Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients

2 chicken legs, about 500 g
oil for deep-frying
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 2.5-cm squares
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2.5-cm squares
2 spring onion, cut into 1.5-cm lengths
3 canned peach halves, cut into thick slices
2 slices pineapple, cut into 2.5-cm squares
1 tsp Shao Hsing wine
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

Marinade

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
dash ground white pepper
dash sesame oil
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cornstarch

Sauce

2 tbsp white vinegar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tbsp OK Sauce (optional)
1/8 tsp salt
3 heapful tbsp sugar
dash sesame oil
few drops red food colouring (optional)

Method

  1. Wash and dry chicken.
  2. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
  3. Mix the marinade ingredients and marinate chicken for 15-20 minutes. Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  4. Toss chicken lightly in cornstarch.
  5. Heat oil in a wok until hot, add chicken and deep-fry until golden brown, crisp and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Do this in two batches so chicken browns well. Remove and drain. Pour off oil in wok.
  6. Saute garlic, green pepper, red peppers, spring onion, peach and pineapple in 1/2 tbsp oil for 1 minute.
  7. Add wine and sauce ingredients. Bring to the boil. Mix 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water and add to wok. Stir until sauce boils and slightly thickens.
  8. Return chicken to wok, stir-fry to combine.
  9. Remove and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Gourmet Chinese Cooking Made Easy

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Autopsies Show Microplastics in All Major Human Organs

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Microscopic bits of plastic have most likely taken up residence in all of the major filtering organs in your body, a new lab study suggests.

Researchers found evidence of plastic contamination in tissue samples taken from the lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys of donated human cadavers.

“We have detected these chemicals of plastics in every single organ that we have investigated,” said senior researcher Rolf Halden, director of the Arizona State University (ASU) Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering.

There’s long been concern that the chemicals in plastics could have a wide range of health effects ranging from diabetes and obesity to sexual dysfunction and infertility.

But the presence of these microscopic particles in major organs also raises the potential that they could act as carcinogenic irritants in much the same way as asbestos, Halden explained.

“It is not always necessarily the chemistry that harms us. Sometimes it’s the shape and the presence of foreign particles in our bodies,” Halden said. “We know the inhalation of asbestos leads to inflammation and that can be followed by cancer.”

Previous research has shown that, on average, people ingest about 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card, said Dianna Cohen, CEO of the nonprofit Plastic Pollution Coalition.

“It’s heartening to see quality quantitative research being performed on humans to assess the cumulative harmful effects of these microplastics,” Cohen said of the new study. “On the other hand, it’s totally depressing to see what the scientific advisers in our field have been warning us all about for so long regarding plastic consumption.”

For this study, Halden and his colleagues analyzed 47 tissue samples provided by ASU’s Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center, which has built up a brain and body bank from donors as part of its research into conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers were specifically looking for the presence of particles so small that they could transfer from the digestive system into the bloodstream, where they would “circulate with the blood flow and get hung up in filtration organs like the lungs or the kidneys or the liver,” Halden explained.

The team developed a procedure to extract microplastics from the tissue samples, then analyzed them using a technique called spectrometry.

Microplastics are plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters in diameter, or about 0.2 inches, barely visible to the human eye. The researchers also were looking for nanoplastic particles, with a diameter of 1 micron or 0.001 mm. A human hair has a diameter of about 50 microns.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the American Chemical Society’s virtual annual meeting. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research team has used its work to create an online calculator that will help other scientists convert information on plastic particle counts into standard units of mass and surface area, which will help assess how much plastic has invaded specific human organs.

The calculator will “create an atlas of human pollution,” Halden said. “We want to create an exposure map for the human body.”

People who want to avoid ingesting plastic are out of luck, given all of the plastic in the environment that’s constantly being ground down into microscopic particles, Halden and Cohen said.

“It’s impossible to completely protect ourselves from plastic ingestion,” Cohen said. “Microplastics have been measured in tap water and bottled water, and in the air that we breathe.”

Food also contains microplastic particles. Just last week, researchers from the University of Exeter in England and the University of Queensland in Australia found plastic in samples of five different seafoods — oysters, prawns, squid, crabs and sardines, according to a report published Aug. 12 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“But you can definitely reduce your exposure by simply thinking reusable instead of disposable,” Cohen continued. That includes buying as much unpackaged food as possible, and using water bottles and other dishware made from ceramics, metals or other non-plastic sources.

Source: HealthDay

Losing Weight May Protect Against COVID-19

Earlier this year, doctors observed a troubling trend as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the United States and the world: Obesity significantly increased the threat of severe and sometimes deadly coronavirus-related complications. At two New York City hospitals in March, 35.8 percent of the first 393 COVID-19 patients were obese and 43.4 percent of those who ended up on ventilators were obese, according to a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. A study published in May in the BMJ found that in the United Kingdom, obesity increased the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 33 percent.

“Obesity is emerging as a major risk factor for doing poorly with COVID-19, especially in those under 60,” says Brian Callaghan, MD, MS, FAAN, associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

In a letter to the editor in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers at NYU Langone Health noted that of 3,615 people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the emergency department of one New York City hospital, about 37 percent had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, the threshold for obesity. People younger than 60 who were mildly obese were about twice as likely to be admitted to acute or critical care than those with a BMI under 30.

“This has important and practical implications in the United States, where nearly 40 percent of adults are obese with a BMI [equal to or greater than] 30,” the researchers wrote.

For patients with COVID-19, excess weight can interfere with healthy lung function and increase the risk of blood clots. Excess body fat, particularly abdominal fat, contributes to systemic inflammation, which can hinder a healthy immune-system reaction to infection. “In people with obesity and type 2 diabetes who have COVID-19, we’ve seen cytokine storm syndrome [a dangerous immune response to infection that damages cells, including in the lungs] in response to huge surges in blood glucose levels,” says Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, FAAN, director of the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies and the ALS Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan. “We are also seeing kidney and cardiac complications in these patients.” Dr. Feldman and her colleagues plan to track more than 400 COVID-19 survivors with diabetes and obesity to see if the virus has effects on thinking, memory, peripheral neuropathy, and more.

In addition to its exacerbation of COVID-19, extra body weight increases the risk of many neurologic conditions, including mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Feldman says. It also can fuel relapses and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), increase risk for chronic migraines or a stroke, and boost the likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea, which can have neurologic consequences that affect thinking, mood, and alertness.

For people with neurologic conditions who were overweight before the pandemic or have put on pounds due to stress or inactivity during lockdown, here are recommendations from health care professionals for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Check with your doctor. Ask your physician about the best weight loss strategy for you. He or she also can review your medications to see if any trigger weight gain, like pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin), which are used for neuropathic pain in MS, fibromyalgia, and peripheral neuropathy, says Dr. Callaghan. “Don’t try to lose weight if you have a neurodegenerative disorder such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Huntington’s disease,” says Dr. Feldman. “It could worsen symptoms.”

Consult a specialist. If your body mass index is 30 or higher, book an appointment with a physician who specializes in weight loss, says Caroline Apovian, MD, professor at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center. “People with significant obesity should not just try to do things on their own,” she says. “They need to see an obesity medicine specialist or a primary care doctor with knowledge of obesity or a dietitian. There’s more than one way to lose weight, and different strategies work for different people. It’s something patients can figure out with a health care professional, who can then guide them.”

Lose weight slowly. Losing one to two pounds per week is a healthy goal for most people who are overweight, Dr. Apovian says. “Crash diets and extreme exercise aren’t a good idea, especially if you’re living with fatigue or pain,” adds Matthew Plow, PhD, associate professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, who studies weight management and exercise in people with stroke or MS. Fast, drastic weight loss may also reduce muscle mass, he says. “For people with neurologic conditions who may also have mobility issues, you don’t want to lose muscle mass. You need it for everyday activity and for exercise.”

Rethink meals. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit; whole grains; lean protein like fish, skinless poultry, tofu, and beans; and small amounts of healthy fats such as avocado. Use olive and canola oil in cooking instead of less healthy alternatives. Swap out soda and sugary snacks for unsweetened tea and fruits. Replace processed and fast food with whole foods, and look for whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates like white bread, says Molly Kimball, RD, who manages the nutrition program at the Ochsner Fitness Center in New Orleans. “I never count calories. I don’t want to,” she says. “Focusing on healthy, satisfying foods makes more sense to me, and I’ve seen it work for many of my clients.”

Shop wisely. Keep your favorite fruits and vegetables on hand for snacks. Pack your freezer with fruits and veggies too, Kimball says. And buy low- or no-sodium beans for your pantry. “Keep a wide variety of filling foods on hand, along with Greek yogurt and avocados and herbs and spices so you can make creamy sauces for toppings,” she suggests. “And look for healthy alternatives to higher-calorie foods, such as chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta. It’s high in protein and fiber but tastes and feels like regular pasta. Try Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise in tuna or chicken salad.”

Embrace exercise. A stroll around the block or marching in place while you watch your favorite TV show won’t torch enough calories to compensate for that extra slice of birthday cake. But exercise does burn some calories, and if you strength-train, you’ll build muscle mass, say Dr. Plow and Dr. Apovian. Exercise can also reduce stress and boost levels of feel-good brain chemicals, which may make it easier to lose weight.

Track your activity. If you’re living with pain or fatigue, Dr. Plow recommends monitoring the amount of exercise you do in a day and how it makes you feel afterward. “If you walk, I recommend using a pedometer or the step counter in your smartphone. See how you feel two hours after your walk. If you tend to feel tired or in pain after a certain amount of time or number of steps, you might want to cut back a little,” he says. “It’s trial and error. If you’re not feeling great when it’s time to exercise, try your activity for five minutes and see how you feel. You may want to continue or know it’s time to stop. Self-monitoring is important for customizing your routine.”

Do what you can. “If you have pain or fatigue or mobility impairments, cooking healthy meals and exercising can be a bigger challenge,” Dr. Plow says. “Working with an occupational therapist to adapt activities like cooking or working in your garden can help. Modify activities you love so you can keep doing them. Maybe you use your scooter to ride around the path at the park a few times, then walk a little, so you’re outdoors and exercising.”

Make sleep a priority. “A lack of sleep can increase levels of hunger hormones and decrease hormones that make us feel satisfied when we eat,” Dr. Apovian says. “Making sure you get eight hours a night, or whatever is optimal for you, can help with weight management.” If you snore, consider getting evaluated for sleep apnea, says Bruce H. Cohen, MD, FAAN, director of the NeuroDevelopmental Science Center at Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron in Ohio.

Expect slipups. “One splurge isn’t going to make a big difference in weight loss,” Kimball says. “Letting it derail you could. What matters is progress, not perfection.”

Source: Brain&Life


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