Monthly Archives: July 2019

Fish and Seafood: Risk or Myth

Although most people enjoy eating seafood, some will only eat certain  types of seafood while others avoid eating it altogether for fear that it is harmful or unsafe. That may be because of some myths about it that have persisted.

Let’s examine several sayings to discover whether they are myths or if we are taking a risk to ignore them.

  • Seafood is full of mercury, and eating it will harm your body; it should be avoided—especially by pregnant women and young children.

Mercury is a mineral which occurs naturally in our environment. It can be turned into the poisonous compound, methylmercury, by bacteria and natural processes and can accumulate in streams and oceans where it enters the food chain as each fish absorbs the mercury of smaller fish it eats. That is the reason that larger fish contain larger amounts of mercury than smaller ones. Almost all fish contain some amounts of mercury.

Mercury toxicity can disrupt brain function and harm the nervous system. It can pass through the placenta of a pregnant woman and accumulate in the blood and tissues of the developing fetus and can also pass through a mother’s breast milk. So, pregnant women should eat only low-mercury fish (sardines, trout, salmon, etc.) and  limit it to 12 oz. per week. They need to avoid eating raw or uncooked fish since it may contain microorganisms that can harm the developing fetus. Click here to learn more.

Fish and seafood are loaded with important nutrients such as iodine and vitamin D that many people are deficient in, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for optimal body and brain function and are strongly linked to a reduced risk for many diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration tests for mercury and the Environmental Protection Agency determines safe mercury levels for women of childbearing age. And most states issue advisories to warn people when they are aware of methylmercury contamination stating the types, size, and amounts of fish that are of concern.

Conclusion: It is safe to eat fish and seafood as long as you choose those that are low in mercury and observe guidelines for the amount you should consume per week.

  • You should only eat oysters in months that contain the letter “R”.

A widely known myth about oysters is that you should only eat them in months that contain the letter “R” like September and October, etc., but not June, July, and August. This used to be true because the warm months were when oysters spawned and not eating them gave them time to reproduce. Spawning oysters do not taste good and warmer waters in the “R-less” months also increased the prevalence of certain bacteria in raw oysters that made people sick.

Raw oysters could make you sick, but strict government regulations lower that risk. Making sure oysters are properly cooked will eliminate that danger.

NOAA Fisheries estimates that the US imports more than 80% of the seafood we eat with approximately half of that produced from aquaculture (or farmed). Currently, there are at least six federal agencies that regulate different aspects of the U.S. Aquaculture industry. These regulations have promoted greater confidence in farmed seafood, and today, people eat oysters year-round.

Conclusion: It is most likely safe to eat oysters year-round because of strict government regulations that govern the seafood industry.

  • Are Oysters an aphrodisiac?

This myth may have started with Casanova, a famous womanizer from the 18th century who was said to have eaten 60 of the mollusks each day to power his amorous adventures.

In 2005, George Fisher, a chemistry professor at Miami’s Barry University, found that mussels contained the amino acid, D-Aspartic acid, which had been found to increase the level of sex hormones in lab rats. Although the study did not include oysters, Fisher was quoted in a number of different publications speculating that the amino acid might contribute to an aphrodisiac effect.

Oysters are a good source of zinc (a zinc deficiency can have a detrimental effect on the reproductive system) which is known to help boost testosterone levels.

But in an article by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, she states “No food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the human sex organs. But foods and the act of eating can suggest sex to the mind, which in turn can help stimulate desire in the body.”

Conclusion: No real aphrodisiac effect has been proven, but if the act of eating oysters creates a sensual pleasure, why not!

Fish and Seafood: Is It Safe?

In summer, as more people are enjoying beach vacations and other waterfront activities, they are also consuming more fish and seafood products—some at their destinations and some that they may be grilling at home.  But how confident can you be that the seafood you consume is safe?

Who Controls (and Monitors) Seafood Safety?

In the United States, highly integrated programs within agencies of the federal government, various state regulatory agencies, and private industry work together to ensure the safety and quality of seafood products for consumers:

  • The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has the chief responsibility for the safety of seafood products in the United States. In 1997, it established a regulation requiring all seafood processors and retailers to utilize food safety controls (known as HACCP) “to identify any food safety hazards that are likely to occur and to implement a system of controls at critical steps in their operation to prevent, eliminate, or reduce these hazards to an acceptable level.” It also requires any entity in a foreign country that exports seafood to the US to implement the same system of controls. In addition, it monitors food imports and issues alerts for foods that do not meet US standards.
  • A USDA (US Department of Agriculture) regulation requires that seafood sold in large retail stores has a label which identifies its country of origin. So, when shopping for seafood, you can check the packaging to see country of origin labeling on the package. The United States imports more than 80% of the seafood we eat, but a large portion of it is actually caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, then re-imported to the US.
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has among its diverse functions the management of the US fishery resources in territorial waters and operates a voluntary seafood inspection and grading program to ensure safe, high-quality seafood. Its consumer safety inspectors travel to fishing vessels, processors, and cold storage facilities around the world to evaluate seafood processors and retailers who have requested an inspection or who are under investigation. These businesses are considered to be approved establishments if they pass the inspection but must still comply with regulatory inspections by the FDA.
  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) carries out investigations concerning all foods including fish and seafood and gives recommendations to the medical community for prevention and treatment.
  • The US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) along with the FDA sets standards for allowable levels of contaminants in fish caught recreationally and works with the FDA on managing risk in commercial fishery products.

State Regulations – Each state has regulations regarding the harvesting, processing, distribution, and sale of fish and seafood products within its boundaries. States also work with the FDA in implementing the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) to ensure the safety of bivalve molluscan shellfish (clams, oysters, and mussels) sold in the U.S. These agencies also inspect all food processing plants, wholesale, distribution, and warehouse firms to ensure that they are handling, storing, processing, and transporting all food including seafood in a safe and sanitary manner. They have specific regulations for food retail stores, and state or local agencies inspect restaurants and other food service establishments that sell prepared food including seafood for consumption away from home.

Fish from recreational fishing in the ocean, estuaries, in freshwater lakes, ponds,          rivers, or streams supply approximately one-fifth of the fish and shellfish eaten in the US. These products do not fall under the same regulations as commercial seafood products, but the regulations of most states prohibit the sale of recreational  fish without a commercial harvester’s license. Food safety concerns related to fishing in these waters is governed by state fisheries and health agencies.

Knowing that all of these agencies are involved in protections for consumers is reassuring, but you can do your part when shopping for seafood to cook at home by purchasing from reputable dealers who will be able give you more information on the seafood they sell and its country of origin.

To learn more, click here.

 

Airport Gyms and Fitness Vacations – Exercise On the Go Part 2!

Being away from home or traveling is not a reason to lose the gains you have made by starting an exercise/fitness routine. Here are more ways to continue to maintain your exercise goals.

At Airport Terminals

If you have a long layover at an airport, you can walk laps around the inside of the terminal (wear or pack walking shoes in your carry-on luggage). You can leave your luggage at the lost luggage counter (the most common place to leave it since they have the necessary storage space there), and the attendants will keep an eye on it for a daily fee. Many airports also have coin-operated luggage lockers.

If you are one of those people who aren’t motivated to exercise when traveling unless it is in a gym-type setting around others who are working out, you will find more options than you might expect. Fitness/workout centers are not as lucrative for airports as restaurants and stores, but that may be changing. These pioneers in US airport gyms are among the best available to work out while you wait for your flight:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – Features free 24-hour Yoga studio with free use of yoga mats and a looping DVD with instruction as well as a LiveWell Walking Path (measuring seven-tenths of a mile) and includes two 55-foot high staircases for an extra cardio challenge. (In Terminal D)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport – The Westin WORKOUT Fitness studio in the Westin Hotel is connected to the World Gateway Terminal in the Delta hub. Non-hotel guests can use the gym for a modest fee and rent shoes, t-shirts, and shorts.
  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport – Roam Fitness in the terminal (after security, between concourses D and E) – You can rent workout clothes and shoes, and you can shower after your workout. They have healthy meals and recovery drinks available as well.
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – They have a 1.4 mile walking path located at the Lindbergh Terminal (starting at the intersection of the C and D concourses.
  • San Francisco International Airport – Yoga room – This self-led practice studio is open 24 hours at no charge. Yoga mats are also available. (Located just past security in Terminal 2)

These gyms offer day passes to use their facilities at reasonable prices.

Leave Nothing to Chance

You can be sure to maintain your fitness routine if your travel vacation is paired with planned fitness activities. Fitness-themed vacations have grown in popularity in the last ten years. These are some of the travel sites offering fitness activities plus active tourist adventures.

  • Active Escapes – Offers fitness retreats to destinations such as Bali, Barbados, South Africa, Australia, Greece, and other exotic destinations. Professional trainers provide daily training sessions and activities designed for the location. All costs included in the trip price.
  • Fit and Fly Girl (for women) – Hosts fitness, wellness, and cultural retreats for women in locations around the world. Provides accommodations, fitness classes, healthy and delicious food, wellness activities, spa treatments, cultural excursions, entertainment, and time to care for oneself while creating new friendships with other women.
  • Jungle Bay Dominica Fitness Boot Camp – Enjoy fitness activities while also exploring the beaches and jungles of Dominica. Instructor-led fitness regimes, hikes, and yoga sessions as well as snorkeling, kayaking, cooking classes, etc.
  • Big Sky Yoga Retreats – In Montana where you will have yoga sessions, Nordic ski lessons, meditation, and wildlife watching. In winter, you can also enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides while you’re having your dinner!
  • Backroads – Active vacations with biking, hiking, multi-adventure tours. Trips are organized based on different levels and abilities, catering to singles, families, or private groups.

 

 

Staying Fit While Traveling – Exercise On the Go Part 1

Many things happen during the summer months that break or interfere with our usual routines: vacations, trips, weddings in different cities or locations, visiting relatives and friends, and unexpected events that require us to leave home. These things may be a welcome change, but all too often, they are used as an excuse to stop the diet and/or exercise routine we have so faithfully been following.

No Excuses 

Skip the excuses and admit that you can exercise and keep up your level of fitness with little or no equipment other than your own body. Some of the most effective workout exercises can be done using only your own body weight. You just need to choose exercises that use as many muscle groups at once as possible and expend the greatest amount of energy (rather than exercising one muscle at a time) as this takes less time overall and achieves maximum results. Some of those exercises are listed below, and they can be done in a hotel room or just about anywhere within a small amount of space:

Have just six minutes to get in your on-the-go exercise? Here is a six-minute, high intensity interval training(HIIT), full-body workout that seems guaranteed to keep your fitness level up.

As long as you have your cell phone with you, you have an unlimited source of free apps and YouTube exercise videos to choose from.

Plan Ahead

Prior to traveling to your destination, whether on business or for pleasure, check out scenic attractions in the area and see if there are walking tours that will take you by these attractions, or use a map to plan your own walking tour. It won’t feel like exercise because you are exploring a new location. Some cities have bike-share programs, so you could rent a bike for an hour or so and exercise while you explore a park or other scenic part of town.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article where we’ll talk about which airports have gyms in them and a few of our favorite fitness vacations!