IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  February 1, 2007

Grapefruit for Breakfast or Dessert

The biggest fruit on the table is a latecomer as fruits go. While the apple may have originated in paradise, it wasn't until 1750s that the grapefruit was discovered in Barbados. It was a natural hybrid of the pummelo and the sweet orange.

It took another 50 years for it to be named. In the 1800s, a Jamaican farmer called the fruit grapefruit because of the grape-like clusters in which it grows on trees.

Today, grapefruit is found in its traditional yellows or its sweeter reds. The yellows are high in vitamin C, but the reds have C plus more benefits, including lycopene, limonoids, and maringin. These compounds not only reduce cold symptoms, they help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger. Free radicals are a natural part of metabolism, but they have dangerous effects on the body. When you eat grapefruit, its lycopene gets busy, mops up free radicals, and sends them on their way before they can cause trouble.

In studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the limonoids and maringin in grapefruit increase levels of enzymes that help detoxify cancer-causing agents.

Grapefruit is one food that provides more than the Daily Value of vitamin C in one serving. A cup of grapefruit sections contains 88 milligrams of C or 146 percent of the DV.

Vitamin C is part of the recipe for collagen, the "glue" that binds skin cells together. Among its other tasks, it fights wrinkles, helps wounds to heal, and keeps gums healthy.

(Always read package inserts on your medications. Grapefruit has the power to increase the strength of some medicines.)

  • Honey-marinated grapefruit
  • Grate 1 tablespoon of rind from a red grapefruit.
  • Halve the grapefruit, squeeze the juice, and set aside.
  • Place 2 tablespoons honey in a small bowl. Microwave on medium until warm, and add the grapefruit juice and grated rind. Mix well.
  • Peel 3 additional red grapefruit, cutting away most of the white pith.
  • Separate into sections and pierce each so the marinade can permeate.
  • Arrange sections on dessert plates. Pour the honey mixture on them.
  • Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.


    After a Big Meal, Walk to Fight Fat

    Doctors have discovered that about four hours after a fatty meal, our arteries look like those of a person with heart disease. They temporarily lose their ability to expand for increased blood flow.

    Investigators at Indiana University recommend waiting an hour or two after the meal, then getting a little exercise to help reverse the possible damage to your arteries. The good part of it is, you don't have to go to the gym or do anything strenuous. Taking a walk will do.

    Janet P. Wallace, a professor of kinesology and lead investigator for the study, says the post-meal period sets up the environment for the artery to be unhealthy. That is what can lead to heart disease and insulin resistance.

    Exercise, however does great things. It is very effective in counteracting the effects of a high-fat meal, according to Wallace.
    The study results were published in the September issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology.


    Trying to Quit

    If you are trying to quit smoking and having trouble, don't worry it may take more than one attempt.

    The best method is to taper down. Involve yourself in activities where you need all of your energy and breath (sports), and lastly, you will have to give up your smoking friends. You cannot easily quit smoking and continue to maintain the smoker's bond with them. Treat the addiction like acoholism, stay away from the influences. They say that it is easier to quit cocaine than nicotine. I can't say for sure but given that you can buy nicotine anywhere that might be true.

    You don't have to gain weight when you quit. You can actually lose weight. Attending aerobics classes twice a day and begin a weight training regimen. It's kind of hard to jump around at 130 bpm for an hour after a pack of Marlboros.

  • Strengthen the Lungs Playing the Harmonica

    The Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica is on a mission. In spite of celebrity players like "American Idol" Taylor Hicks, harmonica playing is declining. They're looking for more players.

    The Society has given away thousands of harmonicas and wants everyone to know that playing one is great exercise for the lungs. With the help of the American Lung Association, harmonicas have been given out in hospitals, nursing homes patient-support groups, and asthma camps.

    A basic harmonica plays 10 natural notes as do white keys on a piano without sharps or flats. Each hole has two reeds, one plays during inhalation and one during exhalation. Blowing on the fourth hole produces a C, while inhaling or drawing brings a D.

    Though research papers haven't been published on the therapeutic effect of the harmonica, Neil Schachter, professor of medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says there is definitely a rationale for it.

    Pursed-lip breathing in which one inhales slowly through the nose and blows out slowly through pursed lips while tightening the abdominal muscles, has long been used as physical therapy for patients with impaired lung function.

    Playing the harmonica could help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.


    Whooping Cough Vaccine

    Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. A person can get pertussis over and over again in a lifetime.

    Infants and small children may have life-threatening complications. Adolescents and adults have less severe cases. But for them, the cough can last for months and can be so severe it can break ribs.
    Adolescents and adults under age 65 should get a one-time dose of the recently developed pertussis vaccine. Because of the recent resurgence of the illness, immunization is important.


    A Little Exercise: Big Benefits

    Health guidelines suggest 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise, but it takes a lot less than that to make a big difference in your health. Various medical studies showed these benefits for people who did just a little exercise. According to the No Sweat Exercise Plan (A Harvard Medical School Book):

  • One hour of gardening per week showed a 33 percent lower death rate.
  • Walking just one hour each week resulted in a 51 percent lower risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Regular, demanding house cleaning lowered heart attack risk by 54 percent for men and 84 percent for women.
  • Exercising just 30 minutes a day on six days per month resulted in a 43 percent lower mortality rate from all causes.

    A different study reported that exercise benefits reduced the risk of dying from all causes by 20 to 30 percent.

    A Great Seasoning Mix

    People may want to use less salt in their food, but it's difficult to find seasoning without it. Lemon pepper, for example, contains a lot of salt.

    Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say these common spices can mix together to create 1/4 cup of very good seasoning:

    5 teaspoons onion powder
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon paprika
    1 tablespoon dry mustard
    1 teaspoon thyme
    1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    1/2 teaspoon celery seed.

    OK to Cut Mold Off of Cheese

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cutting mold off of hard cheese, such as cheddar, is fine. Cut an inch-wide margin around the mold. Don't contaminate the knife. Then, use a clean knife to slice the remaining cheese. For cheeses made with mold, such as blue cheese and Brie, check for mold that is not the same type as that used in the cheese. Cut off the new mold. Use a clean knife to cut the rest of the cheese.


  • Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk!

    OK to eat all the fish you want It has been a dilemma. Health authorities agree that there are big health benefits to eating fish. On the other hand, they said we should limit our consumption of fish because of toxic chemicals.

    Now the dilemma is over. The new conclusion is: Eat all the fish you want.

    Two federally funded studies, one from the Institute of Health, the other from Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, have analyzed hundreds of studies. They have determined that eating more seafood may help reduce the risk of heart disease in the general population.

    Harvard researchers found that people who eat one to two servings of fish per week, especially fatty fish like wild salmon, may reduce their risk of death from heart attacks by 36 percent, and the rate of death in general by 17 percent.

    In addition, the reports show that pregnant or nursing women who eat fish pass similar beneficial effects on to their infants, including improved visual acuity and cognitive development.

    Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid eating shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. They should limit their intake of albacore, or white tuna.


    Expensive Drugs

    Some say new, expensive drugs may not always be the best treatment. American drug companies are the world leaders in developing life-saving medications.

    Not every drug is a winner, however, according to the Kaiser Permanente Drug Information Services. When a Merck study showed that some Vioxx patients were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, Vioxx was pulled from the market.

    This is not the only case of an FDA-approved drug being taken off the market. Complications in some drugs may not become apparent until it has been on the market for some time.

    When it comes to prescription drugs, the Public Citizen Health Research Group recommends that, unless there is no effective alternative, consumers should avoid taking medications that have not been on the market for several years.

    Authorities at the Group say that if an equally effective drug with a longer track record is available, why take a chance of going with the newer competitor? Often, of course, patients can't wait several years to use a life-saving medication.

    A new study by the CDC in the AMA Journal shows that some 700,000 Americans a year are seen in emergency rooms because of bad reactions to drugs.

    There could be many reasons for bad reactions, however, including the patient's not following instructions.


    OK to get Medicine from Canada

    Under pressure from Congress and Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) Customs and Border Protection officials discontinued seizing drugs mailed from Canada. October 9 was the first day of the new policy.

    As of mid-July 2006, Customs officials had seized more than 37,000 drug packages since the November 2005 drug seizure policy went into effect. Officials won't say how many packages were seized since July.


    AIDS Testing for People Age 13 to 64

    Federal health officials are recommending that testing for the AIDS virus should be offered to everyone in every hospital, doctor's office, and clinic to speed diagnosis and help curb the AIDS epidemic.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations are not binding, but designed to make AIDS testing as routine as tests for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.

    About 1 million people in the US are HIV-positive, but 250,000 of them have not been diagnosed. Timothy Mastro of the CDC says, "We think that the quarter of a million people who don't know their infection status account for 70 percent of sexually transmitted infections."

    New Class of Diabetes Drugs

    A new type of diabetes drug becomes active only when blood sugar rises. It doesn't cause dangerous drops in sugar levels that can occur with insulin or other diabetes treatments.

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved Merck's Januvia, the first in a new class of diabetes drugs. When blood sugar rises after a patient eats, hormones normally bring blood sugar levels down. In diabetics, however, the hormones are inactivated by the DPP-4 enzyme. Januvia blocks the action of DPP-4. The cost will be $4.86 per daily pill to treat type 2