Sweet Summertime

With summertime humidity, swimming is a necessary activity in Evansville, and who doesn’t like long weekends of barbecuing at the lake? But is it safe? We asked Sally Dominick, a clinical dietician at Deaconess Hospital, to answer common health myths that contaminate our summers.

Do I have to wait an hour after eating before going for a dip?
Most people don’t probably need to do that because you’re not going to have any more trouble tolerating swimming after eating anymore than you would any other physical activity. The American Red Cross says there’s no specific amount of time your child needs to wait before heading to the water after eating, but the organization does suggest waiting until the child is comfortable before engaging in any strenuous activity.

Could I get cancer from barbecued food?
There are food risks associated with barbecuing. The first culprit that they’re discussing in literature is a substance that’s called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These substances occur when there are flame-ups. If you have fat on the meat, and it drips down and causes a smoke or a burn, then those substances in the smoke fall back on the food. It could coat the food with a material that can be potentially harmful.

The other type of carcinogen that’s investigated is called the heterocyclic amines (HCAs). And that develops as meat is cooked in very high temperatures. These can be found not just on the outside but on the inside of a meat. The National Cancer Institute says there is no good measure of how many HCAs would have to be eaten to increase cancer risks and there are no guidelines concerning consumption of foods with HCAs. No thresholds have been established for PAHs either.

Are food-borne illnesses more prone to summertime?
There does seem to be an increase in incidents of food-borne illnesses in the summer. It seems to be because food-borne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 and 110 degrees. Bacteria needs moisture to grow, and when the weather is hot and humid, that makes it more likely.

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