IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  August 1, 2007

Dip into hummus for a hearty, healthful treat

If you keep hearing about hummus but are too busy to find out what it is and why it's good, we have answers for you.

Its main ingredient is garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Doesn't sound too appetizing? Just try hummus as a pita chip dip or spread it on crackers and celery sticks, and you could change your mind.

Historians at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem think the humble chickpea's nutritional benefits are one of the reasons civilization developed in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia. Chickpeas include tryptophan, which improves performance when under stress, and may have improved brain function those 11,000 years ago.

We're not claiming that hummus has done any of that, but chickpeas are a source of good carbohydrates, vitamins, and zinc and have a low fat content. Most dieters will find that hummus is a perfect snack and a good addition to a low-calorie eating plan.

And it's good for children. Spread on celery or crackers, it's better for kids than store-bought spreads and dips. Sometimes spelled hummis instead of hummus, the Thai version, called bi tahini, includes sesame seed paste and coriander. Some recipes call for many ingredients.

For a tasty addition to a vegetable tray that includes cut-up broccoli and cauliflower, there's no need to assemble exotic components. Just try this easy recipe. You can alter it to your personal taste by increasing or decreasing the olive oil and the jalapenos. Add more of the reserved liquid for a smoother dip.

Easy hummus

Drain a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Save the liquid.

Add 2 ounces of fresh sliced jalapeno peppers, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of olive oil (can be left out of the recipe)

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients with 1 tablespoon of the reserved bean liquid and blend until smooth.

This recipe makes 2 cups.

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Discard medicines safely

Federal guidelines for disposing of unused prescription drugs:

  • Remove the medicines from their original containers.
  • Mix into kitty litter or coffee grounds.
  • Put in an empty can or plastic bag and put in the trash.


    Exercise: Sneak it in or have fun with it

    Small changes in your life can have a big impact on your health.

    Take exercise. Doing it for half an hour or 45 minutes is very effective for burning calories and improving your fitness level. But sneaking a little more exercise into your life has its benefits.

    Sneaking could include parking farther away from the supermarket or your workplace. Using the stairs instead of the elevator if only for a few floors adds quite a bit of exercise to your day. You could take a walk during your lunch break. Or you could pace in place or ride your exercise bike while watching television. A little added to a little more adds up to a lot.

    Burning calories through these activities counts just as much for weight loss as limiting calories. A new study by Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State shows there is no difference in calorie use between exercise and diet. Calories are calories no matter how you choose to reduce them in your life.

    If you want to have more fun while burning calories, think about things you like to do. Half an hour of planting vegetables in a garden burns 150 calories. An even better burn comes from dancing.

    Experts say the key to getting exercise every day lies in adding exercise to activities that you do all the time. That's a program you are likely to stick to.


  • Staying hydrated

    Even though, thirst is the body's way of indicating it needs more fluids, sometimes, you're not thirsty even as dehydration begins.

    Even if you don't feel thirsty, these situations increase the need for fluids:

  • During exercise. For an hour of light exercise, 2 to 3 cups of fluids are recommended.
  • When it's hot. You naturally lose more fluid and require higher intake.
  • If you are constipated. Fluid helps your body eliminate waste.
  • If you are prone to urinary tract infections or kidney stones. Adding more fluids to your diet may prevent urinary tract infections and stone formation.
  • When you are sick. Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, a very serious condition.

    If you don't often feel thirsty, check the color of your urine. If it's darker than usual, you need more fluids.

    Researchers at Tufts University say people over age 50 need eight 6 ounce servings of liquid per day rather than 8 ounce servings.


    Avoiding angioplasty

    A newstudy shows that for many heart patients with chronic but stable chest pain, taking medication alone can be as effective as angioplasty and drugs combined. Drugs used to treat chest pain include aspirin, statins, and blood pressure medications.

    After an average of five years, researchers found the drug group had been hospitalized slightly less often than the angioplasty group. At the same time, 211 deaths occurred in the angioplasty group and 202 in the drug group. The study was reported by researchers to the American College of Cardiology.

    In angioplasty, a small balloon is threaded into arteries supplying the heart to unblock them. (Angioplasty is still recommended to stop the progress of heart attacks and strokes.)

    Because angioplasty costs $5,295 more than drug therapy, eliminating 350,000 of the 1.2 million done annually could save as much as $10 billion a year.

    New gastric reflux treatment

    Millions of adults suffer from gastric reflux caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. In some cases sufferers develop a more serious condition which may lead to esophageal cancer.

    Now, BARRX Medical of Sunnyvale, Calif., produces its HAL090 system to treat the condition. It consists of a tiny electrode attached to the tip of an endoscope. Doctor focus heat precisely on the diseased tissue.

    The HAL090 has only been on the market for one year, but at this time, it shows a 98 percent cure rate. The treatment takes about 20 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis.

    Two drugs for 'wet' MD

    Retina specialists at the New York Eye and Ear infirmary confirm that the drugs Avastin and Lucentis are effective in stopping the growth of blood vessels. The vessels obstruct the vision of "wet" macular degeneration patients.

    The drugs are injected directly into the eye and help patients retain vision.


    Men, eat your greens!

    The American Cancer Society has found that men are at a higher risk of kidney cancer than women. But men often shun foods that prevent it.

    An Italian study suggests that flavonoids found in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables could lower your risk of kidney cancer by nearly a third.

    Flavonoid-rich foods include parsley, thyme, celery, peppers, yellow onions, kale, broccoli, apples, berries, tea, red grapes, and red wine.


  • Headache and Diet

    Millions of Americans see their doctors each year because of frequent or severe headaches. One of the main headache triggers, especially for migraines, is diet.

    Sometimes a headache is caused by a combination of dietary triggers, such as stress combined with coffee or wine. Some people get headaches when they drink coffee. Regular coffee drinkers get headaches when they quit.

    To discover triggers or combinations that cause headaches, keep a food and drink journal for a couple of weeks. Note circumstances such as stress, exercise, and changes in sleep. When you have compiled the list, review it for connections to your headaches.

    Common triggers include:

  • High-fat foods, particularly those with the saturated fats found in meat or fast foods, and transfats found in baked goods, margarine, and snack foods.
  • Aged foods such as red wine, cheddar or blue cheese, deli meats, and overripe bananas.
  • Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates.

    Author and dietitian Elaine Magee says foods that help to avoid headaches are those with omega-3 fatty acids such as olive oil and fish, and magnesium as found in almonds and peanut butter.


    To save your bones

    Try simple changes to fight heartburn.

    People who take acid-supressing medications, especially at high doses and on a long-term basis, could be putting their bones at risk.

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine studied medical records of 145,000 people in England. The hip-fracture rate among patients taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat gastroesophagel reflux disease (GERD) was 44 percent higher than for those not taking the drugs. About 79 percent of the patients studied were women.

    PPIs include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec. Nexium is the third-largest selling drug in the world.

    Many studies suggest that PPIs interfere with calcium absorption.

    Getting enough calcium is especially important for people 50 years of age and older who take PPIs. Both diet and calcium supplements are recommended.

    To fight GERD without drugs, doctors say:

  • Eat smaller meals and eat more often. Skip coffee, citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
  • Lose weight. Obesity has been linked to heartburn.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid tight-fitting waistbands and clothes that squeeze your middle.
  • Elevate the head of your bed by six to eight inches.
  • Avoid lying down or bending over immediately after meals.

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    Use a tape measure to track your heart attack risk

    If you always thought the body mass index (BMI) wasn't the best indicator of your personal health, doctors at Kaiser Permanente of Northern California agree. They have a better idea.

    They find that the size of the sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) is a better indicator. (That's the size of the belly.) Measure half way between your back and your upper abdomen, midway between the top of the pelvis and the ribs. Measure standing up.

    After a 12-year study, researchers determined that men with the biggest bellies have a 42 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease. For women, the risk was 44 percent greater than women with the smallest bellies.

    Walking helps to reduce the size of the sagittal abdominal diameter.

    Colonoscopy benefits

    The colonoscopy is a painless procedure that could save your life by detecting cancer in its early states. The American Cancer Society gives these five-year survival rates: Limited to the colon, 93 percent; spread through the wall of the colon, 72 percent to 85 percent; spread to the lymph nodes, 44 percent to 83 percent; spread to other organs, 8 percent.