Your Summer Gut Check
A lot of the activities that make summer so memorable can also play havoc with your digestive system. Here are a few tips to help you avoid trouble and still enjoy all that summer has to offer.
Hot and Cold
Bacteria like Salmonella or E.coli can ruin any cookout. But they don’t have to, if you take a few simple precautions. Make sure everything on the grill reaches the right internal temperature (165° for poultry, 145° for steak and 160° for ground beef or pork). If you like your burgers rare, have your butcher grind your beef for you just before you grill. And transport meat to the grill in separate containers to prevent cross-contamination. For foods that need to be kept cold, make sure you keep them in a cooler, ideally filled with frozen water bottles or large chunks of ice. If they sit out longer than two hours, pitch them (toss them after an hour if the temperature is 90° or above).
A Clean Break
Summer can find you shaking more hands, handling more food and generally exposed to a lot more viruses and bacteria. Make sure to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least thirty seconds.
Test the Waters
Spending time camping or hiking? Remember that you’re sharing that space with animals who like to leave waste behind that can harbor bacteria. Pack your own water — 16 ounces for every hour of walking. And remember to swim with your mouth closed, especially in rivers and streams. Traveling to areas where water quality may be questionable? Avoid ice cubes, produce and any water that isn’t sealed. Visit cdc.gov/travel to find out if the area you’re visiting is known for parasites that can cause intestinal distress.
Watch Your Intake
You probably know how your stomach reacts when you consume too much alcohol. But over-indulging can also damage your stomach lining, with gastritis as the painful result. So stick to two drinks per day — one per hour is about what your body can handle — and keep in mind that clear liquors are a little easier on your digestive tract than their colored counterparts. If you overdo it, keep in mind that most headache remedies — especially aspirin and acetaminophen, but even ibuprofen — actually cause further irritation of the stomach lining. Feeling queasy? Drink lots of water, and eat eggs or a cheese omelet.
Following a few simple guidelines like these can help your summer be more pleasant for you — and for all those around you!
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