IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date: February 1, 2010
February is Chili Month! Black bean chili
Dispel the myth. Chili is not a native Mexican dish and far from the fare of
the South American country Chile.
Most early references referred to "chili con carne"
or meat stew. Some legends trace it to a Spanish nun who came to the New
World in the 17th Century, while others say it was brought to San
Antonio, in 1731 by settlers from the Canary Islands.
Chili has evolved in many forms and has spawned
cook-offs everywhere from county fairs to national festivals. Except for
meatless recipes, all have two things in common, meat and some form of
Mary "Mom" Unser, matriarch of the famous auto racing
family, made hers with shredded pork, Vodka, and large cans of
jalapeņos. Many varieties are topped with items like cheese or poured
over spaghetti as a topping.
The recipe below uses Louisiana hot sauce in place of
the traditional chili powder. (Add the hot sauce and pepper to suit your
Quick black bean chili
1 pound ground beef chuck, turkey or chicken
1 medium onion, diced
1 14-15 ounce can chili-ready tomatoes
1 14-15 oz. can beef broth
1 14-15 ounce can black beans
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup.
10 dashes Louisiana hot sauce, Tabasco, or small can
Salt to taste.
In a large, deep skillet or wok, brown the meat and onions, adding the
salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Add the beans, tomatoes and broth and simmer on low
for about 45 minutes stirring from time to time.
Serve with crackers as a main course or in a cup as a
soup course. The mixture freezes well and still tastes great as a
February is American Heart Month
One expert says real improvement in heart disease risk takes just three
steps: Eat right, be active, and don't smoke.
Whether you're in the 20s, 40s or well beyond, it's
never too late or too early to follow this advice. Cardiovascular
disease is the nation's top killer.
Limit your intake of fats in order to keep your arteries clear. Know your LDL and HDL cholesterol numbers and how to keep them in the proper range, ideally under 100 mg/dL for LDL, and above 50 for good HDL, according to the American Heart Association.
Too much sugar in the diet can cause weight gain and extra work for the heart. About 65 percent of Americans are overweight. Eat sweets in moderation, advises Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet Supercharged.
Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, a big heart risk. Most of it is in processed foods. Home cooking should be flavored with other seasonings.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. If you don't often eat fatty fish, supplement with omega 3s. Many experts say drinking several cups of green tea per day decreases heart attack risk by lowering inflammation.
Exercise early and regularly, advises Dr. Agatston. Inactivity is one of the top risk factors for heart disease.
Exercise strengthens your heart, helps keep cholesterol under control and improves circulation and energy.
It increases endurance, improves muscle tone and strengthens bones.
Exercise helps reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
It improves the quality of your sleep and makes you look and feel healthy.
Exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week is recommended. Exercising more often, or every day, is better.
About 20 percent of heart disease deaths in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking.
Heart attack risk increases with the number of cigarettes a person smokes. Pack-a-day smokers have twice the risk of heart attack non-smokers have.
Smokers' heart attack risk increases according to the number of years they have smoked.
Sudden paralysis that's not a stroke: Bell's palsy
No one knows for sure why some otherwise healthy
people wake up one morning to find one side of their faces paralyzed.
Their skin droops on the affected side and their eye won't close. They
drool and can't smile.
It's terrifying and many
victims think they have had a stoke. Actually, they have Bell's palsy, a
generally temporary condition named for a surgeon who first described it
in the early 1800s.
Most patients recover with no
lasting effects. Doctors think many would recover without treatment. But
you should get immediate medical attention so doctors can rule out other
causes, such as brain tumors, strokes and injuries.
Neurologists at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver
think Bell's palsy may be caused from damage to a facial nerve. The
nerve runs through a narrow, bony canal beneath each ear.
The neurologists have found that the nerve is swollen and inflamed in
Bell's patients, which causes damage and sudden symptoms. They prescribe
antiviral drugs and steroids to improve symptoms, according to the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
palsy continues to baffle the medical community since there is no
conclusive evidence about what treatment actually cures it.
Seeing a doctor right away, however, is a patient's best bet for
avoiding lasting effects. Some 85 percent of patients recover fully, but
the remaining 15 percent have some problem long after other symptoms are
A professor of oncology at the University of
Pittsburgh says he had Bell's many years ago. Ever since, his eye closes
when he smiles.
Music brings memories back to Alzheimer's patients
Caregivers have long observed that Alzheimer's
patients can remember and sing songs long after they've stopped
recognizing names and faces. After listening to favorite music for a
half-hour or an hour, they may be able to recognize someone, talk and
converse for a time. A path to the past is opened.
Concetta Tomaino, director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic
Function, is heading a program to provide iPods loaded with customized
playlists to help spread the benefits of music to Alzheimer's patients.
The institute is a nonprofit organization founded at Beth Abraham Health
Services in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1995. Dr. Tomaino believes music
stimulates dormant areas of the brain that haven't been accessible due
to the disease.
Stroke, dementia and injury patients
are reaping as great or greater benefits from iPods and MP3 players
according to The Wall Street Journal.
Heart attacks and CT scans
Research done at 16 large medical centers across the
country shows that using a CT scan provides a faster and cheaper way to
diagnose a heart attack. Six million people each year go to hospitals
with chest pains, but only a small fraction are having a heart attack.
Of those who do not have clear signs of a heart attack from blood tests
or EKGs, 4 percent to 13 percent will have a missed diagnosis of their
heart attack. Of that group, one quarter will die, according to the
study's leader at William Beaumont Hospital in Detroit.
A CT scan gives a better picture of the heart and costs less, $2,136 on
average versus $3,458 for standard screening.
Whole wheat white bread
For adults and children who don't like wheat bread,
the Whole Grains Council says the "new white" whole-wheat products are a
good choice. The main difference is the color gene. Make sure the first
listed ingredient is whole wheat.
Groundhog Day: Check Phil's weather prediction!
On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's groundhog extraordinaire,
will again stick his head out of his den. The nation awaits his verdict.
Groundhog Day is said to have its origins in ancient weather lore where
the prognosticator was often a badger or a sacred bear. In the United
States, its origin is said to come from a Pennsylvania German custom.
If Phil, peeking from his burrow, fails to see his shadow, winter will
soon be over. If the sun happens to be shining and Phil sees his shadow,
winter will continue for six more weeks.
trek to meet with Phil began in 1887.He has been emerging from his
burrow in Pennsylvania ever since, always eager to greet his public.
Phil is private in many ways, but a few rumors have circulated about
He gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life" of which he takes one sip every summer during the Groundhog Picnic. This gives him seven more years of life.
It is said he is named after King Philip, a famous Native American leader. In his more plebeian days, he was called Br'er Groundhog.
He speaks only in Groundhogese, which luckily is a language understood by the President of the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle provides for Phil during the year, rather like a court provides for its king.
The city of Punxsutawney offers several days of celebration for those
who gather from around the world to hear Phil's proclamation. The city
offers food, music, carriage rides, magicians, crafts and games.
New breast-cancer screening advice
The new mammogram guidelines by the U.S. Preventive
Services Task Force were recently published in the Annals of Internal
The controversial guidelines were both hailed as
reasonable and derided as an example of health care rationing. The
For women in their 40s, routine mammograms are not necessary. They are not saying there isn't a benefit to screening women in their 40s, but they are saying the benefit is small.
The review weighed the benefits of screening compared with the harms of false positives, such as anxiety, unnecessary additional tests and biopsies, which are expensive and time-consuming, according to the task force.
Women age 50 to 74 years old do not need to undergo mammograms more often than every other year.
There is insufficient evidence to conclude the benefit or harm of mammograms for women age 75 and older.
The recommendations only apply to women without a family risk of breast cancer and those who don't have genetic mutations known to be associated with breast cancer, such as the presence of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Doctors need not teach women how to examine their breasts for signs of cancer because of a lack of evidence that it is of any benefit.
Scientists agree that, in spite of many false
positives, mammograms reduce cancer deaths in women ages 39 to 59 by
about 15 percent.
At this time, the American Cancer Society and the
American Medical Association recommend annual mammograms for women
starting at age 40
Most health insurance companies and The Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid have no plans to change their coverage, but that
might not be the case for private insurance companies.
The guidelines influence both public and private
insurance over time.
Yes, DASH to avoid kidney stones
If you've ever had the searing pain of a kidney
stone, you are probably familiar with a lot of dietary advice on how to
Now researchers say forget all that.
New studies show that the DASH diet (Dietary
Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a better simpler plan.
Studies by Brigham and Women's Hospital and others
analyzed data on about 240,000 men and women for 14 to 18 years. They
discovered that those who consumed foods recommended in the DASH diet
were at 40 percent to 45 percent less likely to develop stones.
The main features of DASH include a high intake of
fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole
grains. It also recommends low intake of sodium, sweetened beverages,
and red and processed meats.
In previous dietary advice, stone formers were
advised to stay away from high oxalate foods such as spinach and
almonds. The new studies do not support avoiding individual foods,
particularly if it results in lower intake of fruits, vegetables and
The doctors say further research is necessary. But
DASH can help, and it has other favorable features, such weight loss and
reduced blood pressure.
What it takes to burn off calories from food choices.
One way to judge the number of calories in foods and drinks is to
consider the amount of exercise it takes to burn them off, and what
choices you could have made instead.
A 175-pound person would have to do 48 minutes of moderate exercise
to burn the 271 calories from a 2 oz. Snickers bar, but only 13 minutes
for the 71 calories in an apple.
For a 12 oz. root beer, it would be 27 minutes as opposed to none at
all for a glass of sparkling water.
To burn 274 calories from a cup of ice cream, you would have to
exercise for 42 minutes, as opposed to 9 minutes for the 53 calories in
a cup of strawberries.
Comparing a glazed doughnut with a slice of whole-grain toast with
jam, the exercise times are 42 minutes and 22 minutes respectively.
'Pain in the neck' defined
The term may be used to describe an aggravating
person, but if it describes an actual physical symptom, the causes and
treatments should be determined.
Neck problems vary from stiffness to a sharp or dull
pain, sometimes accompanied by back, shoulder or arm pain.
Muscle strain is often the cause. It could be
triggered by leaning over a steering wheel, a computer or a desk for
long periods. Muscles at the back of the neck become fatigued. It's
called tension myalgia. In the future, hold your head in a different way
to determine which is less stressful to the neck.
Home treatment includes use of creams such as Flexall and Bengay. The external rubs are less likely to irritate the stomach or kidneys.
Over-the-counter tablets such as acetaminophen (in Tylenol and others), naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin are good for relieving pain.
Lie down for 10 minutes during the day to take the load off your neck.
Massage is also helpful.
Osteoarthritis, disk degeneration and whiplash are more serious causes.
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