Over time, eating junk food can make you sick. The trans fats, sugars and preservatives added to food builds up and your body can’t function properly. But the other stuff in foods that can make you sick is bacteria. And this can be found in “healthy” food.
We might think we are the superior species on the planet. But there’s other competitors constantly vying for that title — viruses and bacteria. There could be as much as 100 trillion bacterial cells in your body — we only have 30 trillion human cells. We are more bacteria than we are human.
"We are comprised of approximately 3 times more bacterial cells than human cells."
Bacteria can be both good and bad. To keep the “bad” bacteria at bay, good food hygiene practices are essential. In these uncertain times, this is the reminder we all need. Just listen to any older person living on this planet right now.
Even healthy foods can make you sick and it’s important you treat microorganisms with the respect they demand. Here’s a list of the most common healthy foods that can make you sick, and how to ensure they don’t.
Leafy greens. Leafy greens can become contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. This usually occurs through contaminated water supply on farms or improper handling during processing. Always wash, and potentially even soak, your vegetables before cooking, especially if eating raw.
Sprouts. Sprouts can carry bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. Sprouts are grown in water and bacteria love water. Bacteria thrive in the seeds of the sprouts. Wash your sprouts well and cook them.
Potatoes. Potatoes can host bacteria like E. coli, C. botulinum and salmonella. Bacteria found in potatoes can be transferred through soil but most contamination occurs when potato-based dishes, like potato salad, are being prepared. Wash your potatoes well and cook them thoroughly.
Peanut butter. You don’t need to have a nut allergy to be effected by peanut butter. Peanut butter can become contaminated by the bacteria, salmonella. Roasting typically kills salmonella, so any outbreak is usually attributed to contamination after roasting. Just be aware.
Oysters. Oysters are bivalves, which means they have a compressed body within a hinged shell. They filter feed at the bottom of the ocean, pumping water in and out of their body, accumulating bacteria as they go. Oysters can house the bacteria, vibrio, and the more deadly, V. vulnificus. Ensure your oysters have been cooked well and not contaminated after cooking by other shellfish or seafood.
Eggs. If a chicken is infected with the bacteria, salmonella, there’s a chance the eggs can be infected too. Keep your eggs refrigerated and ensure you cook them well. Runny yolks may not kill all the salmonella if it is present. Refrigerate cooked eggs within 2 hours of cooking.
Beef. Bacteria like E. coli live in the intestines of cattle and can contaminate the meat. Ground meat, otherwise known as mince, can spread the bacteria around by mixing parts of many animals together. Try to consume grass-fed, organic beef if possible, especially mince. Of course, always ensure you cook it properly. Refrigerate any leftover meat that will be eaten in the next 3 days within 2 hours of cooking. Freeze any meat that will be consumed later than 3 days.
We know that junk food can make you sick. But healthy food can also make you sick with inadequate consideration to hygiene. In times like these, it’s a timely reminder to take food hygiene seriously by storing, washing and cooking your food appropriately. Remember what your grandmother told you.
Have you ever fallen victim to one of these bacteria?
Leave your answer to that question in the comments section below.
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