Q: I’d like to try sushi but I’ve heard stories of people getting sick from it. Is it really safe to eat?
A: Sushi is made from fish that is full of heart-healthy omega-3s. It’s also low in calories and fat, which makes it healthy.
But the fish used to make it is raw. When you eat any kind of raw food, you run the risk of consuming bacteria, a virus, and even parasites. While these are not common, it’s very important to get your sushi from a trusted source.
Heat kills bacteria, and some sushi, such as with shrimp or crab, can be cooked, so don’t hesitate to ask for that.
Freezing at below-zero temperatures also helps. Unfortunately, a home freezer doesn’t go that low, so the fish should be kept in a professional freezer. But when you’re shopping at the grocery store, pull your sushi package from the back or coldest part of the shelf or cabinet. And when checking sell-by dates, choose the date that is the farthest out.
Check restaurant reviews. If other people have had a good dining experience, chances are you will too. If they’ve had a bad dining experience, it’s probably best to take your business elsewhere.
To make your sushi healthier, substitute brown rice instead of white rice, and stay away from tempura rolls that have been deep fried or spider rolls that are made with mayonnaise and are higher in fat. Soy sauce is high in sodium, so use it sparingly. People with weakened immune systems should steer clear of raw meats and seafood altogether and reduce their risk of foodborne illness.
Q: My doctor suggested I eat fermented foods to increase the good bacteria in my gut. I didn’t know there was such a thing. How can this help?
A: Your gut microbiome, which consists of trillions of microbes, both good and bad, serves as a disease-fighting “headquarters” for your immune system. It plays a major role in your metabolism, as well as defending against chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis), diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, obesity, cancer, and even depression.
If you eat processed foods, drink too much alcohol, smoke, or are sick with a virus or cold, it can upset the good-tobad bacteria balance in your gut, causing flare-ups in illnesses or chronic diseases.
Fermented foods contain probiotic (“good”) bacteria, which can help increase the health of your gut microbiome. During fermentation, probiotics synthesize vitamins and minerals, produce active peptides (which protect the body from disease) and remove organisms that have no nutritional value.
Probiotics are good for the heart, and have anti-carcinogenic (cancer fighting) and antimicrobial (disease-fighting) properties. They also have been linked with organ health, including the lungs, reproductive system, and the skin.
Fermented foods include yogurt, cultured milk, miso, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. Cider, beer, and wine also have been fermented. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming two to three servings of fermented foods per day.
The post Ask Dr. Etingin: Is sushi safe?; Consuming fermented foods appeared first on University Health News.