Unhealthy foods

THE Christmas season is upon us once more and feasting has already started. As we indulge and enjoy the food galore, it behooves us to stay away from foods that are unhealthy, which will eventually cause us harm in the future.

Some of these items that are hazardous to our health include refined sugars, artificial sugars, processed meats/vegetables/fruits, potato chips, and soft drinks of any kind. These beverages are very toxic to our body but, unfortunately, the damage is not immediately evident. Junk foods like hamburger and French fries are fine if consumed occasionally, like once a month or less.

Here are some other unsafe food items to watch out for in order to truly enjoy the holidays:

Poorly cooked pork/seafood

Unlike beef, which could be eaten rare or medium, pork is safe only when fully cooked, especially in barbeque form. Improperly cooked pork could lead to a microworm infestation called trichinosis, where the tiny roundworms enter the muscles, even in the eyelids, the heart, etc. and pose a danger not only to health but to life. Eating raw seafood, like oysters, mussels, shrimp, fish, can also cause bacterial infection, like salmonella, not to mention hepatitis. Unhygienic food handlers (including all of us) can contaminate the food and cause Staphylococcus food poisoning, Shigella, and an E. coli infection (from fecal contamination of food and or water), leading to severe diarrhea, nausea, vomiting,  and abdominal pains. Even leftover rice, if not refrigerated, and if it is kept covered airtight in a warm environment, can cause Bacillus cereus to thrive, multiply, and produce chemical toxins, resulting in food poisoning. Rice is best consumed within 24-48 hours. When leftover rice appears moist or sticky, and/or smells spoiled, it should be discarded.

Microwave popcorn

A recent UCLA study reports that chemicals (one of them perfluorooctanoic acid – PFOA) in the inner surface (lining) of the bag are compounds that may be a culprit in the development of infertility in humans. The findings also stated that these chemicals vaporize at high temperatures, seep into the popcorn, and can cause cancer of the liver, pancreas, and testicles, as they accumulate in the body over time until they reach the toxic level years later. Manufacturers, like Dupont, have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s voluntary plan.  In the meantime, pop your own corn in a skillet.

Canned tomatoes

Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen, is in the resin linings of tin cans. The acidic nature of tomatoes causes this chemical to leach into the tomatoes. BPA has been linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and suppression of sperm production and chromosomal damage. This report was filed by Fredrick Vom Saal, Ph.D., an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri. The best option is fresh (organic, if possible) or bottled tomatoes. As far as organic fruits and vegetables are concerned, their shelf-life is also longer than the conventional ones.

Farmed salmon

“Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers,” stated David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany in a major study in the journal Science on contamination of fish.  As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, antibiotics, brominated flame retardants, pesticides such as dioxin and DDT, according to Dr. Carpenter.  The wild-caught Alaskan salmon, even canned, is a good option for salmon lovers.

Corn-fed beef

To fatten cattle for better profit, commercial farmers feed them corn and soybeans. A new comprehensive study by the US Department of Agriculture and Clemens University found that “compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid, calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s, and lower in saturated fats.  Better option: beef from grass-fed cattle, stipulated on the packaging label.

Non-organic potatoes

Conventional (non-organic) potatoes are treated with fungicides and herbicides. Root vegetables like potatoes also absorb these chemicals that pollute the soil. No matter how much you wash non-organic potatoes, you will never get rid of the chemical contamination because the chemicals are in the flesh. While organic potatoes (grown without the use of any chemicals) are a bit more expensive, they are the healthier alternative.

Non-organic fruits and vegetables

The same chemical contamination is found in non-organic fruits and vegetables.  Those with skin or rind are better protected. After washing them, peel the skin, like in apples, bananas, papaya, oranges, lanzones, pineapple, carrots, radish, squash, upo, patola, etc. Those which are eaten as a whole, fruits like the various berries, prunes, grapes, and vegetables like lettuce, beans, etc., obviously contain more contamination and should be thoroughly washed. Again, organic, where possible, is the choice.

Milk with artificial hormones

To increase milk production, producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST), which exposes the cow to have udder infection and even pus in the milk. At the same time, it also leads to higher levels of insulin-like growth hormone factor (IGF-1) in milk, which, in some people, might “increase the risk for the development of cancer of the breast, prostate and colon,” according to Rick North, former CEO of the Oregon Division of the American Cancer Society who is now an advocate for food safety. While this quoted statement is still not proven 100 percent IGF-1 in milk is “banned in industrialized countries.”

Healthy food items

Included in the list of health foods that provide nutrition and also boost our immune systems are: oatmeal, fresh vegetables (all plant-based varieties), like green leafy vegetables for salads, broccoli, legumes, fish, nuts, pomegranates, mangosteen, rambutan, watermelon, peaches, avocados, berries of all kinds, various spices common in the kitchen, like garlic, onions, curry, turmeric, pepper, olive oil, dark chocolates, red wine, coffee, green tea.

Also, please do not text and drive, unless you want to meet God sooner.

Visit philipSchua.com   Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.


Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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