IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  June 1, 2010

The big three for the grill

Man's love affair with grilling goes all the way back to the invention of fire, and to that first prehistoric cook who accidentally dropped a raw piece of meat onto the glowing coals.

Since then, techniques for grilling have been honed and improved. Great varieties of grills can be found. They range in price from a small tabletop grill that uses charcoal to big grills in stainless steel cabinets powered by propane.

Below are three short recipes for a surefire backyard cookout.

Balsamic-glazed sirloin

Start with four half-pound strips of lean sirloin steak.
5 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1/2 stick melted butter.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Score steaks diagonally and brush both sides with butter. Dust with salt and pepper.

Mix the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a dish and brush the steaks with the mixture as they cook.

Spicy baked beans

Add these ingredients to two 15-oz. cans of pork and beans.

6 pieces bacon in small pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
12 dashes Louisiana hot sauce.

Mix in a grill-proof pan, and set on a medium-heat area of the grill before grilling the meat. Stir occasionally until it's bubbling.

Perfect grill corn

6 ears corn on the cob
1/2 stick, melted butter.

Salt to taste.

Carefully peel the husks back on the ears of corn and remove corn silk. Brush the corn inside with the melted butter and add dashes of salt. Put the husks back in place and soak the corn in water for a few minutes.

Place the corn in its husks on the grill in a position of medium heat. Turn frequently until charred spots start to appear on the husks. Cooking should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Check for tenderness.

Add your favorite summertime drink and a wedge of watermelon for a great backyard picnic.

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Mid-life diet mistakes

If you are age 40 or beyond, check yourself for this dietary advice by UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.

  • Don't eat like you used to. Your calorie requirement is less so there's not as much room for sweets and fats.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. If all you have to choose from is ice cream or hot dogs, you're in trouble. Choose fruits, vegetables and low-fat yogurt.
  • Frozen vegetables are nutritious. Have a big variety of fruits, vegetables and frozen entrees on hand.
  • Eat regular meals. If you skip one, you'll eat much more at the next meal.
  • Stay away from fad diets and create a healthy eating plan for life. Over time, you'll lose weight and be healthier.

    Exercise links physical and mental health

    The centuries-old wisdom that physical activity over a lifetime helps the body and mind are being proved again today.

    Exercise is not just for the young. At every age, it lowers the risk of diseases that become chronic in middle age and beyond.

    These include heart disease, various cancers, hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.


    Chuckles Corner

  • The core of strength, and why you should focus on it

    Exercises that increase core strength are all the rage among everyone from top athletes to fitness buffs and people who just want their bodies to be strong.

    The Mayo Clinic recommends strengthening the muscles in your back, pelvis, hips and abdomen because they work together to maintain your balance and stability.

    No special equipment is needed because any exercise that uses the trunk without support counts as a core exercise.

    Abdominal crunches qualify. Push-ups count too, as do push-ups on your knees or standing against a wall.

    Want to tone your abs? Core exercises strengthen and tone abdominal muscles. To reduce belly fat, however, you need aerobic activity.

    With a strong core your help prevent lower back pain and muscle injuries. A strong core makes it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to tying shoes.

    Core exercises don't take much time, especially at first.

    Gradually work up to 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise two or three times a week.

    Try these core exercises:

    The glute bridge: Lie on your back with arms at your sides and knees bent. Lift hips until knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold for two or three seconds.

    Lateral pillar bridge: Lie on your side propped up on one elbow. Lift your hip to make a straight line from ankle to shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

    Plank with arm lift: Start in a push-position. Without moving your torso, lift the left arm up and slightly to the left. Hold one or two seconds, then switch to the other arm.


    So it's diarrhea. What now?

    It's an unpleasant but all too ordinary experience. A common episode of diarrhea, however, usually settles down in a day or two and clears up without medical help.

    Acute forms that are caused by a virus or bacteria can clear up in a week. To help, avoid caffeine, alcohol, apple juice and pear juice. Dairy products and high-fiber foods are not good choices.
    Over-the-counter medications like Imodium, Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol can help. Ask your doctor about them if you take other medications.

    Dehydration is a concern with diarrhea, so drink plenty of fluids.
    See a doctor if you have six or more unformed bowel movements in a day.

    See a doctor if you are dehydrated in spite of drinking a lot of fluids or if you have these symptoms:

  • Severe abdominal or rectal pain.
  • Bloody or black stool.
  • High Temperature.

    Prescription drugs can cause diarrhea. If you suspect that to be the case, work with your doctor to find one that doesn't have that effect and that will work for your specific condition.

    Anyone with a compromised immune systems should see a doctor immediately for diarrhea.


    How what you eat affects your mood

    Researchers have long wondered why people living in the lower Mediterranean countries don't get depressed as often as people living in northern Europe. One thing they discovered: It isn't the sunny days or a nice blue ocean to look at. It's their diet.

    They studied more than 10,000 Spaniards who filled out a long food questionnaire. Then they checked for depression some years later.

    Those who consumed more olive oil and less fat, had a moderate intake of alcohol and dairy products, and ate a lot of beans, fruit, nuts, cereal, vegetables and fish were far less likely to be depressed.

    Doctors at Tufts University offer this happy-plate advice:

  • Eat breakfast and have healthy snacks to avoid drops of blood sugar.
  • Try complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, for increased feeling of calm.
  • Protein can boost alertness.
  • Folate is important. It is in fortified cereals, leafy vegetables, okra, asparagus, bananas, melons, beans, orange juice and tomato juice.
  • Don't overdo alcohol. It is a powerful depressant.
  • Coffee is an antidepressant, but too much can give you the jitters.
  • Skip the chocolate. It improves mood at first, but makes you feel even worse when its effect wears off.


  • Progesterone treatment for brain injuries

    Doctors have identified the protective effect of the female hormone progesterone in treating brain injuries.

    Arthur Kellerman, a study leader at Emory University in Atlanta, says progesterone should be called the "protective hormone." For over 30 years, he says, pharmaceutical companies have struggled with drug after drug, but up until now, no effective drug for treatment of brain injuries has been found.

    More than 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year (these figures don't include military personnel). Of those about 52,000 die from their injuries. Children and adults over the age 75 are the most likely to seek emergency room help for TBI, according to the CDC.

    Small studies of 100 and 159 patients have found the positive effect of progesterone treatment. In those studied, patients were 50 percent less likely to die and less likely to be disabled if they lived.

    The National Institutes of Health is investing $14 million for expanded trials, which will last for three years.

    They will be held at 17 hospitals in 15 states, some of which have not yet been designated. Four hospitals in Detroit have been named: Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Sinai Grace Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

    Patients who arrive at a participating hospital within four hours after enduring a moderate to severe brain injury will receive either progesterone intravenously for four days or placebos.

    Doctors at Emory University note that although progesterone is present in the bodies of men as well as women, it doesn't affect sex characteristics, such as facial hair or a deep voice.

    Men are 1 1/2 times more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury than women are. The leading causes of TBI are falls (28 percent), auto accidents (20 percent), being struck by or against an object (19 percent) and assaults (11 percent)


    They're a pain in the ... jaw

    Here's what you can do about painful jaw joints and muscles.

    About 10 million Americans suffer from painful jaw joint and muscles called TMJ disorders. They bring jaw pain that interferes with sleep and makes it hard to eat or speak.

    The symptoms can also bring pain to the backs of the eyes, the shoulders, neck and back.

    The culprit is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the bone at the side of the head and its connected muscles.

    Temporomandibular pain is often blamed on misaligned teeth and dental problems, but there are other causes.

    In some patients, the problem is related to repeated movement of the jaw caused by tooth grinding while they sleep. Stress-related clenching of the jaw muscles may be the cause. Or there could be a problem with the joint.

    Treatment begins with self-care.

  • Rest the joint. Limit jaw movement while eating, yawning and laughing. Avoid gum chewing.
  • Use heat to relax the muscles. Apply a heating pad, hot towel or water bottle for 20 minutes at a time.
  • Use over-the-counter NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. If they aren't effective, your doctor may prescribe a medication to treat anxiety or stress.
  • When misaligned teeth are the problem, a dentist or orthodontist can prescribe an orthodontic device.
  • Get physical therapy. There are exercises that can help with jaw muscle strength.

    In 10 percent to 15 percent of sufferers, none of these help. A doctor will then consider outpatient arthroscopy, according to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Under anesthesia, a tiny camera and instruments are moved to the site.

    The surgeon can remove excess joint cartilage or bone fragments, correct misaligned discs, reshape bone, or remove bone spurs.

    Afterward, you are advised to eat soft foods, avoid excessive jaw movement and take physical therapy.

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    Air filters may improve heart and lung health

    A high efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter will remove fine particulates from your air. The particulates can be produced by cooking, candles, mold, smoke and many other sources.

    The filters are used in stand-alone air cleaners, such as those found on the Web and at Lowe's and other home improvement stores. Some vacuum cleaners have HEPA filters or can be fitted with one.

    Studies reported by Duke University show HEPA-filtered air improved microvascular function by up to 8.1 percent within 48 hours. Microvascular function indicates how well blood vessels respond to the body's demands for oxygenated blood. Long-term use may lead to greater reduction in lung and cardiac risk.