IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  September 1, 2010

Here's an Italian breakfast delight!

Spinach may not make you feel like Popeye the Sailor Man, but it is nutritious and adds a bit of a zip to this morning's egg delight.

The deeply-colored green hails from Southwestern Asia and was later cultivated by the Arabs. Spinach was known for a time as the Persian green and was a staple of European gardens.

It was often cooked in a mixture with other vegetables and used in salads, accompanied by fruits, nuts and pine nuts. For this recipe, prepare the Hollandaise sauce first.

Eggs Florentine

4 cups spinach leaves
2 English muffins
4 large eggs
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Saute the spinach, making two cups by cooking it gradually in the butter. Add shallots, pepper and nutmeg. Toss in until crispy. Poach the eggs in a microwave egg poacher for about one minute.

Place half of a toasted English muffin on each of four plates and top with 1/2 cup of sauteed spinach. Place the eggs on the spinach and spoon the Hollandaise sauce over the open sandwich. Garnish with parsley and pepper.

Hollandaise sauce

3 egg yokes
1/2 cupbutter (melted)
2 tablespoonlemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoonsugar
A pinch of cayenne.

Separate eggs and melt the butter. In a blender, combine egg yokes, lemon juice, salt, sugar and cayenne. Blend at a low speed until it is thickened and smooth, adding the hot butter gradually. Serve it warm on the eggs.

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Drinking water lubricates joints, prompts metabolism

Sometimes aching joints are just telling you they're thirsty. Whether or not you have arthritis, water works by filling the spaces between joints.

The right amount for you could be more or less than the recommended eight glasses of water a day. When you exercise, if the weather is hot or your health condition requires more, eight glasses may not be enough.

If you drink many other fluids, the minimum amount of actual water you need to drink is two to three glasses a day. Water moves nutrients through your body, hydrates your joints and cells and increases metabolic activity.

Low-fat milk and calcium-fortified orange juice are good drinks.

Two or three cups of green tea or one cup of fruit juice are excellent drinks.

Two cups of caffeinated coffee, soft drinks or tea count in your favor.

Sodas that contain phosphoric acid, which can prevent calcium from being absorbed, can increase your risk of osteoporosis, say researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.

Always drink alcohol in moderation, one or two glasses a day at most. Alcohol is dehydrating, which can decrease the amount of water in your body and decrease water's benefits.

About 20 percent of your fluid need is met by the foods we eat. The other 80 percent must be from beverages.

Remember that water is a pleasant drink. It's safe, inexpensive and always available.


Basic safety gear: the hard hat

Have you noticed that insurance companies no longer use the word "accident"? When cars hit each other, it's called a "crash." Insurers think that most of these were not accidents but preventable situations.

When it comes to head injuries prevented by hard hats, accident (or freak accident) can be a very appropriate description.

Nothing makes that more clear than stories of how hard hats saved lives. Following are a few examples from previous years. While these occurred mainly at hazardous sites, preventable head injuries can occur in many areas, such as warehouses.

  • While operating mining equipment in an underground shaft, a miner noticed a crack in the roof about 11 feet above him. Then a large section of the overhead material broke loose. He was knocked to the ground, and his hard hat was seriously damaged. But he suffered only cuts, scrapes and bruises.
  • When working under an overhead conveyor belt, a man was struck by a 40-pound block that slipped off the belt and hit him in the head. His heavy-duty helmet was cracked, but the man was saved from serious injury.
  • Another fellow was standing at a road construction project when the sideview mirror of a passing truck struck him on the head. The ER doctor said his helmet, which was split in two, saved his life.
  • At a construction site, a concrete block fell from a scaffold. It struck a worker on the head and right arm. Though his hard hat was badly damaged and he was dizzy and bruised, his injuries were not serious. His life was saved.

    While concentrating on the job, people may forget that safety gear can mean the difference between life and death.

    Anyone entering a hard hat area, building or department, should wear one, even if their visit will take only a short time.

    An accident can happen. The question is: Are you willing to gamble that one won't happen to you?


    Chuckles Corner

  • Patriot Day honors the Heroes of 9/11

    September 11 marks the annual observance of Patriot Day. It calls us to remember those who were injured or died during the terrorist attacks on the United States.

    The flag should be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to those who died on September 11, 2001. Many people observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). This marks the time that the first plane flew into the World Trade Center.

    We often think of them, but on Patriot Day, we lower our flags and honor them.

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    Get flexible: Here's how to stretch

    At the Mayo Clinic, doctors say stretching can improve on flexibility, circulation, range of motion and stress.

  • For your neck: Sit tall on a chair. Tilt head to the right, keeping shoulders down. Put your right hand on the left side of the head to add extra stretch. Hold 20 to 25 seconds, then do the other side.
  • Foot, calves and ankle: Stand two to three feet from a wall and step forward with one foot. Bend the knee, lean into the wall and keep the heel of the other foot on the floor. Hold 20 to 25 seconds, then do it with the other leg.
  • Upper back, triceps, shoulders: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, keeping back straight. Cross your right arm in front of you, slightly bending the elbow. With left hand, pull right arm gently as close to your body as possible.
  • Chest: Stand tall. Raise arms out to the sides and push your arms back, squeezing shoulder blades together to open up your chest.
  • Inner thighs, hips and calves: Stand with legs wide apart, feet slightly turned outward. Slowly lean left by bending the left knee a little and keeping right leg straight. Keep heels down. Don't bend knees more than 90 degrees.
  • Hamstrings and lower back: Sit on the floor with right leg straight and left leg tucked in. Reach forward toward your right ankle while keeping your head up. Repeat on the other side.
  • Hips and quadriceps: Step forward with the right foot keeping your knee straight above your ankle and your back straight. Slide your left foot back and dip left knee down to directly above the floor. Put both hands on your right thigh for balance. Do the other side.
  • Back: Stand with legs shoulder-wide apart. Bend knees and let arms dangle in rag-doll style with head even with your toes. Hold 20 seconds.


    New therapies for several types of cancer

    Slow progress is being made on treatments for various kinds of cancer. As yet, they don't result in cures, but give patients a reason to hope for one.

    Achievements reported at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting have added months to the life expectancy for cancer patients. Some of the advances against breast and prostate cancer, leukemia, and melanoma may be more important than predicted.

    Newer drugs are making a big difference for specific groups of patients as treatments target genes behind subtypes of cancer. Only 4 percent of lung cancer patients may be helped by a new Pfizer drug, but it could be useful for other cancers as well.

    Help prevent osteoporosis: Have a glass of beer

    A study reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that beer has a high silicon content. Silicon is a key factor in bone density and can help to prevent osteoporosis.

    Scientists found that beers containing malted barley and hops have more silicon than those made from wheat. Light beer made from grains and corn have the lowest levels.

    The National Osteoporosis Society says silicon is good for bone health, but calcium and vitamin D are better.

    Turn back the clock on your vascular age

    Researchers at Northwest University, Chicago, say a 35-year-old man who smokes, has diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure could have the arteries of a 74-year-old. A 30-year-old woman with these risks could have the arteries of an 80-year-old.

    The good news is that people with these risks could reduce the age of their arteries by 20 years or more if they quit smoking and control their cholesterol and blood pressure. The vascular age calculation is a crucial factor in maintaining heart health.


    Use these spices for big health benefits

    Spices have the highest antioxidant activity of all food groups including fresh fruit and vegetables. Volumewise, of course, you will eat far more fruits and vegetables than spices, but their concentrated powers are worth considering.

    Oregano is one of the nutritional heroes. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is said to help prevent various types of cancer. Use it in Italian dishes and sauces, salad dressings and soups.

    Other spices that have powerful anticancer powers are anise, basil, black pepper, caraway, clove, fennel, garlic, ginger, green tea, mustard, rosemary and tumeric, according to Keith Scott, a doctor and author of Medical Seasonings: The Healing Power of Spices.

    Exercise and weight loss

    Some people are beginning to wonder whether exercise is much of a factor in weight loss. Many information sources rightly state that a pound of muscle only burns 4 calories more per day than a pound of body fat.

    There's more to it than that.

    By lifting weights, exercise physiologist Dr. Cedric Bryant says you can gain 3 to 5 pounds of muscle every 3 to 4 months. How much you gain depends on gender, how much you do and genetics.

    Bryant advises that even though muscle doesn't burn a huge amount of calories on its own, it's far more metabolically active than fat and very important for weight loss.

    One study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that, though weight training doesn't burn as many calories as cardio, it significantly increases daily metabolic rate, which is basic for losing fat and losing weight.

    Tai Chi and arthritis pain

    People with osteoarthritis knee pain could benefit from taking a course in the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi, says a study reported at the American College of Rheumatology. A 12-week course often provides long-lasting benefits.


    New game draws novices, retired players

    How about a game of pickleball? Never heard of it? You probably will before long.

    A hybrid of badminton and tennis, it's all the rage in retirement communities, and there are even state tournaments, according to AARP. It's good exercise, easy to learn, and many who are not in the senior set are playing.

    Pickleball is played with a whiffle ball and large paddles. It can be played indoors or outside, single or doubles. Beginners learn quickly, but it can be a fast-paced, competitive game. It was named after the developer's dog.


  • For pain in the knee, back or hip, try this

    Sometimes there can be a simple solution to lower back pain, hip pain or knee pain.

    Osteoarthritis can develop at one of these sites because one leg is just a tiny bit shorter than the other. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine say leg-length inequality is a is a risk factor that could be eliminated with by a simple shoe insert.

    Even if you never noticed that one of your legs is shorter than the other, the shorter leg and knee are at greater risk for osteoarthritis (OA) because of how the body adapts to the inequality.

    The affected leg has to travel a greater distance, even if it is minimal, to reach the ground with every step. That means it has a higher impact velocity because it's "going downhill."

    The condition can also make a difference in the hip muscle and can create hip pain on the shorter leg side.

    Researchers say leg-length inequality is an under recognized and undertreated condition. In their study, Patients with this condition were 1.5 times more likely to develop symptoms of osteoarthritis over the next 30 months. Doctors at Duke Medical Center say leg-length inequality occurs in up to 70 percent of the population. As little as 0.5 cm is associated with OA.

    Another factor that could make one leg seem shorter than the other is a spinal problem. Scoliosis can make the spine bend somewhat in one direction, causing the leg on that side to have the effect of being shorter. Osteoporosis of the spine can result in a similar effect.

    The most accurate method of determining leg length is a radiographic measurement of the leg from the top of the thighbone to the ankle. But some physical therapists or podiatrists (who make shoe lifts) have experience measuring leg length and can recommend a custom-made shoe insert.

    On the other hand, if you want to try something yourself, it wouldn't hurt to get a heel lift at the drugstore to see if it helps your pain. Get one that is a little thicker than the others that are for sale.


    'Reminders' could help people move toward a more active lifestyle

    A Stanford University professor, who conducts an exercise study, says the sedentary are a silent majority who are bombarded by images of active people. Her advertisement for study subjects asked for "couch potatoes."

    The sedentary lifestyle is a health problem in our country. Many people do little exercise or none at all.

    Almost all have promised themselves or others to change their ways. Many started a fitness program, or started one more than once, but after a short time, they gave up.

    Doctors at Stanford University have found a way to help. They say there's great power in a gentle reminder. In their study, workout encouragement was in the form of an email, a telephone call to ask what exercise they did last week or a call from an interested person who checks on their progress.

    The caller, whether it was a computer or a person, asked subjects to list the amount of exercise they performed on days in the last week. A 30-minute walk was the original goal. They were congratulated on their efforts and asked how the level could be increased in the week ahead.

    Sometimes a subject hadn't done anything because of illness, travel or an event in their lives. They received a message reminding them of their goal and how important it is. All communications were encouraging.

    After one year, those who received phone calls had increased their exercise time from the original 100-minute target to 178 minutes per week. Those who received computer contacts increased their time to 157 minutes per week. Those in the study who had no contacts increased their exercise time to 118 minutes.

    Authorities at Stanford say that when people are trying to change a habit, they need more than willpower. Whether it's exercise, smoking or alcohol use, social support helps prevent relapse.
    Reminders don't have to be constant. They can be gentle and occasional.

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    Shrek boosts Vidalia onion sales

    From three-year-olds on up, kids are begging their mothers to buy some Vidalia onions. What's more, they are eating them, usually in casseroles or other dishes. Recipes are free.

    It's the jolly green ogre's huge image in produce departments that have prompted kids to insist their moms buy the bag of onions, Shrek's favorite food.

    Shrek Forever After, the fourth Shrek movie, got off to a slow start before it went on to be a big money maker. It has tie-ins with many companies.

    The tie-in with the Vidalia Onion Committee, which represents growers of the sweet onion from southeastern Georgia, has been very profitable for growers.

    When the "Vidalia Forever Sweet" onion came out at the same time as the movie, kids clamored for them. Through June 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said farmers had shipped eight million more pounds of Vidalias than by the same date last year, even though the season started two weeks later than last year. The onion growing season lasts through September.

    In the movie, Shrek says, "Ogres are like onions. It's not that both might make you stinky, make you cry or get all brown in the sun. Rather, it's because we both have layers."

    At DreamWorks, they say onions were rooted in Shrek's personality from the first movie.


    Here's how to drive ... safely and defensively

    Because cars have changed and new features are being added all the time, leaders of safe driving courses say these are the best ways to avoid an accident.

  • Know your car, its features, and how to use them.
  • Focus on driving. Do nothing else including eating and conversing with passengers, especially in traffic.
  • Stay alert. If you can't remember driving the last 50 miles, your mind is not on driving and you won't be able to react quickly to an emergency.
  • Intersections are danger zones. Be extra careful. If turning left, keep your wheels straight until you are turning.
  • Keep side mirrors adjusted to give a full view of what's behind you and what's coming on either side.
  • Stay a car length's distance behind the car ahead for every 10 miles per hour you are driving. Add an additional distance if it's raining.
  • At night, park in well-lighted areas. Don't park between two vehicles that are larger than yours. You won't be able to see when you back out.
  • If you have a close call or a near miss, analyze the situation to see what you could have done to avoid it.
  • There are instances where you must yield the right of way. Assume that there are no instances where you are guaranteed the right of way.