In 1972, George Carlin’s “Seven words you can never say on television” routine spelled out what wasn’t acceptable for the media diet of American consumers. Too bad Carlin isn’t around to cook up a routine on “Three food additives other countries ban but the Food and Drug Administration says are acceptable for American consumers!”
1. Ractopamine: This beta-agonist is used to increase meatiness in 30 percent to 50 percent of cows, hogs and turkeys raised in North America. Russia stopped imports of North American meats because of ractopamine residue, and 160 countries ban its use in livestock. Why? Beta-agonists in pork sickeed hundreds in China and long-term consumption may trigger ADHD and chromosomal changes. Solution: Always opt for ractopamine-free organic turkey — and nix red meat; it boosts risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death.
2. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): Used to help sodas and fruit-flavored drinks retain their artificial coloring, brominate (a flame retardant) may cause neurological problems, changes in thyroid hormones and early-onset puberty. It’s banned by 100 countries. Solution? Read beverage labels, and don’t buy ones with BVO — and stick with no-sugar-added natural beverages, water and black coffee or even caffeinated water.
3. Olestra: A fat-blocker added to snacks like chips, it inhibits absorption of fat-soluble vitamins E, D, A and K and may cause dangerous declines in beta-carotene and lycopene levels. Canada and the U.K. say no. Solution: Reduce your fat absorption by eliminating saturated and trans fats from your plate; choose heart-friendly olive oil, walnuts, almonds and omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and sea trout.
Willie Nelson crooned the love tune “Sweet Memories.” But the truth is that sweets and memories don’t go together. For the 105 million North Americans who have too-high blood sugar levels, memories are more likely to be swept away than sweet. And, according to the journal Neurology, even for people who have normal blood sugar levels (70 to100 mg/dL fasting), high-normal levels dampen verbal recall more than lower-normal levels do.
What does this mean for you? Your ability to learn and consolidate memories is affected by your diet, physical activity and stress-management choices. (Soon we expect a smartphone app and attachment that gives minute-to-minute blood sugar readings — you’ll know which foods and activities are protecting or damaging your memory!)
So, to reduce your risk of memory problems, here’s a simple plan that’ll have you singing “Thanks for the Memories”!
1. Guard against midsection belly fat, which is linked to dementia, by eliminating the Five Food Felons (added sugars and sugar syrups, any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole, and saturated and trans fats).
2. Get up and moving — sitting down too many hours a day raises triglyceride levels, lowers good HDL cholesterol and triggers insulin insensitivity (a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes). Dr. Mike’s treadmill desk is one smart solution; so is walking for 10 minutes after every 90 minutes of sitting. And start a daily walking routine, heading for 10,000 steps a day.
3. Reduce your stress with 10 to 20 minutes of meditation using progressive relaxation, mindfulness or breathing routines. Go to sharecare.com for more how-to information.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is the host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.