IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  March 1, 2004

March is National Nutrition Month

Making the food guide pyramid work for you

At first glance, you might look at the food guide pyramid and think you wouldn't eat that much in a day. But the size of portions could change your mind.

  • The base of the pyramid is carbohydrates, with six to 11 servings recommended. In real life, a sandwich has two bread servings, a deli bagel has four+, an average bowl of cereal has two, and restaurant portions of pasta have three or four servings. It's not hard to reach six.
  • Next come vegetables with three to five servings recommended, but just a half cup of cooked vegetables is one serving. An average salad has two+ servings, and a small order of French fries has two+ servings as well.
  • The fruit category calls for two to four servings. A bottle of juice is two+ servings. A medium apple, banana or orange is one serving.
  • The milk, yogurt, and cheese category calls for two or three servings of one cup milk or yogurt, 1.5 oz. cheese, or one large latte.
  • It's not hard to put enough protein in your diet. The two to three servings of meat, poultry, or fish are tiny. Servings of eggs, white beans, and nuts are small.
  • Fats, oils, and sweets can be a problem. They should be used sparingly since they occur naturally in other foods.

    Portion Distortion

    It's important to compare your portions to serving sizes listed on food packages or recommended by the food guide pyramid. The portion you want could be equal to two or more servings. When you are aware of portion sizes and manage them, you can enjoy all foods and still watch your weight, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.


    Survival rate high for localized colorectal cancer

    The five-year survival rate for cases of early, localized colorectal cancer is 90 percent. Unfortunately, only about a third of all cases are identified in the early stage. Many experts believe that if the poor screening rates in people over age 50 increased, the death rate could be cut in half. Only about a quarter of people at average risk have ever been tested.

    Before actual cancer develops, precancerous growths usually form in the lining of the rectum or colon. About 95 percent of cancers arise when these growths (polyps) turn cancerous. There are six tests which may detect polyps. The digital rectal exam is one. The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities. It is better than no test at all, but it can miss smaller growths.

    The fecal occult blood test is another. It analyzes the stool for blood, but false positives can result in patients who take aspirin, other NSAIDS, or certain medicines. The most accurate tests are the sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and the CT scan. The sigmoidoscopy examines rectum and the lower part of the colon. The colonoscopy examines the rectum and the entire colon.

    The sigmoid and colonoscopy have been the victims of bad publicity. The fact is that the patient receives a sedative and shortly thereafter wakens wondering when the test will begin. The test, however, is over and the patient felt nothing. The CT scan is the most recent addition to tests for colon cancer or polyps. The scan is painless, not invasive, and no anesthetic is needed.


  • Hepatitis C from a tattoo

    Tattoos are increasingly accepted everywhere. But while many are pretty, they could result in the wearer getting the hepatitis C virus, HCV.

    Doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center say people with tattoos are just as likely as IV drug users to have HCV. They are less likely to have symptoms, however, for up to 20 years. The tattoo could be harboring a time bomb.

    IV drug users have early signs of infection because drug needles shoot HCV directly into the blood stream. Tattoo needles pierce just the skin, introducing the virus into the bloodstream slowly and in smaller amounts.


    Dangerous clothes

    Doctors say your wardrobe can lead to pain and other problems:

    Tight neckties raise pressure in the eyes which can lead to glaucoma.

    Ill-fitting shoes cause corns and bunions. High heels increase a woman's risk of knee osteoarthritis.

    Pants that are tight around the waist can cause heartburn.


    Not down the drain

    Because many people keep their medicines in the medicine cabinet, it's convenient to dump unused medicines into the toilet. That's a problem say authorities for the U.S. Geological Survey. It has documented traces of many medications in water samples from 30 states. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the trash is a better place to dispose of unwanted medications.


    Exercise for stiff arteries

    Researchers reporting in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology say a genetic disposition toward stiff arteries can be offset by exercise. With regular exercise, the arteries of test subjects who were genetically prone to stiff arteries became similar to those with no such genetic cause.


    Laparoscopy for appendix

    In laparoscopic surgery, the appendix can be removed through an incision that is one-tenth the size of that made for traditional surgery. A tiny camera guides the surgeon as cutters, staplers and a tiny sterile bag are used to remove the appendix. A Duke University study shows that patients fare better with the minimally invasive surgery. The risk of infection is lower, and the recovery time is shorter.


    Laparoscopy for kidney donors

    Until recently, surgery on the donor of a kidney for transplant included a 10-inch incision and possibly the removal of a rib. Recovery time took weeks. With the new laparoscopic surgery, however, the incision is tiny. The donor goes home in a couple of days and can be back to work (in an office) within a week, say transplant experts at the University of Iowa. They hope the new technique will encourage more people to donate a kidney to a family member.

    There are more than 50,000 patients in the U.S. waiting for a kidney. Some 2,000 die while on the waiting list each year, according to the National Kidney Foundation. About 6,600 patients a year are saved by a kidney from a living donor.



    "Of course truth is stranger than fiction. We see so much less of it."
    - Ivern Ball

    "Only dead fish swim with the stream. Question authority."

    "We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon."

    "The will to win is not worth a nickel, unless you have the will to practice."

    "Whenever you think something sounds easy, it turns out there's one part you didn't hear."

    "Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby."

    "If you expect too much from others, they won't ever reach their potential."
    - Laura Nodiglian

    "Nationalities will continue to try to get ahead of each other if we keep calling each other 'races.'"
    - Mary Anne Silva

    "That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger."
    - Nietzche

    Medical History

    After Dentist Horace Wells used anesthesia for the first time in history to extract a tooth painlessly (1844), his associates suggested that he get a patent. He said, "Let it be free as the air."

    Q & A

    Q: With regard to aerobics class music, what is considered too loud?

    A: At 85 db the EPA standard for safe sound is 45 minutes. At 88 db the EPA standard for safe sound is 23 minutes. EPA regards 91 db as unsafe for any length of time over 11 minutes. The European Union has set the maximum legal limit for recreational sound in its member countries as 85 dB with a suggested level of 80 dB.

    These are the guidelines set by the EPA for db/duration.

    dB Noise Level   EPA Limit
       70 dB         24 hours
       79 dB         3 hours
       82 dB         1 hour 30 min.
       97 dB         3 minutes
       102 dB        53 seconds
       107 dB        16.7 seconds
       117 dB        1.7 seconds

    OSHA recommends a workplace temperature control in the range of 68-76 F and humidity control in the range of 20%-60% as specified in OSHA Manual. The Complete OSHA Technical Manual includes Noise Measurement and Guidelines as well. The EEC has also set guidelines, which are lower than the US standards.

    Q: Is it good to have carbs before workout, if so, how long before?

    A: Eat a light carb snack about 1 hour prior to your workout. This will provide the fuel necessary to perform at your peak. However, there is some belief that not eating before your workout will force the body to tap into fat reserves sooner. This would only be a critical decision if you were in competition or trying to maximize the cardio strength gains, where performance is the goal rather than fat loss.

    Q: I am interested in starting a gym. Can you recommend any resources?

    A: Take a look at Gym Biz: Starting and Running Your Own Gym for Profit by Lou Ravelle. This book should be listed on on Amazon or in your local bookstore.