IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  July 1, 2005

A Walk in the Park

Living with arthritis isn't about limiting yourself. It's about finding ways to maintain your high quality of life says the Arthritis Foundation.

There are some things you can do to prevent arthritis. They are the same things you would do to prevent many other conditions: Keep your weight at a normal level to avoid stressing knee and hip joints. Enjoy regular exercise and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common kind. It occurs when cartilage protecting the ends of the bones in the joints breaks down over time. Bones may rub against each other at the joints, producing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. You can take control of OA and continue to enjoy such activities as walking. Here are some of walking's other benefits:

  • Strengthens muscles and builds flexibility.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness.
  • Keeps bones strong to help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Improves body's use of insulin to help prevent diabetes.
  • Burns calories to help manage body weight.
  • Builds strong muscles around joints to protect them.

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder. Because joint damage occurs early in the course of RA, the American College of Rheumatology recommends starting therapy within 3 months of diagnosis to help prevent bone and joint damage as well as to relieve symptoms. Several medications have been shown to decrease the damage that can be caused by RA.

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    Keep That Water Handy

    During a day of normal activity, the body needs about 2 quarts of liquid to replace body fluid losses. Eight glasses of this should come from drinking water and other beverages. The remainder, about 2 cups, comes from solid foods.

    Doctors at the University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance say fruits and vegetables are 85 to 96 percent water. Steak is 50 percent. When exercising, 1/2 to 1 quart of fluids per hour is required to replace sweat loss during moderate physical activity.

    In hot weather, the liquid requirement during exercise is higher, depending on temperature and activity. In addition, drink water before beginning outdoor activities such as gardening.

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    Why TV Makes You Gain Weight

    Is having a television the same as having a 19-inch brownie in the house? That's what the author of Diet Simple (Regenery), Katherine Tallmadge, says. Not only does it lead to mindless nibbling, but some experts say it also slows the rate at which you burn calories.

    "Your metabolism is nearly as slow as when you are sleeping," Tallmadge says. It takes a big toll on kids' health as well."

    Pediatricians at Stanford found that cutting back on the amount of time kids spend in front of the TV contributes to significant weight loss.

    Sunblock For Your Eyes

    You take steps to prevent sunburn on your skin, but what about your eyes? The sun can burn your eyes just like your skin. Ophthalmologists at Harvard say it is on the surface of the eyes that most damage occurs.

    Overexposure to the sun can cause inflammation of the cornea called keratitis. The eyes feel as if you have sand in them for 24 to 48 hours. Repeated bouts of keratitis can lead to serious, chronic inflammation which may have to be surgically treated.

    Doctors at the University of Alabama say the effect of UV radiation on the eyes is cumulative. Most people get about half their lifetime dose of radiation before they are 25 years old. Obviously, children should wear protective sunglasses.

    Buy sunglasses with built in UV-blocking sun protection. Check the label to make sure. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shade your eyes is also recommended.

    USDA: Spuds Are Good For You

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture now says that potatoes have as much antioxidant activity as other disease-fighting vegetables.

    A 10.5 ounce baked russet potato (with skin) delivers as much antioxidant punch as 2 cups of cooked broccoli, 1 1/2 cups of cooked asparagus, or a cup of cooked red cabbage.

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  • Spinach Cancer Fighter

    Spinach, the big-time cancer fighter, has many benefits.

    Popeye the Sailor Man smoked a pipe. Lucky for him, he also ate lots of spinach.

    We can only hope he downed the juice as well. Of all the vegetable juices, spinach juice is said to be the best for the prevention of cancer cell formation.

    Spinach also boasts an extraordinarily high vitamin C content. It is rich in riboflavin, vitamin A, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins E, B6, and thiamin.

    Like other greens, it shrinks a lot when it's cooked. A pound of leaves can be reduced to about a cup. The water can be added to soups.

    A treat for your heart, the folate and vitamin B6 in spinach helps to control homocysteine levels. Studies at Tufts University in Boston and the Framing Heart Study show that high homocysteine levels are a big heart attack risk. Microwaved spinach, they say, is your best bet for managing homocysteine.

    Eating spinach and other dark leafy greens throughout your life will protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration in later life. A study by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston compared the diets of people with macular degeneration and an equal number of people who did not. They found that people who ate more green vegetables, particularly spinach and collard greens, were 43 percent less likely to have macular degeneration.

    Experts say antioxidants in spinach and other dark greens neutralize tissue-damaging free radicals before they harm the macular region of the eye.

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    Viruses, Lead Added to Carcinogen List

    The government's new list of suspected cancer causes includes viruses for the first time including hepatitis B and C and sexually transmitted viruses.

    Dr. Christopher Portier of the National Toxicology Program, which prepared the update, says the list was expanded to include things in the environment that people should be aware of.

    X-rays made the list, but the American College of Radiology says they shouldn't be there. The list is for substances and items people may be exposed to in their daily lives. Because people aren't exposed to X-rays every day, placing them on the list could prompt patients to avoid getting needed care.

    Lead, used to make lead-acid storage batteries, ammunition and cable coverings, and lead compounds used in paint, glass, and ceramics, and as a fuel additive also were new on the list.

    Authorities from the American Council on Science and Health say the list should include information on the types of exposures and dosages that could cause cancer as well as the health benefits of some of the items named.

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    To Burn More Fat, Build More Muscle

    Forget fad diets, weight-loss pills, and supplements that are supposed to create muscle growth. The path to better health and a leaner body lies in eating a proper diet and exercising to build muscle.

    The more muscle you build, the more you perk up your metabolism to burn more calories. For each pound of muscle, you burn an extra 12,000 calories a year. Nutritionist and author Miriam Nelson says muscle burns more calories when you walk, when you exercise, and even when you sleep.

    Building muscle becomes even more important when you realize that people lose about a fourth of a pound of muscle per year and replace it with fat. That means that during a 12-year period of middle life, the average person will lose three pounds of good, solid muscle. How can they get it back?

    Researchers at the University of Arizona at Tucson say strength training is one of the best ways to build muscle, but it also builds strong bones. Their studies back up findings from the Nurse's Health Study which shows that women who walked at least four hours per week lowered their risk of hip fracture by about 40 percent.

    Strength training doesn't have to include huge dumbbells and weight machines at the gym. It can be done with handweights, exercise bands, and even your own body weight when you do pushups or squats.

    When you eat right and do regular strength training, you'll find you will soon have a stronger, leaner, and more attractive body.

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    Get Some Sun But Not Very Much

    A few minutes of direct sunlight each day can bring big benefits. Sunlight prompts the body to produce vitamin D. Studies show that people who get the least exposure to the sun have a greater risk of prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, and high blood pressure according to a University of Alabama study.

    Twenty minutes in the sun also helps the body produce folate. Folic acid may help to prevent buildup of fat in the arteries. It is an essential nutrient for women in childbearing years because it helps prevent birth defects.

    Sun Protection

    People often think that a tan will protect them from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Not true. A tan is the body's desperate attempt to protect itself from sun damage. Rather than being helpful, sun tanning can lead to wrinkles, skin cancer, and other skin problems.

    When you will be outdoors for more than 20 minutes, use a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. At the beach, use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30

    If you will be involved in sports or working out, use an oil-free spray-on sunscreen like Coppertone Sport Lotion sunblock. It keeps protecting you even when you sweat.

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    Preventing Cataracts and Macular Degeneration

    You can take steps now to avoid cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Protecting your eyes the sun is an essential step. Buy sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB damage.

    Lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina help to protect the eyes. Vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene chase away cell damaging free radicals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get enough of these protectors.

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    Attention Men

    Don't want to use prophylactics? That's a big mistake. According to statistics quoted in Men's Fitness, these are the odds that your prospective partner is already infected with a sexually transmitted disease: HPV, 7.5 out of 10; Herpes, one in four; Chlamydia, one in 10; Trichomoniasis, one in 20; Gonorrhea, one in 60, HIV, one in 250.
    The statistics are national averages. Incidence varies, however, in various parts of the country and among different ethnic groups.

    Many sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms in the early stages so a woman may not know she is infected. If she is, however, she can pass the disease on to you.

    Weekend Exercise

    Here's good news for weekend warriors and Saturday tennis players. Daily exercise is best, but exercising on Saturday and Sunday can help you live longer too according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    Before starting, get your doctor's approval for your planned activities. Start slowly and work up gradually to 60 or 90 minutes. Exercising enough to burn 1,000 calories during the weekend should be your goal.

    During the week, increase physical activity by using the stairs, parking farther from the store, cleaning the house, or working in the garden.

    Choose activities that you enjoy and will be able to do in years to come.

    Not Recommending Booze

    Studies at the Harvard School of Public Health and elsewhere show a drink of alcohol is good for the heart and the brain. (A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of liquor. One drink a day is recommended for women and two for men.)

    Still most doctors hesitate to recommend drinking alcohol for fear of overconsumption. Some critics say the beneficial flavonoids in red wine and beer are also in grape juice.

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    Quotes

    I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. - Woody Allen.

    It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. - Woody Allen.

    Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. - Unknown