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Summer Grilling: How To Be a Carcinogen-Free Carnivore!

Credit: Gary Larson, Far Side Comics

Ahhhh…..summer grilling! Cooking outdoors during the warm months is certainly one of the finer things in life. In my last post, I spoke about the importance of experiencing nature and spending time relaxing outside of our stressful, busy lives. Grilling meals is a simple and easy way to break out of your “indoor shell” – so today I’d like to talk to you about how to enjoy your outdoor meat cookouts while avoiding the many nasty carcinogens that we expose ourselves to during the grilling process. Thank you to the people at Cure Magazine for this very helpful information!

How does grilling meat expose us to cancerous toxins? 

- Grilling meat can produce two different types of carcinogens:  heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

- (HCAs) form when any animal flesh / muscle (as opposed to organ meat) is cooked at high temperatures.

- (PAHs) form when fat drips from the meat into the open flame on your grill. The chemicals from this process rise in the smoke and fire and contaminate the meat.

How can I prevent my meat from becoming contaminated with carcinogens? 

-  Choose lean meats and light, rather than dark, poultry.  Be sure to remove any skin and excess fat to reduce drippings into your grill.

-  Research has shown that steaming your meat for between 60-90 seconds immediately before grilling can completely eliminate the presence of (PAHs) in both beef and chicken.

-  Marinate your meats in lemon or vinegar-based marinades. Studies have shown that doing so can reduce formation of (HCAs) by up to 88 percent! Thick, sugary marinades tend to increase the level of char on your meat, thus increasing the odds of HCA formation.

-  Avoid charring your meat. Due to the high temperatures required to really “sizzle” your meat, the charring process increases the chances of (HCAs) and (PAHs) latching on to your meal.

-  Purchase a meat thermometer and grill your cut of meat to about 160º F. You don’t want to char the meat, but you need to ensure it is thoroughly cooked!

Other Cancer-Fighting Steps You Can Take This Summer:

- Grill your food on cedar planks or aluminum foil. Be sure to poke holes into the foil to allow the fat to drip – the foil will prevent the rise of fat content from the flame back onto the meat.

- Do not press your meat while it cooks or place your meat directly over the flame. Doing so will increase fat drippings and charring during the grilling process.

- Clean your grill and always replace your charcoal after every use to avoid rehashing any carcinogens that may have formed during your last grilling session.

Important Health Considerations for “Meatheads”

- To avoid a higher risk of colon cancer, limit your consumption of meat to 11-18 ounces per week. Keep your portion sizes to a maximum of 4 oz per serving.

- Avoid processed meats, especially products made with sodium nitrates. Nitrates are chemical preservatives added to processed meat that become carcinogenic during digestion. They also increase the sodium content of your food unnecessarily!

-  Look for organic or grass-fed meats on sale at your local market. Many supermarkets have daily deals on these items, so take advantage if you can and have piece of mind while you cook out!

Hope this had some insightful, summer information! Have a fabulous weekend and start practicing these healthy habits in the beautiful summer weather! Get Cookin’!

Don’t worry Vegan friends…next week something good for your grill!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

sources: Cure Magazine

Nature: A Proven Biochemical Medicine

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:: Scenic Route 146 between Guilford and Branford, CT ::

See these photographs above? They are snapshots of my daily commute to and from work on Route 146 - voted Connecticut’s best biking route !  As is true for many other types of jobs, my work as a physician is often highly stressful, demanding, and sometimes takes a toll on my body and mind.

I find making this drive  into the office every day a peaceful and calming experience, and lately I have given great thought to the therapeutic benefit of my drive to work. So I wanted to share with you this little-known fact:

Interacting with nature has been scientifically proven to have measurable healing benefits!

In a recent interview conducted by Prevention Magazine, environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich discusses the results of a study, done in hospital settings, where patients’ view was either of a natural setting or a brick wall. The results: “Patients who saw nature needed less pain medication, suffered fewer post-op complications and were discharged faster than those who looked a brick wall” [during their stay].

What is the message for you? Get out and enjoy the outdoors! As early homo sapiens, we spent ALL of our time outside! Nature is ingrained into our psyches – and inhibiting that inherent human connection to the wilderness may be preventing you from enjoying all the health benefits that come with it!

Erik Peper, a Holistic Health Studies professor at San Francisco State University elaborates on this fact: “Nature reduces our stress on a biochemical level. It’s only when you interrupt the fight-or-flight response and make someone feel relaxed and safe that they can begin to regenerate and heal.”

So what is my weekend wisdom for you all? GO OUT AND SEE WHAT’S IN YOUR WORLD! Take a break from your news feeds, your email and your cell phone to check out local hiking trails, take a walk in your neighborhood or bring your dog to your favorite local scenic spot. Time away from our busy lives is extremely important for detaching from our stress levels and should not be taken for granted.

While it may be a short, 10-minute ride, I cherish my time on the road to work. I see all kinds of wildlife: osprey, great blue herons, egrets, fox, cows, deer…..oh my! I love to witness the cycles of life: The osprey have mated and one particular pair, whose eggs were duds the last two years, have a fuzzy little baby right now! As I drive, rocky coast and lush marshland surround me on all sides – and I take the time during these moments to absorb the sights, sounds and smells. I have found, time and time again, that surrendering to the beauty of the outdoors lowers my stress level immensely before my demanding days in the office.

I encourage you all to do the same! Have a fabulous weekend!

Dr. Nolfo

The Importance of Good Posture!

 

For the past couple of week, my 24-year-old daughter, Mariella, has been complaining of some intense pain in her shoulders and back. After discussions with me (perks of a Doc-Mom) and a visit to her sports-specialist chiropractor, it became clear that Mariella’s issues were stemming from her rather poor posture. In addition to working long hours hunched over her laptop, Mariella is a professional drummer, and was taught to balance her center of gravity on her drum kit by hovering slightly forward over the instrument. It was quite a surprise for my daughter to learn that her issues were due to poor posture – and it made me consider that perhaps others could benefit from the advice Mariella has been receiving on how to improve the alignment of her spine.

slouching

Over time, our daily habits in our careers and our personal lives affect how we carry our bodies throughout the day. 80 percent of American’s experience back pain at some point in their lives, and nearly 90 percent of the population hunch their shoulders! We can attribute much of our daily backaches and pains to poor posture and weak muscles. Correcting these issues is vital to a healthy spine and a happy-looking body. Fortunately, there are many simple steps that one can take to improve posture and prevent future back problems. If this subject is new to you, I encourage you to examine the diagrams I have provided below and learn the importance of  STRAIGHTENING OUT!

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Why Is It Important To Have Good Posture?

- Good posture improves muscle tone and back strength.

- A straight spine eases the task of breathing and increases blood flow in the body. 

- Poor posture is the major contributor to Dowager’s Hump, a common issue in the elderly wherein the spine is visibly hunched (not just osteoporosis!).

- Having a properly aligned spine significantly decreases your risk for back injuryand back pain.

- Sitting up straight improves our appearance! Nobody likes “a slouch!”

 

Are these reasons enough for you to get yourself “in-line”? If so, begin by taking a look at the article from The Huffington Post  which outlines 10 different, highly common scenarios in our daily lives that cause and exacerbate poor posture. You’ll be surprised to find that things like sitting on our wallets or washing dishes can seriously mess with our spines!!! Developing an awareness of one’s posture and the habits which worsen it is the first and most important step to improving our alignment.

Simple adjustments to our daily physical activities can make a huge difference in our posture. However, it is also important to strengthen the muscles responsible for holding us upright. To begin toning up these muscles, check out this simple FitnessBlender exercise video my daughter Mariella passed along to me for use in today’s blog. After just 2 weeks of performing the exercises outlined in the video and maintaining an awareness of her posture, Mariella’s back pain has significantly subsided. Not only is this video appropriate for all ages and equipment-free, it also provides great insight into the importance of good posture and requires no prior experience! (Don’t do any exercise that hurts, and always ask your personal physician if you have questions about any new exercise regimen.)

So check this information out and report back to me with your progress! Have a fabulous weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

 

 

 

 

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