IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  May 1, 2012

Wrap your fingersaround this BLT

According to foodtimeline.org, bacon and lettuce recipes can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Tomatoes that complete the BLT were introduced to Europe in the 16th century and sandwiches in the 18th century.

Since the 19th century, the BLT, in one form or another, has been a staple on menus from sandwich counters to haute cuisine tea rooms.

Traditionally, the ingredients appear as flat slices of toasted white sandwich bread laden with bacon, lettuce and tomato. Add a slice of cheese and it becomes a BLT Club.

According to foodtimeline.org, foods are not invented but they evolve. With this recipe, we have another take on the BLT, but it's far from being the final wrap.

Heart Healthy BLT wrap.

1 pound light or turkey bacon
4 large whole wheat flour tortillas
2 cups diced and drained tomatoes (may be canned)
1 bag shredded lettuce
1/2 cup light mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

Lightly brown tortillas in oven or a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking oil. Set aside. Microwave 16 strips of bacon until crisp.

Spread mayo on the tortillas, then space the strips of bacon on the coated tortillas and evenly sprinkle the diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce on top. Roll tightly, like a burrito.

Also, you can create variations of the basic sandwich, by adding horseradish or substituting mustard, Dijon mustard, Russian or Thousand Island dressing in place of the mayonnaise.

South of the border zip can be added by substituting the diced tomatoes with fresh, drained Pico De Gallo or try pushing the thermal envelope even higher with a sprinkling of your favorite hot peppers.

Make a lunch complete with a large, cold glass of milk and a cup of your favorite light soup.

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How to avoid freezing up at small meetings, social gatherings

You're ready for the meeting with suggestions to give and data to back them up. But when the big talkers start, you don't say anything. It's hard for you to speak up.

Something similar happens at barbeque parties and social events. You were invited, you know everyone, but don't join into the vivacious conversations.

Researchers at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute discovered that many people become, in effect, less intelligent in small group settings. If people sound smart, they feel dumb and less interested in problem solving.

The phenomenon is more common in people with higher IQs. Those who are introverted tendencies collect their thoughts before speaking. They aren't shy but can be overwhelmed in a group of extroverts.

Extroverts can also choke in group settings. If they are comfortable, they talk a lot. But if the big boss is present or others they feel are more successful, they can freeze and their brain shuts down.

Advice from Virginia Tech:

  • Attend with someone who is more outgoing or has a higher position. You'll be pulled into the conversation.
  • Talk to the person running the meeting beforehand and mention points you want to bring up. Ask for the opportunity to do it and explain why.
  • Be prepared and know what you want to say. Practice your delivery.
  • Take a break from an uncomfortable situation. Get some water or take a walk. It's like resetting your computer.
  • Realize that others in the room likely feel the same way you do.

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    Chuckles Corner

  • Weight loss surgery has long-term benefits

    A new 15-year study at Sweden's University of Gothenburg shows that the benefits of surgical procedures to shrink the stomach have a variety of long range benefits, many of which are independent of weight loss.

    Surgery is one of the few effective remedies for extreme obesity.

    Though the goal of most patients, in addition to losing weight, is to avoid a heart attack, the absolute benefit in this area was small.

    Reports on the same patient group, however, found the surgery was associated with a reduction in death from any cause and more favorable outcomes for cancer, diabetes and other conditions.

    The findings challenge the practice of using body mass index as the key criterion for the procedure. U.S. guidelines say candidates should have a body mass index of 40 or more, or 35, if they have obesity-related diabetes. For the less-invasive bariatric banding, the FDA recommends a BMI between 30 and 40 for those with at least one complicating disease.

    Patients in the study were 37 to 60 years old. Their average weight loss ranged between 16 percent and 23 percent of body weight up to 20 years of follow-up.
    Weight loss in control subjects, who attempted to lose weight by their own means, was about zero.

    At the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, they say recent research shows the biological effects of surgery, including lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is involved in appetite control and metabolism.


    What to do about night leg cramps

    If you occasionally get cramps in your legs at night, you know how painful they can be. Cramping usually occurs in the calf muscles. Cramping in the thighs or feet is less common.


    Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say these actions help prevent night leg cramps.

  • Be sure you are adequately hydrated. Drink water and other liquids throughout the day, especially if you have engaged in physical activity. Continue drinking fluids after being active. It helps muscles contract and relax.
  • Stretch before bed, especially muscles that have cramped before. For a calf stretch, step forward on the offending leg and slightly bend your knee. Hold for several seconds.
  • Wear shoes that have proper support to help prevent leg cramps.
  • Do some light exercise for a few minutes before retiring. Ride a stationary bike, for example.
  • Loosen the bed covers and bed sheets at the foot of the bed. Treatment. Pain from leg cramps can last from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more.
  • Stretch the leg out to relieve a sudden spasm. Or hold the top of your foot up toward your head to relieve a calf spasm. Gently massage the area.
  • Use cold or heat. Apply a cold pack, a warm towel or a heating pad. Taking a hot bath or shower can help.

    If frequent cramping interferes with your sleep, see a doctor.


    Nurses top list of largest job growth

    Nearly 3 million nurses work in the U.S. today, but this year more than 1 million new nurses will be needed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Even that number might not be enough to meet hiring demand.

    RNs top the list of the 10 occupations with the largest projected job growth. The total job openings, which include the replacement of retiring nurses, will be more than 1.1 million in this year, but this could still lead to a shortage of more than a million nurses by the end of the decade.

    With National Nurses Week occurring May 6-12 in both Canada and the U.S., it's a good time to remember that nursing is a career of the future.
    The theme for National Nurses Week in 2012 is "Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring."

    Nurses have consistently ranked first since 1999, on a Gallop Poll, for their honesty and integrity.

    The nursing profession is described as an art as much as a science, because it embraces so many varied interests and strengths. Nurses work in emergency rooms, school-based clinics, long-term care and correctional facilities, research institutions, state legislatures, Congress, and homeless shelters. They work as staff nurses, educators, nurse practitioners in medical offices, and nurse researchers.

    Registered nurses comprise the largest health care profession.

    Activities during National Nurses Week include recognition dinners, state and city proclamations, continuing education seminars, and other community events. Individual nurses are often honored by friends and family members, coworkers, such as doctors and administrators, and patients who want to show their appreciation with flowers, gifts or dinners.


    Some foods fight arthritis pain

    You probably know that omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart, but they are also good for reducing arthritis pain. These essential fatty acids are found in foods including coldwater fish, like salmon, tuna and halibut, flaxseeds and walnuts. They decrease inflammation in the body.

    Olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal, which blocks the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin.

    Green tea contains a natural antioxidant called EGCG that works to stop the production of certain inflammatory chemicals involved in arthritis.

    Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, contain vitamin C, one of the nutrients most responsible for the health of collagen. Other C-rich foods are bell peppers, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, kidney beans, and kiwi.

    Cherries, all berries, red and black grapes and plums all contain a powerful antioxidant. It can defuse the dangerous free radicals that irritate body tissues and cause the inflammation that is typical in arthritis.


  • FDA may approve a new diet drug

    An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration overwhelmingly recommends that the drug Qnexa be approved. The prescription drug would be the first approved for weight loss in more than a decade.

    Qnexa, made by Vivus, Inc., of California, was approved by a panel of non-FDA medical experts who were convinced that the drug's benefits outweighed any safety risks. They were impressed by the amount of weight study subjects lost, an average of 10 percent of body weight.

    It would be prescribed for patients who are obese or who have weight-related conditions.


    Relief for nickel allergy

    About 10 to 15 percent of people in the United States have a nickel allergy. It causes contact dermatitis with its inflammation, rash and itch. Jewelry is a common offender, including rings, ear rings, bracelets and chains.

    Now there may be a solution. It involves particles smaller than the width of a human hair. In a study published in Nature Nanotechnology, Harvard researchers show that a cream containing nanoparticles of calcium carbonate can protect a nickel-allergic person. The cream is applied to nickel, then washed off along with the nickel ions people are allergic to.

    Nickel allergy is becoming a bigger problem, since nickel is used in watches, cell phones and other technologies, not to mention coins and tools, says Jeffrey Karp, study co-author and expert at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital. The allergy can be a hazard if your job involves touching nickel.

    Karp and colleagues tested a cream and showed that even pure nickel can be coated with this substance to capture nickel ions, then the ions wash off before they can hit the skin.


    Liver disease seen as growing health threat

    Your liver performs many tasks, including processing what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients. The liver also filters harmful substances out of your blood.

    Excessive alcohol use is the most common cause of liver disease, but a fatty diet can also cause problems.

    If your alcohol consumption is low, but a routine checkup shows you have elevated levels of certain enzymes, your doctor will wonder if you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

    The condition often goes unnoticed because it usually causes few symptoms, though fatigue and pain in the right abdomen might occur, according to the Mayo Clinic. But a buildup of fat in the liver can lead to inflammation and scarring.

    This more serious form of the disease is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. It can cause liver failure or liver cancer in a small percentage of people.

    Cases of NASH are growing in the U.S. It is the third leading cause of cirrhosis, and is becoming a common reason for liver transplants.

    Those with higher risks for NAFLD are people who are obese, have high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or take medications, such as steroids.

    If you already have NAFLD (there is no cure), your focus should be treating the risk factors. Here's what to do:

  • Slowly lose weight, not more than two pounds a week.
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit consumption of saturated fats. Skip fast food, which has been linked to inflammation.
  • Increase physical activity. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of more vigorous physical activity.
  • Manage other health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

    Avoid alcohol and any unnecessary medications. Always follow instructions on over-the-counter medications.

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    To lose more weight, join a support program

    A study recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that people have the best chance of losing weight with weight-loss coaching.

    Researchers found that patients with at least one cardiovascular risk lost more weight when participating in a program that included a weight-loss coach. The study offered two programs, one that provided support by phone, email and website, and one that provided group and individual sessions.

    Over a two-year period, those with face-to-face support lost an average of 13 pounds. Those in the remote-support group lost 10 pounds, and those who dieted without support lost less than 2 pounds.


    Get up, lace up, show up for fitness

    It's time to check your tennis racket, shine up your golf clubs, and unpack your roller skates and swim fins.

    Those active pastimes can be healthy and fun. If you aren't much into sports, you can walk, splash around in a pool, play badminton, go camping, carry picnic baskets or play catch with a softball. The key to greater fitness is to do any of these things more often.

    Or you can stay inside where it never rains. Try a yoga class. It's a deceptively simple practice that includes holding a variety of positions designed to increase strength and flexibility.

    Belly dancing has become increasingly popular with no bellies showing. Depending on the level of the class, it can be a highly aerobic activity.

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