Regular readers of this blog know that I am not the poster child for a healthy lifestyle. I maintain an “in office” stripper pole and think that bourbon and beer should be a food group. Until about a month and a half ago I was a pack and a half smoker. The menthol kind that doctors completely lose their minds over too, not just regular old smokey-poos. My idea of healthy exercise consisted of walking to and from the fridge. That being said, I have made some changes in my life recently. Besides quitting smoking I now walk three miles a day and no longer wash down breakfast with a beer. A late lunch, certainly, but not breakfast. But, despite all the years of self abuse, and fun – let’s be honest about that, it turns out that I’m in better shape than a 17 year old girl.
MSN Today is reporting about a young lady who collapsed, and nearly died, due to eating McDonald’s food.
Even if you’ve never had a McNugget, you could be guilty of eating a high sodium diet.
Imagine eating nothing but salt-filled McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. For 15 years. That’s exactly what Stacey Irvine, a 17-year-old factory worker from England did—and it just may kill her. But before you write this story off as just plain crazy, do you know how much salt you’re taking in? And what it’s doing to your health?
As reported by the Daily Mail, when Stacey Irvine’s mother first took her to a McDonald’s restaurant 15 years ago and bought her some Chicken McNuggets, it was love at first bite. Since then, the British teen has eaten almost nothing but Chicken McNuggets. A diet like this not only lacks vital nutrients, it also serves up a dangerous amount of salt. A 10-piece order of Chicken McNuggets packs in 900 milligrams (mg) of sodium, more than half the sodium you should have in a single day.
A McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets every now and then won’t hurt you. But a 10-piece order packs in more than half the sodium you should have in a single day.
Irvine recently collapsed at work, and was rushed to the hospital struggling to breathe. She’s home now, but the amount of salt she’s been eating means she’ll need to clean up her diet faster than a McDonald’s employee turns around an order at the drive thru window. All that salt can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, particularly as she ages.
“The food industry creates a preference for very salty foods with the high salt content of their products, then creates products to satisfy that preference, and it becomes a feedback loop,” says David Katz, MD, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
While most people aren’t surprised to hear that a high-sodium diet raises blood pressure, most Americans would be downright shocked if they knew how much salt they really eat. The US government recommends that adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, about two-thirds of a teaspoon. The average American really takes in 3,436 mg a day—more than double the recommendation.
Before you reassure yourself that you’re fine—after all, you banned the salt shaker from your table long ago—it turns out the biggest culprits are processed and packaged foods. “The vast majority of salt, 80% or more, is already in processed and pre-prepared foods,” says Marion Nestle, PhD, professor of nutrition at New York University.
Here’s just how fast the salt can add up on a typical day:
Breakfast: 1 whole grain bagel (490 mg) with 2 Tbsp fat-free cream cheese (211 mg) and 6 oz yogurt (95 mg)
Snack: 2 Tbsp peanut butter (147 mg) on 6 wheat crackers (194 mg)
Lunch: Sandwich with 2 slices low-salt turkey (432 mg), 1 slice American cheese (266 mg), and 2 tsp mustard (114 mg) in a flour tortilla (490 mg) with 1 dill pickle spear (306 mg) and 1c vegetable soup (960 mg)
Snack: 1 wheat pita (340 mg) with 2 Tbsp hummus (114 mg)
Dinner: ½ c pasta (4 mg) with ½ c jarred tomato sauce (480 mg) and 2 meatballs (232 mg), 1 slice garlic bread (400 mg), and salad with reduced fat ranch dressing (336 mg)
Dessert: Homemade apple crisp (495 mg) with ½ c vanilla ice cream (53 mg) and 2 Tbsp caramel sauce (60 mg)
The grand total: 6,219 mg, more than quadruple the daily recommended amount.
So even if you’ve never touched a McNugget, you can still quickly eat more sodium than you should. And all that salt doesn’t only hurt your heart and your waistline. An emerging body of research has also linked excessive sodium intake to cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, dementia, sleep apnea, and kidney disease.
Scary stuff. But what’s even scarier is that it’s not easy to kick the salt habit: Chances are, you’re addicted to the stuff. Your body only needs about 500 mg of sodium a day to maintain the right balance of fluids, transmit nerve impulses, and move your muscles. When you eat far more than that—as most of us clearly do—your brain chemistry is altered. Research shows that salt actually triggers the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes salty foods as addictive as nicotine and alcohol.
And just like with any addiction, eating salty foods makes your body crave more. In other words, the more Chicken McNuggets you have, the more you crave them. No matter what the cost.
Okay, let’s back things up here a little bit. Her mother took a two year old child to the junk food capital of the world and let her choose what she was going to eat? Not just once or twice but for the rest of her life? Which, as noted above, may not be for that much longer.
I’ll put this into a little perspective for you. If you sat down and ate an entire can of Pringles you would have ingested less salt than that single order of McNuggets. Pringles clocks in right around 36% of your suggested daily salt intake.
That’s right, potato chips lathered in salt are healthier than McNuggets.
“But they’re made from chicken,” the woefully ignorant among you whine. Fifty percent of a McNugget is chicken. The other fifty percent involves ingredients other people use to make bath mats and bombs.
And it is that other fifty percent that McDonald’s is finally putting to an end. MSNBC reports that the stuff of food nightmares has finally been laid to rest.
McDonald’s confirmed that it has eliminated the use of ammonium hydroxide — an ingredient in fertilizers, household cleaners and some roll-your-own explosives — in its hamburger meat.
The company denied that its decision was influenced by a months-long campaign by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to get ammonium-hydroxide-treated meats like chicken and beef out of the U.S. food supply. But it acknowledged this week that it had stopped using the unappetizing pink goo — made from treating otherwise inedible scrap meat with the chemical — several months ago.
Besides being used as a household cleaner and in fertilizers, the compound releases flammable vapors, and with the addition of certain acids, it can be turned into ammonium nitrate, a common component in homemade bombs. It’s also widely used in the food industry as an anti-microbial agent in meats and as a leavener in bread and cake products. It’s regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which classifies it as “generally recognized as safe.”
McDonald’s decision was first reported this week by the Daily Mail, a blaring British tabloid, which trumpeted it as a victory for fellow Brit Oliver against the monolithic U.S. food industry.
Oliver’s campaign began in April, when he included a segment on what he called “pink slime” on his TV show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (warning: some readers may find this video distasteful):
The use of treated scrap meat “to me as a chef and a food lover is shocking,” Oliver said. “… Basically we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest form for dogs and making it ‘fit’ for humans.”
Todd Bacon, McDonald’s senior supply chain officer, told the Daily Mail that the decision “was not related to any particular event, but rather to support our effort to align our global beef raw material standards.”
In a statement, McDonald’s clarified that it stopped using “select lean beef trimmings” — its preferred term for scrap meat soaked in ammonium hydroxide and ground into a pink meatlike paste — at the beginning of last year.
“This product has been out of our supply chain since August of last year,” it said.
Sarah Prochaska, a registered dietitian at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, said that ammonium hydroxide is widely used in the U.S. food industry but that consumers may not be able to know what products include it because the USDA considers it a component in a production procedure — separating scrap meat — and not an ingredient that must be listed on food labels.
“It’s a process, from what I understand, called ‘mechanically separated meat’ or ‘meat product,'” Prochaska told NBC station KSDK of St. Louis.
While the government considers it safe, it certainly “does not look anything like ground beef,” she said. And since it’s not on nutrition labels, the only way to avoid it “would be to choose fresher products, cook your meat at home, cook more meals at home,” she said.
Now some of you may have seen that email thread about how manually separated meats use beaks and snouts and stuff like that. They don’t now and never have. The truth is, in many ways, worse, since they specifically use the parts of the animal that butcher shops pay to have carted away as waste due to the fact that eating them is lethal.
That is until you mix them with bomb making materials. Then they’re fine.
Does that even remotely make sense to you?
Just FYI, we are the only industrialized country that allows this stuff to be fed to people and most schools are still using it in their lunches. In other words, learn to cook, get your kids bag lunches and quit feeding them poison.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!