Apple picking is a fall tradition and, depending on where you live, you can enjoy that fresh-off-the-tree flavor of many of the more than 100 varieties grown commercially around the U.S. The colonists planted the first apple trees here in the 1600s – crabapples are the only native variety.
No matter what your favorite apple is, unfortunately, chances are it’s coated in pesticides. For the past eight years, apples have been in the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen produce, with the most pesticide residues. In fact, apples held the No. 1 spot five years running.
Now researchers have found a great way to get most of the pesticides off apples, and it’s not by rubbing them on your shirt.
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says soaking apples in a 1 percent baking soda/water solution is more effective than a two-minute chlorine rinse or tap water. Testing for two kinds of pesticide (thiabendazole and phosmet), it took 12 and 15 minutes for the baking soda solution to banish all surface residue. However, caution the researchers, 20 percent of the applied thiabendazole and 4.4 percent of the applied phosmet penetrated into the apples, so you might be better off with organic varieties.
Bring a bushel of apples home, mix three tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of water and soak your apples for 15 minutes. Then wash them off in tap water. You also could peel the fruit, but you’ll lose the peel’s nutrients along with surface pesticides.
Don’t vape if you’re pregnant
E-cigs can contain nicotine, along with vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, water and flavorings. When heated, propylene glycol produces the toxic substances acrolein, formaldehyde and benzene. The jury’s still out on what the different flavorings emit. And now it’s clear that vaping is especially risky for a fetus if a pregnant woman is using nicotine-laced e-cigs or even no-nicotine e-cigs.
A recent study found that when a zebrafish fetus is exposed to e-cigarettes, the result is severe heart malformation. Another study found that mice fetuses reacted to the nicotine with a reduction of neurodevelopmental gene expression in the frontal cortex (brain damage). Yet another study says that frog fetuses showed signs of facial (cartilage and muscle) defects after e-cigarette exposure. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that any product containing nicotine is not safe to use during pregnancy and can damage a developing (human) fetus’s brain and lungs.
So if you’re pregnant, quit vaping and smoking.
Teaching your kids not to be racially biased
In game three of the World Series, the Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel was suspended for the first five games of the 2018 season for his cruel and insensitive mockery of the LA Dodgers’ Japanese-Iranian pitcher Yu Darvish. Gurriel’s words and gesture – ridiculing Darvish’s Asian eye shape – reveal humans’ all-too-frequent tendency to negatively define any group that is “other.”
So how can you guard against your children acquiring a racial bias? Researchers suggest that one way is by teaching them to identify individual faces of those of other races they come in contact with. It banishes the all-X-look-the-same attitude that allows for gross stereotypes and opens a gateway to perceived individuality.
The study in the journal Child Development had 4- to 6-year-old Chinese children spend two 20-minute sessions playing with a touch-screen app that helped them learn how to distinguish individual black faces – and then measured how it significantly reduced their implicit anti-black bias. This bias reduction lasted for at least two months (that’s when the researchers rechecked).
The researchers point out their study looked at implicit bias, or the extent to which humans have subconscious negative and positive associations with different races. But, says Gail Heyman, a professor of psychology at UC San Diego and co-author of the study, “We think that reducing implicit racial bias in children could be a starting point for addressing a pernicious social problem ... racial discrimination [and] systemic, structural racism.”
Home pregnancy test
During Monica and Chandler’s wedding on “Friends,” Rachel reveals that she’s pregnant. “Are you sure you peed on the stick right?” Monica asks. “How many ways are there to do that?” Rachel replies, before agreeing to take another test.
Well, there are more ways than you may think – and how you do it really does matter.
Even though home pregnancy tests are 99 percent accurate IF done correctly, you can get a false positive or false negative. So...
▪ Check the package’s expiration date; out-of-date tests may be inaccurate.
▪ Pregnancy tests check levels of hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, that’s present only during pregnancy. It’s best to test upon waking up, as urinary levels of hCG are most concentrated. Don’t drink lots of liquid before a test. This could dilute hCG levels and give you a false negative.
▪ A false positive may result if an egg is fertilized but fails to implant.
▪ Check results within the suggested time frame; the water line left by dried urine can look like a second line and mislead you.
▪ If you recently had a miscarriage or abortion, hCG remains in your body for about two weeks and can cause a false positive.
▪ Some infertility medications contain hCG and can produce a false positive too.
▪ Certain cancers, ovarian cysts, kidney disease or UTIs can raise hCG levels, causing a false positive.
A positive result? See your doc to confirm. And if you experience any unusual pain after missing a period also head to the doc, even if your pregnancy test was negative.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.