Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What is the proper way to clean a food thermometer?

As with any cooking utensil, food thermometers should be washed with hot soapy water. Most thermometers should not be immersed in water. Wash carefully by hand.

Is a slow cooker safe?

Slow cookers or crock pots can safely cook food. The slow cooker, a countertop appliance, cooks foods slowly at a low temperature -- generally between 170 °F (76.7 °C) and 280 °F (137.8 °C).  The low heat helps less expensive, leaner cuts of meat become tender and shrink less. The direct heat from the pot, lengthy cooking and steam created within the tightly-covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the slow cooker a safe process for cooking foods.

How do you determine the wattage of your microwave oven?

Check the inside of the oven's door, on the serial number plate on the back of the oven, or in the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website for the wattage.
To estimate wattage you can do a "Time-to-Boil Test:"
Measure 1 cup water in a 2-cup glass measure. Add ice cubes; stir until water is ice cold. Discard ice cubes and pour out any water more than 1 cup. Set microwave on high 4 minutes. Watch the water through the window to see when it boils. If water boils:
in less than 2 minutes = very high wattage oven (1000 watts or more).
in 2½ minutes = high wattage oven (800 watts or more).
in 3 minutes = average wattage oven (650 - 700 watts or more).
in 3 - 4 minutes = slow oven (300 to 500 watts).

If your microwave's wattage is lower than the wattage mentioned on the food package cooking instructions, it will take longer than the instructions say to cook the food to a safe internal temperature. Always use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature.
For more information on using a microwave oven, go to Cook It Safe

Monday, October 3, 2016

Caffeine Consumption and Diabetes

Wendy Bricco-Meske, NMSU Dietetic Intern and Graduate Student

Caffeine, a chemical stimulant that occurs naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of 63 species of plants, has
been a topic of discussion for many years when it comes to its effects on health. The most common sources of
caffeine include coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world
(International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC], 2016), with 80% of U.S. adults reporting that they drink it,
60% of whom do so daily (Loftfield et al., 2015). While there is no nutritional need for caffeine, many individuals
use it for brain stimulation since it is easily absorbed into the body within 30 minutes. Due to the fact that coffee,
and therefore, caffeine, are consumed in such high amounts, numerous studies have been conducted to look at
the potential health risks and benefits associated with their consumption (Loftfield et al., 2015).
Over the course of many years, researchers have looked at specific diseases, as well as overall mortality, in
relation to coffee and caffeine consumption. One of the biggest health concerns related to coffee has been
cancer. Until recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had not discussed coffee
carcinogenicity since 1991. Previously, coffee was classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. When the IARC
Work Group met in May 2016, new research showed that there were either no associations or inverse
associations between coffee consumption and cancer. The new classification made by the IRAC is that coffee is
unclassifiable with its carcinogenicity towards humans. Instead, the Working Group classified drinking very hot
beverages (over 65 degrees Celsius or 149 degrees Fahrenheit) as probably carcinogenic to humans due to tumor
promoting activity (IARC, 2016). Caffeine actually contains antioxidants, which are linked to protecting against
certain diseases, including cancer, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) (Wolde, 2014).
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. An inverse relationship was found between
coffee consumption and diabetes-related mortality (Loftfield et al., 2015). Wolde, 2014, found that a higher intake
of coffee is associated with a significantly lower risk of diabetes, while tea, which also contains caffeine, has no effect on diabetes risk. In fact, those who consumed
6 or more cups of coffee per day have a 35% lower risk of
diabetes than those who drink 2 cups or less per day
(Wolde, 2014). Using data from the Prostate, Lung,
Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial,
the association between coffee consumption and
mortality was looked at, as were disease specific
associations. The study looked at the amount of coffee
consumed (no coffee, <1 cup per day, 1 cup per day, 2-
3 cups per day, 4-5 cups per day, ≥6 cups per day), as
well as type of coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated).
The inverse association between overall mortality and
coffee consumption is thought to be due to the inverse
associations between coffee consumption and other
conditions including heart disease, chronic lower
respiratory disease, influenza/pneumonia, and
intentional self-harm (Loftfield et al., 2015). In 2013,
Jiang et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 31 prospective
studies to look at the associations between coffee/ caffeine intake and the risk of T2DM. In all 31 studies, the inverse relationship
of greater coffee consumption and lower diabetes risk was found, some with
greater significance than others.
Although the exact mechanisms as to why coffee aids in lowering the risk of
developing diabetes are not completely understood, multiple inferences have
been made (Loftfield et al., 2015). Caffeinated coffee was found to be positively
related to improved insulin sensitivity, while decaffeinated coffee has a positive
relation to beta-cell function (Jiang et al., 2013). Caffeine may also protect
against T2DM through an increase in metabolic rate and thermogenesis, which
stimulates fatty acid release and fatty acid oxidation, thus mobilizing glycogen
in the muscles (Jiang et al., 2013).
Other factors influence the extent to which caffeine consumption impacts the
risk of diabetes. Studies that included gender found that although both
genders had inverse relationships between coffee consumption and diabetes,
this association was higher in females. Body Mass Index (BMI) plays an
important role in determining how strong coffee’s effects are since higher
BMI’s can cancel out those benefits. Adverse outcomes from smoking may also
cancel out the positives of caffeine intake, as stronger associations were found
among non-smokers. Experiments have been conducted to show that smokers
eliminate caffeine from the body more quickly than non-smokers, thus limiting
the time they have to utilize the benefits of caffeine (Jiang et al., 2013).
There is currently no recommendation as to how much coffee is needed to
reap the protective behaviors against diabetes. However, research shows that
an intake of 4 cups of coffee per day or more has significantly greater benefits
than 2 cups per day when it comes to lowering the risk of diabetes (Wolde,

Exercise and Diabetes: A Supportive Relationship

Ashley Dunworth, RD

We all know that exercise is good for a strong body. Exercise can help maintain
healthy weight, increase lean muscle mass and therefore boost metabolism. But
did you also know that exercise can lower blood sugar levels AND increase insulin
sensitivity? The benefits of exercise are endless- no one ever says: “I really regret
walking today.” That’s because exercise is never regrettable! When it comes to
improving mood, losing weight, sleeping better and especially controlling
diabetes, exercise is an all around win-win!
What kind of effect does exercise have on blood glucose?
Our first source of energy for muscles is glucose. When we are active, our muscles
expand and contract. During this type of movement, our muscle cells have the
ability to uptake glucose through active transport without the use of insulin (1).
This process increases energy metabolism thus decreasing glucose free- floating in
the blood. Alongside increased cellular glucose uptake, insulin sensitivity is also
improved. When insulin can effectively attach to cells, it signals muscle and
adipose tissue to uptake glucose, while also signaling the liver to stop glucose
release (gluconeogenesis) (1). These actions together increase glucose uptake and
ultimately increase energy production.
What does the literature show? In a 16-week study on the effect of exercise on
insulin resistance in 60 Latino adults, there was a statistically significant decrease
in A1C concentrations (p=0.01) as well as decrease in serum triglycerides (p=0.08),
and in systolic blood pressure (p=0.05) (2). Muscle glycogen was also measured
and showed an increase in muscle storage of glucose (p=0.008) (2). The
intervention for this study was in the form light, resistance training exercise, 45-
minutes, 3 times per week, compared to the control that did not participate in any
form of exercise the duration of the study. This study shows supportive evidence
that exercise can considerably improve glycemic control, increase energy
metabolism and have the added benefit of reducing blood pressure and free
floating triglycerides in the blood (2).
Another study with 54 women over a 14-week period showed that exercise was
able to significantly metabolize glucose in the blood (p<0.001). Insulin sensitivity
was also significantly increased with exercise (p<0.008) compared to the control
(3). This study, along with dozens found in the literature, contains reassuring evidence of the positive effects exercise has on glycemic control and diabetes.Is there a downside to exercise with diabetes?
Before running out and hitting the gym, it is important to understand how exercise
can affect blood glucose (BG) on an individual level. Because exercise, specifically resistance
training, can increase lean muscle mass, the metabolism effects can last up to 24 hours.
To be safe- it is imperative to be consistent with checking BG levels before and after physical
activity in the start of any new exercise routine to understand how it affects BG levels.
Hypoglycemia is possible during exercise and it is important to be prepared (4): Always keep a fast-release glucose snack on hand, 15-20g carbohydrate (e.g., candy, soda, juice,
glucose tablet). Test glucose 20-30 minutes after, if still low, eat another carbohydrate snack and repeat testing. When exercising, in most cases, it is not necessary to increase the amount of carbohydrates consumed per day, BUT- it is important to check blood sugar and
thoroughly understand how exercise affects glucose levels. Before starting any new exercise
routine, always check with a doctor first! How to get the most benefits from exercise: Strategically planning exercise throughout the day is most valuable. Time is always an issue, and gym memberships can by pricey. Taking short walks (10-15 minutes) before and after meals can increase insulin sensitivity and help lower BG levels. In fact, short bursts of physical activity spread
throughout the day can help with diabetes control (4). Exercise in all forms, whether
walking, taking the stairs, doing lunges in the office or even cleaning the house, can
help keep BG levels maintained. Not only will exercise benefit diabetes maintenance,
but it also improves overall health by aiding in weight loss, reducing blood pressure
and increasing energy. The bottom line—get out and get active!