People ask me all the time about “super foods.” It’s a made up name but it does have value in describing foods that are good for you. There also are plenty of things that are the opposite – super non-foods. The prime example would be a Twinkie. No one would ever call that a food with any nutritional value other than wasted calories.

But one food I might call a super food would be walnuts. Their fat is the good kind of fat, omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid. Walnuts also have fiber. And they are loaded with antioxidants, making them one of nature’s great things to eat.

New research from Louisiana State University showed that walnuts also might help to change gut bacteria into the good kind, lactobacillus. Our bodies are a store house of bacteria and only recently have we discovered these bacteria have a lot to do with how well we function.

Some theorize that conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and colon cancer might all be caused by rogue bacteria. The more good bacteria we have in our systems, the better off we are. So when you’re thinking of what to eat as a snack today, you just might want to have a handful of walnuts.

More on opioids: The more I write about opioids, the more new information comes out about opioids. We all know we’re in the middle of an epidemic. Anything we can do to reduce opioid consumption in the U.S. is going to benefit all of us.

The latest research out of Johns Hopkins shows that too many prescribed opioids go unused. That’s right. They’re prescribed in amounts that are rarely used so they lie around the house, just waiting for someone to abuse them.

The research in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Surgery publication looked at studies that seemed to show 70 percent to 90 percent of patients post-surgery did not use all of their opioids. They were given more pills than they needed for pain.

This was true for C-sections, urological and orthopedic surgery, etc. And in some studies, up to 20 percent of the opioid prescriptions were not used at all.

My spin: One size does not fit all when it comes to prescriptions for opioids. Doctors, especially surgeons who deal with patients in significant pain for short periods of time, should get into the habit of giving out fewer opioids rather than more. Yes, these doctors don’t want to get awakened at night for a prescription refill, but the result is too many of these drugs in circulation.

Also, we underutilize drugs such as Tylenol and ibuprofen, which can handle a lot of pain. We need more of that. Stay well.

This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions.

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