Doc Eifrig's COVID-19 Briefing No. 2

The world is about to reach 1 million cases of COVID-19.

The U.S. officially has more patients than any country in the world... and more than 1,000 American victims recently died in a single day.

The economy freezes... The markets crash... The government strokes a $2 trillion stimulus check... then stocks rebound nearly as fast...

Pandemic headlines are pouring in faster than our normal publishing schedule can handle... So I got together (virtually) with one of my analysts to discuss what we're seeing in the progress of the pandemic... and its repercussions on your wealth and well-being.

We recorded our first briefing last week, and many subscribers wrote in to say the message helped them. With so much happening so fast, we decided to do it again this week. And just like last week, this is a candid conversation without edits (or any sales message) that we invite you to share with anyone.

Click here to watch our new video

We'll keep doing these so long as the markets – and life in general – remain wild. We suspect that this all can go on for a while. So if you've got any questions you'd like to see if we can answer next time around, send them in to [email protected].

And if you'd like to watch our video from last week, you can do so (or view the slides) by clicking here.

Now, onto this week's Q&A...

Q: When we fry food at home and use extra virgin oils whether olive or coconut etc. Is it still unhealthy? What about in the case of fish or chicken and not eating the skin. Furthermore, buying commercially fried chicken and not eating the skin even though it is fried in partially hydrogenated oil since the skin and the batter is where all the oil is absorbed. Thank you for all that you do. – D.S.

A: There are a few parts to this question, so we'll do our best to cover them all.

First, the biggest problem with fried foods is the formation of trans fat. Using olive oil does not create trans fat. However, you want to make sure you pay attention to the smoke point. That's the temperature at which your oil starts sending up bluish smoke. The smoke is a breakdown of the fats in the oil into glycerol. Glycerol then breaks down further into poisonous acrolein. Acrolein not only irritates the lungs, but it can also trigger asthma and cause other respiratory problems.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point around 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular olive oil's smoke point is higher, at about 390 to 460 degrees. What I'd recommend is using a thermometer meant for measuring the temperature of frying oil to ensure you don't get it too hot. We prefer olive oil, as coconut oil also is high in saturated fat, which may cause problems with inflammation and heart disease.

I wrote about the flawed study on fried chicken last year. Essentially, you can still enjoy take-out chicken... just do it in moderation. It's also a good idea to look at the nutrition information of popular restaurants – the trans fat ban means most food items can't contain the inflammation-causing fat. Read more on that in my issue right here.

Q: Doc, I know the virus is getting all the headlines, but I'm hoping for your opinion on the FDA pulling Zantac this week? – O.B.

A: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") asked manufacturers to pull ranitidine drugs from shelves. Ranitidine is the active ingredient in H2-antagonist heartburn drug Zantac (and all of its generic versions). And it's not the first time it has been in the headlines...

Last year, drugstores CVS and Walgreens pulled all ranitidine products from their shelves. This all happened because a lab-testing company, Valisure, said it tested the drugs and found high levels of cancer-causing chemical NDMA in the heartburn pills. We know NDMA is dangerous at higher levels... But we regularly consume low amounts of it in foods like cured meats, whiskey, beer, cheese, and bacon.

After Valisure's findings, the FDA announced it was now testing ranitidine products using a low-heat process. We've been waiting to see what the agency would do, and now we know... According to a statement from the FDA:

We didn't observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested. However, since we don't know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured.

The key takeaway here? Avoid heartburn drugs. We've urged folks for years to make lifestyle changes (like avoiding trigger foods and getting regular exercise) first before turning to pills.

Keeps your questions, suggestions, and comments coming our way... [email protected].

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
April 3, 2020