Today, We're Coming Clean

It's an old saying, but one that's true... Laughter is the best medicine.

Laughter releases stress and boosts the neurotransmitters that make us happy. There's even some research that laughter reduces inflammation, the root of so many illnesses, like heart disease.

Lately, many of our readers have sent us messages that made us smile and some that made us laugh. We thought we'd share some today. Many focused on the question we posed: What's one food you could eat a pound of? Here are some of the answers we received:

• Bacon (my choice as well!)
• Homemade bread
• Doughnuts
• Rainier cherries (and regular cherries)
• Chocolate
• Salmon
• Eggs
• Sauerkraut
• Pumpkin pie
• Farm fresh tomatoes
• Popcorn
• Cashew nuts
• Corn
• Roti
• Grapefruit
• Pound cake (we see what you did there, G.C.)

One subscriber even wrote in that he once ate a 55-gallon drum of chocolate ice cream with a shovel. But the one that made us laugh out loud came from R.G., who sent us this:

I'm with you about my love for bacon Doc. I can easily eat a pound if it has been cured to a taste which satisfies me. Never pigged out for the duration on a daily basis as you squeal about, but am completely in sympathy, understanding and awe of your accomplishment.

We have a confession to make... We love puns. Our team regularly has pun wars. And sometimes we try to sneak them past our long-suffering executive editor, Carli (usually unsuccessfully). We always appreciate seeing them from our subscribers. So keep them coming! We'll share the best ones on our Twitter account, which you can follow right here.

Q: I have a question that perhaps many of your readers would like to know the answer to. You write often about the dangers of inflammation. What about exercise-related inflammation? For example, I am 59 years old and take martial arts classes and sometimes get a few bumps and bruises which cause some swelling. How dangerous is this type of inflammation for older folks like me? – LY

A: There are two types of inflammation, though we don't often touch on them both.

Acute inflammation occurs naturally in response to injury or exercise. It's a short-term reaction of your immune system. Any time you get a bruise, that's a healthy response. Similarly, when we exercise, we break down our muscles so they can rebuild. All that tearing signals "injury," so we get a response from our immune system.

But that's not the type of inflammation I warn folks about. The bad kind is chronic, or long-lasting inflammation. This is the kind where your immune system is on constant high-alert because so many things are triggering a response. Chronic inflammation comes from things like chemicals in cigarette smoke, eating the wrong foods, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. This leads to things like heart disease and cancer.

If you want to combat chronic inflammation, one of the best things to do is exercise. Despite the temporary rise in inflammation right after you work out, over time, you'll actually lower your levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of chronic inflammation. So I say, keep up the good work with your martial arts classes.

Q: I don't drink diet sodas or consume other artificial sweeteners except that I do chew sugar-free gum for digestive and mouth taste reasons. Is this harmful, significantly? – R.M.

A: Aspartame is a common sugar substitute found in ice cream, diet soda, mints, hard candy, and chewing gum. And yes, it's dangerous. Aspartame increases inflammation, damages healthy gut bacteria, and causes headaches.

During digestion, aspartame breaks down into three chemicals – methanol (a poison), aspartic acid (poisonous), and phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that makes up roughly 50% of this mix.

How much is too much?

If you just want to look at aspartame...

In the U.S. the recommended limit of aspartame is 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. That means a 150-pound person would have a limit of 3,402 milligrams per day.

Now that means you'd have to chew a lot of gum to meet that limit – about 425 sticks. But considering how many other foods you're eating that contain aspartame, don't chew too much.

Sugar-free gum without aspartame isn't hard to find. I see one brand – PUR – often. So if you're concerned about getting even small amounts, look for aspartame-free gum.

Q: I am a subscriber to Income Intelligence, Retirement Trader as well as daily reader of Health & Wealth Bulletin. I note that you are a big fan of bacon which I can totally understand. However, I question the health effects of eating red meats preserved in sodium nitrite. You have never addressed the health effects of sodium nitrites in your health and wealth bulletin.

When I was still working, we used to use literally tons of sodium nitrites as a rust preventive. Eventually, we discontinued its use when it was banned because of its reaction with amines to produce nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. (Amines are even more commonly found in water-based lubricants.)

I would really appreciate your take on the safety of red meats preserved with nitrites and nitrates. Personally, I like to buy my ham and bacon nitrite-free. – D.W.

A: Thanks for writing in about one of my favorite topics (bacon!).

You're right about the nitrites. We've written about them before, but it's been a while, so we are happy for the reminder. Nitrites are chemical preservatives used to keep meat from spoiling. Hot dogs, for example, contain a lot of nitrites. Nitrites also cause inflammation, which causes other problems like heart disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Nitrites also damage the lining in our intestines, which leads to DNA mutations... and cancer.

Personally, when I'm eating processed meats like bacon or sausages and hot dogs on the grill, I like to pop a vitamin C pill. The vitamin neutralizes the harm from the nitrites as well as other cancer-causing molecules in processed meat, including nitrates.

I usually take a 500 to 1000 milligram vitamin C supplement with my meat-heavy meals. I also try to have some fruits and vegetables with my meal for the same reason – a nice fruit salad would be the perfect end to a cookout meal.

We've also heard of the nitrate-free varieties. My researcher has tried nitrite-free bacon and recommends it. But remember, processed foods should be consumed in moderation. I don't eat a pound of bacon every day anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy it from time to time.

Keep sending us your questions, comments, and suggestions... [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
October 11, 2019