IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  July 1, 2008

Food of the Month

Cold potatoes, like those in potato salad, have an unusual benefit.

Would you believe that potatoes, cold potatoes are a good diet food? New research indicates that cold potatoes can be helpful for weight loss because they contain "resistant starch," according to Leslie Bonci, author of A Guide to Better Digestion from the American Dietetic Association.

Many carbohydrates, such as sugar and most starches found in hot potatoes, are rapidly digested and absorbed through the small intestine. Resistant starch, on the other hand, travels to the large intestine and acts as a dietary fiber. It works like the starches found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

There are three separate types of resistant starch: those found in legumes and grains, those found in foods that are cooked and cooled such as potatoes and pasta, and starches that have been chemically modified to resist digestion. Nutritionists find that most people do a poor job in eating foods with fiber. Cold potatoes can add good fiber to their diet.

The following recipe is great for an Independence Day picnic in that it contains a little red, a little white, and a little blue ... with the kick of a firecracker added for good measure.

Besides containing resistant starch in its cold potatoes, it has additional fiber in the horseradish.

July Fourth Potato Salad

2 cups boiled red potatoes with skin left on
2 cups of boiled small white potatoes with skin left on
2 hardboiled eggs cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 cup natural yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons horseradish
6 tablespoons chipotle mustard
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup chives or bacon bits for garnish.
Mix together and enjoy.

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Computer a Pain in the Neck?

According to Arthritis Care & Research, strength training exercises that focus on the neck and shoulder muscles can help relieve persistent neck pain.

Study subjects with chronic neck pain were employed in various workplaces where jobs included repetitive tasks such as working at a computer all day.

Strength training for 20 minutes three times a week included using five dumbbell exercises. Study authors said the supervised dynamic strength training of the painful muscles led to prolonged decreases in pain or elimination of neck pain.

More Applause for Oatmeal

For some time, eating oatmeal has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. It lowers bad cholesterol without lowering the good kind. New studies show it can do more.

University of Kentucky researchers at Duke University say eating oatmeal can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It also supplies compounds that reduce hardening of the arteries.

The doctors also say lifestyle changes, including diet, are the first therapy for people with moderate cholesterol risk.

Judging Sugar Content

Nearly 70 percent of Americans say they want to cut back on sugar consumption. Doing it takes more than using one spoonful of sugar instead of two on your cereal. You have to read the Nutrition Facts label on food products you buy.

Sometimes a product is rather high in sugar content but has other desirable factors. Consider a glass of orange juice. The label on Tropicana Pure Premium says it has 22 grams of sugar. That's more than a glass of Kool-Aid, which has 18. But the sugar in orange juice is a natural part of the orange.

The orange juice also contains plenty of vitamin C, potassium, carbohydrates and a little protein, all of which make it an excellent nutritional choice.

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A Summer Benefit Good for Your Knees

Walk barefoot or wear your flip-flops. Mother nature had shoeless cavemen in mind when she designed your feet.

Researchers in Rheumatology at Rush Medical College say going barefoot is still a good idea, especially when you're walking on the beach, anywhere you won't step on something sharp or around the house.

The doctors studied people with knee arthritis to determine how various kinds of shoes affected the load on their knees. Participants walked barefoot or wore a Danski clog, a Brooks Addiction stability shoe, a Puma H-Street (a flat, flexible walking shoe) or flip-flops.

The stability shoes showed a 16 percent higher load on the knees than walking barefoot. The Puma walking shoes and the flip-flops produced lower knee loads, which were comparable to walking barefoot.

Shoes that allowed the natural foot motion and flexibility appeared to be more beneficial in terms of knee loading.

Najia Shakoor, who led the study, says shoes have always been designed for foot comfort. Little attention has been directed to the effect shoes may have on the knees, especially osteoarthritic knees. Knee loads play an important role in the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

The same team of researchers previously showed that walking barefoot significantly decreased the load on the knees and hips compared with wearing walking shoes.

Some shoe companies have taken these studies very seriously. Nike now has a line of running shoes called Nike Free that are designed to have the same feel and knee load as running barefoot.
Going shoeless or on stocking feet is still a good choice wherever it is appropriate.

However, toenail fungus can become systemic requiring oral anti fungal drug therapies, which can damage the liver. It's a trade off.

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Choose Your Worrying Correctly

If you're terrified of snakes or bees and think swimming pools are very dangerous, you are probably worried about the wrong things.

Chances are, you will ultimately die of cancer or heart disease regardless of your physical condition today. About half of all deaths in the United States are caused by these two problems.

Stroke is next in line, followed by chronic lower-respiratory disease and diabetes with about half as many deaths as stroke.

When it comes to death by accident, be sure to fasten your seat belt and obey speed limits. Motor vehicle accidents kill more people than any other kind. In second place are drug overdoses with about a quarter as many accidental deaths. Motorcycle accidents and fire are tied for a distant third and fourth places. And falling down the steps is the fifth leading cause of accidental death, followed by choking on food.

Only a couple of people each year die from snake bites.

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Probiotics

Probiotics found in yogurt and other foods promote digestive tract health, fight allergies.

It's hard to avoid the TV commercials about Activia with its Bifidus regularis and other probiotics. They are good bacteria that could improve your digestive tract.

Other companies are jumping on the bandwagon with their own probiotic yogurt, fortified beverages and other products.

Probiotics work because they last a long time in the intestines, says Dr. Gary Huffnagle, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and co-author of The Probiotics Revolution.

The bacteria help regulate and restore the rhythmic motion of the intestines that push digested food through. It doesn't matter if you are constipated or the opposite, Huffnagle says in a recent Time interview. These bacteria can help to make you more regular.

His research also suggests that the bacteria can battle a number of allergies, not just food allergies. Anything you breathe is also swallowed. These beneficial bacteria can help control several allergies, not just food allergies, but more study is needed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking a neutral stance on probiotic products. But it is cautioning food makers not to pitch their products as a cure for any sort of specific disease.

The USDA says some people should avoid probiotics completely. People with weakened immune systems, people who are very ill and people in the hospital should stay away from them.

Plain yogurt is the best source, but chocolate and sauerkraut are also good. One company is coming out with a probiotic chocolate bar.

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Surgery Without Incisions

New equipment and procedures are allowing surgeons to remove the appendix by going through the mouth, the gallbladder or a kidney by way of the vagina, and other surgeries by entering through the anus.

Orifice-surgery is faster and less painful than laparoscopic surgery, which uses small incisions. It doesn't leave scars and patients heal faster. At Massachusetts General Hospital, the chief of surgery says he was skeptical about orifice surgery a few years ago but now thinks that it works.

Device makers are very interested in this new type of procedure. At least 10 companies are manufacturing equipment for the emerging field, but it will take some time before it is commonly used for routine operations.

Vytorin, Zetia Use Questioned

A controversial Dutch study of the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin indicates that it works no better than a generic statin. Doctors at Yale University recommend that their patients go back to less-expensive statins, especially if they were not fully treated by them before.

Both Zetia and Vytorin (a combination of Zetia and Zocor) are made with ezetimibe, which blocks absorption of cholesterol in the gut.

Vytorin also contains simvastatin, which blocks synthesis in the liver.
The American College of Cardiology recommends that until further research is available, Vytorin and Zetia should be used only as a last resort, after all other drugs fail to lower cholesterol.

Generic Fosamax Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic versions of Fosamax, the popular osteoporosis drug made by Merck & Co. Teva Pharmaceuticals and Barr Laboratories should have generics in most pharmacies soon. In the United States, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 34 million have low bone mass.

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Don't Let Summer Pass You By

Get out there and walk, run or play. All through the winter you promised yourself that when warm weather came, you would start walking. Well, it's here.

Being, busy doesn't cut it now. All you have to do is put your shoes on and walk out the door. Just start with a 15-minute walk. Once you do, you'll enjoy it so much that extending the time, little by little, will be a pleasure.

Another thing you will enjoy is how you will look after walking for a few weeks. Your waistline will thank you and you'll have a more toned look.

According to exercise tables, it could seem as if a few of hundred calories won't count for much when it comes to losing weight. The better part of exercising is that your body will continue to burn more calories for a time after your session is over.

As you exercise more, particularly if you add some weights to your exercise routine, you will build more muscle. Muscle burns more calories than the fat you are losing, so you will burn more calories 24 hours a day.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say exercise will improve your mood and calm you down when you are stressed. It promotes better sleep and a better sex life.

Exercise helps to manage or prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and breathing problems. Doctors at Duke University say walking is the magic pill for better health.

And it's fun, so get out there!

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It's hot. It's humid. The Dog Days are here.

The term Dog Days dates back to ancient times when people studied the sky and relied on the heavens and the stars for navigation and spiritual sustenance.

These ancients looked into the night sky, before modern lights obscured the stars, and imagined that the constellations formed images of bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), a bull (Taurus) and dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor)

Sirius, called the dog star, was the brightest star in the night sky. It was so bright that the Romans thought it added heat to the earth.
In late summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun, furthering the notion that the heat of the combined stars created the muggy, sultry weather. They called the 20-day alignment of the sun and Sirius, the Dog Days.

This alignment can vary in exact dates with the latitude of the observer and by the annual variances in the equinoxes.

Most of us know only that this period is too hot for a good disposition and we'll be looking for ways to stay cool during those 20 days. We could go for a swim, take a vacation to a cooler climate, go to an air-conditioned theater, or spend time leisurely shopping at the air conditioned mall. Dress in cool clothes and don't overexert.

But if you are still uncomfortable, you can blame it on the big dog and that familiar old star, the sun.

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