Monday, June 28, 2010

Hamburger Health

About 76 million people will get sick from food borne illnesses this year, according to the CDC, and 5000 will die. The annual cost in the U.S. is about $152 billion.
Burgers and other ground meats are particular havens for pathogens because salmonella, E. coli, campylobactor, listeria and other bacteria lurking on the surface of the meat get ground into the interior, where it's more difficult to make sure they are being killed by cooking. Store ground beef at 40 degrees or below and use or freeze within 2 days.
E. coli colonizes in the intestines of animals and can contaminate meat at slaughter. These dangerous bacteria can survive and multiply in cold conditions; as low as 44 degrees. E. coli grows rapidly in the warm setting of a picnic or outdoor party and can cause serious illness and death. E. coli can live on a dry, stainless steel surface for 6 months - imagine what it can do in a campground! Rare burgers are a major risk. To completely destroy harmful bacteria, cook burgers to an internal temp. of 160 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to make sure. When reheating previously cooked meats, internal temp. should be 165 degrees. Remember to wash hands when handling food; it's easy to forget when you're out doors or camping.
~ Center for Disease Control

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Excess B Vitamins Can Harm Kidneys

The misconception that water soluble vitamins such as the B vitamins are harmless at high doses is far from the truth. Though they may not reach toxic levels in the body since they are flushed out by the kidneys, the added work load that they produce is what could be causing the harm to the kidneys themselves.
Canadian researchers studied 238 people with chronic kidney disease caused by type I or II diabetes. High doses of folic acid, B-6 and B-12 were given to see if the vitamins could protect the kidneys by lowering blood levels of homocysteine. After 3 years, the patients receiving the vitamins showed a greater decrease in kidney function than those who received the placebo. Also, more patients taking the vitamins had a cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack or stroke) than the placebo takers.
When it comes to vitamins, play it safe. More is not better! Stick to the recommended amounts. A typical multivitamin contains 400 mcg. of folic acid, 2 mg. of B-6, and 6 mg. of B-12.
~ Journal of the American Medical Assoc., 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quinoa; The New Super-Grain

Quinoa technically is not a grain, but rather a seed from a large plant related to the spinach or chard family. What makes it such a standout is the fact that it is one of the few plant proteins that provide all the essential amino acids, including lysine, necessary for a complete protein; ideal for the vegetarian diet. It is also gluten free, making Quinoa a nutritious option for sufferers of Celiac disease, and is not a commonly allergenic food.
Quinoa ranks highest among all grains in potassium, which is associated with reducing blood pressure. It's high in iron and most B vitamins, and is a good source of copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese.
Quinoa's tiny grains are ready to eat in just 15 minutes, and can be used in a variety of dishes, much like rice. To prepare, rinse well, bring one part quinoa and two parts water to a boil, cover and simmer until the grains turn translucent and their little white "tails" (the crunchy germ) pop out. Fluff with a fork and serve. Uncooked quinoa stored in the refrigerator will last much longer than in the pantry (about 6 months).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

H2Oh, Yuck!

Out breaks of disease from drinking water that lead to serious or sometimes fatal illness still occurs in the U.S. Sometimes bacteria are the culprit, sometimes it's viruses, parasites, and there are also thousands of drugs, household and industrial chemicals that end up in rivers, streams, reservoirs and even in underground springs. However, the quality of drinking water in the U.S. is among the best in the world, according to the University of Arizona water safety experts.
It is estimated that 19.5 million illnesses occur each year from microorganisms in our drinking water. How do they get there? Sewage and storm water are carried in the same pipes in many regions, which contaminates surface water. Groundwater is now becoming contaminated by septic tank leaks, landfill leaks, and inadequate disposal of animal waste and wastewater. Stagnate water sitting in home faucets harbor bacteria. (Running water for 30 seconds to flush the lines in the morning will reduce bacteria from within faucets by 80%). It gets there by pets who lick the dripping faucets, children with dirty hands playing with the faucets, or handling faucets in the kitchen after handing meats, etc. Bacteria can enter the pipes and grow, creating a biofilm on the inside of the pipes.
Is bottled water the answer? Not really. Bottled water came from a faucet somewhere and contains bacteria also, which is why they display expiration dates. Even refrigerated, the bacteria multiply inside the bottles. Bottled water does not contain flouride, a necessary nutrient added to harden and help protect teeth from decay. Plastic bottles use natural resources to produce and ship, and end up in landfills - not very "green." Point-of-use water filters remove contaminates and can protect from lead and other pollutants, and some are certified for microbial purification. Check the Web site of the California Dept. of Public Health ( if you are looking to purchase an effective water filter. Basic information can also be found in the booklet supplied by the EPA, "Water on Tap" ( Keep in mind, that most water filters remove healthy minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, etc.
Have your tap water tested to target known contaminates, or get a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report that most water utilities are required to publish and mail by July of each year. Some post them on their Web site. The EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) is also available for questions about your drinking water.
Boiling tap water is an excellent way to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites in drinking water. It can be refrigerated and stored for days at a time. The Chinese immigrants survived the Cholera plague during the California Gold Rush because they boiled water to make tea - a staple beverage, before anyone realized that the source of the disease was the contaminated drinking water.
~Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2010