IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  May 1, 2005

Oranges Deserve Praise

The name orange evolved from a Sanskrit word meaning fragrant. Today oranges are known for far more than their distinctive aroma.

Like all citrus fruits, oranges are well-known for their high vitamin C content. But they deliver more. Food scientists say there are more than 170 phytochemicals in an orange, including some 20 antioxidants from the carotenoid family alone.

These antioxidants are able to block free radicals before they do harm. Free radicals are corrosive oxygen molecules that can damage cells. This is important because free radical damage can set the stage for clogging of the arteries, a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Substances called limonoids, which are partly responsible for the fruit's slightly bitter taste, appear to be particularly active in oranges.

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center say that among all cancers studied, lab animals showed a 70 percent reduction in tumors when fed a diet consisting of 10 percent limonene such as found in oranges. No wonder citrus-lovers show low rates of stomach and lung cancers. Limonoids appear to be helpful in blocking breast cancers also.

The vitamin C in oranges does some important things. In addition to controlling free radicals, it is an important aid for healing and for boosting immunity. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from food, and people with high levels of C appear to have the lowest risks of all types of cancer.

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Best Fast-food Choices

A recent Gallup Poll found that 95 percent of us frequent fast-food restaurants, and half eat there once a week. These leaner options could make a difference in your health.

Arby's: Broccoli and cheddar baked potato. If you ask for double the broccoli, half the cheese sauce, you get 406 calories, 13 g protein, 12 g fat. Other good choices are the Asian Sesame Salad and the grilled chicken sandwich.

Burger King: BK Veggie Burger, 340 calories, 15 g protein, 10 g fat. Other good choices: Fire-Grilled Chicken Baguettes, the Original Whopper Jr (hold the mayo).

KFC: Tender Roast sandwich. Skip the sauce, and you save 72 calories and 8 g of fat. Other good choices: Barbecue beans and corn at 300 calories and Original Recipe chicken breast. Remove the skin and save 240 calories and 16 g of fat.

McDonalds: Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait with granola and roasted English muffin, 350 calories, 8.5 g fat. Other good choices include the Chicken McGrill and the regular hamburger.

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Kidney Stones

As many as half a million Americans suffer each year with the pain of kidney stones. The pain is often compared to the pain of childbirth for women. Men describe it as the worst pain they have ever had.

Though stones can develop at any age, they are most common between ages 30 and 50. Men are afflicted four times as often as women. A tendency for stones can be inherited, but diet and occupation are among other factors. They occur more often in people with sedentary jobs and during the summer months. Chronic urinary tract inflections contribute to the formation of stones.

One of the most important ways to prevent stones is to regularly drink plenty of water. In people who form uric acid stones, it is wise to reduce intake of foods such as shellfish, liver, and kidneys.

Even a tiny stone can cause severe pain when it begins to move to the bladder. Imagine a pebble the size of a green pea attempting to travel through a tube the width of a match stick.

Doctors may first use pain control to see if the stone migrates into the bladder where it will not cause further pain.

Some stones can be broken up with shock waves or a laser, then passed through the system. Doctors retrieve a stone by passing a lighted scope through the uretha to the position of the stone, then grasping it with a basket-like device attached to the scope.

Surgical removal is now done in only 5 percent of cases. It is usually done for large stones or stones lodged in the kidney.

Half of all people who have a first stone will have another within the next five to 10 years. They should discuss prevention methods with their doctors according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Drug for Restless Legs

A drug commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease is effective in relieving symptoms of a sleep-disturbing condition known as restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is characterized by involuntary leg twitches, pain and tingling.

A new study shows ropinirole (Requip) significantly reduces symptoms among patients with moderately severe RLS, a major cause of insomnia.

There is no other drug to treat the condition, which afflicts 10 percent of American adults. Researchers predict the drug will receive approval from the FDA for treatment of RLS very soon.

Coronary Bypass Risk

A study of 5,000 patients who had coronary artery bypasses and 4,000 who had angioplasty shows that the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease within five years was 70 percent higher after bypass than after angioplasty. The study was made at Hines VA Hospital in Illinois. All patients were 55 years old or older at the start of the study.

Doctors at Boston University School of Medicine say the increased risk may come from high stress hormones from surgery which may reduce oxygen to the brain. They suggest that surgery patients would benefit from increasing glucose and oxygen to the brain during surgery.

Early Warning for Cancer

Researchers say they have found a way to detect cancer so early that the type and location of the tumor are not yet known. Their discovery of a biomarker could save patients from having to undergo toxic and aggressive treatment once a cancer grows. The method will be in clinical trials this year.

It would allow cancer to be treated similarly to the way doctors now treat heart disease. Oncologists could identify the marker and prescribe drugs to help prevent cancer. Then drugs would be used to stop the cancerous process itself rather than targeting a specific tumor.

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Prevent Nighttime Leg Cramps

Five suggestions for preventing leg cramps before they happen:

  • Wear good shoes during the day. Flat feet and other problems make people susceptible. Good footwear can compensate.
  • Loosen the covers. Tight covers can press feet down and tighten muscles in the calf and on the bottom of the foot.
  • Stretch calf muscles before bed to loosen them up.
  • Drink plenty of water. Especially if you are active, you need fluids to prevent dehydration, which causes cramps.

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    Get Happy: Dance!

    Ballroom dancing or any type of couples dancing burns 200 to 300 calories per hour. That's about the same as a fast walk, but it can be a lot more fun. It has other benefits such as improving posture and giving you a whole-body workout.

    Don't know how to dance? Classes are everywhere from adult education programs to gymnasiums and dance studios. Classic ballroom dance includes the waltz, tango, and fox trot, which are easy steps. Latin dancing features the mambo, salsa, and cha-cha. The fast steps and turns are great fun. Swing dancing includes everything from slow and romantic to twirls.

    Another reason to fight fat

    Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital say obese Americans are rendering medical-imaging equipment increasingly incapable of providing assessments. The ultrasound waves can't penetrate the bodies of very heavy people.

    Adkins Implicated in Gout

    Some doctors predict that the popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets such as the Adkins could produce a rise in cases of gout. That's because meats contain purines, a type of protein that metabolizes into uric acid. When the body produces too much uric acid or when the kidneys don't excrete enough, it crystallizes in joints, most commonly in the big toe. It causes pain and inflammation.

    About 2 million Americans are affected each year. It usually strikes men, but women are susceptible as well.
    Dr. Andrew Weil, writing in Prevention, says eating a daily cup of red, blue, or purple fruits can reduce flare-ups of gout. They are rich in antioxidants.

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  • Harvard Pyramid Starts with Exercise

    Experts from the Harvard School of Public Health have created a healthy eating pyramid. It sits on a foundation of daily exercise and weight control. Then come:

    Whole grain foods (at most meals). The body needs carbohydrates for energy. The best sources are whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice. They keep blood sugar and insulin levels from rising and falling too quickly.

    Plant oils. Good sources of healthy unsaturated fats are olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and other vegetable oils. They improve cholesterol levels and protect heart rhythm.

    Vegetables and fruits (2 to 3 servings). A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke; protect against a variety of cancers; lower blood pressure; help you avoid diverticulitis; and guard against cataracts and macular degeneration.

    Fish, poultry, and eggs (up to 2 times). They are important sources of protein. Eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. Chicken and turkey are good sources.

    Nuts and legumes (1 to 3 servings). Good sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Legumes include most dry beans. Nuts contain healthy fats.

    Dairy or calcium supplement (1 to 2 servings). Building bone and keeping it strong takes calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. Use low-fat products. Calcium supplements offer an easy way to get your calcium.

    Red meat and butter (use sparingly): They contain lots of saturated fat. If you eat red meat every day, switching to fish or chicken several times a week can improve cholesterol levels. So can switching from butter to olive oil.

    White rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta, and sweets (Use sparingly): They can cause fast increases in blood sugar that can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.

    A multiple vitamin can fill nutrient holes in your diet.

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    Endurance Exercise Prevents Heart Failure

    Stiffening of the heart muscle is often associated with the onset of heart failure. The heart can be kept supple, however, by participating in endurance exercises such as running or cycling over a prolonged period of time.

    Researchers at Texas Medical Center in Dallas compared the function of the heart's main pumping chamber in healthy but sedentary adults in their late 20s, healthy but sedentary 70-year-olds, and athletes averaging 68 years.

    They found that sedentary individuals' hearts were 50 percent stiffer than the athletes'. What they didn't expect was that the hearts of senior athletes were in the same shape as non-exercisers in their 20s.

    The research team then designed an age-appropriate resistance-training program for the participants. After a year, their hearts were more muscular and more flexible.

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    Quotes

    When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it's only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it's two hours. That's relativity. - Albert Einstein

    I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it's the government. - Woody Allen

    Questions and Answers

    Q: What are some good weight training leg exercises that do not put stress on injured knees?

    A:There are none that I know of. Some exercises are more severe than others. All movements to work leg muscles require the knee to be flexed. It is best to give it a rest or see a doctor to get it fixed.

    Q: I'm looking to become a Group Fitness Instructor. I've been in aerobics classes, but would not know how to conduct a class from start to finish on my own. Are there classes that can help me in order to become certified?

    A: Some other organizations have 3 or 4 hour seminars. However, even that is insufficient to get you ready to teach a class. What new instructors do is work with a senior instructor. Approach you present instructor and tell them that you are newly certified and ask them if they will work with you to help bring you up to speed. Most will be happy to help.

    Q: Which muscles do not have a agonist - antagonist relationship?

    A: Your heart is one. It functions like any other muscle. Overwork it without sufficient rest and it will not function to peak performance.