Food Borne illness or Seasonal exaggeration?
By exaggeration, I mean excessive eating of all the bad stuff that gives us pleasure. Why do the things we crave, actually do us harm. Seems kind of cruel, right? Especially cruel this time of year, when you turn every corner and there are rows upon rows of eye popping yummy stuff! So lets have a look at where these cravings come from, the five “W”s so to speak. As a footnote, I will share a recent event that shines light on this topic. I did the Christmas mall race thing the other night…that will be the only race for me this year…lol. Of course in my haste to see everything, I neglected to eat, so a quick trip to the food court was the answer. Nothing particularly healthy in the food court, to be expected. I fancied a little Canadian Chinese, one of my occasional vices. However, against my own judgement, I packed it away for later…3 hours later. For the record, I worked in healthcare for many years, and should no better. The result of course, the next day was mild food poisonings. Hence my choice of topic today, excess vs exaggeration.
Food cravings can be caused by several factors, which can usually be split into two main categories: physical and mental. Being aware of them may help you identify which factors specifically trigger your cravings.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes in pregnancy may influence your smell and taste receptors, in turn, causing you to experience more intensified cravings
- Lack of sleep. Too little or poor quality sleep can disturb your levels of the hormones responsible for regulating hunger, fullness, and sleep-wake cycles, possibly intensifying food cravings, especially in the evenings
- A nutrient-poor diet. Nutrients like protein and fiber can help you feel full. A diet that’s low in these nutrients may cause you to feel hungry or experience cravings, even if you have otherwise eaten enough calories
- Highly processed foods. There is some evidence that highly processed foods rich in added fat and sugar may cause addiction-like symptoms, in turn, possibly increasing cravings
- Your gut flora. There is some evidence that the type of bacteria present in your gut may influence the frequency and type of cravings you may have. However, more research is needed to confirm this link
- Poor hydration. Ingesting too little fluids can intensify feelings of hunger or cravings in some people
- Stress. Stress can increase your levels of the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels may be linked to hunger, cravings, and a higher likelihood of stress- or binge-eating behaviors.
- Your personality. Some evidence suggests that people who are more impulsive or have higher scores on measures of addictive personality may also have a higher likelihood of experiencing food cravings
- Your mood. Certain moods may trigger cravings for specific foods. For example, negative moods appear to often spark cravings for comfort foods
Food Borne illness
The other side of the “food craving”, and resulting excess is the possibility of food borne illness. I’ve spoke of this before, so I won’t spend to much time on this.
Foodborne illness is caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes or pathogens can contaminate foods, so there are many different types of foodborne illnesses.
Most foodborne diseases are infections caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Other diseases are poisonings caused by harmful toxins or chemicals that have contaminated food.
- Common symptoms of food borne illness are diarrhea and/or vomiting, typically lasting 1 to 7 days. Other symptoms might include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, joint/back aches, and fatigue.
- What some people call the “stomach flu” may actually be a food borne illness caused by a pathogen (i.e., virus, bacteria, or parasite) in contaminated food or drink.
- The incubation period (the time between exposure to the pathogen and onset of symptoms) can range from several hours to 1 week.
To conclude, I will use my personal experience stated above as an example. Always take the time to eat healthy, even during this busy Christmas season. In my example, forgetting to eat, making a poor choice and then NOT acknowledging the time:bacteria factor, resulted in a mild case of food discomfort. Luckily, I have a good knowledge of dealing with this; probiotics. Forget about the TUMS, just make good choices. Have a great day! 19 sleeps until Christmas!