Monthly Archives: March 2012

No Pink Slime For You!

From USA Today:  ‘Pink slime’ maker halts production at some plants

“The low-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.”

That processing just sounds terrible.  Bleh.  I like my meat from Durham Farmers Martket…fresh off the farm!  :oP


Changing Your DNA…Through Exercise?

On Blast:  Exercising Your DNA

I have to share this article that I read in TIME Heartland.  It’s about a study in which they showed a change in DNA through exercising…seriously.  Exercise keeps us lean, lowers heart disease/stroke/diabetes risk, and (as if you need more convincing to work out), now it’s great for our DNA.

In this study, researchers were measuring the activity of a compound called a methyl group.  Methyl groups are sticky and love to attach themselves to other compounds.  The problem in our bodies is that if you change the structure of something, you change the function.  Sometimes this is good, sometimes not so much.  Here is one example of why they are important in exercise:  these groups prime your muscle cells to ready themselves with energy and nutrients for the impending work they are about to do.  One downside to methylation?  When a methyl group fixatates itself to a DNA molecule, the alteration to the structure limits gene activity in the molecule.  The study describes one example of a cell’s ability to specialize into an eye cell or a liver cell, depending on the amount of methylation to that cell at a given time.  Scary.

Researchers here found that the more intense the exercise, the more methyl groups were out and about, rather than settling and fixating immediately.  So what else happens with intense exercise?  With intense exercise, the more intensity, the more oxygen is consumed to keep up the aerobic work.  Oxygen consumption is increased until your body hits its max threshold.  This is called the VO2max.  Generally, the higher your VO2max is, the more you can sustain high-intensity aerobic work.

Verdict:  Project Gym Rat shall commence!

Parents…your kids are watching what you do

From Health Day News:

Parents Should Lead By Example in Weight Loss, Study Finds

When parents shed pounds, overweight kids on weight-loss plan slimmed down, too

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) — Losing weight themselves is the best way for parents to help their children shed excess pounds, new research suggests.

The study included 80 parent-child sets with an overweight or obese 8- to 12-year-old. The participants took part in a parent-only or parent/child treatment program for five months.

The researchers assessed the effectiveness of three types of parenting skills taught in the family-based treatment programs for childhood obesity. The skills included: leading by example, or parents who took steps to lose weight themselves; changing the home food environment; and parenting style, such as encouraging the child to take part in the weight-loss program or helping limit what the child ate.

As in previous studies, this one found that parents’ weight loss was the only significant predictor of children’s weight loss.

“The No. 1 way in which parents can help an obese child lose weight? Lose weight themselves,” Kerri Boutelle, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, said in a UCSD Health Sciences news release. “In this study, it was the most important predictor of child weight loss.”

The findings were published online in the journal Obesity.

“Parents are the most significant people in a child’s environment, serving as the first and most important teachers,” said Boutelle, who is also head of the eating disorders behavioral treatment program at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “They play a significant role in any weight-loss program for children, and this study confirms the importance of their example in establishing healthy eating and exercise behaviors for their kids.”

About 31 percent of children in the United States — between 4 million and 5 million kids —  are overweight or obese, according to recent data.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains how parents can help overweight children.

— Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego Health Sciences, news release, March 14, 2012

Last Updated:  March 22, 2012

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

More Info on Icky “Pink Slime”

From The Daily:  “Aisle Be on the Safe Side”

School districts nationwide will be able to opt out of serving “pink slime,” after the USDA announced March 15 that beginning next fall, schools involved in the national school lunch program will have the option of avoiding the product.

From ABC News:  “Where to Get ‘Pink-Slime’- Free Beef

1. Safeway “Safeway is committed to providing our customers with the highest-quality products.  While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean, finely textured beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product.  Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef.”

2. Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant) “Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Finely Textured Beef, although we are not purchasing any fresh ground beef that includes Finely Textured Beef produced using ammonium hydroxide. Finely Textured Beef is 100 percent  lean beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise  ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of Finely Textured Beef. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Finely Textured Beef. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. Finely Textured Beef is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

3. Costco Costco told ABC News it does not use “pink slime.” “Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain its origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

4. Publix “We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

5. H-E-B “All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100 percent  pure with no additives.”

6. Whole Foods Whole Foods told ABC News it does not use pink slime.

7. Kroger “Kroger carries ground beef both with and without lean finely textured beef. For customers who choose to avoid it, we offer a variety of options including Kroger’s Private Selection Angus Ground Chuck, Round and Sirloin; Private Selection All Natural Ground Beef and Private Selection Organic Ground Beef solid in 1 lb. packages, labeled 80 percent  lean and above; Laura’s Lean Ground Beef; and ground beef prepared in store. All ground beef you find at your local Kroger is USDA-regulated, inspected and approved for food safety and quality. That includes beef products made with lean finely textured beef.”

8. Tops Markets Tops Markets told ABC News it does not use “pink slime.”

9. SUPERVALU “Effective today, SUPERVALU has made the decision to no longer purchase fresh ground beef containing finely textured beef for any of our traditional retail stores. These stores include Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save  and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy.  We are currently working with our suppliers to implement this change. While it’s important to remember there are no food safety concerns with products containing finely textured beef, this decision was made due to ongoing customer concerns over these products. All current beef products in our stores meet strict safety and quality standards approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

10. Food Lion “Food Lion has made the decision to no longer carry fresh ground beef products that contain lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) as a result of current consumer preferences and feedback. We are currently working with our suppliers on an immediate transition plan based on product availability.  In the interim, we encourage customers who wish to purchase ground beef that does not contain LFTB or BLBT to choose our 80 percent lean ground beef, which we guarantee is free of LFTB or BLBT. While we understand that both the USDA and food industry experts agree that LFTB and BLBT are safe and nutritious, Food Lion is committed to offering high-quality, wholesome products for our customers based on their preferences.”

11. Walmart and Sam’s Club “We spend a lot of time listening to customers and adjusting our product assortment to ensure we have the right products at the right prices. Recently some customers have expressed concerns with lean finely textured beef (LFTB) and, while the USDA and experts agree that it is safe and nutritious, Walmart and Sam’s Club will begin offering fresh ground beef that does not contain LFTB. We’re committed to providing our customers with quality products at the right prices.”

Gardening Apps Review

Spring is around the corner, which means two things in my household:  1) It’s time to beginning gardening! and 2) Durham is covered in a green film of pollen.

Here is a review on gardening apps, in case you would like to test out your green thumb!

Low Calorie Cocktails? Yes please!!!

Mojitos, sangria, margarita, and pom martinis!  There are also some great non-alcoholic beverages.

Staying Sweet >

On Blast:  The Skinny on Blood Glucose

Did you know that stabilizing blood sugar is the key to maintaining muscle mass, weight loss, and reducing fatigue?

On maintaining muscle mass:  Glucose (often referred to as your blood sugar) is the main fuel source for your body during physical performance.  As your body requires more fuel, its sources in your body begin to deplete.  As you continue your performance, your body eventually can have blood sugar low enough to trigger a “starvation” phase.  During this phase, an amino acid named alanine is sent from your muscle tissue to the liver in order to be converted into more glucose.  Therefore, in an effort to preserve muscle tissue, it’s a beneficial to maintain your blood glucose (see previous entries on sports beverages and whole grain food choices).

How often we eat can also be important, as shown in previous research.  Numerous studies have shown a benefit of consuming smaller meals throughout the day with a set number of calories.  Through this practice, insulin response levels were reduced, and blood glucose levels were maintained (when glucose goes up, insulin goes up…so if blood glucose is kept at a healthy level, you see few insulin spikes).  Blood sugar tends to rise and fall every 3 hours.  By maintaining a 3 meal/day pattern with small snacks in between, a better blood glucose is maintained, and improvement is seen in mental acuity and enhanced athletic performance.

Verdict:  Stay sweet!  Remind yourself to sip on a glucose source (Gatorade?) every 20 minutes…even if you are not thirsty.

Going Electronic to Maintain Diet/Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) just released the results from their SMART (Self-Monitoring And Recording with Technology) study.  Of their participants, those who used smart apps “significantly better…for attendance, self-monitoring and energy and exercise goals.” Those who received reminders/feedback saw a 5% reduction in weight over those who did not receive those messages.  Interesting and hopefully, insightful/inspirational for anyone interested in making a healthy lifestyle change.

LoseIt is a great one to try!  I’ve heard great things about MyFitnessPal, but I have not used it myself.  It’s on the list of things to do next month.  These are both free applications.

If you use or try one of these programs, let me know what you think!  I’m curious.  And if you have not tried one, check them out!!  I’ve seen great results from them!

Bad Day for Paleo Enthusiasts

Turns out the RDs were right alllllllll along.  Stop meat binging and add some whole grain fiber!

Coconut Water As a Sports Drink???

On Blast:  Vita Coco vs. Gatorade Smackdown

One coconut water product, Vita Coco, received some bad press last week.  Evidently, the company has been marketing its product as a superior sports drink for its “super hydrating” and electrolyte-dense properties claim.  A class action has been filed against them for “misrepresentation and omissions.”  Yikes!!

So let’s gather the facts and analyze the evidence.  We know (from a previous post under “Hot Topics”) that our ideal carbohydrate concentration for an athlete’s sports drink is 7%.

Vita Coco:

  • 46 calories
  • K+, Mg+, Vit C
  • Na+ 30mg
  • CHO 9g


  • 50 calories
  • K+, Mg+, Vit C
  • Na+110mg
  • CHO 14g

If we do the math, Vita Coco provides only 3.75% CHO per 8 fl oz cup, compared to Gatorade’s 5.8%.  That is also an incredibly low amount of sodium to consume while exercising.  Under the worst circumstances (think hot Houston, Texas sun in late July or August), an athlete loses 15g/2hrs.  To do the math, that is 6000mg in 4 hours.  You would have to drink 200 cups of Vita Coco to replace that, which is just unsafe and unrealistic.  Especially for an athlete, 30mg of Sodium per cup (about the size of a female’s fist) is not going to help you replenish what you’ve lost.

Verdict:  Stick with the Gatorade.