Staying Healthy While Feeding Your Furry Friend

While you love your dog or cat, you may not realize that your animal’s food may actually be causing health risks for your child.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that salmonella bacteria in dried dog and cat food sparked an outbreak of salmonella infections between 2006 and 2008.

The CDC investigators, in their report in Pediatrics, explained that the connection did not come from children actually eating the pet food.  More likely, it came from bugs that spread by direct contact with the pets.  Infection, they found, was certainly more likely if pet bowls were kept in the kitchen.

Certainly, pet owners should wash their hands after feeding pets or handling pet food.  Move pet food out of the kitchen or clean your floors frequently.  Wash your hands after playing with your animal and avoid flea and tick-control products that have organophosphate pesticides in them.

England Tells Toddlers “Drink Your Milk!”

England is now enmeshed in a debate on whether their ‘Nursery Milk Program’ is “outdated, ineffective, and too expensive” as Ann Milton, the Health Minister asserts. The program supplies 189ml of milk for free to children in childcare until they reach their fifth birthday. Begun in wartime England in the 1940s, the idea was to give young children a little bit extra by way of nutrition when food was rationed and in short supply.

Today, however, according to Ms. Milton, food is cheap and readily available, and there is ‘no evidence’ that the costly free milk program contributes in any way to the health of young children in England. Ann Milton believes it would be better to give families a voucher for the value of the milk supplied by the day care centers so that families can purchase milk as well as other sources of nutrition, such as vegetable, fruit, cheese and meat on their own.

The government decided, however, to go against the advice of the Health Minister, and to stick with the milk program. The government explained that milk is a special food which can easily give children a real ‘nutrition boost’ due to its ‘nutrient dense’ quality. Milk is an amazing source of lots of great nutrients, like protein, zinc, vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), and B12. Milk also aids in the absorption of iodine, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Milk is also a rich source of calcium which is crucial for growing children. Lots of calcium in the diet assures the development of strong bones. In just 189ml of milk which the milk program provides the children receive half of the daily recommended amount of calcium for children aged four to six. Although there are other sources for calcium and vitamins, such as leafy green vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds, it is much easier to get children to drink a cup or two of milk than to have them “finish your vegetables!”

According to the government, which is retaining the milk program, “milk is the ultimate fast food.” It is a quick and nutritious snack which would be a pity to take away from nutritionally vulnerable young children.

Keep Track of Your Waist Size

New research suggests that not only your weight, but your waist size, plays an important role in determining how long you live.  Researchers found, after looking at the data from 100,000 men and women, that those with the largest waistlines have about twice the risk of dying.

They even found that big-waisted people with healthy body mass indexes had a higher risk of dying.  Every 4 inch increase in waist size was associated with a 25% greater risk of death, says Eric Jacobs, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society.

The study found that the ideal waist size is less than 35 inches for men and 30 inches for women.

Jacobs explains that the take-home message from this study is: “It’s important to watch your waist, not just your weight and to start eating better and exercising more if you see your waist size starting to increase.”

Warnings for Pregnant Women Eating Licorice

Few pregnant women would think to take licorice off of their diet, but a recent study at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Helsinki shows that it may be wise to do so. Apparently, children exposed to licorice in the womb were found, during this study, to have up to one-third higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Mothers were asked how much licorice they ate during pregnancy, and the children were then tested at the age of 8 for coritsol levels. Children with higher cortisol levels had mothers who ate a half a gram of licorice a week or more during pregnancy.

Twizzlers Black Licorice has issued a warning about glycyrrhizic acid on its website. They state, “In excessive amounts, glycyrrhizic acid has been associated with undesirable side-effects including headache, sodium and water retention, loss of potassium, high blood pressure, and heart irregularities.”

Best Beef Makes the Cut

Health conscious consumers are demanding that they have their cake and be able to eat it, too. Or at least their steak.  This demand is being felt out on the ranch, and the cows and their cowboys are responding. Back on the prairie, or should I say cattle farm, modern-day wranglers are investigating and experimenting with new breeds of cattle, a variety of feed-types, and new technologies to get the healthiest, leanest cuts of beef possible.

Over the past 15 years the grades of beef produced in Canada and elsewhere have improved significantly. What used to be available only in the most exclusive restaurants, the coveted AAA grade, is now available in ordinary supermarkets. Back in the bad old days only about 1/3rd or the beef being produced merited the AAA designation. Today beef producers are churning out about 70% of their beef as AAA.

These cuts tend to be leaner, smaller and with a better taste. As consumers become more educated about the meat they are eating, they prefer these high-end cuts of meat, and with breeding, feeding, and other modern meat production practices consumers are getting what they want at more affordable prices with greater availability.  Now that our steaks are so good for us, we can enjoy them guilt-free. Just don’t overcook your gourmet cut of steak!

Timing a Pregnancy Post-Miscarriage

People in the medical profession, and regular couples, have long tried to figure out the secret to healthy conception after a miscarriage.  Certainly, most couples who miscarry feel a sense of loss and frustration, and they are eager to try again quickly.  But, is this the most advantageous idea?  Or is it healthier for the mother and fetus to wait awhile before trying again?

A new study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland suggests that women may actually have more success with a pregnancy if they get pregnant quickly after a miscarriage.  The scientists found that women who conceived within six months of a miscarriage had better chances of having a successful and full-term pregnancy than did women who conceived later.

Interestingly, this is contrary to an earlier study from Latin American that found that women should wait more than six months after miscarrying; and, this earlier study formed the basis of the World Health Organization’s 2005 recommendations that women put off a pregnancy for six months after miscarrying.

This Scottish study is the first attempt to provide better data for the optimal timing of pregnancy.  The World Health Organization has called for more studies on conception after miscarriage, and this study certainly shows an important beginning to this research.