Sunday, November 27, 2016

The 5 Second Rule – A Myth?

Who hasn’t used the 5 second rule?  You drop some food on the floor and if it is less than 5 seconds, is it safe to eat?  If it is on the floor longer than 5 seconds, is it really more contaminated?  Does the type of floor matter?  The type of food?  Is the 5 Second Rule another food myth?   Believe it or not, researchers have actually studied the 5 second rule.  What foods did they drop and what did they find?

A number of researchers have studied the 5 Second Rule the most recent study about Myth Debunked, was published in September in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  Previously, a high school student studied gummy bears and fudge-striped cookies dropped on a floor contaminated with E. coli.  He found that food was contaminated in less than 5 seconds.   So, what did the 2016 researchers find?

What is the 5 Second Rule – the belief is if you drop any food on the ground/floor and pick it up in less than 5 seconds, the food is less contaminated and thus, “safe” to eat.
Type of surface – the researchers studied dropping food onto different surfaces: stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet. 
Bacteria – they coated each of these surfaces with bacteria, the bacterium Enterobacter aerogens
Food – they dropped watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy on the different surfaces.
Time elapsed – they let each of these foods be on the ground for 1, 5, 30 or 300 seconds (5 minutes)
Their findings:
The longer the fallen food touched the surface, the greater the contamination.  But even after 1 second, there was some contamination. 
Watermelon, because of its greater water content, was the most contaminated of the foods tested.

Some take-a-ways: 
  1. The longer food is on the ground, the more contaminated. 
  2. Wetter foods, like watermelon, are more contaminated than foods without much water, like hard candies.
  3. Foods falling on carpet are less contaminated than foods falling on ceramic tile or the other surfaces tested.
  4. Foods falling on the floor for 5 seconds or less, are not likely to make you sick.

The Berkeley Wellness Letter reviewed this study and noted:  There is a big difference picking up a cracker from a just-cleaned dry kitchen floor, versus the floor near the cat litter box.  So consider where the food has been dropped before munching down the dropped item.

Sources:  Myth Debunked, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Image Source:  Five Second

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Protect Yourself and Family from Colds and Flu

Now that the weather has turned colder, it is time to think about how you can protect yourself and family members from getting colds or flu this winter.   There are many things people can do in terms of diet, exercise and habits that can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick.  

What diet and other changes can you focus on to boost your immune system and keep you healthy?

     1.   Fruits and Vegetables – 5 A Day is the suggested amount but eating even more than 5 A Day during the cold and flu season is a wise choice.
a.       Antioxidants for your immune system: Fruits and vegetables are not only full of vitamins and minerals but also antioxidants that can help you fight off those infections and build your immune system.  But each color of fruit and vegetable has different antioxidants.  To ensure you are getting a wide range of colors, vary your colors.  Include many different kinds of fruits and vegetables each day.
b.       Frozen Fruits and Vegetables – there may be less of a selection of fresh produce this time of year, but don’t hesitate to enjoy frozen fruits and vegetables.  They offer the same nutritional value, the antioxidants and help your immune system.  Most frozen fruits and vegetables are picked when ripe and frozen right after being harvested thus preserving the vitamins and minerals. 
c.       Berries – are especially rich in antioxidants.  Keep some frozen berries on hand to add to your morning oatmeal, some yogurt or a smoothie.
d.       Frozen or fresh vegetables – make some homemade soup and add in some frozen or fresh vegetables. 
    2.  Vitamin E – we all think of vitamin C to prevent colds, but vitamin E has an important role to play in enhancing our immune system. Studies have shown this vitamin improves our response to the flu vaccine, and helps ward off colds and other upper respiratory infections.
a.       Vitamin E rich foods include:
                                                               i.      Nuts:  walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts
                                                             ii.      Seeds:  sunflower seeds
                                                           iii.      Oils:  olive oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil.  One tablespoon meets your daily needs.
                                                           iv.      Peanut butter, wheat germ
                                                             v.      Fruits and Vegetables: leafy greens like kale, spinach,  kiwi, mango, tomatoes
To add vitamin E to your day, use the oils noted in cooking, sautéing food, use in salad dressings.
3.  Zinc – have a cold?  You can buy lozenges with zinc added.   Zinc has been shown to reduce the length of a cold and research shows zinc can boost one’s immune system. 
a.       Protein Foods: Most of us get enough zinc as protein foods like turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, oysters, pork, and yogurt are rich in zinc. 
b.       Plant sources of zinc:  nuts, seeds, beans, chickpeas and whole grains.
       4.    Fluids – drink plenty of fluids.  Water is always good, but add some green tea.  Green tea has antioxidants to reduce inflammation. One doesn’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day as soups, tea, coffee, milk also count as fluids.
5.     Walk – what does walking have to do with colds and flu?  Studies have shown that people who walk at least 20 minutes a day are less likely to get sick.  And when they did get sick, their symptoms were milder than those who walked less. Walking doesn’t have to be outside.  You can walk at malls, go up and down stairs, walk to a co-worker’s office instead of sending an email.

To incorporate some of these ideas this week:
Cook with olive oil, add a handful of nuts to your day, pack a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, add some fruit to your oatmeal or make a smoothie with some berries.  Use a salad dressing with olive oil on a salad of leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce).  Take a walk at lunch or after dinner. There are many, simple ways to boost your immune system. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Whole Grains for a Longer, Healthier Life

Watching your carbs?  Who hasn’t heard people who say, “I am watching my carbs.”?  Well, you should “watch your carbs” to make sure you are getting whole grains in your diet every day.  Most Americans are getting enough grains in their diet, but not enough whole grains.

The Whole Grains Council lists many benefits of eating whole grains. Reduce your risk for many diseases.  Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of:
o   Stroke by 30-36%
o   Type 2 diabetes by 21-30%
o   Heart disease by 25-28%
                And, contrary to public opinion, whole grains can make maintaining your weight easier.

The American Heart Association in articles in Circulation, noted replacing refined grains like white bread with whole grains like whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals lowered one’s risk of heart disease (Replace refined grains with whole grains).   Another article Whole grains and total deaths)  looked at many studies and reported whole grains lowered one overall risk of death by lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. 

Why are whole grains so healthy?  Because they contain the entire grain, the bran, germ and endosperm, whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  When manufacturers refine grains to make white bread, white flour, many minerals and vitamins are removed and not added back.  Whole grains also provide phytochemicals which have many health benefits. 

Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains a day.  MyPlate recommends half your grains each day should be whole grains. How can you add more whole grains to your day? 
  • Cereal – choose a whole grain cereal for breakfast.  Oatmeal, Cheerios are whole grain.  All General Mills cereals are whole grain.
  • Popcorn – enjoy as a snack with only a little butter.
  • Whole grain bread, whole grain bagels – use whole grain bread in a sandwich for lunch
  •  Whole grain hamburger buns, whole grain hot dog buns – not always easy to find but they are available
  • Whole grain crackers – Triscuits, Wheat Thins
  • Brown rice or wild rice
  •  Quinoa
  •  Whole grain pasta – if you don’t like the taste of whole grain pasta, add only some to your pasta.  Start with only about 10% whole grain pasta and work up to 50%.

2 ways to know if a food is whole grain
  1. Ingredient list – look for whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list such as:  whole wheat, whole corn, whole rye
  2. Look for the Whole Grain Stamp – one is for foods providing 16 grams of whole grain and all ingredients are whole grain, or 8 grams of whole grain per serving and providing some refined grain.
This week, find some ways to add whole grains to your diet and the diet of your kids.  Let your kids choose a General Mills cereal so they can enjoy some whole grains for breakfast this week.  Eating at Subway, choose the bread with whole grain in it, 9-Grain Honey Oat bread.

For a great resource on whole grains, visit Today’s Dietitian and read:  Impact of Whole Grains on Health

Sunday, November 6, 2016

How to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies

Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for your health.  But many parents don’t know about half of what a kid eats should be fruits and vegetables.  MyPlate shows a plate with half the plate being fruits and veggies.  Many parents aren’t serving kids even one fruit or vegetable at a meal, let alone 2 at each meal.  In fact, statistics show only 22% of kids ages 2-5 are getting the recommended servings of vegetables. For older kids, it’s even worse with only 16% of kids ages 6-11 and only 11% of kids ages 12 to 18 are getting the recommended vegetable servings.  Even then the vegetable is often French fries or chips.     

Many nutritionists and health care professionals offer tips to parents on how to get kids to eat their veggies (and their fruit).
  1.  One bite rule – child care centers often invoke this rule.  A child has to take at least one bite before they get to veto the food.  The child may find they actually like the food but if not, at least they have given it a try before saying “no”.
  2. Cute names – many studies have shown that giving a food a cute name will get a child to eat that food.  “Mighty Green Beans” are more likely to be eaten.  Try different names to see what works.
  3. Cooking – get kids to help with cooking or help in the kitchen.  USDA has a helpful guide on how to get even preschoolers to help out in the kitchen. 

2 year olds
3 year olds
4 year olds
5 year olds
Wipe tables
Add ingredients
Peel eggs
Measure liquids
Tear lettuce or greens
Scoop out mashed potatoes
Set the table
Use an egg beater
Snap green beans
Squeeze citrus, lemons
Crack eggs
Cut soft foods with a dull knife
Rinse vegetables or fruit
Stir batter like pancake batter
Help measure ingredients
Clearing the table after a meal
Make “faces” out of fruit and vegetable pieces
Name and count foods
Help make sandwiches, toss salads
Scrubbing vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms)

4.   Try different forms of the fruit or vegetable – a child might not like apples unless they are peeled.  Try fresh, frozen, dried, canned foods to see what your child likes better.  Some children won’t drink juice with pulp in it but like juice without pulp. 5.       Serve fruit and or vegetables at every meal.

a.       Breakfast – add fruit to cereal
b.       Lunch – Pack – 2 fruits/vegetables in lunch: cut up vegetables, a salad, hummus, add a box of raisins
c.       Snacks – piece of fruit, raw vegetables with a dip, box of raisins
d.       Dinner – always serve 2 fruits/vegetables at dinner.  Add veggies to frozen pizza, add more cut up vegetables to the salad mix.  

Try some Recipes:  Fruits & Vegetables like Fruity Frozen Treats, Mango Salsa and make them with your kids.  USDA has Cooking with Kids guides for cooking with preschoolers, elementary school and Fast Meals & Quick Snacks for middle and high school age kids.

So this week, try to get your kids in the kitchen and eating at least one and hopefully 2 fruits and vegetables at lunch and dinner.