IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  August 1, 2004

Reducing heart attacks

The vitamin folate was added to flour in 1996 in an effort to prevent birth defects. It now appears that folate has a significant effect against cardiovascular disease, preventing an estimated 48,000 deaths a year from strokes and heart attacks. The evidence comes from the first large population study done by the government since the program began.

The vitamin lowers homocysteine. High levels of this amino acid have long been linked to heart attacks and strokes.


Microwave Vegetables

A recent study reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture caused a stir because it found that microwaved broccoli loses much of its nutritional value. They found that steamed broccoli lost 11 percent of its flavonoids compared with pressure-cooked at 53 percent, boiled at 81 percent, and microwaved at 97 percent. (Flavonoids are substances with antioxidant properties.)

But they microwaved using too much water. For the study, they added 10 tablespoons of water. Just add a couple of tablespoons of water to fresh broccoli. Frozen vegetables don't need any extra water. By microwaving this way, most of the nutrients are saved.

Heat of any sort lowers the levels of some vitamins. But many nutrients dissolve in water, so when vegetables are prepared in water, healthful elements leach out and are thrown away with the water. That's probably why steamed broccoli came out best.


Kidney stones and high-protein diet

The National Kidney Foundation reports that cases of kidney stones are on the rise. Though they cite no studies that support the idea, the foundation thinks high-protein diets could be the cause.

Protein from meat and other animal products is broken down into acids. The kidneys balance acids with bases for elimination from the body using calcium as a base.

Protein is broken down, stored in bone, then binds with calcium. The kidneys filter calcium from the blood. The more meat you eat, the more calcium you'll have in your kidneys. These particles can bind together, forming kidney stones.

Typically, kidney stones have been more of a male problem, but because women are more likely to use high-protein diets, cases of kidney stones in women are rising faster than in men. During the last 18 years, stones in women have increased by 46 percent. The increase for men was 29 percent.

The kidney foundation suggests that if you want to try a high-protein diet, you should consult your doctor first.


Bypass surpasses angioplasty

Angioplasty, passing a balloon into an artery to clear it, is done more than a million times a year in the U.S., compared with about 300,000 bypass surgeries. Angioplasty requires only a slit in the groin and one night in the hospital as opposed to opening the chest for a bypass, followed by five to seven days in the hospital and six weeks of recovery.

In some cases, however, angioplasty may not be the best choice. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic followed 6,033 heart patients for five years after surgery or angioplasty. They found the risk of death was more than twice as high in the angioplasty group, particularly for high-risk cases.


Treating chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinus infections can require several courses of antibiotics per year and still make it hard for people to work and enjoy life.

Sinusitis develops when the sinuses are blocked. Causes include bones in the nose which have shifted, nasal polyps, and certain types of asthma.

Doctors at Harvard Medical School say people prone to sinusitis can benefit from irrigating their sinuses with salt water each day. Irrigation products are available at drug stores. You squirt the water into your nose, let it drip out, then blow your nose.

Outpatient surgery is recommended for blockage from polyps and shifted nasal bones.


Over 50?

It's time to focus on getting in shape. The 50-plus crowd is beginning to take fitness more seriously than ever before. There's good reason. Years of research have illustrated that the more you move, the longer you live.

At an age when their parents and grandparents took to an easy chair, today's over 50s are taking to the swimming pool and the gym in record numbers. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association says the number of Americans 55 and older using strength-training equipment on a regular basis has quadrupled in the last decade.

The key to healthy aging is finding a fitness routine that can last a lifetime. It's true whether a person is 30, 50, or more. Older people may switch to lower-impact sports such as biking swimming, and walking, according to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. And they take up cross-training to improve cardio fitness, flexibility, and strength. Just as important, they cultivate active friends and coaches who encourage them.

"A well-conditioned 65-year-old is fitter than a 30-year-old couch potato." It's an old observation, but still true.

After age 30, people begin to lose muscle mass, reducing strength. After 40, they lose bone mass as well. After 50, when people are focusing on whether they have wrinkles, they should be focusing on fitness.

The answer is to train smarter. Instead of short, intense workouts with heavy weights, they exercise longer using lighter ones.

Quoted in Newsweek, Doctors at Medical College of Wisconsin note that older people who run complain about arthritis pains in their knees for a few hours after working out. But their older patients who don't run have arthritis pain 24 hours a day.

Many people who are 50-plus still compete in marathons and other sports events.


Unrecognized Depression

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Health Centers say fully one third of clinically depressed patients claim they don't feel sad or blue. Instead, they complain about not feeling well for a long time, or feeling as if something is unusual or vaguely wrong. Some are reluctant to report even these clues.

Men, the doctors say, are more likely to deny depression because they are embarrassed by their symptoms. Depression is five times more common in men with low but still normal testosterone levels. This is an easily treated condition diagnosed with a simple blood test.

A large percentage of all cases go unrecognized. But people with clinical depression cannot will it away. They need treatment just as people with arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes require medical evaluation and treatment.

Sometimes it can begin with a personal loss such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Sometimes a genetic factor is at work. Sometimes the feelings of sadness, fatigue, worthlessness, and loss of self-confidence have no specific cause. When such symptoms last more than two weeks, see a doctor.

Depression can nearly always be relieved with medication and counseling. Combining the two is most effective for serious cases. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the drugs of choice. It typically takes ten days to three weeks for patients taking SSRIs to start feeling better and up to six weeks to experience dramatic improvement.


August is peach month

You can bet the juicy peaches of today are much better than those cultivated in China 3,000 years ago. Over time, peaches spread to Russia and Persia, probably because Chinese traders dropped their pits along the trade routes.

Alexander the Great brought peaches to Greece, and they were spread throughout Europe in succeeding centuries. Spanish explorers brought peaches to America.

The U.S. now produces about 20 percent of the world's peach crop, according to the Michigan Peach Sponsors. Peaches are in their prime in and around the month of August.

The best peaches ripen on the tree, where they develop their full flavor and sweetness. Those shipped far away are picked early and held in cold storage for shipping, say horticultural specialists at the University of Kentucky. It's hard to beat a tree-ripened peach, but even those that get ripe away from the tree are a real treat.

They have great health value as well. A medium-sized peach contains only 70 calories, no fat, and no sodium. What they do have is plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, and valuable phytochemicals.


Healthy Snacks

The best snacks are those that combine two or three food groups such as:

  • Celery filled with peanut butter and topped with a few raisins.
  • Natural peanut butter and reduced sugar jelly sandwiches.
  • Cottage cheese and fruit.

    If your snacks come from a vending machine, doctors at Rutgers University say you're better off to pick a salty snack than a sweet one unless you have high blood pressure.

    Some machines offer fruit, which is good. Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, are your best bet. If you have to have chocolate, pick a bar that is loaded with nuts or peanut butter. Pick dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.


    Older? Drink Less

    Researchers at Binghamton University in New York find that the older you are, the more severe your hangover symptoms tend to be. The solution is to drink fewer alcoholic beverages.

    Other hangover preventers: Pick clear alcohol over colored (vodka, not bourbon) and avoid anything with bubbles, which drive alcohol into your system.


    Good weather, no excuses

    Don't let the rest of summer slip by without getting more exercise. Tennis, basketball, and even golf can help.

    Make time for yourself. Enjoy the outdoors and strengthen your heart by hitting the walking trails or working in the garden. Walk to a place you have to go. Did you know that virtually all one-mile trips taken in the U.S. are by car?


    Aspirin or Acetaminophen?

    Regular consumption of these pain killers can cause scarring and lead to a decline in kidney function say doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. If you take aspirin or acetaminophen regularly, ask your doctor to check your kidneys. The doctor might recommend switching to ibuprofen and always taking the lowest possible dose of any pain reliever for the shortest possible time.


    Photos can track skin moles

    Doctors writing in the Archives of Dermatology say it's a good idea to take a picture of your skin moles so you can use them for later comparison.

    Pigmented moles that change shape or have irregular borders are a strong risk factor for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

    Next time you wonder if a mole has grown or changed shape, you will be able to compare it with the photo.


    Spicy gum best for breath

    Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago show that Big Red, the cinnamon-flavored chewing gum made by Wrigley's, reduces bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath.

    The gum contains cinnamic aldehyde, a plant-essential oil used for flavoring. The plant oil also inhibits growth of the bacteria responsible for cavities and periodontal infections.

    Study subjects chewed for 20 minutes. An analysis done twenty minutes after that showed the gum had reduced the concentration of bacteria in the mouth by more than 50 percent.


    Sugar, starch, and your colon

    Starchy or sweet foods that quickly break down into glucose have been linked to weight gain and heart disease risk. New research shows that eating these high-glycemic-load foods (such as bread, potatoes, and soft drinks) can also boost the risk of colon cancer, particularly in women.

    An eight-year study of 49,000 women shows that those with the highest glycemic-load values were nearly three times as likely to get colon cancer as those with the lowest values.


    Stop pain so you can exercise

    Lay off exercise for just one week, and muscles start wasting away. Handle pain with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, for temporary relief and get back into your active lifestyle.


    Women's cancer rates rise

    Findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that lung cancer has reached epidemic proportions among women. Now it kills more women than breast and ovarian cancer combined. At the same time, lung cancer rates for men have decreased.

    Oncologists think women may metabolize carcinogens differently from men, making them more susceptible to the disease. The lung-cancer rates cannot be fully explained by women's smoking patterns. Women who never smoked get lung cancer more often than men who never smoked.


    Reducing bladder cancer risk

    Bladder cancer is the fourth-leading cancer killer among men, but getting vitamin E from food appears to cut the risk by half for both men and women.

    Research funded by the state of Texas shows that people whose vitamin E intake was in the top 25 percent had half as much bladder cancer as those in the lowest quarter. The food quantity in the two extremes was quite small, however, the equivalent of a single daily serving of spinach or a handful of almonds.

    Foods rich in alpha-tocopherol include almonds, spinach, mustard greens, peppers, sunflower seeds, and oils including olive, cottonseed, and canola.


    Exhaustion and heart risk

    New research from the Netherlands shows that vital exhaustion (VE) can greatly increase the risk of having a first heart attack. VE symptoms are feelings of extreme fatigue, increased irritability, and defeat. People with VE have high levels of the blood-clotting protein fibrinogen throughout the day but especially in the morning.

    Heart risk is increased at that time, say study authors at Maastricht University, partly because fibrinolysis, a process that breaks down blood clots, is at low levels early in the day. Normal exhaustion may last for a few hours, but VE can last a month or more.


  • Quotes

    Eighty percent of success is showing up.
    - Woody Allen

    The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
    - Mark Twain

    The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you're finished.
    - Benjamin Franklin

    If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
    - Zen

    A woman is like a teabag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
    - Nancy Reagan

    Pilot Instructions: Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.


    Origin: Cupid

    Cupid (Eros) is the name of the Roman God of love and the son of Venus (Aphrodite), which was the Roman Goddess of love and beauty. The names in parenthesis are the older Greek names of the gods. Click on these links to read more about Greek and Roman Mythology or Technology.

    Q & A

    Q: How long and how often should I do my stretching? I've heard from 10 sec. to 4 min. My goal is to do the splits.

    A: The recommend time to hold a stretch is 20 seconds. We do have a section on our website about stretching if you would like to learn more about doing splits. See Stretching. Then click on Working Towards Splits.

    Q: I've learned that my wife and her 'new' personal trainer are spending time outside of the gym. He has given her his home and cell phone numbers. Seems strange and very unprofessional. He is not an IFA trainer but aren't there rules against this type of thing?

    A: Yes, there are. We have a Code of Ethics that must be followed. I would suggest talking with your wife to determine the level of training required.

    Q: Can you tell me the degree of range of motion that the hip, knee and shoulder joints should have. Thanks

    A: You can view limits at this website Range of Motion

    Q: I had a neck injury 5 years ago. I used to be very fit running 12-25 miles a day. I need some low impact advice to get me going again.

    A: Walking or stairmaster type machines would provide a low impact alternative. This can be done for 30 to 60 minutes a day.

    Q: Do all patients with low back pain, wrist, hand, etc. require a test for range of motion? Or do you have indications for patients that need range of motion tests? Thank you very much for your time.

    A: Personal Trainer (CPT) only do range of motion test for healthy clients prior to training, not for patients or those with clinical problems. This would be the responsibility of a Physical Therapist (PT).

    Q: I am looking for client forms (liablility waivers, progress forms, questionaires, etc) do you have them available? Thank you.

    A: They are all in our Fitness training Manual. You can download a copy at IFA Download page

    Q: I am 33 weeks pregnant and my resting heart rate is 100-112. I have some shortness of breath, dizzyness and fatigue. What is your opinion and what should I do??

    A: The doctor, based on your symptoms, will make a diagnosis. There may be other factors that need consideration. I am only a Personal Trainer not a medical person and am not equipped for this type of situation.

    Q: I have always been relatively fit. I am 5' 3' and 130 pounds, and 27 years old. I do a combination of cardio and weight training. With the addition of new machines at the locations where I workout, I've been introduced to built-in heart rate monitors over the past year. The problem I'm having is that these machines with built-in heart rate monitors consistently shut down, telling me my heart rate is too high. This has happened on five different machines, so I recently made an appointment with my doctor. How accurate are the heart rate monitors on new machines, and is there something I might be doing wrong that would trigger the machines to shut down? Thank you for your time. Kerri

    A: The heart rate monitors on machines could be off by 20%, either way. Get a personal heart rate monitor, the kind that straps to the chest. Finger types are very inaccurate. Keep the doctor's appointment and ask to have a Cardiac Stress test just to rule out any real problems.

    Q: My client is paralitic What kind of exercises should I prescribe to him? I have suggested water walking; is this right?

    A: Yes, that would be fine. Make sure that your client has a doctor's clearance before proceeding and that he is aware of the type of exercise plan that you will be providing to his patient.

    Q: Do you think that a low resting heart rate of 45 bpm can ultimatly determine your maximum HR. I can get my heart rate up to 160 during a spin class but no higher, this is going 'flat chat'. I'm 45 and train 3-5 times a week but certinally am not a elite athlete, far from it. Do you think a low maximum HR is also genetic?

    A: The stronger the heart, the slower the heart has to pump to do the same work. However, if you are overweight, feel dizzy, or short of breath, then the cause is concern for a doctor. Genetics do play a role in cardiac performance. Besides, your maximum HR is 175. At a 160 bpm HR, you are working at over 90% of your max, which is a little high. You should target around 85% or max for cardio training. I would also recommend a Cardiac Stress test at the doctor's office just to make sure there are no problems.

    Q: I always have back pains. Please advise me on how to solve this problem.

    A: First, you should see a doctor to rule out a medical problem. If there is no problem, then you may need to strengthen your lower back muscles. I would recommend Back Extensions and Abs exercises. They can be found at the Weight Training section of our website at Weight Training Section

    Q: I need to do the splits. I am studying Win Chung.

    A: We have a special section under Online Books on the website to address this. Go to ../stretch/index.html" target="_new">Stretching Section. Then click on Performing Splits on the left panel under the Stretching Techniques category. I would suggest soaking in a warm tub for about 15 minutes and then stretching.

    Q: I am a personal trainer certified through IFA. I have a client who had knee replacement surgery and would like to use me for her physical therapy but needs to have her insurance reimburse her. Is there any way I can do that or do we need to contact her insurance company? Thank you!!

    A: Physical Therapy is different from Personal Training. You may not be covered under your insurance should a liability arise. First check with your insurance company. If you are covered, she will have to provide a letter from her doctor with instructions for the activity that will assist her in her recovery. This keeps you, essentially, under the direction of the medical professional in the rehabilitation effort.

    Only then can you seek to have her reimbursed by her insurance company.

    Q: I am on a 1000 calorie diet and I would like to know how many grams of carbohydrates am I suppose to eat per day.

    A: I suggest using the Cyber Trainer on our website to determine the proper amount of calories per day for your body type and activity level. Anything less than 1500 a day and you will cause your body to store fat excessively. The recommended carbs per day should be about 60% of your total caloric intake per day.