Q: Whenever I go out and about, they take my temperature. The other day it registered at 99.2 F, and the kid wielding the "gun" said it was too high for me to come into the shop. It wasn't an argument I could win, but it got me thinking, what is a normal, healthy temperature? - Nonnie G., Ozone Park, New York
A: Normal or healthy body temperature changes from birth, though your teens, and from middle age and into older age. It's different in the morning than at night. And it can be influenced by certain diseases or conditions and medications. But the bottom line for COVID-19 screening purposes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that anything below 100.4 degrees on a handheld infrared no-contact temperature gauge is OK.
The long-held notion that 98.6 F is normal comes from a German doctor who, in 1851, using the rudimentary thermometers they had, determined that was the number to shoot for. Since then, a lot has changed - the prevalence of chronic inflammatory diseases like tuberculosis, syphilis and periodontitis has fallen sharply (they raise your resting metabolic rate and temperature) and instruments have become far more refined. Today the "normal" temperature is lower by 1.6% than in the pre-industrial era - it's around 97.5 to 97.9 F for adults.
The temperature checks you get before you go into a shop or office may work as a psychological deterrent, making everyone aware of the risks and helping reinforce the importance of wearing masks and social distancing, but they aren't particularly informative or accurate. There are too many human, environmental and equipment variables that influence readings, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. So don't let an "all clear" reading for you and those with you in a shop or restaurant give you a false sense of safety or protection. It's essential to follow masking and distance guidelines and wash your hands well or use hand sanitizer frequently.
Q: I heard there were new guidelines for infant nutrition, and I am having a baby in a couple of months. Can you explain what they are? I want to start this child off right! - Charlene P., Santa Barbara, California
A: You are right. There are new guidelines, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 is the first time that infants and toddlers were even included in them. For the first year of life, the recommendations are: Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life; and infants should get vitamin D supplements soon after birth (ask your pediatrician). You should continue breastfeeding until the child is at least 12 months old but add in a variety of appropriately prepared nutrient-dense foods (fruits, veggies, lean animal proteins) after the first six months. They should be rich in iron and zinc. Zinc is found in almonds, beans and lentils, chicken and fish. Iron is in tofu, beans, chicken, turkey, fortified cereals and eggs. In addition, whenever breastmilk isn't available, the guidelines recommend using an infant formula that's iron-fortified.
And, most important, the guidelines say infants and kids up to age 2 should be fed nothing with added sugars. The USDA also recommends that you introduce minute amounts of potentially allergic foods such as peanuts and shellfish - but always talk to your doc about this before you do it!
One thing the new guidelines failed to do is follow their expert advisory panel's recommendations on added sugars for older children and adults. The panel wanted to see the healthy intake of sugar for older children and adults reduced from less than 10% to less than 6% of daily calories. The published guidelines do not say that. But we advise you, at any age, to eliminate all added sugars from your diet. They're associated with increased bodywide inflammation, premature heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, dementia and sexual dysfunction. There's no reason only infants and toddlers should dodge the damage!
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)sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.