Here’s something to think about the next time you get a hankering for enchiladas: According to a news release published this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated outbreaks of foodborne infection from 1998 to 2008 could be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole.
CDC experts say that freshly prepared salsa and guacamole in particular typically contain ingredients like raw tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro—an herb made popular by its use in Mexican cuisine—but that improper storage temperatures or handling methods increased the risk of contamination and pathogen growth, resulting in a sharp rise in foodborne illness. While the CDC will continue to monitor foodborne disease trends, they caution restaurant owners to follow proper food safety preparation and storage guidelines.
Tomatoes and peppers are also among the top foods affected by widespread pesticide contamination in the U.S. The majority of commercially grown produce is treated with high amounts of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, many of which remain on fruits and vegetables even after a thorough washing. For this reason, natural health experts like Detox Strategy author Brenda Watson recommend buying organically grown produce whenever possible.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida revealed that the microscopic organisms living in your gut may provide an early warning system for colon cancer—one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
After testing more than 90 individuals, scientists found that certain types of bacteria were common in patients who developed polyps in the colon, which can develop into cancer. Doctors hope that such “bacterial signatures” could be used to pinpoint patients who may be at higher risk for developing colon cancer, and that non-invasive screening techniques can be developed that would look at the types and number of intestinal bacteria in the gut.
Did You Know…?
Your digestive tract is home to literally trillions of individual bacteria (more than 1,000 different species), including Bifidobacteria—the most prevalent good bacteria (or probiotics) in the large intestine—and Lactobacilli, which are the most prevalent good bacteria in the small intestine.
Altogether, the beneficial microorganisms make up nearly 70 percent of your body’s immune system, so maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines is crucial to your overall health. Because everyday factors such as stress, illness, antibiotic use or even a change in routine can upset a balanced digestive environment, natural health experts recommend taking a daily high-potency probiotic for optimal digestive and immune health.