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Eggs, Bedbugs And Other Tips
« on: May 14, 2013, 11:36:22 am »

When Eggs Become Unsafe
by Berkeley Wellness

It’s hardly surprising these days when news breaks that yet another food has sickened people across the country.

Sometimes, it's eggs. More than 1,600 cases of Salmonella enteritidis infection from eggs were reported in at least 10 states in 2010, the largest outbreak of this type of food poisoning ever recorded in the U.S. More than a half billion eggs wererecalled.

Here’s a look at what went wrong at the henhouse—and what you need to know to eat eggs safely.

Which came first—the Salmonella or the egg?

The source of the 2010 outbreak was traced to two industrial farms in Iowa, where the barns were infested with rodents, flies and maggots, and filled with tons of manure, all of which can harbor or spread Salmonella.

Salmonella was detected in the feed given to young hens, in the water used to wash the eggs and elsewhere. One of the companies had already been cited numerous times over the years for unsanitary conditions and Salmonella contamination.

But how does Salmonella end up inside an egg?

When Salmonella is in the environment, including feed, the bacteria can get inside the chicken. This doesn’t sicken the bird, but if Salmonella is in the ovaries or oviduct, the hen can pass the bacteria into her eggs before the shells form.

And if the eggs aren’t properly cooled, the bacteria multiply quickly. Eggs can be contaminated from the outside, too, since the shells have tiny pores through which Salmonella can penetrate. Thus, if the processing plant equipment is contaminated, or if workers have Salmonella on their hands, eggs can end up with the bacteria.

Caged vs. cage-free

Like other factory farms, those involved in the outbreak housed tens of thousands of chickens in small stacked cages. Though not proven, it appears that keeping huge numbers of chickens in enclosed spaces increases the risk of infection more than "cage-free" or pasture-based operations do.

If the barns are not cleaned well—and many are no—the chickens are exposed to a continual stream of bacteria-laden droppings. Infections can spread quickly. The European Union banned the practice of using small cages in 2012; California will prohibit it in 2015.

But any dirty farm, whether it cages its birds or not, is susceptible to contamination. What’s really key is keeping facilities clean.

Don’t assume that organic eggs are necessarily safer, either. Research from the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) has, in fact, found Salmonella in certified organic chickens, as well as in those labeled free-range and all-natural.

Looking forward

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already had new safety rules in place for large egg producers inJuly, 2010, but it was too late to prevent the summer outbreak. The rules, which expanded to smaller egg farms in 2012, cover areas such as the control of rodents, clean water, proper refrigeration of eggs and testing of henhouses for infection. Facilities will be inspected for compliance.

There are also vaccines that reduce Salmonella infection in laying hens, though the FDA does not require them, citing inconclusive evidence of their effectiveness in real-life conditions. The agency is reviewing the issue again. In the meantime, many farmers already inoculate their hens.

Shelling out safety advice

The risk of Salmonella in eggs is small in the U.S.—by some estimates, only 1 or 2 out of 20,000 eggs harbor the bacteria—and should lessen even more as the new FDA rules take hold. But you should always treat every egg as if it were infected. One bad egg can cause illness, with symptoms of fever, cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Pregnant women, infants, young children, the elderly and people with compromised immunity or a chronic debilitating condition are more likely to become sick and develop serious, even life-threatening, complications.

Egg-cellent tips:

•Don’t buy eggs that are cracked or dirty, past their “sell by”or expiration dates or unrefrigerated.
•Promptly refrigerate eggs at home, in their carton; don’t store them on shelves of the door. The refrigerator should be 40°F (4°C) or below.
•Cook eggs thoroughly—that means not eating eggs with runny or undercooked yolks. Cook casseroles and other dishes containing eggs to 160°F (72°C). Don’t eat—or let kids eat—raw cookie dough or cake batter if they contain eggs.
•Don’t keep cooked eggs or egg dishes at room temperature longer than two hours.
•Discard raw eggs after three to five weeks; hardboiled eggs after one week and cooked egg dishes after three or four days.
•Wash your hands well after handling raw eggs, as well as all surfaces in the kitchen that come in contact with raw eggs.
•Be wary of foods that may contain raw eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise and fresh eggnog. Some restaurants use pasteurized eggs, which makes them safe—ask. You can also buy pasteurized whole eggs or pasteurized egg products (more widely available) to use in recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs. They cost more but are safe because the heat process kills Salmonella and other microorganisms, both inside and outside the egg.


Don't Ignore Obstructive Sleep Apnea
by Berkeley Wellness  |  April 23, 2013

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is not a condition to take lying down. Characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep (from a few seconds to more than a minute)—sometimes followed by choking and gasping to recover—it can lead to daytime fatigue, which affects both mental and physical functioning. It’s known to cause hypertension and is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis and increased mortality. Here’s a look at three recent studies.

Though sleep apnea is typically regarded as mostly a man’s problem, a Swedish study published in the European Respiratory Journal found unexpectedly high rates in women. About 50 percent of 400 women, ages 20 to 70, who underwent a sleep exam, were diagnosed with some degree of apnea. One in seven women ages 55 to 70 had severe apnea. Not surprisingly, it was most common in obese women, because excess weight is a contributing factor. Though these numbers are much higher than previously reported and may overstate the problem, they offer good reason for women to wake up to the fact that they, too, are at risk.

Sleep apnea may affect women’s health even more than men’s, suggests a study from UCLA, published in the journal Sleep. Women with apnea had more damage in parts of their brain associated with mood and decision-making, as shown by alterations in white matter on MRIs. They were also more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety. The study doesn’t prove that apnea caused these findings, however. It’s possible, instead, that brain changes lead to both altered sleep and mood.

Treating apnea improved blood pressure in men with hypertension, in a large study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The men, newly diagnosed with the condition, were prescribed standard apnea treatment, usually a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. After 3 to 12 months of treatment, systolic blood pressure (the upper number) dropped 7 points, and diastolic pressure (lower number), 3 points.

Sound sleep advice
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, get medical help. You may be referred to a sleep disorders center, where your sleep patterns can be observed and recorded overnight. Fortunately, there are effective treatments, including practical steps like losing weight and limiting alcohol. A custom-made mouth device that pulls the tongue and jaw forward may also help. But the gold standard is a CPAP machine, which pumps air through a mask to keep nasal airways open.


Gut bacteria could help reverse obesity

Consuming as little as a single strain of bacteria could help reverse obesity and type-2 diabetes, according to a new study from Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium.  Researchers have isolated a single species of bacteria - Akkermansia muciniphila - that lives in the gut and could change the way food is absorbed, providing a potential treatment for obesity and obesity-related health conditions.

In a normal person's body, the Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria make up about three to five percent of the bacteria living in the gut.  However, in obese people, these levels fall.  In this study, obese mice were given a broth containing a strain of the bacteria.  The results?  The formerly obese mice remained bigger than their lean counter-parts, but the mice had lost around half of their extra weight despite no other changes to their high-fat diets.

The scientists found that adding the bacteria increased the thickness of the gut's mucus barrier, which stops some material from being absorbed into the blood.  It also changed the chemical signals coming from the digestive system, which led to changes in the way fat was processed around the body.

The researchers warn that this is still just a preliminary test on mice, but that the results could be a significant "first step" towards using bacteria for prevention or treatment of obesity and related conditions.


UN Urges People To Eat More Insects


With world hunger a perpetual problem, the United Nations suggests that people should turn to new food sources to boost nutrition.  What does the UN suggest?  Increasing insect consumption, for starters.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organization notes that over two billion people around the world already supplement their diet with insects; wasps, beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers are all viable options as food, according to the UN.

The UN report points out that insects are nutritious, high in protein, fat and mineral content, including calcium and iron.  They feel that insects could be an important food supplement in undernourished children and could be more sustainable than traditional foods, citing that crickets, for example, require 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein.  Insects also produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases than livestock, the UN reported.

Despite the nutritional, environmental and sustainability benefits, the UN acknowledges one major barrier to insect consumption: consumer disgust.


8 Facts About Vitamin D and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem for people with chronic illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Getting enough is important for your health and maybe even your mood!

A study has linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk for cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis MS, and lupus. Researchers found, through mapping vitamin D receptor binding throughout the human genome, that vitamin D deficiency is a major environmental factor in increasing the risk of developing these disorders.

And 70 percent of children and adults in the US are vitamin D deficient. The cause of deficiency is a combination of not enough sun exposure, and a diet low in vitamin D.

Hydroxychloroquine, or Plaquenil, and corticosteroids, which both can be prescribed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, are among these. Even if you are taking one of these drugs, your doctor can adjust your vitamin D dose to correct the malabsorption.

You can ask your doctor for a simple blood test called, 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.

To increase your level of vitamin D through food, you should include more oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Egg yolks and mushrooms also provide vitamin D, or you could choose a cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D.

However, this is without sunblock in the summer, and it is not recommended to expose your skin to the sun without sunblock for long amounts of time. This can cause skin damage and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Not only does vitamin D play a crucial role in the absorption of calcium, but it staves off osteoporosis, which can be a risk for people with RA. It also protects those susceptible to seasonal affective disorder from becoming depressed.

Vitamin D plays a role in managing musculoskeletal pain from rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. It's common for people who live with chronic pain to have a vitamin D deficiency, and for doctors to routinely check their patients and offer Vitamin D supplements as part of the treatment plan.

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