What’s lickin’? Stamp and envelope glue 

click to enlarge Eating citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit can reduce stress.
  • Eating citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit can reduce stress.
In a 1996 “Seinfeld” episode, George’s fiance, Susan, licks so many cheap envelopes (George bought them for the wedding invitations) that she poisons herself. Makes for riotous TV, but fortunately these days, or even back then, lickin’ envelopes and stamps was never such a risky business.

There was a time in the 1960s when the gum on U.S. stamps shielded bacteria and viruses, so they could survive for months. That meant you could, theoretically, pick up a bug from an envelope you received. And back then, if you were lickin’ stamps for 100 wedding invitations, it wasn’t a bad idea to count your calories! Glue on a postage stamp could deliver around 6-14 calories!

Most stamps and many envelopes don’t take a lickin’ anymore. They’re self-adhesive. Among the few water-activated stamps left, no animal products are used in making the glue (they’re vegan); those in Israel are certified Kosher; and in the U.S., lickable envelope glue is made from corn, so it’s gluten-free! If you wonder about the safety of imported glues on greeting-card envelopes, for example, the Food and Drug Administration has increased its presence in China to enforce quality standards. And you can always use a damp sponge instead of your tongue.

But if you’re looking for surprising stamp sensations that can make your RealAge younger (great aromas do that), try these: There’s a cacao-oil infused Belgium stamp that tastes like fine chocolate, a coffee-infused Brazilian stamp and a Swiss stamp that smells like chocolate.

TASTY AND RELAXING STRESS-BUSTERS THAT WORK NOW

Everyone knows that when the Incredible Hulk feels stress, he turns into a raging, green monster. But when you worry about money, work, relationships, family responsibilities or health problems, you’re more likely to get headaches, gut troubles and/or fatigue, as well as see flares of anger and impatience — all symptoms of day-in, day-out unresolved stress. And those physical responses come with a pretty stiff price tag: Half of all deaths in folks younger than 65 are stress-related.

So if you’re stressed (about 25 percent of you report dealing with extreme stress), sit down, take a deep breath and try these two surprising stress-reduction techniques.

Put stress-reducing foods on your plate. Certain foods reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and that will help protect your cardiovascular system and nerves. Calming foods include: spinach, for its cortisol-controlling magnesium; white beans, barley, mackerel and cod, for their phosphatidylserine, a component of cell membranes that can calm nerves and help you sleep; citrus fruit’s vitamin C helps slow cortisol production; and salmon and ocean trout are packed with inflammation-quelling DHA omega-3s that may reduce stressed-out feelings.

Give yourself a massage. We suggest Ayurvedic self-massage for its immune-modulating, pleasure-producing benefits that can reduce anxiety, tummy troubles, headaches, insomnia, even TMJ. After you get out of the shower, using a light oil, rub each body part from the top of your head to your toes with a firm, gentle, circular motion. You also can use roller-bars, hand-held massage sprayers and rolling balls on legs, back and feet.

WHY INSOMNIA CAN’T BE IGNORED

Fifty years ago, 17-year-old Randy Gardner and two pals camped out in his bedroom to see what would happen if Gardner broke the world record for sleep deprivation. The teenager stayed awake for 264.4 hours (that record stands today), experiencing moodiness, hallucinations, incoherent thinking and slurred speech.

The 50 million to 70 million North Americans who have frequent trouble falling or staying asleep don’t have to go to such extremes to discover the side effects of insomnia: relationship problems, heart disease, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and stroke.

If you usually don’t get six and a half to eight hours of restful sleep, try to ID the cause. Insomnia can be triggered by environmental problems such as a TV or digital device use, or noise or light in the bedroom (only red light is sleep-compatible). Or you may have trouble sleeping because of emotional distress or a medical condition, such as chronic pain or sleep apnea. So make your bedroom sleep-friendly, and ask your doc about treatment for any condition that’s keeping you awake. Then try these drug-free ways to sleep better.

Exercise daily, but not within three hours of bedtime. Walking 10,000 steps a day dispels stress and cues your body to rest. Soak in an Epsom salts bath, and eat a banana before bed — the combo of magnesium and potassium relaxes muscles, and hot water helps dispel stress hormones.

Drink chamomile tea. But skip late-night alcohol; it’ll spike blood sugar and interfere with sleep cycles.

If these don’t do the trick, ask your doc for a referral to a sleep specialist.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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