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Hot Weather and Food Poisoning

Hot Weather and Food Poisoning

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I have been invited to a potluck dinner in a local park.  But I am concerned about the hot weather and food poisoning?

A: You have reason to be wary:  More people get food poisoning in the hot weather of summertime than at any other season, according to the Department of Agriculture.  Here are some ways to prevent this from affecting you and your friends, as suggested by Consumer Reports on Health (July 2019, CR.org/crh):

PLAN YOUR GROCERY RUN – Avoid potential food poisoning, especially in hot weather, starting with how you navigate the grocery store.

  • “Pick up perishables, such as dairy and meat, right before you hit the check-out line to reduce the risk of them spoiling.”
  • “At check-out, make sure that frozen and cold items are packed in the same bag, which will help everything stay cool. But be sure to pack meat and seafood separately to keep them from contaminating other foods.”
  • “Don’t transport your groceries in the trunk; put them inside your car where it’s air-conditioned. If you won’t be going straight home after shopping, use a cooler or an insulated bag to stash meat and other perishables.”

ORGANIZE YOUR COOLERS – “Wrap meats tightly before placing it in a cooler to keep any juices from contaminating the other food, or put it in a separate cooler.”

  • “At an outdoor gathering, don’t leave perishable food in the same cooler as beverages. People will be opening and closing the ice chest frequently, and that can raise the temperature inside the cooler.”

GRILL SAFELY – “Keep knives, tongs, and platters you use for raw meat away Hot weather and food poisoning of BBQ Foodsfrom cooked food. If you’re cooking kebabs, use different skewers for meat and vegetables so that you can be sure the meat is cooked to the right temperature without burning the veggies.

  • “Use a meat thermometer, even for burgers, because you can’t judge the done-ness of meat or poultry by color.”
  • “Don’t partially cook meat at home and then take it to a picnic or barbecue to finish cooking. Half-cooked meat can be warm enough to encourage bacterial growth but not hot enough to kill the bacteria.”

KEEP AN EYE ON MORE THAN JUST MEAT – To avoid food poisoning, “Prepared food should not be left outside of a refrigerator or cooler longer than 2 hours (or an hour if the temperature is higher than 90 degrees F).”

  • “That goes for every element of your meal, from a crudité platter to grilled chicken. You might think you can get sick only from meat or dairy, but other food items can be host to dangerous bacteria as well.” (Examples include cooked rice and pasta.  Keep them chilled until serving, or serve by setting them in a bowl of ice.)

BE CAUTIOUS AT THE FARMERS MARKET – “Buy from vendors who wear disposable gloves to handle food – and who change them when they move between raw and ready-to-eat or cooked foods, or when they stop handling foods for such tasks as accepting cash.”

  • “Buy meat and eggs only if they have been stored in coolers or otherwise refrigerated.”
  • “Don’t buy raw milk or raw milk products. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says they’re some of the riskiest foods.”

Sharing food at picnics or barbecues can be one of the greatest pleasures of summertime.  By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that these happy events won’t be followed by the misery of food poisoning. 

If you would like to see more Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends articles go to the World Walk To Wellness website.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, what are the health benefits of eating fruit?

A: According to Consumer Reports on Health, we should be eating 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit daily. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that only 12 percent of Americans meet that goal. Here are some reasons why we should strive to become part of that 12%:

BOOST ANTIOXIDANTS – “An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from plate of fruit with health benefitsdamage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules created during the process of oxidation during normal metabolism. Free radicals may play a role in the development of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.” One form of prevention seems to be eating brightly colored fruit, especially those that are red and purple. Think berries, plums, and cherries. These will give you “the biggest antioxidant bang for the bite.” Citrus fruits, apricots, cantaloupe, and apples have different antioxidants, so eating several varieties is a good strategy, according to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., a research professor at Tufts University in Boston.

RAISE YOUR POTASSIUM – “Potassium helps your body’s nerves and muscles, including your heart, work properly.… Eating foods that contain more potassium and less salt can help control high blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.” Bananas, cantaloupe, and peaches are very good sources of potassium.

FIGHT DISEASE – “Adding a small apple a day to your diet…may reduce the risk of stroke by about 42 percent, according to a study published in the journal Stroke…. “Tart and sweet cherries can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially benefiting people with diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions.”

INCREASE FIBER – “Fiber is linked to improved digestion as well as reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. It also can help you eat less.” High fiber fruits include guava, blackberries, raspberries, pears, and kiwifruit. (By contrast, fruit juice has very little or none.)

CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR – “When health experts say to eat less sugar, they’re talking about added sugars like those found in cakes, cookies, and soft drinks. But some people [mistakenly] think that the ‘eat less sugar’ directive applies to fruit, too.” The fiber contained in fruit “minimizes the effect that fruit’s natural sugars have on blood sugar levels.” A 2016 report “found that eating fruit, especially berries, lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes.” low-sugar fruits include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and starfruit.

The article makes clear that enjoying a variety of fruit may be very good for one’s health. Fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a craving for something sweet. Take advantage of the fresh fruit you admire at the farmers’ markets and invest in their health benefits.

 

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 2019

Did you know that May is Stroke Awareness Month?   The National Stroke Association is raising awareness about strokes because of how debilitating they can be for survivors and because they can happen to anyone, at any age. Knowing how to tell if someone is having a stroke could be the key to saving their life.  And knowing the risk factors and what we can do to prevent them is a good way to protect ourselves. Full recovery from a stroke is dependent upon how quickly the person gets medical help. 

Remember to “Act F.A.S.T., which translates as follows:  Acronym FAST spelled out for how to respond to a stroke

  • F= Face – Does the person’s face drop on one side when they try to smile?

  • A = Arm – After raising both arms, does one of the person’s arms drift downward?

  • S = Speech – When repeating a simple phrase, is the person’s speech slurred or strange?

  • T = Time – If ANY or all of the above are observed, it’s time to call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance.

Help save someone’s life by remembering that simple acronym.  For more information, see the National Stroke Association Website TheNSA is urging people to look at their stroke risk factors, and commit to making at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.

Here’s how much stroke would be reduced if each was eliminated:

  • *Hypertension 47.9%

  • *Physical inactivity 35.8%

  • *Lipids (blood fats) 26.8%

  •   Poor diet 23.2%

  • *Obesity 18.6%

  •   Smoking 12.4%

  • *Heart causes 9.1%

  •   Alcohol intake 5.8%

  • *Stress 5.8%

  • *Diabetes 3.9%

70% of the above Risk Factors can be reduced or eliminated by simply walking.  Walking can save your life.  For information on starting a walking program, go to Your Own Pedometer Walking Program at World Walk To Wellness and get started walking! 

Ask Mr. Pedometer about Healthy Choices for Snacks: Pedometer.com

Ask Mr. Pedometer about Healthy Choices for Snacks: Pedometer.com

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 22, 2019

Q: Making healthy choices for snacks or quick meals can be difficult.  Many so called “Healthy Choices” aren’t really healthy.  Some may even pose dangerous health risks. How do we choose?

A: Reading labels and doing some research is a good start to rule out unhealthy snacks.  Some foods sound healthier than they actually are so it’s good to remember that what advertisers “put on a box” may not be exactly what is “in the box.” The June 2019 edition of Consumer Reports on Health (cr.org/health) issued the following warnings, along with suggestions for healthier snack choices:

  • VEGGIE STICKS – According to Joan Salge Blake, Ed.D., R.D.N., clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University, these “produce pretenders” are not much better than potato chips because of their high Air popped pop corn is a healthy choices for snackscalories and sodium and very little vegetable powder or fiber. Better choice:  Air-popped popcorn is a healthy choice, for whole grains, fewer calories, and more fiber.  Better still if you sprinkle it with herbs instead of salt.

  • RICE CAKES – “Even though they’re made with whole-grain brown rice, they provide little fiber, which helps curb your appetite. And like other rice products, they may contain arsenic which may pose a dangerous health risk.”  Flavored varieties may add lots of calories and sugars.  Better choice:  Choose a fiber-rich cracker and top it with healthy foods (such as peanut butter and sliced banana, or hummus with sliced tomato and cucumber) to make your snack more satisfying.

  • SPINACH WRAPS – They may look green, but they don’t really count as green vegetable intake, since that hue may be due less to spinach powder than to food coloring, according to Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., R.D., nutrition and dietetics instructor at St. Louis University. Better choice: Choose a multi-grain wrap instead, for more fiber, then use plenty of veggies in the filling.

  • PROTEIN POWDER – Protein powders are unnecessary, because we get enough protein from food, says Linsenmeyer. Also, some brands contain “concerning levels of heavy metals and other toxins which may pose dangerous health risks.” Better choice:  “Greek yogurt, silken tofu, tahini, or peanut butter can add a reasonable amount of protein to your smoothies and supply additional nutrients.”

  • GROUND TURKEY – A turkey burger may not be much better than a beef burger if the ground turkey contains dark meat and skin. Better choice:  Select ground turkey breast, which contains neither dark meat nor skin, therefore containing less fat.

  • BRAN MUFFINS – Beware of large bran muffins that may be loaded with sugar. Better choice: Pair a small bran muffin with a serving of yogurt and berries for a more balanced breakfast, or skip the sugars in the muffin by layering plain yogurt with fruit (such as bananas and berries) and a high-fiber cereal (such as Original All-Bran).

  • GRANOLA – Despite a mixture of oats, fruit, and nuts, many granolas have lots of calories and added sugars and fats – and even surprising ingredients such as whey protein concentrate.” Better choice – Use granola as a topping to a high-fiber, low-sugar cereal (such as Shredded Wheat), or sprinkle it on plain yogurt to add some crunch and sweetness.

  • INSTANT OATMEAL – “Packets and cups [of instant oatmeal] tend to have far more sugars than you’d add to oatmeal yourself.” Also, processed oats can cause a spike in blood sugar more than rolled oats.  Better choice:  Consider cooking a batch of steel-cut oats in the evening to have for breakfast for the next few days.  “Microwave a serving, add fruit, a little nut butter, and cinnamon or nutmeg.”

I hope these suggestions will help you snack more healthily.  Reading food labels is always a good idea.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 15, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I read that “Every 11 seconds in the U.S., an older adult ends up in the emergency room due to a fall. ‘It’s the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly,’ says Catherine Colon-Emeric, M.D., chief of geriatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine. Do you have any advice that could help us avoid falling?

A: You certainly are not alone in having concerns about falling – and with good reason. The June issue of Consumer Reports on Health has some tips to help prevent falls.  Below are the 8 tips that can help all age groups but especially the elderly to avoid the risk of a broken hip or a concussion:

  • WATCH FOR MED SIDE EFFECTS

    – “Some prescription and over-the-counter meds can affect balance. For instance, diuretics may lower blood pressure too much and lead to dizziness on standing. Some allergy drugs, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and generic) may cause dizziness and sleepiness….Some meds can cause dehydration, which can also increase the risk of falling when you stand up…. At least once a year, review your meds – Over-the-counter, alternative products, and supplements – with your doctor.” 

  • KEEP YOUR SENSES SHARP

    – “Eyesight naturally changes with age… [which] can make it more difficult to see shifts in terrain and other stumbling blocks. Hearing loss, too, has been linked to an increased risk of falling. A 2012 study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for example, found that middle-aged people with mild hearing loss were three times as likely to fall. See your eye doctor every year or two…. Have your ears checked at least every three years starting at age 50, or earlier if you are having trouble hearing.”

  • DECLUTTER AND REPAIR AT HOME

    – “Rugs, clutter, steps, cracked driveways and sidewalks, poor lighting, slick surfaces – all can contribute to tumbles. If you’re concerned about falling in the house and unsure about how to proceed, the Institute on Aging (blog.ioaging.org) has a home safety checklist.”

  • STRENGTHEN KEY MUSCLES

    – “Exercises that enhance gluteal, leg, and core strength Elderly man stretching and exercisinghelp with balance, says Colon-Emeric. ‘These muscles make it easier to catch yourself before you fall and make it easier to get out of bed, lift yourself off the toilet, or get out of the car.’ Moves like knee bends (stand tall and bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you) and sideways walking (keeping feet parallel, step out to the side with one leg, bring the other foot to meet it, then step out again) are part of a balance program called Otago that’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

  • PRACTICE FOR FALLS

    – “’Exercise is important, but simply practicing getting off the floor can make you stronger and less likely to fall,’ says Kathleen Bell, M.D., a psychiatrist and chairwoman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She suggests getting up and down 10 times three to four times a week. (When starting out, do this next to a bed or another stable object you can hold onto.)”

  • SKIP THE FANCY FOOTWEAR —

    “If you struggle with balance, choose shoes with sturdy, nonskid soles that fit snugly enough so they’re not sliding around underneath you. ‘You don’t have to opt for ugly shoes, but you don’t want to be walking around in bedroom slippers either,’ Bell says. If you’re unsteady, heels aren’t a good idea, nor are those hot-weather favorites, flip-flops. They offer zero support, catch on rugs, often have little grip on slick surfaces, and slip off easily.”

  • TRAIN FIDO RIGHT –

    “Having a pet can be good for your health, but your beloved pooch may also trigger falls by tripping you or pulling you down…. ‘Besides making sure you’re matched with a dog that suits your lifestyle, working with a trainer to learn how to control your dog and using a good leash and collar can help minimize falls,’ says Grace Anne Mengel, V.M.D., an assistant professor of clinical primary care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.”

  • FACE YOUR FEARS –

    “Research suggests that simply being afraid of falling increases your likelihood of taking a tumble. In part, anxiety about falling can make it harder to focus on your surroundings. This fear can also cause you to limit physical activity, which in turn can lead to muscle weakness. If you find yourself frequently worried about falls, speak to your doctor.”

I hope these suggestions can help you avoid falling and allow you to continue to enjoy taking walks.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Celebrate Women’s Health and Mother’s Day

Celebrate Women’s Health and Mother’s Day

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 8, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, in the Month of May we celebrate both Women’s Health Month and Mother’s Day.  Any advice for the women in our lives?

A: Right! Mother’s Day, which falls on Sunday, May 12, this year, is smack dab in the middle of Women’s Health Month (and also Eat Salad Month, although I’m sure that is purely coincidental).

When we searched this topic, we came across this artwork with the quotation attributed to William Londen which are good words to live by: 3 Women celebrating Women's Health Month and Mother Day “To ensure your health, eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” Sounds like pretty good prescription!

Celebrating Mother’s Day is a good time to remind all the women that you care about to schedule their annual physicals and also, if needed, mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

I think women tend to be the ones who make most of the decisions regarding family health care. Grandmothers, mothers, and aunts may want to band together to ensure that the children of the family are immunized against measles. This disease was declared eradicated in the USA 19 years ago, but so far this year, there have been more than 700 cases, most of them in people who have not been immunized. Measles can be serious, particularly in the very young and in older people, sometimes leading to hospitalization or even death.

Women’s Health Month and Mother’s Day are also a good time to remind women to get their immunizations.  Women take care of others but often forget to take care of themselves. Adults of any gender should check with their doctors about getting shots to prevent pneumonia and also shingles. There is a newer, more effective vaccine for the latter that many doctors are prescribing to people who may have had the older vaccine. Friends who have had shingles say that this is one painful condition you want to avoid.

For more information on Women’s Health go to About Women’s Health.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.