Q. Does fiber in your diet reduce cholesterol?
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber is acted upon by the normal bacteria in your intestines.
Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and promotes regularity and softens stools. Wheat bran, whole grain products and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Q. How common is back pain?
Back pain affects about eight out of 10. Back pain becomes more common with age.
Back pain is more common among those who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. If you're sedentary most of the time and then exert yourself on rare occasions, you are more likely to injure your back than someone who exercises daily.
If you're carrying a big belly, you put added stress on the muscles in your low back and are a candidate for agony.
Q. How dangerous is secondhand smoke? My son smokes in the house and it is annoying.
Secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke, is made up of the "sidestream" smoke from the end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the "mainstream" smoke that is exhaled.
Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke absorb the same 4,000 chemical compounds that smokers do. More than 60 of these compounds are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Q. Are vitamins worth taking?
It's very important to talk with your doctor before you take any vitamin and mineral pills, especially if you take prescription medicine, have health problems or are elderly. Taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can cause problems with medical tests or interfere with drugs you're taking.
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that your body needs in small but steady amounts. Your body can't make most micronutrients, so you must get them elsewhere.
Q. Is it dangerous to take a beta-blocker for high blood pressure?
There was one study that found that beta-blockers may increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke if you are using them to treat high blood pressure alone. If you are taking a beta blocker, discuss it with your doctor. Warning: Don't stop taking the drug on your own.
Q. Do you get more heartburn when you are older?
More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. More than 15 million Americans experience heartburn daily. Heartburn is more common among the elderly.
Heartburn two or more times weekly may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). See a doctor if you have heartburn too often. The doctor can test for GERD.