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Doctors Answer Common Health Questions

The Huffington Post recently invited readers to submit their most vexing health questions to be answered by the site’s team of doctors. Here are some of the questions most often asked:

“How can a woman approaching middle age get more energy?”

Women start losing testosterone in their late 30s and 40s, and there is also a fluctuation in levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones all influence mood and energy. Nutritionists recommend small meals every three hours, combining a variety of nutrients.

“What can I do about my chronic knee pain?”

The two surefire solutions are diet and exercise. Even a small weight loss helps. For every pound you lose, four pounds of pressure is taken off your knees. Also try low-impact exercises like walking, swimming and cycling.

“Will I get sick if I kiss my pet?”

We love our pets, and as long as you have no open wounds, your own immune system is likely strong enough to handle the bacteria in a pet’s saliva.

“Is sugar really the new evil?”

Afraid so. Eating too much sugar wreaks havoc on your body. It is implicated in inflammation, a killer condition that underlies obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Keep your intake under 100 calories daily.

“How many glasses of water do I actually need each day?”

Forget the old eight-glasses rule. Nutritionists now say six glasses a day hydrates you and supports health.

“Why do I feel bloated no matter what I eat?”

Bloating might be a sign of SIBO, small intestine bacterial overgrowth. SIBO occurs when bacteria from the colon migrate up into the small bowel and ferment the carbs being digested there. Consider a diet low in dairy, wheat and high-fructose fruits.

“How bad is it to lie to your doctor?”

“If you misrepresent the facts, you limit what your doctor can do for you,” says Lissa Hirsch, MD. Test results will give your doctor some of the information she needs, but the process of diagnosis and treatment depends on information only you can provide through truthful reporting.

“Do I really need a multivitamin?”

Probably not, if you eat a variety of foods rich in nutritional value, like fruits and vegetables, whole grain or fortified cereals and breads, and healthy proteins. One exception: Women in their reproductive years need folic acid.

“What are the three most important things I can do if I want to live to be 100?”

Marie Bernard, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging, offered these ideas:

See your doctor regularly. “At the turn of the 20th century, the average American life-span was about 45 to 50 years,” Dr. Bernard says. “Today people live well into their 70s and beyond, and many experts believe that increase is due in part to preventive health measures.”

Maintain friendships. One study says social isolation raises your risk of mortality a full 32 percent Рas much as obesity.

Learn a new skill. Studies show learning a complex skill, such as digital photography or quilting, builds brainpower and memory.