Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for the ‘Food safety’ Category

Revisiting the Supplement Conversation


I have written about supplements in the past. As research continues on their efficacy, it is being shown for the most part, that they are a waste of money.

Studies Show Little Benefit in Supplements

Foremost is the lack of accountability placed on supplement manufacturers. are unregulated. The burden is on the government to prove they are harmful, for them to be removed from the marketplace (remember fen-fen?) Supplement makers aren’t supposed to make health claims that aren’t substantiated, yet it is done all the time. By the time regulators catch up with them, they have made their profits.

Secondly, nutrition specialists know that nutrients are best absorbed from food. For the most part, an excess of water-soluble vitamins (B1 or thiamin, B2 or riboflavin, B3 or Niacin, B6 or pyridoxine, B12 or cobalamin, Biotin, Folic acid or folate, pantothenic acid, C) won’t hurt you but will be a waste of money as anything your body doesn’t need is excreted in the urine. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D E, K) can build up in body fat and become toxic. an exception is vitamin D, especially when you are deficient.

These links are useful for explaining what these nutrients can do for you and where they occur naturally in food.

Water soluble: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/water-soluble-vitamins-b-complex-and-vitamin-c-9-312/

Fat soluble: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/fat-soluble-vitamins-a-d-e-and-k-9-315

Whole foods also provide micronutrients, antioxidants, fiber, etc., all necessary for healthy bodies as well.

Bottom line: “Food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” and don’t get suckered into taking many supplements you don’t need. With all this said, if you have unique medical issues, always consult with your doctor. This is generic advice for the mostly healthy.

 

BBQ Season is Here. Grill Vegetables to Reduce Cancer Risk.


From the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/evidence-grows-linking-grilled-meat-and-cancer-but-you-can-lower-the-risk/2017/06/02/f946078c-4549-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.d12905c6ff81&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

Food Safety: Storage Times


Frozen foods retain their safety almost indefinitely. They do however, lose quality. Refrigerated foods have a safe storage window, after which they can spoil and cause food poisoning. Here is a chart for refrigerator and freezer storage times, from food safety.gov. Below is a separate chart for eggs in various forms.

Category Food Refrigerator
(40 °F or below) Freezer
(0 °F or below)
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, tuna & macaroni salads 3 to 5 days Does not freeze well
Hot dogs opened package 1 week 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meat opened package or deli sliced 3 to 5 days 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Bacon & Sausage Bacon 7 days 1 month
Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 months
Hamburger & Other Ground Meats Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork Steaks 3 to 5 days 6 to 12 months
Chops 3 to 5 days 4 to 6 months
Roasts 3 to 5 days 4 to 12 months
Fresh Poultry Chicken or turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year
Chicken or turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Soups & Stews Vegetable or meat added 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Leftovers Cooked meat or poultry 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Chicken nuggets or patties 3 to 4 days 1 to 3 months
Pizza 3 to 4 days 1 to 2 months

Egg Storage Chart

Product Refrigerator Freezer
Raw eggs in shell 3 to 5 weeks Do not freeze. Instead, beat yolks and whites together; then freeze.
Raw egg whites 2 to 4 days 12 months
Raw egg yolks 2 to 4 days Yolks do not freeze well.
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell Use immediately after thawing. Keep frozen; then
refrigerate to thaw.
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
Unopened 10 days 12 months
Egg substitutes, liquid
Opened 3 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, frozen
Unopened After thawing, 7 days or refer to “Use-By” date. 12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen
Opened After thawing, 3 days or refer to “Use-By” date. Do not freeze.
Casseroles with eggs 3 to 4 days After baking, 2 to 3 months.
Eggnog
Commercial 3 to 5 days 6 months
Eggnog
Homemade 2 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Pies
Pumpkin or pecan 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.
Pies
Custard and chiffon 3 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Quiche with filling 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.

Gluten, Gluten, Gluten


Gluten is the new “Atkins,” or “Paleo.” Seems that each year brings a new wave of diets, all promising better health, more radiance and weight loss. You’d think that by now, especially for those who have tried each one, only to discover it was either unsustainable or ineffective – of even harmful, we would collectively learn that there is no magic formula, shortcut or substitute for healthy eating and exercise.

But alas, an optimistic and perhaps lazy society we are. Most people prefer to take pills in lieu of changing their behaviors. It has been shown that those taking statins for cholesterol actually have unhealthier food choices since they feel their meds will “take care of” the problem. Diabetics relying on insulin, Metformin and the like, continue to skip meals, overindulge in or not balance their carbs, and don’t exercise – all strategies that could actually eliminate the need for these drugs in many.

The food and drug industries are partly to blame, but when push comes to shove, we must make our own choices. But I digress. This post is about gluten – the totally misunderstood element in our diets. In a quick nutshell, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale.  It is also used in many, many commercial products, and not necessarily labeled in a way the average person can identify it, making it a problem for those with Celiac Disease – a true gluten allergy or autoimmune disease, in which an affected person is unable to process gluten. This affects many systems in the body, resulting in the inability to absorb nutrients, causing nutritional deficiencies. Then there is a condition termed “gluten sensitivity” or “intolerance,” for which there is no current consensus of definition. Finally, some are allergic to wheat – of which gluten is a part.

Here are a few links to the topic of gluten: definition, where it is found and current thinking about sensitivity. In the end, the message is that no one should follow a diet based on what their friends are doing or saying. If it involves eliminating healthy components of a diet, it is probably not wise unless there is a medical necessity for it. Do your research and consult with nutrition professionals before starting any diet.

Enjoy the links. To warm you up, the first is Jimmy Kimmel’s reporter asking people who follow a gluten free diet, to explain what gluten is. It about sums up the issue!

Jimmy Kimmel Show: 

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/jimmy-kimmel-gluten-free-diet-video?cm_mmc=Fox_Health-_-3_Signs_You_Should_Get_Tested_for_Gluten_Sensitivity_or_Celiac_Disease-_-Article-_-Watch_People_Who_Say_they_Eat_a_Gluten-Free_Diet_Try_to_Explain_What_Gluten_Is

A Grain of Truth to Gluten Intolerance

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/a-grain-of-truth-to-gluten-intolerance-20140527-zrpb3.html

Sources of Gluten:

http://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/gluten-free-diet/sources-of-gluten/

HuffPost: 7 Places You ever Knew Contained Gluten

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/surprising-foods-with-gluten_n_3769463.html

Truth About Gluten

http://flcourier.com/2014/05/01/the-truth-about-gluten/

People with gluten sensitivity who have not had tests

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/07/us-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-idUSKBN0DN1HU20140507

What About Genetically Modified Foods? (GMO’s)


There is much debate lately about genetically modified food. The discussion is about whether or not to label such foods. Big food companies don’t want labeling. Why not? Because it is BIG business. Most corn and soy products are genetically modified. The issue in producing these foods is that foods are modified with genes from other species to increase shelf life, resistance to insects, increase size and improve appearance. 

Allergies are on the rise, and GMO’s are suspect. If you eat corn (to which you have no allergy) that is modified with a gene from another organism that you are allergic to, you will appear to be allergic to corn. Whatever your position on the use of GMO’s foods is, be informed. A new documentary called Genetic Roulette is available free online from September 15 through September 22. Here is the link. Watch it and decide whether you want to eat these foods, but more importantly, decide if the pubic has a right to know so they can make their own decisions.

http://www.GeneticRouletteMovie.com

Are Your Supplements Safe?


Most people don’t realize that supplements are not regulated in the same way that drugs are. The FDA has, in recent years, began to strengthen compliance. It started inspecting manufacturers’ facilities and found appalling conditions in over half of those it inspected. As law stands now, supplement manufacturers can sell products without proof of effectiveness. The burden of proof that it is unsafe, is up to those who suffer negative consequences. Supplement manufacturers voluntarily comply only with good manufacturing practices. Without stringent standards, like one imposed on drug companies, the industry is conceivably free to produce, for human consumption, tainted and dangerous products that you can buy at the health food store.

This article, published in the Chicago Tribune, is alarming. Be informed. It’s your body. The best way to get your nutrients is to eat a balanced diet. If you must use supplements, proceed with caution.

article from Chicago Tribune

Delicious Marinade With Benefits


We now know that grilling meats, poultry and fish at high temperatures (which defines grilling) can cause carcinogenic compounds (heterocyclic amines, or HCAs) to form on the food. The recommendation is to grill less often, but there is an additional way to reduce exposure.

Adding thyme and rosemary to a marinade seems to inhibit the formation of these harmful substances. Soak the meat for an hour or more then grill at moderate temperatures, not high. The antioxidants (cancer-fighting compounds) in the spices can cut the HCAs by up to 87%, according to research by Kansas State University.

So, enjoy your grilled food, but consider a tasty marinade to protect yourself from carcinogens.

Curried Broccoli Salad


What is better on a hot summer day than a nice cool, crisp salad? There is a bit of mayo in this however, so observe food safety rules. Don’t serve out in the sun or keep it out in the heat longer than an hour. Refrigerate until serving or put the bowl on ice for extended time. We don’t want sick guests now, do we? A change from the boring old green mixed salad, this colorful salad is high on heart healthy veggies, nuts and curry.

Curried Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, florets and 1/2 inch of stems, cut into small bite sized pieces
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 C chopped red or Vidalia onion
1/2 C cashew pieces
1/4 C dried cranberries
3/4 C light Hellman’s mayo
Curry to taste. (Curries vary widely, so use as much or as little as you like in terms of spiciness)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Boil a pot of water. Throw the broccoli and carrots into the boiling water for 30 seconds and drain immediately. Allow to cool. When cool, put the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the other ingredients and toss to coat. Adjust curry, salt and pepper to your liking. Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 for a main vegetarian course.

We Have a Right to Know. Thank you Connecticut.


The Department of Agriculture opposed Connecticut’s move toward requiring manufacturers to disclose when food is genetically modified. Some feel that modified foods increase the risk of allergic reactions and other health problems. On the pro side, modification can increase nutritional value and make hardier plants, requiring less pesticide. Whatever the argument for or against, the principle that most interests me is that we be allowed to make up our own minds. The government should not allow food manufacturers to dictate whether it is important for consumers to know how their food is produced. Consumers have been increasingly vocal about their desire to know where their food comes from, how it is produced and if it is safe. They have a right to decide what is acceptable to them. Only with labeling, can they have the information they need to make these decisions.

So, hooray to Connecticut’s Environment Committee for voting 23-6 to approve a measure to require labeling. While there will be logistical challenges to label in some states and not others, it is only through grass roots efforts (by consumers) and political support (our legislators) that we can force issues that are important to us. Twenty other states are also considering this legislation. With Connecticut leading the charge, it is more likely others will follow, putting pressure on the FDA to act. I am proud to live in this state and know my elected officials are working to dignify consumers by requiring the information we need to make our own choices.

Supplements: What you don’t know


I heard a radio ad yesterday claiming men could regain their virility if they took their product, a testosterone-like formula. WOW! Their marketing department really knows how to get a man to part with his money fast! But is it true? Is it safe? Will it react negatively with any other medications or conditions that man may have in addition to low libido? Do they care?

Supplements were created to provide nutrients people could not get enough of with normal food intake. As we began to rely on heavily processed food, we lost many natural nutrients. We began fortifying and enriching our foods with the very vitamins and minerals that were lost in the processing. (Hence, a good argument for returning to whole, unprocessed foods, but that’s for a future blog entry.) Supplements helped cure conditions of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. They came into existence for excellent reasons. But what happens when the free market sees it as a big money-making opportunity? In our culture of “more is better,” does this apply to supplements too?

Most people don’t realize a very few important things: (1) there is such a thing as a toxic level for certain vitamins and minerals, (2) some minerals interfere with how our body uses the nutrients we take in and (3) the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate supplements the way drugs are regulated. When you buy a drug, the quantities, effects and trials ensure you are getting what you think you are getting. When you take a supplement, it is truly “buyer beware.”

Many reputable supplement manufacturers follow good manufacturing practices (GMP), which are industry defined. The government regulates supplements like it does food, which only ensures that they are produced under sanitary conditions and are produced consistently. There is no guarantee of safety, that they contain what the manufacturer claims they do, that they are free from harmful substances like pesticides (in herbals) or lead (if produced outside the US where manufacturing and labeling is even less reliable). You really can’t be sure what is in that capsule you are taking, in hopes of keeping you healthy. If you are sure it makes you feel better, remember the placebo effect can be a factor too.

There is no testing requirement and no warning of side effects, long terms affects, food or drug interactions, or precautions, like there is with drugs. There is no guarantee of consistent quality and there is no guarantee that the supplement does what it promises to do.

This is not to say that supplements don’t have their place or that some manufacturers are more reputable than others. But when dallying in  self-prescribed pharmacopeia, one must know it is not without possible harm or even danger.

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