IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  August 1, 2011

Old Fashioned potato pancakes

From the dining tables of France to the farm tables of almost every country in the world, potato pancakes make a great breakfast dish or a side for any meal.

A plethora of recipes exist for variations of the dish. They're like the stories from the '50s TV show, The Naked City. This is just one of them.

When you want to be creative, add other ingredients for a variation of taste. Consider, raisins, currants, pieces of nuts or bits of apples. Let your imagination be your guide.

If you have no left-over mashed potatoes on hand, start by mashing some freshly boiled ones or using ones of your favorite mashed potato mixes.

Old fashioned potato pancakes

4 cups cold mashed potatoes
2 large eggs
1/2 package real bacon bits or leftover bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons chives
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the two eggs until the yokes and whites are thoroughly mixed.

Add the mashed potatoes, salt and pepper and stir until the ingredients are combined into a smooth batter.

Add the bacon bits and chives and stir again until thoroughly mixed.

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with cooking oil and heat on high. Place dollops of the batter in the skillet and let spread until they form pancakes about four inches in diameter.

Fry until the cakes are firm. Turn them and cook on the other side. The pancake should be golden brown.

They should be accompanied by bowls of apple sauce and sour cream for tasty toppings. Serves four.

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How to reduce Parkinson's disease risk

Extensive research published by Tufts University gives some important information about preventing Parkinson's disease, a brain disorder that leads to tremors and difficulty in movement and coordination. About 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

Eat berries, such a blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. They contain protective flavonoids, which are also found in tea, apples, red wine and oranges, according to Harvard University.

Take ibuprofen for pain. A study in Neurology shows it will make you 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's.

Get vitamin D. A study in the Archives of Neurology shows that almost 70 percent of patients with early Parkinson's disease had very low levels of vitamin D. Fatty fish contain vitamin D as do fortified foods such as milk.

Exposure to sunlight helps the body to produce vitamin D, but without sunscreen, only 10 to 15 minutes of exposure per day are recommended.

Get some exercise to prevent weight gain, diabetes

Findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that adults in the South are most likely to report zero leisure-time activity, including no gardening, no walking and no golf.

Inactivity rates exceeded 29.2 percent in more than 70 percent of the counties in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Some counties of North Dakota, South Dakota and Pennsylvania also had high levels of inactivity.

Counties with the lowest rates of non-work-related physical activity had the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

The CDC says it's time to get moving.

States with the most active free time were on the West Coast, and in the Northeast, Colorado and Minnesota, places that also had the lowest prevalence of obesity and diabetes.


Chuckles Corner

Type 2 diabetes patients

Type 2 diabetes patients shouldn't be afraid to take it Insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes can be a good choice.

Traditionally, insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes was recommended for patients whose hemoglobin A1c was 10 points above normal. Today, doctors are beginning treatment with insulin much earlier, sometimes for a short period of time.

Some type 2 patients are concerned or even afraid to take insulin. Here are some common myths:

Myth: It will make me gain weight.

Fact: Newly diagnosed type 2 patients gain a few pounds whether they take an oral medication (Glucophage, Actos, Avandia) or take insulin. A study published in Diabetes Care shows that those who took a medication gained more weight over time. Patients between ages 21 and 70 who took insulin began losing weight over time.

Myth: If I take insulin, I must be sicker. Fact: Insulin is increasingly used much earlier in treatment. It is not a medicine of last resort. Your goal should not be to avoid insulin but to prevent complications that can affect your nerves, kidneys and eyes.

Myth: I'm scared of needles. I could never give myself an injection. Fact: Some patients fear pain; others fear there is a stigma to taking insulin.
Most people are surprised at how easy the injections are. The needles are extremely thin and coated with silicon. They slide in painlessly. Some people prefer the smaller pen needles.

Myth: I will feel like a failure for not being able to control my diabetes with diet and exercise. Fact: Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. At first, diet and exercise might control it. Later, it will take one or more medications and/or insulin. It has nothing to do with your character or your will power.


Pediatricians urged to use autism checklist

The National Institutes of Health has developed a 24-item checklist for autism that can be used for babies as young as one year old.

The checklist can be completed by parents in a few minutes while waiting in a pediatrician's office. It asks simple questions such as whether a baby smiles and shows joy at 6 months; makes eye contact; whether the baby is babbling by 12 months; or can speak any words at 16 months.

So far, it has allowed researchers to diagnose autism spectrum disorders correctly 75 percent of the time.

It is important to begin therapy as early as possible while babies' brains are growing and most easily shaped. During early life, the brain circuitry that supports social and language behavior is rapidly developing and shaped by experiences.

Early intervention draws the infant's attention to others and engages them in pleasurable interactions. It increases opportunities for learning and for more normal brain development.


Guard your health: These vaccines prevent diseases

At least 45,000 adults in the United States die from complications of influenza, pneumonia and hepatitis B each year. These diseases and others can be prevented by vaccines, but the vaccines are underused.

Some adults incorrectly assume that immunizations they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives. This is true for diseases such as polio, but they may not have been vaccinated as children. Some vaccines, such as the chickenpox vaccination, were not available when many adults were children. And vaccinations for certain diseases must be repeated periodically to maintain immunity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough): One dose Tdap for those who have never been immunized. A booster shot of Td every ten years.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): For girls, three doses starting at age 12.
  • Varicella (chicken pox): Two doses, four weeks apart.
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles): One dose for those age 60 and over.
  • Measles, mumps, rubella: One or two doses up to age 59, or one dose after that age.
  • Influenza: One dose annually.
  • Hepatitis A: Two doses for men who have sex with men, use injection drugs or travel to countries that have a high incidence of Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B: Three doses for people who are not sexually monogamous or who work in a health care facility and are exposed to blood and body fluids.
  • Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine: First-year college students living in dormitories and those who travel to countries where the disease is endemic. Saudi Arabia requires it for people traveling to Mecca for the Hajj.
  • Pneumonia: One or two doses up to age 65, one dose for those over 65. Always discuss your immunization needs in the light of your present health condition when visiting your doctor.


  • Cochlear implants for babies at age 1

    Nationally, two to three of every 1,000 children are born deaf or with very diminished hearing. About 28,000 young children have been lucky enough to achieve the magic of hearing through a cochlear implant. The Food and Drug.

    Administration approves them for children as young as 1 year.

    At Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, doctors say that the brain in very early childhood has a "golden window" when it's most receptive to capturing the sounds of speech, and that window begins to close at 18 months. Babies are born primed to learn language, but if they're not exposed to it early, that window is almost closed by age five.

    Adults who lose their hearing are quickly able to make sense of the sounds produced by an implant. For children over age five, it's more difficult.

    The $100,000 cost of an implant is usually covered by health insurance.


    'Relaxation drinks' are popular but criticized

    More than 70 new drinks are available and marketed as stress busters in a bottle (or can). They go by names like Unwind, iChill and the big seller, Drank.

    Active ingredients vary from amino acid L-lysine, which is found in green tea, and melatonin, used in sleep aids. They come in 2-ounce shots to 12-ounce cans.

    Sales are expected to grow by 38 percent this year.

    Experts at Tufts University say there is no research supporting the drink claims and if you want to relax, drinking a cup of chamomile tea is probably better.
    The drink industry claims a relaxation drink is a better alternative to stress than pills or beer.

    Early treatment reduces risk of HIV transmission

    A nine-nation study finds convincing evidence that HIV medicines don't just benefit the patient but may act as a preventive measure by making them less infectious.

    Early treatment meant patients were 96 percent less likely to spread the virus to their uninfected partners, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Doctors are urged to treat patients right away, before they are too sick.

    Don't eat an armadillo

    Cases of leprosy are generally uncommon in the United States. Most cases are among people who have traveled to other countries. But recently, scientists were puzzled by reports of the disease among people who hadn't traveled in areas where it is endemic.

    After much study, they traced the source to armadillos. Using genetic sequencing they matched up strains of leprosy-causing bacteria from patients and several of the animals.

    Armadillos are among the few creatures, other than humans, that can carry the bug, according to a report in Time.

    Patients had eaten armadillo meat.


    How to keep cataracts away at an early age

    The world's leading cause of blindness, cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. In most cases, lens fibers clump together due to age-related deterioration.

    Cataracts, however, can develop in younger individuals due to eye injuries, eye diseases or inflammation. Here are six tips that can help delay or prevent cataracts from causes other than aging.

    1. Protect your eyes from trauma. An injury to the eye can cause cataracts to form. Wear safety glasses when the situation calls for them.

    2. Protect your eyes from the side effects of medications, including prolonged use of steroids, tranquilizers, and psoriasis medications, which can cause cataracts when taken in large doses over a long period of time.

    3. Don't smoke, say doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

    4. People with diabetes should keep their blood sugar under control. Diabetics often get cataracts at an earlier age than other adults.

    5. Protect your eyes from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. They accelerate the development of cataracts. Wear ultraviolet-protective sunglasses outside.

    6. Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, have been shown to slow the development of cataracts. Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to shield your eyes from inflammation.