The documentary “The Natural History of the Chicken” recounts how this fowl can delight us as a pet, infuriate us as a neighbor (those noisy roosters) and provide us with fuel. Each North American consumes about 80 pounds a year. But an unfortunate truth it doesn’t highlight is the risk raw chicken poses to your health. A new campaign, Don’t Wash Your Chicken, launched by Drexel University researchers, points out the danger of washing raw chicken before you plop it in a pan to cook. Most people do that to remove contamination, but rinsing the bird can splash salmonella and campylobacter bacteria onto adjacent surfaces and foods. Around 200,000 folks a year come down with at-home food poisoning caused by those bacteria and have to deal with diarrhea, fever, cramps and vomiting.
The smart move is to store chicken in double plastic bags in the fridge. When it’s time to cook, just unwrap, cut and cook the chicken to 165 F. All raw meat has bacteria on it, and proper cooking wipes them out. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the bird to check doneness. And wash any surface the chicken did touch (including the meat thermometer) with soap and water.
Other food-safety tips:
• Keep raw meats separate from produce, and keep each variety of produce separate from others.
• Maintain a fridge temp of 40 F or lower.
• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after handling food or when switching from handling one type of food to another.
Unlike Mark Twain’s riposte – “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – reports about Lyme disease have been hugely under-exaggerated. Last year, we heard that 30,000 people were infected by these tick-borne bacteria. But this year, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to actively collect data from a wider array of sources, they found 300,000 people a year are actually diagnosed with Lyme. And 96 percent of these cases occur in 13 states, from Wisconsin through New England and into Virginia.
There is a Lyme disease vaccine, but in 2002 (when we thought there were only 30,000 cases annually) it was pulled off the market because of low demand and public suspicion about safety, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration double-checked and confirmed that its benefits greatly outweighed its minor risks. So, until we have a vaccine, watch for signs of an infected tick bite:
• 70 percent to 80 percent of the time, Lyme causes a red, expanding rash (erythema migrans) around the bite site.
• Other symptoms include fatigue, chills and fever, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes.
A blood test can diagnose Lyme, and a three-week course of antibiotics usually can kill off the infection. But better yet: Avoid getting bit. In tick territory, tuck pants legs inside your socks and use a repellant with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET. When back indoors, do a full body search (you and your pets) to check for hangers-on and shower within two hours of potential exposure. Not sure? See a doc, so you can start taking the right antibiotic within 48 hours.
Protect your joints
We’ve got groundbreaking nutritional info about an anti-osteoarthritis dietary strategy that you’re gonna love, because in addition to protecting bone-cushioning cartilage in your joints, it will help prevent cancer, diabetes, gastro distress and heart disease, and protect your liver.
A new study found that eating lots of broccoli can protect your joints from “wear and tear” osteoarthritis arthritis. Steamed, pureed, in soups and in stir-fries, or oven-roasted – even raw – this cruciferous vegetable delivers two bioactive chemicals: sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. The sulforaphane seems particularly joint-friendly and, when teamed with its partner, it helps every system in your body. This powerhouse duo is also found in broccoli sprouts (20 times the content), Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Savoy cabbage, red cabbage, kohlrabi, horseradish, kale, arugula and collard greens.
For maximum joint protection, make sure to eat plenty of those tasty veggies and other anti-inflammatory foods. Those include strawberries, blueberries and carrots, as well as healthy olive, walnut and canola oil, and fatty fish with omega-3 DHA; we like salmon and ocean trout. We also suggest you take 900 mg daily of an algal oil DHA supplement.
Pregnancy weight-control tricks
When Mariah Carey and Jessica Simpson each put on 70 pounds while pregnant, chances were good they weren’t moving around enough. Even though each reportedly worked out with a personal trainer for 30 minutes or more a day, the rest of the time they must have been pretty sedentary. A new study shows that’s precisely why the pregnancy pounds pack on.
If you’re pregnant, whether you’re at work or at home, make an effort to get up every half hour and walk around (the office, house, yard or parking lot) for at least five minutes. But don’t think that brief bouts of exercise will be all you need for you or your baby. You need to move as much as possible throughout the day (try to walk 10,000 steps), so you don’t gain too much weight. Gaining too much puts newborns at risk for diabetes, obesity, depression, autism and premature death for their whole life. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds; normal-weight women 25 to 35; overweight women 15 to 25; and obese women 11 to 20.
Other great ways to make sure you don’t gain too much weight while you’re pregnant:
• Don’t overeat. You’re not eating for two adults. Only increase your calorie intake by around 100 calories a day for the first trimester; 250 for the second; and 350 for the third.
• Avoid food cravings by stabilizing hormone levels with five to six small meals, and nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Going N.U.T.S. over sports
Is your favorite sports team driving you N.U.T.S. (Nutritional Upset from Team Stress)? It might be. In Cleveland, where Dr. Mike lives, obesity rates are 30 percent and the Browns haven’t won a division championship since 1989. In Dr. Oz’s New York City, 58 percent of adults are either obese or overweight, and the Giants and Jets drive fans crazy.
One study explains the relationship between heartbreaking sports franchises and obesity: Supporters of losing football teams increase the amount of saturated fat they eat by 16 percent on the Monday following a loss. For Cleveland and New York fans, that’s a lot of extra sausage, bacon and burgers.
Fortunately, researchers have discovered that after a crushing defeat, writing down what you like about yourself (seriously!) can break the N.U.T.S. curse. That’s how strongly attitude and mood influence food choices. Here are some other mood-lifters that just may keep you from getting N.U.T.S.
• Schedule a “huddle-up” if a loss occurs. Intimacy and passion boost oxytocin and serotonin levels; both hormones elevate mood and reduce stress.
• Cool it. Reduce bodywide inflammation (it can trigger depression and anxiety) by eating a plant-based diet and getting plenty of omega-3s and omega-7. Enjoy walnuts (for omega-3s) and macadamia nuts (for omega-7) or take supplements of purified omega-7 and DHA-omega-3. And eliminate all added sugar and sugar syrups, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole.