Posts tagged health
Posts tagged health
This year for Lent, I am giving up red meat. It is also something I have been considering giving up for the rest of my life.
I’ve actually been thinking a lot about changing my diet in general. Although I am a runner and I try to eat healthy when I can, I drink like a fish and eat uncontrollably when I’m out. I have some health issues in my family history that I’d like to avoid. Plus I can’t depend on my freakishly high metabolism forever. I like to eat and I hate to throw up so at this point, a diet change is my only option to stay skinny. Welp.
So over then next few months, I’ll be posting about health and what’s good for you and what’s not. I’m tired of not knowing why I use Splenda instead of the blue pack or pink pack (or just regular ol’ sugar).
Side note: I promise to use seriously credible sources. There will be no wikipedia references when it comes to my health. Who knows what people put on that damn site sometimes.
What makes red meat “red”?
Meat is muscle. Makes sense, right? When an animal dies, muscle undergoes a transformation and becomes what we call meat. And the type of muscle it is determines whether that meat is red or white.
“Red meat” is meat that’s a reddish color before cooking, like beef, venison and ostrich (yikes). “White meat” is very pale before cooking and includes chicken, turkey and pork.
The primary defining factor in whether animals are white meat or red meat is whether their muscles are mostly fast-twitch or mostly slow-twitch. Slow-twitch muscles are used often, for extended activities like constant walking, standing or flying. It has a lot of the protein myoglobin, which stores large amounts of oxygen to support this long-term energy use. Myoglobin is reddish in color, sort of like hemoglobin in blood, which is why red meat can look so bloody. Ostriches, like cows, spend most of their time standing and walking. Even ostrich wings get a lot of exercise, since they play such a central role in steering. Ostrich muscles are mostly the slow-twitch kind. Slow-twitch muscle is red meat.
Chickens and turkeys, on the other hand, don’t use their muscles as much. Most of their muscle mass is the fast-twitch kind, used for short bursts of activity, like a quick jump into the air that constitutes most of their flying. Fast-twitch muscles use glycogen for energy — there’s not much myoglobin there. Glycogen is pale in color. Fast-twitch muscle is white meat.
Why is red meat bad for you?
A recent 10-year study, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), found that guys (and girls) who eat just 10 oz (283 g) of red meat a week are more likely to develop colon cancer than guys who don’t.
Cardiovascular disease & cancer
In a study that concluded in 2009, a research team led by Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, looked at more than 500,000 people who were aged 50 to 71 when they enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health study.
Over a 10-year period, people who ate the most red meat every day (about 62.5 grams per 1,000 calories per day, equal to a quarter-pound burger or small steak per day) had about a 30 percent greater risk of dying compared with those who consumed the least amount of red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day). The excess mortality was mostly the result of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
In addition, those who ate the largest amounts of processed meat (defined as about 22.6 grams per 1,000 calories per day of bacon, red-meat sausage, poultry sausage, cold cuts, ham, regular hot dogs, and low-fat hot dogs) also had a slightly higher mortality risk than those who consumed the least.
In contrast, people who ate the most white meat seemed to have a slightly lower mortality risk during the study than those who consumed the least amount of white meat. White meat included chicken, turkey, and fish, as well as some poultry products and canned tuna.
The researchers estimate that 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women during the study could have been prevented by reducing consumption of red meat.
Blood Pressure Risk
Even though heme iron can reduce the risk of anemia, it may also have a negative effect. Researchers from the “British Journal of Medicine” tested 4,680 adults who consumed varying amounts of red meats for their blood pressure levels. The results of the study showed that the more red meat a participant ate, the higher that person’s blood pressure rose. High blood pressure levels can lead to serious health problems like strokes.
Type of Red Meat
Unprocessed red meats include beef and pork, without any additives. Processed forms of red meat include bacon, sausages and deli meats like salami. MayoClinic.com explains that processed red meats have an average of 622 mg of sodium per 2 oz. serving, while unprocessed red meat has only 155 mg. This high amount of sodium, combined with additives like nitrates, in processed red meats may damage blood vessels and reduce the body’s ability to control blood glucose, according to MayoClinic.com.
Why is red meat good for you?
One of the strongest health benefits of eating red meat is the heme iron that it contains. Iron is an essential nutrient that transports oxygen through the blood to the cells where it is needed. Without enough iron in the diet, you can become anemic, feel weak and even have a low immune system function. There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is absorbed better in the body and is thus more usable. The Ask the Dietitian website states that heme iron is only found in animal products, of which red meat is the best source.
Another benefit of eating red meat is the protein. Protein helps the body by providing energy and strengthening the muscles. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database, each ounce of flank steak with the fat trimmed off has 7.7 g of protein, and a small hamburger beef patty has about 15 g of protein.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s perspective
Beef offers protein and other essential nutrients. The National Cattlemen’ Beef Association also offers information on their website on how lean cuts of beef to reduce the amount of saturated fat eaten.
In a statement, Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, executive director of human nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says: “As is often the case with epidemiological research on this subject, it is hard to draw substantial conclusions about any one food.” She said the study (referring to one mentioned above about cardiovascular disease and cancer) was complicated by the fact that participants had unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and lack of exercise.
The cons outweigh the pros on this one.
Side note: While researching this topic, one of my main questions was “what exactly is considered ‘red meat’”? I found all types of answers. I thought red meat to be beef and I thought pork was debatable since ham is pink (its a reach, I know). Some websites listed beef, pork, lamb, and game (idk what that is) as red meat. Some listed beef and processed meats as red meat. So officially, for Lent, I am removing beef, pork, lamb, and venison (as if I’ve had that more than once in my life - but in case it becomes an option, I will say “no thank you”) from my diet.
I found this on msn.com the other day and felt compelled to share a few of the LIES that parents and aduts have told most of us our entire life.
1. If you cross your eyes they’ll stay that way
Looking at your nose creates normal convergence (the amount the eyes rotate toward each other to view a near object), says Dr. Benjamin H. Ticho, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary. “In crossed eyes, one eye looks straight and the other looks crossed.” Crossed eyes occur more often in children (find out more) but only in extreme situations in adults (i.e., stroke, Graves’ disease).
I held off from ever crossing my eyes for this reason. LIES
2. Reading in the dark will ruin your eyes
Reading by flashlight in the pitch dark won’t ruin your eyesight, but it will make it harder to read, says Ticho. Your eye contains two types of photoreceptors (in the retina): rods and cones. Cones enable you to read and see colors (find out about color blindness) and rods detect motion in your peripheral vision and enable you to see in dimmer vision (read about poor peripheral vision).
“One reason you can’t read with your peripheral vision is because you’re using your peripheral retina, which is mostly rods,” says Ticho. When you turn the lights off, your eyes also switch from the cones to the rods. Rods don’t work as well for reading, but you won’t do any harm aside from a little eye strain.
Another lie I was told. And I blamed my poor vision on it since…well, until now.
3. Eating carrots helps your vision
Unless you’re deficient in vitamin A, eating carrots likely won’t make a difference in how well you see, says Ticho. “For the vast majority of people who eat a good diet, eating carrots or other vitamin-A-containing vegetable isn’t going to make their photoreceptors (cells in the retina) work any better.”
However, a healthy diet containing carrots is shown to reduce the progression of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the above-60 age group, says Dr. Sandy T. Feldman, an eye surgeon who is the medical director at ClearView Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego. “In addition to beta carotene, carrots contain lutein and zeaxanthin, important antioxidants for eye health,” says Feldman.
Yep. Thought eating carrots would save my poor vision. Clearly, I can stop that now.
5. If you swallow your gum, it’ll take 7 years to digest
Swallowing your gum on that amusement park ride last summer does not subject you to a gummy digestive tract for seven years, says Dr. Richard Desi, a gastroenterologist with the Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.
“This is certainly a myth. A portion of gum is indigestible, and like any indigestible substance that is consumed, it will simply pass through the gastrointestinal tract and be evacuated.” The digestible ingredients in gum do not take any longer than other foods to digest. And the indigestible portion does not “stick” around one’s intestines for years, says Desi.
6. You can tell the gender of the baby by the way the mom carries the child
This old wives’ tales says if a pregnant woman carries high she’s having a boy; if she’s carrying low and wide it’s a girl. “This myth has been around forever, but there’s no good data to show there’s any truth in it,” says Dr. Robert Atlas, chair of the Department of Obstetrics at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. “There’s no reliable way to predict the gender of a baby by looking at a woman. Besides, anyone has a 50-50 chance of being right.”
I feel like this is common sense.
8. A cold shower can dampen libido
Showering with cold water may shock you out of sexual frustration, but there’s no physical reason it should do much to dampen your libido, says Atlas. “The shock to a man’s body triggers the cremasteric reflex, however, which causes a muscular pulley action that pulls a man’s testicles up into his body to seek a warmer environment, which could temporarily dampen libido.” (A study from 1993 done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England actually found an increased number of virus-fighting white blood cells and increased testosterone in men after a cold shower. So the opposite may actually hold true.)
9. Only women have a biological clock
A woman’s biological clock may tick louder, but a man’s fertility also decreases with age, according to research from Johns Hopkins University. While women are born with all the eggs they’ll have for life, men can manufacture sperm throughout their lifetime. But the quality of their genetic material decreases. “Men over 45 years old have a higher risk of fathering children with genetic abnormalities,” says Atlas. “This occurs most often in single-gene defects such as Huntington’s disease (read more about the neurological disorder) as well as muscular dystrophy.” Research from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York also shows that men older than 45 have twice as much damage to their sperm as men under 30.
Hahaha! ::points and laughs at nearest dude::
10. Cutting your hair makes it grow faster
If you want long hair, cutting it more often won’t make it grow faster, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, board-certified dermatologist and founder of LovelySkin.com.
“Hair grows at a standard rate all the time, but it eventually falls out,” says Schlessinger. We lose about 150 to 200 hairs a day. Luckily, most people grow about 200 hairs a day, so we replace this loss. Once people stop replacing these hairs, baldness or thinning can happen. Some people have weaker hair, which makes it fall out earlier and leaves them with shorter hair in general. “Cutting their hair will make it seem like it is coming back faster, but in truth it is growing at the same rate,” says Schlessinger.
This is crap.
11. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
Your office mate who goes around cracking his knuckles may be annoying, but he’s not any more likely to develop arthritis than anyone else, contrary to this popular belief. “Cracking the knuckles does not cause arthritis,” says Stephen L. Burnstein, D.O., F.A.C.R., board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and a professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. “The popping noise heard is from displacement of air in the joint and/or the supporting ligaments and tendons gliding over the joint surfaces.” If you have arthritis, practice gentle stretching over cracking your joints to loosen them up, says Burnstein.
12. Eating after 8:00 pm causes weight gain
Eating too much at any time makes you gain weight, says Dr.Melina Jampolis, nutrition specialist and author of “The No-Time to Lose Diet: The Busy Person’s Guide to Permanent Weight Loss” (Nelson Books, 2007). “There is nothing unique about eating too many calories after 8 p.m.,” says Jampolis. “This just happens to be the time that people snack mindlessly on chips and dessert while watching TV.” Nutritionists and weight-loss doctors suggest not eating after 7 or 8 because, by eliminating late-night snacking, it automatically cuts calories. But there’s nothing different metabolically about the way your body handles calories in the evening, says Jampolis.
Well, alright then. ::goes for that third bowl of ice cream::
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