Garden City Telegram

Eating meat can cause wheezing in children; declutter your mind

Q: My 10-year-old son is wheezing, so we took him to an allergist - no allergies. And it isn't bronchitis. We're stumped. Is there anything we might be overlooking that could account for this? - Kayla F., Ocala, Florida

A: Wheezing, whether it's a sign of undiagnosed allergies or asthma, or occurs on its own, is serious. It can cause sleep disruption, which has negative consequences on learning, mood and overall health, and limits the amount of enjoyable physical activity a kid can do (increasing the risk for being overweight). You should keep track of how often and in what situations it happens and see a pulmonologist to check for asthma.

Once allergies and asthma are ruled out, it's smart to check for gastroesophageal reflux disease or a recurrent respiratory infection. But there's another very possible trigger that researchers have just exposed - your child may be eating too much meat!

Researchers from New York's Mount Sinai Hospital have found that compounds called advanced glycation end products, produced when meat is grilled, fried or roasted, can trigger an inflammatory immune response in lung cells. 

Their study, published in Thorax, looked at data on kids 2 to 17 years old. The researchers found that those who ate the most meat had a high AGE score. It raised the risk a child would contend with wheezing by 18%. In addition, they found that eating a lot of meat prepared in those ways during the past year was associated with a 26% increased risk of disturbed sleep because of wheezing and a 34% increased risk of wheezing during exercise.

We have long advised against eating red and processed meats because they increase the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Here is another huge reason to look to lean, skinless poultry (stewed, gently sauteed) and fish, like salmon, for animal protein. If your family takes inflammatory meats off the plate, you'll all feel much better and your child may well breathe better!

Q: Working from home, I'm overwhelmed by kids' questions about school lessons, household stuff to remember and then all the information that I have to juggle for work (which seems to go on for hours longer than before). I'm forgetting to do things, losing focus, just fuzzy brained. Help! - Susan T., Richmond, Virginia.

A: Yours is a common complaint these days. A new study found around 10 million mothers feel burnt out from working at home. Fortunately, you do have some control over how you manage conflicting tasks and thoughts. 

Researchers from the University of Colorado have made surprising insights into the building blocks of cognition and what can effectively declutter your mind. First, they explain that your working memory is like a sink full of dirty dishes - it has to be cleaned out regularly if you're going to be able to focus on what you need to. And they have ideas about how to do that.

Their study in the journal Nature Communications says there are essentially three ways you can move on from preoccupation with one task or idea to another: By consciously replacing one thought with another ("I am thinking about X client, not fractions"); by clearing your mind by allowing your thought to float away (exhale a breath and exhale the thought); or by recognizing what is on your mind and then intentionally suppressing it ("I'm fixated on what's for dinner and I am not going to think about it anymore").  

Using brain scans to track what happens neurologically during those distinct processes, they found "replace" and "clear" made thoughts fade faster, but they left a shadow in the background as new thoughts were introduced. "Suppress" took longer to effectively cause forgetting, but it was more complete, clearing a space for a new thought.  You can give that a try - and remember, physical exercise and meditating are also good ways to dispel stress and clear the mind. 

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.