Five Thanksgiving Feast Myths Busted! 

From the Tufts Nutrition Newsletter

Head into this year’s holiday banquet with a fresh—and accurate—approach to some common misconceptions. The feast that officially kicks off the holiday season is almost here. Thanksgiving is steeped in the comfort and familiarity of traditional foods—turkey and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce—as well as a few time-worn misconceptions. If you blame the turkey for your after-dinner snooze or feel you’ve ruined your healthy diet by splurging on pumpkin pie, it’s time to set things straight. We’re taking on—and debunking— five Thanksgiving feast un-truths

Myth #1 Turkey makes you sleepy: Not really. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, which is involved in regulating sleep cycles. But many protein-rich foods, including chicken, fish, soybeans, and some cheeses, contain as much or more tryptophan by weight than turkey, yet don’t have the same reputation for inducing sleepiness. Post-meal malaise is more likely due to other factors. The high intake of rapidly digested carbohydrates (e.g., white potatoes, stuffing, sugary desserts) at most Thanksgiving meals increases blood sugar quickly. The major boost in insulin released to manage that blood sugar can cause an overcorrection, leading to low blood sugar levels and tiredness. Our over-full plates could also contribute to post-feast fatigue. The body diverts blood away from other parts of the body to the digestive tract, which can leave us feeling low energy. Let’s not forget the sleep-inducing effects of alcoholic beverages or the exhaustion brought on by preparing the feast and the stress involved in entertaining guests. Try this: To prevent a stupor caused by overindulgence, don’t go into the Thanksgiving meal overly hungry. Eat small portions of white potatoes, stuffing, sweetened cranberry sauce, and other sugary treats—and put those carbs to task with an energizing post meal walk instead of a nap.

Myth #2 Canned pumpkin is not as nutritious as fresh: They are pretty equivalent. Whether fresh or canned, you really can’t go wrong with this flavorful and nutrient-dense winter squash. A single half-cup serving of either fresh or canned pumpkin packs more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A and is a good source of several other vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Choose 100 percent pumpkin, not cans of pumpkin pie mix, which contain a lot of added sugar, salt, and spices. Using canned pumpkin purée saves time, energy, and even money and might help boost intake of this nutritious food. One definite perk to using fresh pumpkin is the pumpkin seeds, which can be roasted and used in various dishes. Be aware that the flavor of fresh pumpkin might be slightly different than canned, depending on the type of pumpkin used. Try this: Use 100% pumpkin purée in muffins, pancakes, and savory dishes like soups, overnight oats, casseroles, and pasta sauce. Try making this year’s homemade pumpkin pie taste a little more like pumpkin and a little less like sugar.

Myth #3: Cranberry sauce is great for health: Not with all that added sugar! For many, a Thanksgiving meal is not complete without cranberry sauce. This celebrated staple might seem to be among the healthiest dishes on the table. It could be—if it weren’t for all the added sugar. Whole cranberries, fresh or frozen, are naturally low in sugar, but it takes a lot of added sugar to counter their tartness. Cranberries’ distinct flavor, along with their deep crimson color, indicate the presence of many healthful plant compounds. They are also rich in fiber and vitamin C. Try this: Consider making your own sauce or relish with less sugar. Experiment with ingredients like fresh or dried fruit, citrus zest, unsweetened fruit preserves, vanilla or almond extract, and cinnamon to help cut the sugar when making this year’s cranberry side-dish

Myth #4: The bird is done when the juices run clear: No—use a meat thermometer. Myoglobin, the pigment that causes the pink color in a turkey’s juices, becomes clear when heated. But the color of the juices is not a reliable way to avoid giving your guests food poisoning. According to the USDA, poultry is done when its internal temperature reaches 165°F. The best way to check for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. Try this: Remove the turkey from the oven and check the temperature by inserting a meat thermometer horizontally into the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the thigh, making sure not to let the thermometer touch bone. When the minimum internal temperature of 165°F is reached, remove the bird from the oven and let it rest (20-40 minutes, depending on size) so the juices reabsorb and keep the meat moist. Note that it is not safe to cook pou

Myth #5: One day of feasting will ruin a healthy dietary pattern: Not so—if you splurge, get back on track! Food is an important part of celebratory gatherings. Depriving yourself can lead to overindulgence later, so it’s all right to enjoy a modest serving of au gratin potatoes, glass of eggnog, or slice of your favorite pie as the occasional treats that they are. Savoring your favorite holiday foods slowly and mindfully and reflecting on how much you enjoy sharing them with family and friends is an important aspect of enjoying life. Try this: Create some new healthy food traditions, and limit portions of indulgent family favorites. Precutting and using small serving utensils can help. Enjoy indulgent foods mindfully. Consider packaging and sending some of the leftovers home with guests or freezing them for later. Storing food out of sight for another occasion is an effective anti-splurge strategy.

Covid vaccine Myths

From the CDC

Below are a few of the myths circulating online about Covid vaccines. 

Can COVID-19 vaccines cause variants?

No.C OVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New variants of a virus happen because the virus that causes COVID-19 constantly changes through a natural ongoing process of mutation (change). Even before the COVID-19 vaccines, there were several variants of the virus. Looking ahead, variants are expected to continue to emerge as the virus continues to change.

COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging. As it spreads, the virus has more opportunities to change. High vaccination coverage in a population reduces the spread of the virus and helps prevent new variants from emerging. CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Are all events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) caused by vaccination?

No. VAERS data alone cannot determine if the reported adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone can report events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. Some VAERS reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. These adverse events are studied by vaccine safety experts who look for unusually high numbers of health problems, or a pattern of problems, after people receive a particular vaccine.

Recently, the number of deaths reported to VAERS following COVID-19 vaccination has been misinterpreted and misreported as if this number means deaths that were proven to be caused by vaccination. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.

Is the mRNA vaccine considered a vaccine?

Yes. mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently than other types of vaccines, but they still trigger an immune response inside your body. This type of vaccine is new, but research and development on it has been under way for decades.

The mRNA vaccines do not contain any live virus. Instead, they work by teaching our cells to make a harmless piece of a “spike protein,” which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After making the protein piece, cells display it on their surface. Our immune system then recognizes that it does not belong there and responds to get rid of it. When an immune response begins, antibodies are produced, creating the same response that happens in a natural infection.

In contrast to mRNA vaccines, many other vaccines use a piece of, or weakened version of, the germ that the vaccine protects against. This is how the measles and flu vaccines work. When a weakened or small part of the virus is introduced to your body, you make antibodies to help protect against future infection.

Do COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?

No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No.C OVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are similar to those experienced with other routine vaccines and are normal signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more abouthow COVID-19 vaccines work.

Exercise Intervention for Academic Achievement Among Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial

From Pediatrics

Physical inactivity is an important health concern worldwide. In this study, we examined the effects of an exercise intervention on children’s academic achievement, cognitive function, physical fitness, and other health-related outcomes.

We conducted a population-based cluster randomized controlled trial among 2301 fourth-grade students. The intervention group received a 3-minute high-intensity interval exercise program that included jumps, squats, and various steps implemented twice weekly over 10 weeks for 10 to 25 minutes per session. The control group received the usual physical education class. The primary outcome was academic achievement assessed by scores on the national examination. 

The lesson: exercise can help make your child SMART as well as fit!

Come and Get it! We are now scheduling Covid vaccines for 5-11 year-olds

As of November 16 we will be administering Covid vaccines to our 5-11 year-olds. We have no shortage of vaccines, but must limit vaccine sessions to certain hours. The reason for this is that Covid vaccines for kids are packaged in 10-dose vials, and once a vial has been prepared, all 10 doses must be used within 12 hours. This means that we can’t just do a few doses, randomly, since we might “waste” doses if only 2 or 3 children need to be immunized on a given day.

Not to worry, we are setting up early evening vaccine sessions from 5-7 PM 2-3 times a week and you will be able to schedule your child’s Covid vaccine with no problem. We do ask, however, that ONLY Covid vaccine administration can be done during these sessions. We cannot examine children at this time, since we would not be able to do this and still have time for all the vaccines that we have to give.

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The Kidfixer Newsletter            Winter, 2021