Going out for the long one -- and winning the game

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“In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry,” said quarterback Roger Staubach, who led the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl five times, winning twice. That formula for victory applies to a successful pursuit of better health, too.

Folks who team up to get regular physical activity, over weeks, months and years, improve their body chemistry and become heart-healthier, have better glucose control, improve brain power, maintain a healthier weight, reduce the risk of some cancers and extend their quality of life.

Those who, over the long haul, avoid junk foods and stick with a plant-based diet end up with an 18% to 25% reduced risk of early death and a 32% reduced risk of dying from heart disease, according to a JAMA study.

And now, research published in the Journal of Nutrition reveals that consistently adding whole grains to your daily diet is another powerful way to become and stay healthy.

The researchers say that if you ditch refined grains and opt for whole wheat, barley, teff, spelt, quinoa and brown rice, you’ll reduce or prevent belly fat and block elevated lousy LDL, triglycerides, glucose and blood pressure. You’ll also increase healthy HDL cholesterol and slash your risk for diseases linked to metabolic syndrome (such as diabetes) and cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke).

So, if you’re playing to have a winning season every year, check out grain recipes in Dr. Mike’s book “What to Eat When” and “The Super Grains You Should Be Eating” at DoctorOz.com.

Mood foods

In a parody of Frank Sinatra’s song “I’m in the Mood for Love,” Airfarcewon writes, “I’m in the mood for food/Simply because it’s near me/Hungry, because it’s near me/I’m in the mood for food.” Food and mood do make for an amusing rhyme, but they do a whole lot more than that. Turns out food actually plays a big role in triggering -- and sustaining -- your moods, both happy and blue.

An emerging field of research, nutritional psychiatry, is uncovering strong connections between what you eat and your state of mind. It’s based on the fact that your gut biome depends on a healthy mix of phytochemicals and nutrients to appropriately produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.

A study in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry states, “in recent years, it has become clear that the gut microbiome is in communication with the brain ... [and] that the gut microbiome plays a shaping role in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder.” Another seven-year study found that folks who increased their consumption of fruits and veggies rated themselves much happier than those who didn’t. And the SMILES trial found that almost 33% of folks with diagnosed depression who switched to eating a plant-based diet reported their depression was gone.

Some of the best mood-enhancing foods are beans and lentils; salmon (canned and fresh), herring, anchovies and sardines; and frozen and fresh produce. So, ditch disease-promoting, brain-dulling added sugars and syrups, red meats and ultraprocessed foods -- and raise your spirits with good-mood foods.

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