Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drug Administration’

Go Bananas!

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am a firm believer in local, seasonal eating.  But, I do have some exceptions, one of which is bananas.  I could never give up bananas and they certainly don’t grow in New England!  I start everyday with a nutrition-packed smoothie and banana is the mainstay ingredient.

Bananas are actually a super food in their own right!  Here’s how………

bananas

bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Bananas’ natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – combined with fiber are a sustained energy boost; they are the number one fruit with leading athletes.  The potassium-packed fruit can also help boost brainpower and keep students alert.

Bananas contain tryptophan, a natural protein that the body converts to serotonin, the feel good hormone, and helps people suffering from depression, PMS, stress or SAD (seasonal affect disorder). The tryptophan also helps with insomnia, so have a banana before bed for the perfect bedtime snack.

Bananas are high in potassium, which reduces the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure.   The fact that they are also low in salt makes it the perfect food to lower blood pressure.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a regular diet of bananas can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

No need for a laxative when bananas are a part of your diet.  The fiber in bananas can help overcome constipation and restore normal bowel function.  They also have a natural antacid effect in the body and offer relief from heartburn and intestinal disorders.  Bananas keep blood sugar levels up and snacking on them helps pregnant women avoid morning sickness.

For those rare occasions when you over imbibe, a milkshake made with bananas and honey calms the stomach, builds up depleted blood sugar levels and rehydrates the body.

I tried this remedy yesterday.  I rubbed the affected area from a mosquito bite with the inside of the banana skin to reduce swelling and irritation.  I’m so allergic to bites that I’ll try anything and happily the bite is better today!  Banana skins can also help kill off warts!

These are just a few of the many benefits of this exotic fruit.  While eating locally is the best way, nutrition-packed bananas are an important exception to the rule.   Make them apart of your daily diet.

An aside:  There is slightly more nutrition with riper bananas!

Information compiled from a physiological psychology lecture at CCNY and FDA.com.

 

Our Tainted Meat Supply

Environmental Working Group

I want to share with you this important article about our meat supply published by the Environmental Working Group.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, they are the leading environmental health research and watchdog organization.   Their mission is to “see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.”  They offer extensive consumer guides to safe cosmetics, healthy cleaning products, pesticides in produce and safe sunscreens, to name a few.

Below is a portion of their report.

Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets

For the PDF version of this report, click here.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of American supermarkets. These so-called superbugs can trigger foodborne illness and infections that are hard to treat.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group has determined that government tests of raw supermarket meat published last February 5 detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

These little-noticed tests, the most recent in a series conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System, a joint project of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that supermarket meat samples collected in 2011 harbored significant amounts of the superbug versions of salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year.

Moreover, the researchers found that some 53 percent of raw chicken samples collected in 2011 were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, a microbe that normally inhabits feces. Certain strains of E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes.

Not surprisingly, superbugs spawned by antibiotic misuse — and now pervasive in the meat Americans buy — have become a direct source of foodborne illness. Even more ominously, antibiotic misuse threatens to make important antibiotics ineffective in treating human disease. In the past, people who became ill because of contact with harmful microbes on raw meat usually recovered quickly when treated with antibiotics. But today, the chances are increasing that a person can suffer serious illness, complications or death because of a bacterial infection that doctors must struggle to control.

The proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses special dangers to young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

This is scary stuff!  I’m not suggesting you have to become vegetarian to avoid these foodborne illnesses – after all vegetables can be contaminated too, especially when coming from long distances. (It is a good idea to go meatless a couple of days a week at least!)  Instead, be a smart meat consumer and opt for organic or grass-fed, grass- finished meats.  They are usually raised without unnecessary antibiotics and in a more humane and sanitary environment.  Ask your butcher or supermarket how the meat was raised and buy local meat when you can.  And always make sure you meat is cooked thoroughly.

Information compiled from ewg.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe Cosmetics

One of my readers asked about safe cosmetics.  I did a post on this subject a while ago, but I am reblogging it because it’s such an important topic.  According to the Environmental Working Group,  on average American women use 12 products a day and men average 6 products daily, which means an adult is likely to be exposed daily to 126 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products alone.

Personal care army

Personal care army (Photo credit: A30_Tsitika)

We might not realize that the make up we put on our faces or the hair and body products, sunscreens, and nail polish we use on a daily basis have a host of dangerous chemicals and allergens like mercury, lead, parabans, pthalates, and others. Watch out for products with fragrances. There are no regulations on ingredients and there are usually dozens of synthetic compounds.  I always wonder why American cosmetic companies sell the same products in Europe without the chemical additives! Well, the European Union strictly regulates the extremely hazardous chemicals found in everyday products in the United States and has banned about 1,100 chemicals, while the FDA has banned only ten!  Of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89 percent have not undergone safety testing, according to the Environmental Working Group.  If you read about what these additives do to our bodies, especially young, developing bodies, you would only use organic personal care products!  It’s scary….

The average woman “eats” more than 6 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime, just one of many cosmetics used.  Fortunately finding safer products is getting easier. Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores have several lines of organic skin care products that are safe to use, like Dr. Hauschka, Mychelle, Badger, Burt’s Bees.  Some products are “cleaner” than others, so make sure to always read the label and be wary of names too long to pronounce.  A knowledgeable sales person will be able to help you find the safest products.

Organic cosmetics and personal care products are not only better for your health, but better for the earth too!  When discarding them, fewer chemicals will go down the drain or in the trash, seeping into our water supply and landfills.  Many watch dog groups like the Environmental Working Group and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are forcing pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies to eliminate these harmful chemicals.  To rate the toxicity of your personal care products, visit www.safecosmetics.or, which does an online safety assessment of 75,223 products.

Information from ewg.org and ecosalon.com.  

Let me know if you have certain topics you want me to write about.  I’m happy to do so! 

 

GMO Foods

gmo “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”                                                   Michael Pollan


The health risks posed by GMO (genetically modified organisms) are real and dangerous.

I urge you to read more about GMO foods to understand why they are so dangerous.  Go to nongmoshopping guide for a comprehensive explanation of GMOs, as well as tips on how to avoid GMO foods when shopping or dining out.   In general, it’s safest to buy organic and certified organic foods which are less likely to contain GMOs.   Avoid at-risk ingredients like soybeans, canola, cottonseed, corn and sugar from sugar beets found in processed foods.  Always read food labels.

Download the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide app available at the app store for smartphones and Ipads to help you with your safer food choices.

To read a more detailed post on GMO foods, click here.