3 Ways You Can Fight “Superbugs”

super bugs

Not an actual photo of superbugs

Hospitals are begin confronted by one of their greatest fears.  The emergence of bacteria we cannot kill.  You’ve probably heard of the most common “superbug”, MRSA.  These new bugs make MRSA look downright warm and cuddly.

“Superbugs” develop as bacteria mutate in response to repeated exposure to common antibiotics.  The more they’re exposed, the faster and more powerfully they mutate.  Modern medicine can’t keep up.

Over half of those who acquire an infection from an invincible “superbug” will die.  Officials who call “superbugs” THE health crisis of the coming century are no longer speaking in hyperbole.

The good news is you can help slow the development of “superbugs”.  Here’s your three weapons:

  1. Don’t get sick.  More specifically, don’t be sick in a hospital.  As of now these new superbugs are limited to hospitals.  But like MRSA before them, eventually they’ll find their way into the community.  As always, wash your hands regularly.
  2. Avoid antibiotics, unless necessary.  Most of the illnesses we get are a product of viruses, not bacteria.  But when we’re feeling miserable we beg our doc for something to help.  A needless antibiotic is what we get.  If your doc says you or your child won’t be helped by an antibiotic, listen.
  3. Eat organic! (Or close) A whopping 80% of all the antibiotics we use go to healthy livestock.  They eat antibiotics, you eat them, you eat antibiotics.  It’s completely unnecessary.  Buy organic meats or, if your grocery offers the choice, pick meat that doesn’t use antibiotics. (Publix supermarkets have “Greenwise” selections that are sans antibiotics).

 

 

 

 

Arrogance and E. Coli

Those little bastards

Those little bastards

“I like my steak rare.  It’ll be fine.”

Those are the words I uttered last Saturday as I cut into a self-prepared steak and discovered my medium rare steak had clearly fallen more on the rare side.  Much more.

I’ll eat it anyway.  It won’t hurt me.  I’m a man.  I’m arrogant.  Especially when it comes to my ability to man a grill and my intestinal fortitude.  I also didn’t want to relight the grill.

Twenty-four hours later, as I lay sprawled across the linoleum in the bathroom, I began to wonder if I had made the right decision.

E. Coli is no joke.  If I’d have been a child or elderly I would’ve been hospitalized and may not be here  today.  As it was, I simply had 5 days of misery to ask myself why I didn’t give my rare steak a little more flame.

Now, I’m not going to become a medium-well kind of guy.  Stubbornness is another male trait I have in spades.  And, ultimately, rare doesn’t mean E coli.  It  only means I’ve hit the menu disclaimer:

* “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.”

But I am going to learn from my exercise in macho grill arrogance.  I will learn to cook my steaks a little longer.  And I will, I promise, relight the grill after cutting into a steak that gives me pause.  Unless I don’t feel like it.  It’ll be fine….

As a quick aside, since I’ve undermined my credibility in steak preparation, check out this guide to be sure my fate doesn’t befall you. 

A Peanut for Married Adults

My Pistachio Stash

My Pistachio Stash

Back in college my roommates and I would regularly buy a bag of peanuts the size of a toddler.  We’d prop it up against the coffee table and get to cracking.  A small trash can was held between our feet, ostensibly to catch falling shells.

This set up wasn’t perfect.  Wayward shell remnants reached the floor with regularity.  Being college kids, we didn’t particularly care our living room floor developed the ambiance of country western bar.

Indeed, as our parents would ghastly attest to, peanut shells on the floor wasn’t cleanliness issue #1 at our higher education residence.  I believe they’d cite something about a “blackened bathtub”.

Now that I have a wife, the bathtub is regularly scrubbed and peanut shells crunching underfoot is frowned upon.  But I’ve found a great way to keep the cracking and snacking going from the comfort of my couch.  Enter the Pistachio.

Pistachio’s harder shell doesn’t crunch as easily as the peanut, making managing fragments much easier.  Plus a dropped shell won’t lose its integrity beneath my foot.

As a bonus, pistachios are healthier than peanuts.  They’re packed with Vitamins B1 & B6 and carry more heart healthy fats.  Like other nuts, they do pack a caloric punch.  On heaping handful carries about 230 calories.  But those fiber rich calories fill you up making pistachios a great snack.

There’s also something called the “Pistachio Principle”.  Apparently all that cracking makes us eat less.  It also applies to peanuts.  Weird, in college four guys would polish a large bag in no time.  Perhaps there were other factors at play.

A Home Cook is Born

home cook

Earlier this week I met with a friend to discuss a some issues she was having concerning her diet and nutrition.   Overall she was doing really well.  She ate a protein filled breakfast everyday, ate a turkey sandwich at her desk for lunch, and had discovered kickboxing.

Her struggle started when the hours got late.  She admitted she rarely, if ever, cooked her own dinner.  Something to work on, to be sure.  But there are worse diet problems.

To address her biggest dieting hole she decided to set an easy goal.  Once a week she would plan and prepare a meal at home.  Problem #1, however, was she had no earthly idea what to cook.

As her sister and I began offering suggestions she seemed slightly intimidated.  Screwing up was her main concern.  Burning down the kitchen less so.

I assured her she would in fact produce a few interesting results.  Learning to cook will do that to you.  But I forgot to stress she will also eventually get it right.  In fact, I’m certain at some point she’ll surprise herself.  The joy of cooking will indeed find its way to her stove-top.

And then a miraculous thing will happen.  She’ll actually want to cook for herself.  She’ll want to perfect the one thing she surprisingly produced.  Then, bored with that, she’ll slowly branch out and begin to dabble in areas she’d never previously considered.

Soon the days of nightly Chinese delivery and frozen dinners will fade.  She’ll be a little healthier as a result.  A home cook is born.  One botched, and successful, meal at a time.

At Least Fish Sticks are Honest

fish sticks

So it seems there’s a fish conspiracy going on. A recent study revealed up to 1/3 of fish sold is deliberately mislabeled.  Meaning your favorite filet of grouper is potentially something called asian pangasius, or ponga.

And, apparently, if you purchase red snapper, there’s a 94% chance you’ve been fooled.  And charged a premium for your naivete.  A few other findings, as reported by Forbes:

  • More than half (59%) of the 46 fish types tested had mislabeling.
  • 84% of white tuna samples were actually escolar, “a species that can cause serious digestive issues for some individuals who eat more than a few ounces.”
  • Fish on the FDA’s “DO NOT EAT” list for sensitive groups such as pregnant women and children because of their high mercury content were sold to customers who had ordered safer fish.

It all makes frozen fish sticks seem more reputable.  At least they recognize what they’re pushing can only be generally described as “fish”.  Someday that may be the best we can get.

 

Remembering Workout Rule #1

forrest_gump

So far this year I’ve been struggling to find my motivation to hit the gym.  Oh, I’ve made it there several times, but it has felt like a chore. Chores aren’t fun.  You find reasons not to do them.

Then last week I went for a run and remembered the most important aspect of any workout regime…you have to like it.

Beating the streets has been my go-to exercise since high school.  I love how it clears my mind.  I love how easy it is to do anywhere. And I appreciate the immediate feedback of going farther than last time.

I know jogging isn’t the most effective way to work the body.  Too steady state.  But it burns more calories than deciding on today’s excuse for skipping the gym.

I really don’t mind hitting the gym.  In fact most of the time I like it.  Just, for some reason, not lately.  Which is why rediscovering my favorite form of exercise is so important.  For once again I’m looking forward to exercise.

“Figured, since I came this far…..”

Everyone’s Right Because Everyone’s Wrong

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I was in Barnes and Noble last afternoon and stumbled across the diet book section.  A dizzying number of authors have apparently cracked the weight loss code.  And they’ve been thoughtful enough to share their discoveries in easy to follow steps to melting away fat.

How does one choose from so many wonderful step-by-step diet strategies?  Luckily, someone much smarter than me has provided an excellent answer.  Dr. David Katz summarized the intermingling of all these diet theories perfectly in his article “No One Thing”.

In short, he says everyone is right.  But everyone is wrong.  For example, both a vegan diet and the Mediterranean diet have positive aspects, but in his words:

If the most ardent proponents of a vegan diet are right, the proponents of the Mediterranean diet must be wrong.

He goes on to explain that no dieting philosophy sees the whole picture but each is right for the assertions they make in their area of preference.  Except, notably, “Six Weeks to OMG” (subtitle: Get skinnier than all your friends).

It’s a notion illustrated best in the parable he introduces “The Blind Men and the Elephant“.  I’d never heard this parable before, but I’m now assured of using it often enough my children will roll their eyes as I use it to illustrate one the numerous life lessons I’m sure to bestow.

Another lessson:  Never read anything entitled “Six Weeks to OMG”.