporary or permanent paralysis, arthritis, or kidney damage each year. Permanent symptoms may not start until weeks after the poisoning episode, so the connection may not be recognized, but suspicion is increasing that the connection is common. Increasing evidence indicates that nerve-crippling Guillain-Barre Syndrome, for example, is caused by the same bacterium that causes most food poisoning.
  14. I lied. They are all correct. The impact of superb physical fitness is so overwhelming that it overrides any and all of them to increase both the length and quality of our lives. Defeating all those problems requires exceptional conditioning, but even adequate conditioning is an effective start, because the beneficial effect is progressive.

If any of these strikes close to home and you want more information, refer to the June 2001 column for reliable online medical information sources.