IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  May 1, 2008

Hearty Version of Sauerbraten

You may already be familiar with sauerbraten, a beef dish that combines sweet, sour and pungent flavors. It's on many a German restaurant menu. Instead of sauerbraten, you could find porkerbraten on the menu. It is a roast of pork, slow-simmered in a rich, brown onion gravy.

It can be made with nearly any cut of pork, including roasts, chops, tenderloins or pork steaks. Many of these cuts are relatively inexpensive and may be included in a cost-saving pork variety pack at the local market.

The cost of the ingredients is low, but the flavor is outstanding. And it's a healthful dish with its meat protein, onions, omega-threes in the canola oil and beta carotene in the carrots.

Porkerbraten in a traditional beer and onion gravy.

1 2-3 pound pork loin
1 large sweet onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon coarse pepper
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 large carrots
1/2 cup pork, beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup dark beer
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Preheat the oven to 350

Diagonally score fatty side of pork loin. Rub the salt, pepper and caraway seeds into scored fat. Set aside 30 minutes and let meat come to room temperature.

Medium chop the onions, slice carrots to a quarter inch and place them on bottom of roasting pan.

Put the loin fat-side down on the vegetables and pour the beer over it. Cover the pan with foil, and roast it for half an hour. Remove foil, turn roast fat-side up, and place it back in the oven uncovered. Cook 45 minutes or until the meat is browned. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.

Strain juices from the vegetables, place in a skillet, and add pork, beef or chicken stock. Keep onions and carrots warm until serving.
Knead the butter and flour together into a paste. Bring the juices to a simmer and whisk in small pieces of the paste until the gravy thickens.

Place two to three slices on each plate along with vegetables. Ladle the gravy over the meat. Serves four.

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Early Recognition and Treatment of COPD

Heart disease and cancer are declining in the U.S. but that's not the case with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Its incidence is growing.

Today, COPD is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and it has now surpassed heart disease to be the leading killer of women. Many patients and physicians, however, don't recognize the gravity of the condition. It is often ignored far too long.
COPD is a progressive disease.

Patients have an abnormal inflammatory response in the lungs to particles in gases, particularly those in cigarette smoke, according to the American Thoracic Society. Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest and shallow breathing.

It's a condition that affects the entire person. The oxygen deprivation causes weakness. Patients may develop heart disease, chronic infections, cancer, depression and muscle wasting.

There is some good news. Though the lung damage can't be reversed, doctors at Duke University say treatment can preserve the existing lung function. Effective anti-inflammatory inhalers are available. Recently, statins have been found to help prevent inflammatory diseases associated with COPD. Supervised exercise programs are helpful.

If you smoke, have ever smoked, or are increasingly short of breath, tell your doctor. Appropriate treatment can help you live a longer, higher-quality life.

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To Weigh Less, Take the Train

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise such as walking five days a week. If you take the train, bus, or subway, you'll get that exercise without even trying.

After a hard day at work, you aren't thinking of exercise, but with public transportation, it's built in. One Atlanta resident says she lost 30 pounds when she switched from driving.

A commute takes a little longer by public transportation but saves energy, is relaxing and saves on parking costs.

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Exercise Takes Edge off Chronic Pain

, Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that when you are in pain exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But it could be more important than you think.

Regular exercise is a versatile weapon in the fight against chronic pain. It may seem difficult to start, but your body will thank you, say the Mayo people. What exercise can do:

  • It increases endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relievers.
  • Exercise builds strength, which takes the load off bones and cartilage.
  • It increases flexibility when you exercise. That means joints are able to move through their full range of motion and are less likely to ache or be painful.
  • It increases your energy level and gives you the strength to cope with life and with pain.
  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight and contributes to better sleep.
  • It enhances your mood and gives a sense of well-being. You look better and have the confidence to continue.
  • Exercise protects the heart.

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    Help Pharmacies Get It Right

    Pharmacists are busy. They may have half a dozen people waiting for their medications, people calling on the telephone with questions, and customers walking up to ask about over-the-counter medicines.

    To help them, there are technicians who prepare the medicine labels and bottles and work the cash register.
    With all the activity, it's no wonder that a mistake could be made. It's understandable, but a mistake could cause serious problems.

    What can you do?

  • Take responsibility for your prescription. Know what the doctor ordered, what the dosage is and what effect you should notice. Ask the doctor to read the prescription to you and spell it out.
  • Write down the name of the medication, the strength and the dosage.
  • Each time you have it filled or refilled, check to see if it's the right medicine, the right strength and the right dosage instructions.
  • If you have a question, ask to see the pharmacist before you leave the store. Say you didn't think it was what the doctor ordered or that the dosage is different.

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    Music does more than soothe the savage breast

    In 1697, playwright William Congreve wrote: "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."
    Today, music therapists credit music with something better: improved health.

    Can't sleep? The Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Arizona recommends listening to any music that you find relaxing.

    Use a CD player that shuts off by itself.

    Feeling low? Listening to music can ease depression symptoms by up to 25 percent. Various studies show that music reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and classical music lowers blood pressure. Another study shows that combining music and exercise protects against depression.

    If you're feeling blue, skip the sad songs. Listen to up-tempo music or upbeat songs for about 20 minutes and you'll feel much better.

    Got pain? Listening to music for an hour may reduce your pain by 20 percent. Music stimulates the release of the brain's pain-reducing endorphins.

    Short of breath? Try singing to the music. Singing or playing wind instruments increases breathing capacity.

    According to the Music Therapy Association, the right songs or classical pieces can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. It can send stress away and give you total relaxation.

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    Mother's Day Brunch

    If you're taking your mom out on Mother's Day to a restaurant with a block-long buffet, think about your waistline. Everything looks good, but you can't have it all. Survey the fare, then pick one meat, two or three vegetables and one dessert. Raw stuff doesn't count, but count it for one vegetable if you use salad dressing.

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  • Individual Quit Smoking Advice

    Because every person and every personality is different, there is no single way to quit smoking that works for everyone.

    To get a good idea of what would work best for you, visit cancer.org and click "Guide to Quitting Smoking," followed by "Quiz: What's the Best Way for You to Quit."

    It will help you decide on a range of techniques from 'cold turkey' to nicotine replacements.

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    Tests Identify 'bugs' ASAP

    A new generation of diagnostic tests uses genetic data for fast identification of organisms (called bugs) that cause disease.

    Rather than having to wait for days while growing them in a dish and examining organisms under a microscope, genetic data can produce the results in hours. The test can not only find what strain of a bug is present but also whether it is resistant to antibiotics. Carriers can be treated immediately and noncarriers can avoid unnecessary quarantines.

    The test will be important in identifying "superbugs" that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. And it can identify causes of rapidly spreading diseases in today's mobile population.

    Fasting Before Surgery

    Many doctors and hospitals still say patients should not eat or drink after midnight on the day of their surgery. But the American Society of Anesthesiologists reduced the guideline in 1999. For healthy persons who undergo elective surgery, it is safe to consume clear liquids, black coffee, carbonated beverages and fruit juice without pulp up to two hours before surgery.

    Light meals like toast and tea can be eaten up to six hours before surgery, and heavy meals that include meat can be eaten up to eight hours before.

    Doctors at Johns Hopkins say surgeons don't give these instructions, because surgeries of the stomach and esophagus, for example, require a longer fast. It's easier to give everyone the same instructions.

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    Stomach biopsies show that 82 percent of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have evidence of the stomach bug enterovirus. Only 34 percent of people without CFS showed signs of the infection.

    CFS patients who have gastrointestinal symptoms should be tested for this chronic form of viral infection.

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    More Nutrients in Food Than pills

    At Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, researchers say diets that are high in fruit and vegetable intake are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants counteract free radicals which cause damage that could lead to heart attacks and strokes.

    Their most recent study shows that antioxidants in food contain more complex vitamins and are more protective than antioxidants in vitamin pills.

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    Brain Games on the Internet

    If you want to perk up your gray matter without buying Nintendo or MindFit software, visit www.pogo.com.

    Dr. Maurice Ramirez, an expert on the subject, says adults are learning constantly, but they must be engaged and drawn into the learning experience. They respond best to games that blend logic, discovery, planning and thought.

    Pogo's players love Poppit!, Word Whomp and casino games. There is no charge.

    Yum, Broccoli on the Grill

    It's a great addition to a deck party or grilling outside at a picnic.

    In her book Super Natural Cooking (Celestial Arts, $20), author Heidi Swanson says here's how to do broccoli on the grill. The first step is cutting each head of broccoli pieces into crosswise sections about as thin as a pencil. Then add a little olive oil.

    Grill in a metal basket with the grill covered for five minutes or less. Drizzle with more olive oil and add a squeeze of lemon juice and ground flaxseeds.

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