IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  March 1, 2007

Coping with Stress

As a pilot, studying the case reports of failed flights, I learned that insecurity about one's capabilities leads to fear, which leads to panic. If you never allow yourself to get to the insecurity level, you are two steps away from ever getting to panic. Once in the panic mode, you can't tie your shoe let alone fly a plane. You can avoid insecurities about your capabilities by developing action plans.

Pilots use checklists for everything. In many of the black box recordings that I have listened to, you can hear the pilots calmly going through the checklist as the plane careens toward the earth. It is only after they have expended their efforts through checklists that you hear the final, emotionless "oh s***." Know your capabilities and have contingency plans for when you are placed in a situation that may exceed them. Surprises are only acceptable for birthday parties.

In life, a physical checklist is not necessary. However, having a plan is the surest way toward success. It provides a predetermined path for the brain to follow regardless of the environmental conditions at the decision making time.

Super-healthy Valentine Chocolates

This chocolate really is good for your sweetie. Mars' CocaVia chocolates have plant sterols and coca flavonols. They contain just 150 calories.

The sterols interfere with absorption of cholesterol and may promote elimination of cholesterol from the body.

The coca flavonols improve blood flow and circulation, especially in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Flavonols are also found in other foods, but the chocolate is more appropriate for Valentine's Day.


Age 40 Prostate Test

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown that screening men for prostate cancer at age 40 has benefits. It can help doctors better interpret screening scores as men age, resulting in fewer unnecessary procedures.

The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test measures a protein produced by the prostate gland. As a result of PSA testing, about 1.6 million biopsies are conducted each year, but only 234,000 are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The doctors found that what really matters is the rate at which PSA scores change over time. Starting earlier than age 50 helps them decide whether or not a score is normal for that individual.

SIDS Linked to Brain Defect

Building on two decades of work, scientists' new findings show the strongest evidence yet that infants at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have abnormalities in the brainstem. The brainstem controls heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

The researchers also say problems with serotonin in the brain could be a cause. SIDS babies may not be able to properly use and recycle the brain chemical serotonin, which helps to relay messages between nerve cells.

The findings could accelerate a push for simple tests to identify babies at high risk, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year, about 2,000 seemingly healthy babies die of SIDS, or crib death. They go to sleep and don't wake up.

Hysterectomy Alternative

Only half of women afflicted with painful fibroid tumors are being informed by their gynecologists of a minimally invasive alternative to hysterectomy, the most common treatment.

In uterine artery embolization (UAE), blood-stopping particles are placed in the artery that feeds the tumors that cause excess bleeding.


Deciding on a Tea

As you study teas on the supermarket shelf, you may be surprised to know that all teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant, a warm-weather evergreen. How fresh leaves are processed and their length of contact with oxygen determine the resulting type of tea.

Oxidation gives the leaves their distinctive color. Green tea is not oxidized. The leaves are steamed, rolled, and dried. Black tea is oxidized for two to four hours, and Oolong tea falls somewhere in between.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, herbal teas aren't from the Camellia sinensis plant and are not linked with research on the health benefits of traditional teas.

Tea is one of the most healthful beverages. It's fat-free and calorie-free. Tea is rich in flavonoids and powerful antioxidants that help to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, as shown in studies at the Antioxidants Research Laboratory of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Green and black teas have the most antioxidants.
The American Dietetic Association notes that a certain number of flavonoids in tea are lost during the decaffeination process, so decaffeinated teas are somewhat less beneficial than regular brews.

How to Make Tea

From Kevin Hickey of the English Tea Store.

Hickey says loose tea brewed in a teapot makes the best-tasting tea. He recommends one teaspoon of loose tea per person plus one for the pot.

  • Use freshly drawn water. Water loses oxygen when it stands and that keeps the full flavor of the tea from being released.
  • Warm the pot first. It helps to maintain the brewing temperature long enough to extract more flavor from the tea.
  • Use boiling water to make the tea. Water that is "off the boil" does not allow the tea to brew properly.
  • Brew for 3 to 5 minutes. Shorter times will not reveal the full flavor and quality of the tea. Longer brewing will result in a bitter-tasting tea as tannin will start to be extracted from the tea leaves.
  • Stir the tea in the pot once or twice while it is brewing.
  • For tea bags, the same brewing directions apply.
  • In a cup, brew 1 to 2 minutes.


    Be a Hero: Save Your Own Life

    Your family and co-workers may never know, but steps you take now could save a life, your life. That would definitely make you their hero.

    Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say heart disease is often preventable. Their recommendations include:

    Don't smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking is the most powerful risk factor for heart disease. No amount of smoke is safe. Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at even greater risk, especially after age 35

    Exercise. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack by nearly a quarter. And exercise reduces stress, another risk factor. Though federal guidelines call for up to 60 minutes of exercise a day, even small amounts of exercise can help.

    Control cholesterol and eat a heart-healthy diet. Saturated fat and trans fats increase heart risk by raising blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is particularly worrisome because foods containing this type of fat are common in the American diet. Major sources include beef, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils.

    The American Heart Association can help you calculate your cholesterol intake and give important advice on how to control it. Visit cholesterollowdown.org to see how to lower your cholesterol.
    Vegetables and fruits are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. They help prevent heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
    Maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain as an adult is mostly fatty tissue, a risk factor for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

    Get regular health screenings. Healthy adults should have cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked every two years, more often if their numbers are high.

    A heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated. Just find ways to put heart-healthy habits into your life.


  • Stick-on Vaccinations

    In the future, painful vaccination shots could be replaced by immunizations that just stick on like a Band-Aid. Those in human testing now are designed to protect against the flu and travelers' diarrhea.

    If they continue to make a good showing, your immunizations could come in the mail instead of in the doctor's office. The National Institutes of Health is helping to fund the patch research. They are looking for a more effective way to deliver vaccines.

    In the event of a pandemic caused by some form of super flu, the patches could be shipped to entire populations. People wouldn't have to risk leaving their homes to be immunized.

    The technology would be especially useful in developing countries. Syringe-based vaccines require refrigeration and sterile needles. The patches can simply be handed out to clinics or individuals. All they have to do is stick them on.

    Patch developer Iomai Corp. says studies show that the skin is the best route to the immune system.


    Weightlifters: Don't Hold your Breath

    You have probably never made this connection, but there is a relationship between lifting weights and the possibility of developing glaucoma.

    Whether you are a body builder lifting very heavy weights or in a routine pressing 150-pounders, doing it improperly can cause an increase in potentially damaging eye pressure. A team of researchers at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital found this to be greater if weightlifters hold their breath during repetitions.

    A study by Dr. Robert Rich looked at pressure in the inner eyes of men ages 18 to 40. He found intraocular pressure increased significantly during four repetitions of a 150-pound bench press if the men held their breath. The increase was temporary.


    Unofficial Exercise

    A brisk, half-hour walk is good, as are swimming and going to an exercise class. If you really can't find time for official exercise, however, try unofficial exercise. It can be done every day .

  • Treat yard work and housework as exercise. Vacuuming, sweeping, and raking involve arm and leg muscles and burn 245 to 280 calories an hour.
  • Take extra steps. Park farther away from work. At the mall, walk through more stores. At the supermarket, check out the entire market before filling your cart. Walk to a restaurant for lunch.
  • Make a half hour of TV an active time. Use a stationary bike, jog lightly in place, or do floor exercises. Seated, do some leg lifts with toes pointed forward and others with toes pointed up.
  • Dig in the dirt. Gardening and yard work strengthen knees, arms, and hands.

    Mowing, pulling weeds, and raking improve back, arm, and leg muscles. They burn 350 calories an hour and get you out in fresh air.
    Adjust to your limitations, especially if you have conditions such as arthritis, or heart disease. Talk to your doctor.


    Diet Cuts Alzheimer's Risk

    New studies show that the Mediterranean diet that reduces heart disease risk helps protect against Alzheimer's.

    Researchers at Columbia University Medical School say the diet tested includes eating lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, and fish, while limiting intake of meat and dairy products, plus a moderate intake of alcohol and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. The diet is good for the heart and brain.