The documentary "The Natural History of the Chicken" recounts how this fowl can delight us as a pet, infuriate us as a neighbor (those noisy roosters) and provide us with fuel. Each North American consumes about 80 pounds a year. But an unfortunate truth it doesn't highlight is the risk raw chicken poses to your health. A new campaign — Don't Wash Your Chicken — launched by Drexel University researchers points out the danger of washing raw chicken before you plop it in a pan to cook. Most people do that to remove contamination, but rinsing the bird can splash salmonella and campylobacter bacteria onto adjacent surfaces and foods. Around 200,000 folks a year come down with at-home food poisoning caused by those bacteria and have to deal with diarrhea, fever, cramps and vomiting.
The smart move is to store chicken in double plastic bags in the fridge! When it's time to cook, just unwrap, cut and cook the chicken to 165 degrees. All raw meat has bacteria on it, and proper cooking wipes 'em out. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the bird to check doneness. And wash any surface the chicken did touch (including the meat thermometer) with soap and water.
Other food-safety tips:
• Keep raw meats separate from produce, and keep each variety of produce separate from others.
• Maintain a fridge temp of 40 degrees or lower.
• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after handling food or when switching from handling one type of food to another.
FIGHTING YOUR INNER FIRES
About 1.5 million times a year, firefighters battle flames that threaten to devastate lives and property. Talk about anti-inflammatory agents! Inside your gut, probiotics pitch in to do the same thing when it comes to putting out system-wide inflammation that can lead to pain, fatigue, skin redness and irritation, and even depression. We've told you before about how probiotics can soothe the distress associated with irritable bowel syndrome and how they help with symptoms of Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. Plus, they help relieve occasional gut upsets and can keep you regular. We like spore probiotics containing bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 and lactobacillus GG, a strain activated by stomach acid.
Well, now we know another strain, B. infantis 35624, can reduce elevated markers of inflammation — C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin 6 — in folks with tough-to-treat chronic fatigue and plaque psoriasis. So, if you're working with your doctor to find ways to ease your symptoms, try these probiotics daily, and opt for our other favorite fire-fighting techniques:
• Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: no red meat or trans and saturated fats; eliminate added sugars and sugar syrups; and eat lots of veggies (green leafy vegetables help protect your eyes, too). Opt for whole grains, unprocessed foods and the healthy fats in olive oil and nuts. Also, get omega-3s from salmon and ocean trout (two to three times a week) or take 900 mg of algal oil DHA omega-3 daily.
• Cool it with smart stress-reduction techniques, including meditation, regular physical exercise and, of course, inflaming your passions.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.