WBEZ | dementia http://www.wbez.org/tags/dementia Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Grilled meats serve up dangerous compounds, but you can avoid some http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 <p><p>For many, Memorial Day weekend means it&rsquo;s finally time to bust out two things: the white shoes and blackened meats.&nbsp;</p><p>American dads may take pride in their cross-hatch grill marks, but those juicy, charred slabs of meat are coming under incresing scrutiny for the dangerous compounds they develop when protein meets dry blazing heat.</p><p>These include heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products or HCAs, PAHs and AGEs.</p><p>Peter Guengerich is a biochemistry professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He&rsquo;s been studying HCAs and PAHs for 25 years, and he says that, on their own, the compounds aren&#39;t all that dangerous.</p><p>&ldquo;But our bodies have enzyme systems that convert these into reactive compounds,&rdquo; Guengerich said. &ldquo;Things that get stuck irreversibly on your DNA and can cause mutations and potentially cancer, most commonly colon cancer.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that this has little to do with charcoal vs. gas or other fuels.</p><p>Dr Jaime Uribarri of Mount Sinai Medical Center says what matters are the AGEs &mdash; the crispy, browned, tasty bits that form on the outside of grilled meat and other foods.&nbsp; In the kitchen they&rsquo;re considered flavor, but in most medical labs, Uribarri says, they&rsquo;re linked to inflammation that causes &ldquo;diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, dementia and essentially most of the chronic medical conditions of modern times.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, recent Mount Sinai research shows that mice fed a diet high in AGEs &mdash; similar to a Western diet &mdash; developed marked cognitive decline and precursors to Alzheimers disease and diabetes. Those fed a low-AGE diet were free of those conditions.&nbsp;</p><p>So does this mean an end to the all-American cookout?&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If it is something done only once a year it may not be that bad,&rdquo; Uribarri says.</p><p>Only once a year?</p><p>Professor Guengerich won&rsquo;t go that far, but he does urge moderation.</p><p>&ldquo;Well basically if you only eat these things occasionally, [I&rsquo;m] probably not too concerned,&rdquo; the biochemist said. &ldquo;But if you are making a habit of eating these things every other day, grilled at high temperatures, you probably should think about it a little bit more.&rdquo;</p><p>But before you put away the Weber you should know there are lots of ways to cut down on these compounds at your barbecue.</p><p>To reduce the AGE&rsquo;s, Uribarri suggests a few things.</p><p>&ldquo;Make sure the meat is not left for very long periods of time on the grill,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Whenever possible, the meat should be marinated or freshened with juices during the cooking. And simultaneously, eat a lot of fruits vegetables and things that will kind of antagonize the bad effects of these compounds.&rdquo;</p><p>These would include antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, pomegranates and cherries &mdash; one Michigan butcher even blends them into his burger meat.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/blueberries.jpg" title="Eating antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cherries and pomegranates with grilled foods may help reduce the harmful effects of grilling byproducts. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p>Studies also show that marination in wine, vinegar or lemon juice can lower the meat&rsquo;s pH and cut way down on the formation of AGE and HCA. Another study shows that rubbing meat with fresh rosemary can cut HCA development most entirely.</p><p>Guengerich says you should also cover your grill with foil to avoid carcinogenic flare ups that produce PAHs on the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;And if you are particularly concerned you can preheat [the meat] in a microwave and get the juice out,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Then take it out and put it on the grill and you&rsquo;ll actually reduce your exposure by about 90 percent and you won&rsquo;t lose that much in the way of taste either.&rdquo;</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s the low-tech method of simply scraping off what Guengerich calls &quot;the black crud&quot; from the outside of your food. Those grill marks are rich in these carcinogenic compounds.<br /><br />Fans of cole slaw, broccoli and Brussels sprouts may also have more leeway. One study found that regular consumption of these cruciferous vegetables can help clear DNA damage wrought by the grilling process.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And finally, Uribarri suggests simply swapping the dry high heat cooking for gentler water based methods most of the time.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So take for example a piece of meat,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You put it on the grill to cook for half an hour, you generate so many AGEs. Then you take the same piece of meat, but now you put it under a lot of water to cook as a stew, you generate much much fewer. &ldquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This may be effective, but will anyone really want to come over to your house this summer for a burger boil?</p><p>Wiviott doesn&rsquo;t think so.<br /><br />&ldquo;No one wants to eat nine ounces of poached chicken or turkey breast,&rdquo; the pitmaster of Barn &amp; Company says.</p><p>&quot;Conversely, if you grill it and you have texture and crunch and flavor and salt and fat, that&rsquo;s when something really tastes good.&quot;</p><p>Wiviott is the author of &ldquo;Low and Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in FIve Easy Lessons.&rdquo; And he finds&nbsp; it hard to swallow all the recent science deriding his favorite foods.</p><p>&quot;In my lifetime, I&rsquo;ve seen coffee be not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you. Red wine not good for you; now it&rsquo;s good for you.&nbsp; Butter, pig fat. Margarine was good for you and now it&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I mean, since the cavemen started cooking, people have cooked their meat over an open fire and we&rsquo;re still around. So I can&rsquo;t imagine that it&rsquo;s all that bad for you&hellip;.Plus, it&rsquo;s absolutely delicious.&quot;</p><p>So does this mean you have to choose between boiled meat or colon cancer? Between long life and a char-striped hot dog?</p><p>&ldquo;Well it is a carcinogen,&rdquo; Guengerich says. &ldquo;But I don&rsquo;t want people to have a guilty conscience or feel like they are going to get cancer tomorrow. Just be moderate about your consumption of anything. Grilled foods included.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Farmers-market-cabbage.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help clear DNA damage from byproducts of grilled meats. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG) " /></div><p><strong>Tips for Reducing Grilled Food Dangers</strong></p><p>If you don&rsquo;t want to give up grilling meat all together, experts say, there are several ways to reduce the formation and your consumption of heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and advanced glycation end products. Here are some of them:</p><ul><li>Pre-cook your meat in a pot of water, a low-temperature oven or microwave before finishing briefly on the grill.</li><li>Cover grill with foil to reduce drips and flare ups, which produce PAHs, or consider wrapping your meat in foil before placing it on the grill.&nbsp;</li><li>Marinate meat with vinegar, lemon juice or wine for at least 10 minutes before grilling. This can alter its pH, thus reducing the formation of AGEs during cooking.</li><li>Rub your meat with rosemary or other antioxidant rich fresh herbs before cooking.</li><li>Before eating, scrape off the carcinogenic &ldquo;black crud&rdquo; that may develop on meat or other foods during grilling.</li><li>Remove browned and blackened chicken skin before eating.</li><li>Eat cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis to provide your body with sulforaphane, which has been known to help clear DNA damaging compounds more quickly.</li><li>Eat antioxidant rich, deeply colored fruits and vegetables with your grilled meats to help counter the effects of the compounds.&nbsp;</li><li>Consider a weenie boil rather than a weenie roast. You will produce many fewer AGEs in the process.&nbsp;</li></ul></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grilled-meats-serve-dangerous-compounds-you-can-avoid-some-110214 The Alex Witchel Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/alex-witchel-interview-105125 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Alex%20Witchel%20%28c%29Fred%20R.%20Conrad.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Photo: Fred R. Conrad" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.14308323548754143">Today&rsquo;s interviewee is the author of the sad, delicious and fascinating memoir </span><a href="http://www.amazon.com/All-Gone-Dementia-Refreshments-ebook/dp/B0085DO9MO">All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother&#39;s Dementia. With Refreshments</a>, which is a heartbreaking account of the author&rsquo;s smart and strong mother &ldquo;disappearing from sight&rdquo; while honoring her traditions by sharing her comforting recipes. She is also a staff writer for T<a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/alex_witchel/index.html?inline=nyt-per">he New York Times Magazine</a> and originated the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/dining/anne-saxelby-making-new-yorkers-say-cheese-feed-me.html?_r=0">Feed Me</a>&rdquo; column for the Times Dining section. She has contributed to New York, Vogue, Elle, and Ladies&rsquo; Home Journal, among other publications. The author of three previous books, she lives in New York.</div><p><br /><strong>After taking care of your mother and examining what happened to her and your own relationship, what steps (if any) have you taken to leave your family directions for your own old age, in case your own mind does start to fade? (picture me spitting on the ground three times right now).</strong><br />Picture me spitting right next to you!<br /><br />Here&rsquo;s the thing about human beings: none of us really thinks we&rsquo;re going to lose our minds, we believe that only happens to other people. All those people standing out on the street smoking? Not one of them thinks he or she is going to get cancer. Someone else will.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s actually something to be said for this membrane of denial because it allows us to both get to sleep and get out of bed in the morning.<br /><br />All of which I suppose is a long way of saying no, I have given no one any directions of any sort. If my own mind does fade, I can only hope my family treats me kindly, and when they&rsquo;re too busy, that they pay someone else to treat me kindly on their behalf.<br /><br /><strong>If a friend of yours realized his or her own parent began to suffer from dementia, is there anything practical or otherwise, you would tell him or her to prepare themselves?</strong><br />The most important thing I would tell them is that you can&rsquo;t fix it. That was my biggest mistake, thinking that if I found the best doctor, the best medication, my mother would be cured. Unfortunately, dementia doesn&rsquo;t care if your doctor went to Harvard. Harvard makes it laugh.<br /><br />I would also say, you can&rsquo;t prevent dementia. I know of people, perfect specimens, who exercised daily, ate kale -- and still got thrown under the bus. I&rsquo;m not talking here about forgetting people&rsquo;s names or where you put your car keys. I&rsquo;m talking about getting into your car to drive home and you have no idea where home is or how to get there. I&rsquo;m talking about opening a book and reading a paragraph and by the time you get to the end of it, you can&rsquo;t remember how it began.<br /><br />I would also tell a friend that the only thing you can do is try to surround your parent with people who love him or her and treat them with dignity and respect. Never to speak down to them or over them or assume they are idiots who cannot understand you. The thing about the stroke-related dementia my mom has is that for a very long time, she could just appear as herself for a minute or two, and if someone was disrespecting her, she was either furious or deeply upset. When she was enjoying herself, though, it was a gift.<br /><br />And try to keep your parent involved in outside activities as much as possible, whether classes of a sort or family gatherings, so he or she can see other people and have things to look forward to.<br /><br /><strong>Why did you choose not to include your sister Phoebe&rsquo;s death in the book?</strong><br />My sister Phoebe died of metastatic breast cancer on Feb. 17, 2012, after being diagnosed and living at Stage 4 for four years. She was 44 and left a husband and two sons, 8 and 4. I finished writing &ldquo;All Gone&rdquo; a month or so before her death. I was so devastated, I wasn&rsquo;t sure what to do about it, but my editor convinced me to leave the book as it was. I had meant it to be about my mother&rsquo;s dementia, the two of us coming to terms with it and so it remained. I also like the idea that in the book, Phoebe is always alive. That makes me happy.<br /><br /><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Only-ebook/dp/B0012D1CVK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1359050450&amp;sr=1-3">This isn&#39;t the first time</a> you&#39;ve written about your mother; how did she react when you&#39;ve written about her before, and how much advance notice did you give her on what you&#39;d publish?</strong><br />She loved it, actually. I think many people wish to be seen or acknowledged in some way, and in our world today, everyone can do that on Facebook or Twitter, wherever they want. She was of a generation that did not have that option and she trusted that I would treat her fairly. When I published &ldquo;Girls Only&rdquo; in 1997, a book based on columns I had written for the Times about Mom, Phoebe and me taking field trips around the city she was beside herself. Proud of me, certainly, but more than a little tickled to be the subject of a book. I read each chapter to her and to Phoebe well in advance of its publication and they were both fine about it.<br /><br /><strong>Who are some of your favorite fictional mother/daughter duos?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m embarrassed to say that none come to mind except &ldquo;Anywhere But Here&rdquo; by Mona Simpson which I thought was terrific. I&rsquo;ve actually been fixated recently on &ldquo;Little Women,&rdquo; which I haven&rsquo;t read in at least 30 years. I never did understand why Beth died. What was wrong with her, exactly? And why couldn&rsquo;t Marmee, the best mother in the world, figure it out? And was Meg really a sellout to get married while Jo forged her &ldquo;scribbling&rdquo; career or was she actually happier than Jo who worked like a dog and ended up with an old German? And even though Amy was spoiled and silly, isn&rsquo;t that better than being dead? And who wants to eat blancmange, anyway? If you weren&rsquo;t sick already, wouldn&rsquo;t it make you sick?<br /><br /><strong>How frequently do you read your reviews? Does criticism hurt more or less when it&rsquo;s about fiction versus nonfiction?</strong><br />I tend to read the ones I know about. And it all hurts equally.<br /><br /><strong>Which tends to be more difficult for you to write, fiction or nonfiction? Which is more pleasurable?</strong><br />I would have to say that non-fiction is more satisfying. I guess it comes from 22 years as a newspaper reporter, but I&rsquo;m a sucker for real life. Fiction is definitely more difficult for me. Having written two novels, I found it to be something like baking: deliberate and measured and calculated to come out just so, or maybe that&rsquo;s how I understood the job, or misunderstood it. Non-fiction is much more messy and nuanced; trying to figure out human behavior is like reading a great book that never ends. There&rsquo;s always something you didn&rsquo;t count on. I think it&rsquo;s why people will always read newspapers, even on a machine.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve discussed important meals in your book and other writing, but what about &lsquo;unimportant&rsquo; meals? What do you tend to make when you don&rsquo;t have time, don&rsquo;t want to leave the house to get groceries, don&rsquo;t want to think?</strong><br />I love pizza more than almost anything. The key to frozen pizza leftovers is to defrost them in the microwave, then put them in the toaster oven at a high temperature to crisp and brown it. Yum!<br /><br />I eat scrambled eggs probably three times a week, which is too much, but I love them and<br />that&rsquo;s what Crestor&rsquo;s for. Phoebe loved them with ketchup, so I&rsquo;ve found myself doing that a lot more than I used to. I like it, too.<br /><br />And let&rsquo;s never forget tunafish. Solid white packed in water, drained, mixed with dried dill, celery salt, ReaLemon juice and Hellman&rsquo;s Mayonnaise. That on Saltines is just about a perfect dining experience.<br /><br /><strong>The &nbsp;recipes in your book are old-timey and old-world, which makes me think of when I made my mom&rsquo;s meatloaf recently and had to go out and buy MSG for the recipe, which, of course, made it taste great. Are there any other ingredients of yore that have fallen out of favor that you think should be resurrected?</strong><br />The one recipe that my editor would not let me include in the book was for spinach kugel, which is a noodle pudding threaded with frozen spinach. This was a favorite in my family during the 1970&rsquo;s and it has three ingredients that I suppose I can&rsquo;t defend: stick margarine, Lipton onion soup mix and non-dairy creamer (it was meant to be served in kosher homes as a side dish to roast chicken). Each one of those things qualifies as a chemical nightmare and I can&rsquo;t make a case for any of them. But I promise that if you ate this kugel, you would fall in love.<br /><br /><strong>In your meals with celebrities for the Times, with which interviewees would you most like to have a follow-up coffee?</strong><br />There have been many, but I guess my favorite was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/10/theater/theater-the-real-june-is-still-singing-out.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm">June Havoc,</a> the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee, who was known from the musical and movie version &ldquo;Gypsy&rdquo; as Baby June. She was a terrific actress, director and writer (her memoir &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Early-Havoc-June/dp/1258187493">Early Havoc</a>&rdquo; is a show business classic) and she lived on a farm in Stamford, Ct. We were friends for 18 years before she died. She was in her 90&rsquo;s then, though no one really knew how old she was because when she was in vaudeville &ndash; she started at 3 -- her mother lied about her age since she was too young to work the grueling hours she did. (Ten year-olds would claim to be teenagers in order to work five shows a day. But the managers would often make the kids open their mouths and if they didn&rsquo;t see their 12-year molars, they&rsquo;d throw them out!) Havoc was a wonderful character and it was a privilege to know her.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;re in <a href="http://forward.com/articles/161935/simon-rich-is-charming-as-his-life/?p=all">a family of writers</a>: how often is the family trade discussed at group get-togethers, and in what form does it frequently take (IE complaining about writer&rsquo;s block or negative feedback, workshopping ideas, praising SNL sketches, et?)</strong><br />It is almost never discussed at group get-togethers because those are for fun, not work. Work conversations usually happen one-on-one by phone, when necessary. Praise, on the other hand, is free-flowing. We all read each other, when the person wants to be read. It&rsquo;s a great support system, though sometimes the one thing you want is privacy, and we all respect that, too.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 338th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It feels terrific! Thank you for having me.</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 08:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/alex-witchel-interview-105125 Common air pollutant linked to mental decline http://www.wbez.org/story/common-air-pollutant-linked-mental-decline-96364 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-13/smokestacks.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-14/smokestack_flickr_nathanmac87.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 473px;" title="According to new research, particulate pollution is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older women. (Flickr/nathanmac87)"></p><p>A common type of air pollution might speed up the mental decline that comes with aging, according to <a href="http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/172/3/219">new research</a> led by a Chicago scientist.</p><p>Particulate pollution, made of tiny particles and droplets from smokestacks and tailpipes, has been known to contribute to lung disease and other health problems. Now a study has linked higher exposure to it with cognitive deterioration.</p><p><a href="http://www.rushu.rush.edu/servlet/Satellite?ProfileType=Short&amp;c=RushUnivFaculty&amp;cid=1231770859925&amp;pagename=Rush%2FRushUnivFaculty%2FFaculty_Staff_Profile_Detail_Page">Jennifer Weuve</a>, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Rush University’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, said each additional increment of exposure, defined as 10 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air, seems to age a person’s brain an extra two years. But she pointed out that, unlike other risk factors, air pollution is something public policy can tackle directly.</p><p>“These people, whose exposures that we reduce will experience a slower rate of cognitive decline, which means fewer people will reach the threshold of dementia during their lives,” Weuve said.</p><p>It’s not clear just how particulate pollution might speed up cognitive decline. It may have to do with increased rates of cardiovascular disease. But there also may be a direct mechanism: Some tiny particles can pass from the bloodstream into the brain.</p><p>Wueve’s study is large, based on a sample of 19,409 nurses. But some uncertainties remain. It’s difficult to tease out the effects of particulate pollution from other air pollutants that might come along with it. The pollution measures came from air quality monitoring in the area where each participant lived. The results are published in Archives of Internal Medicine.</p><p><em>This article has been chnaged to clarify the exposure increment linked to two years of aging.&nbsp; </em></p></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 22:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/common-air-pollutant-linked-mental-decline-96364