IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  September 1, 2004

Mango: World's Most Popular Fruit

A trip through the produce department of today's supermarkets can cause you to stop and wonder. What are these unusual fruits? The mango is one you should try. The mango has been cultivated in Asia for more than 4,000 years and is one of the most popular fruits in the world, possibly the most popular fruit.

It can be enjoyed by itself. A mango is a very juicy fruit that tastes like peach and pineapple mixed together but sweeter than either one. You don't have to chew it much, and you'll spend most of the time slurping up the juice. It can be messy, but delicious.

Mangoes are in peak season from May to September. Last year 361 million pounds of mangoes were imported from Mexico. They can be used in salads and salsas.

Just one contains up to 83 percent of the daily recommended amount of beta-carotene and 95 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. And one mango contains more fiber than a cup of oat bran.

Many chefs combine mangoes with papayas for a fabulous tropical salad. Papayas are another tropical fruit that is both delicious and high in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids. Papayas play a role in preventing ulcers as well, according to the Harvard Community Health Plan. To get higher food value, use fresh or frozen fruits rather than canned. For a treat, try this salad recommended by The Doctors Book of Food Remedies (Rodale).

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More athletes sidelined with overuse injuries

Doctors at the sports medicine clinic of Children's Hospital in Boston say many young athletes hobble in daily. The cause: playing too hard, too often. Swimmers have sore shoulders. Tennis players clutch their backs. Soccer players have leg pains. They have overuse injuries, a rising health crisis that can destroy promising careers.

Kids of all ages dream of college scholarships or the riches of professional sports. Parents and coaches should protect them. Instead, they encourage kids to push themselves. No one is guiding them.

The trend toward sport specialization is partly responsible. Young athletes are often channeled to one sport that they play year-round. That improves skills but adds to wear and tear. Baseball pitchers are especially at risk. Situations parents should watch for:

  • Increased training. Many injuries occur when practice time is cranked up to additional days or hours per week.
  • Growth spurts. As kids grow, muscles can become less flexible and more susceptible to injury. Parents should watch for rapid growth periods and suggest backing off intense training during these periods.
  • Muscle imbalances. Playing one sport throughout the year can develop certain muscles as others remain weak. Consider a balanced conditioning program.
  • Minor pains. Don't assume they will just go away. Check them out before they become major problems.

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    Bell's Palsy

    Thousands of Americans are shocked when they wake one day to find one side of their face is paralyzed. They think it must be a stroke. It's Bell's palsy: it's serious, but not as serious as a stroke.

    According to the Harvard Health Letter, it's more common with people in their 20s, but the age preference decreases and evens out by age 60. The condition distorts the face, makes it difficult to eat, slurs speech, and may interfere with tear ducts. Sometimes an eye patch must be worn. Anyone who suffers these symptoms should see a doctor or neurologist immediately. Early treatment with antiviral medications and corticosteroids generally brings complete recovery.

    After the condition has existed more than two days, however, chances of a compete cure are reduced. Though the exact cause has been a mystery, doctors now believe that most cases are triggered by an infection of the facial nerve by the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that causes cold sores.

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    Ignore fads, just eat better, exercise

    There's the Atkins diet, the Southbeach, the low-calorie, the low-fat, the grapefruit, and many others. How is a person to choose, and how can you keep track of all the numbers once you do?

    A federal panel of food scientists say you shouldn't have to. Most diets fail because people can't maintain them. Instead, they need to adopt healthy eating habits. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says less food and more exercise are the key components of a healthy, slimming diet. Studies show that low-carb diets reduce weight over the short term, but their long-term effectiveness hasn't been proved.

    The panel also defines basic food groups people should eat from: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, lean meat, and meat alternatives. Gone from the list are refined starches, (such as in white bread) fatty meats, and whole milk.

    The scientists approve of moderate alcohol consumption, which may reduce the risk of heart and other diseases, but added that abstinence is fine. This should make grocery shopping easier, portions smaller, and exercise more important. But you can stop counting calories and carbs.

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  • Strong Bones

    Developing habits that improve bone density is a worthwhile task. Because a habit is something you do without thinking, these good ones will ensure that your bones stay strong.

  • Drink fortified orange juice for breakfast and milk with lunch.
  • Stock calcium-rich foods like canned salmon, cheese, spinach, tofu, and soy products.
  • Take vitamin supplements, particularly vitamin D, which is basic to bone building, and vitamin K, which enhances bone strength.
  • Balance protein and calcium. Together, they increase bone density. Protein is found in legumes, poultry, seafood, meat, nuts, seeds and dairy products. Have spinach or milk with your steak dinner.
  • Lift weights. Resistance training strengthens muscles and bones and also works to slow mineral loss.
  • Drink the right stuff. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who drink a lot of cola are more likely to have lower bone density.
  • Drinking more than an ounce or two a day of alcohol can be detrimental to your bones. (Iced tea is a good substitute for both cola and alcoholic drinks.)

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    Sunnyside Walk for Vitamin D

    Moderation is taking center stage when it comes to exposure to the sun. Doctors at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center say people have become so concerned about skin cancer and skin wrinkling that they never go out unless their skin is almost entirely covered.

    Sunlight is hard on your skin, but there's more to it than that. The same ultraviolet wave lengths that sunscreen blocks also start the chemical reaction that produces vitamin D.

    Low vitamin D levels are linked to poor bone health and everything from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say 90 percent of their patients suffering from unexplained pain had inadequate levels of vitamin D. Doctors at the University of Minnesota say low levels can be responsible for joint and muscle pain.

    People concerned about skin cancer should know that other factors determine risk. These include genes (some protect, some promote), skin type (fair people who sunburn easily are more at risk), type of exposure (sudden sunburn is more damaging than steady exposure,) and age (sunburns in adolescence are most dangerous).

    Sunshine is not the only source of vitamin D. Fortified milk has 100 IU per glass. Multivitamins have 400 IU or more.

    In addition to protecting bones and promoting general health, sunlight does other good things. Sunshine on the skin can reverse the seasonal affective disorder that is more common in autumn and winter. Being outdoors gets people playing, gardening, and enjoying healthful activities.

    Doctors say we have gone from sun worship to sun dread. They recommend using sun screen and wearing a hat and shirt at midday. Then getting outside during the nice fall weather and enjoying it.

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    Hospitals ask payment

    Hospitals are beginning to ask patients to pay part of their bills before leaving the hospital. Some are asking that co-payments and deductibles, or at least a down payment, be made before elective procedures. The move is being made to reduce bad debts.

    Many of hospitals' debts are uncollectible because the patients are too poor to pay. But a growing portion is due to insured patients who fall behind in payments on deductibles and co-payments that their policies don't cover. Hospital administrators are working to get the patient's portion of the bill, sometimes before the procedure is done.

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    Osteoporosis risk

    Two studies reported in the New England Journal of Medicine show a relationship between osteoporosis and an amino acid called homocysteine. Reports suggest that high levels of homocysteine in the blood indicate an increased risk.

    One study shows that men with the highest levels were four times as likely to develop hip fractures as men with the lowest levels.

    A second study shows that men and women with the highest levels of homocysteine were twice as likely to suffer any fracture. Because homocysteine increases the risk of heart disease, many people are already getting tested.

    Homocysteine levels can be reduced with supplements of folic acid and other B vitamins.

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    Diabetes/Alzheimer's link

    A study done at Chicago's Rush University shows that volunteers who had diabetes had a 65 percent greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those who didn't. Researchers also found impairment to memory and problem solving was greater among study participants with diabetes. It is already known that Alzheimer's risk is lowered by controlling blood pressure body weight.

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  • Quotes

    Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.
    - Charles Babbage, Mathematician

    On two occasions I have been asked, 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
    - Charles Babbage, Mathematician

    Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.
    - Neils Bohr, Physicist

    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical.
    - Neils Bohr, Physicist

    A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
    - Albert Einstein, Physicist

    A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?
    - Albert Einstein, Physicist

    If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.
    - Woody Allen

    I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers.
    - Woody Allen

    Pilot Instructions: Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction.


    Q & A

    Q: My body seems to bulk-up easily without doing really heavy weights. I'm trying to lose weight and tone. What is the best program for a woman to use in order to tone and not bulk too much (ie: number of sets/reps). Thanks!

    A: Choose a weight that you can lift 15 times instead of 8 to 10 times. Continue to do three sets. That will provide less bulk and more toning. If you can lift it more than 15 times, chances are it is too light for even toning.

    Q: My gym keeps the room temperature too warm. Is there a standard or does IFA have recommendations?

    A: Both OSHA and The American College of Sports Medicine have recommendations. IFA has developed the following along those guidelines: The aerobics, cardio, weight training and pilates areas should be at about 65 to 68 degrees. Yoga areas should be somewhat warmer at about 80 degrees. Pool areas should be in the 70 to 80 range. Humidity levels for all areas should be around 40% to 60%.

    Q: If prior to taking a beta blocker my endurance training was centered at 150 bpm and now under the same sort of exertion, my heart rate is only 120 bpm, are the benefits equivalent? Does taking a beta blocker basically limit your inherent endurance capability? Thanks.

    A: Yes, it does inhibit your cardio capability, not necessarily your endurance. It's kind of analogous to a car running at a governed speed of 55 mph. It can still traverse coast to coast. However, the ungoverned car can make the trip faster. So with regard to cardio training, it does limit your cardio training ability.

    Q: Hi I use a treadmill at home usually 3-4 times per week, doing about 3 miles at about 4.5-4.7 miles per hour. Sometimes its hard to finish the three miles all together, get caught for time. Wondering if I do a 1 or 1.5 miles maybe 2-3 times during the day will it be as effective?

    A: Actually, there is not much data on that. However, I do believe that "stopping and starting" is just as inefficient as it is in the operation of a car. That's what you want, inefficiency, so that you burn more fuel than if you were working efficiently.

    Q: I am just a beginner interested in boxing.I practice punching a heavy bag every day.I'd like to get more power into my punches. Any advice would be greatly appreciatedLI am 51 years old. Thank you.

    A: I would suggest using wrist weights during your workout. This will overtrain the muscles required to deliver the blow.

    Q: I have Fibromyaligia and my fitness class my teacher is giving me the choice of letting me do the modified sit and reach. However, I'm not sure if it will indicate good flexibility throughout the joints in the body.

    A: The results should be the same. Here is a study and comparison of both. Stretch Test Comparision

    Q: I have been doing step aerobics for many years. The new instructor that we have is always step using the wrong foot. I've tried to tell her what I think is going on, but she thinks it's us and not her. Any suggestions?

    A: It depends on which way the instructor is facing. If they are facing the class they have to mirror everything. If this is not the case, you may just need to pick another class. Sorry if this is over simplistic. If the aerobics coordinator doesn't see a problem then there is nothing that can be done.

    Q: Are the factors that cause fatigue during aerobic work different from that caused by anaerobic work?

    A: Yes. Aerobic fatigue is due to reduced oxygen transport. Anaerobic fatigue is due to lactic acid buildup.