IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  October 1, 2003

Shoes off in the House

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that you do whatever you can to reduce your exposure to yard chemicals. That means staying off treated lawns for at least 24 hours and taking your shoes off when you go inside. Leaving shoes at the door will keep floors from being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungus killers.

Scientists at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, say carpeting absorbs chemicals which could build up to unsafe levels if tracked into the house very often.

Don't forget to wipe your pets' feet before you let them come inside.

Weighty Subject

Looking for motivation on your weight-loss program? How about some extra years of life? Researchers in the Netherlands find that obesity reduces the life spans of women by 7.1 years and of men by 5.8 years.

Ibuprofen Defeats Benefits of Aspirin

If you regularly take ibuprofen, researchers say it could be cancelling the heart-protecting benefits of aspirin.

Researchers in Scotland recommend avoiding long-term use of ibuprofen if you are taking daily low doses of aspirin. Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and Nuprin) only occasionally doesn't seem to hamper aspirin's benefits. Other painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) don't decrease aspirin benefits.

Good for Your Heart: Calcium

Scientists say those who took 1,000 mg of calcium per day had four times higher levels of good cholesterol. Harvard doctors say those who got 1,250 mg had a lower risk of colon cancer.

Honeydew Melon

Just in time for the hottest days of the year, the sweet, cooling honeydew melon is here to do its magic. It's not only good, it's good for you. Honeydew is a great source of folate and potassium. One cup of honeydew has just 60 calories and provides 70 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. It contains a lot of water too, which could keep you hydrated on a hot summer day.

Folate has become well known for its ability to prevent birth defects, so it's especially important for women of childbearing age. It also does important things for adults.

Folate is an essential ingredient when cells are dividing rapidly, because it carries fragments of proteins. When folate levels are low, some fragments are left behind. The newly formed cells may be defective. This process can create cellular changes in adults that may lead to cancer.

In another area, the body uses folate to control levels of homocysteine. Too much homocysteine in the blood can lead to heart disease say doctors at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio.

Folate is full of surprises. Doctors at the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York, say the soluble fiber in melons is very important for colon health. Statistically, it reduces the number of polyps in the colon and reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Don't forget potassium. It's the most important mineral for keeping blood pressure down, and honeydews have a lot of it, more than any other melon.

Vegetarians Need More B12

Meat, fish, and other animal products are the main sources of vitamin B12. That means vegetarians should make sure they get enough of this important nutrient from sources such as vitamin supplements.

Pregnant or nursing women put their infants or unborn children at risk of seizures and delays in speech and motor development if they are B12 deficient.

A report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly describes these effects in children who had been breast-fed by vegetarian mothers who consumed no foods or supplements containing B12.

New Guidelines for Diabetes

The American College of Physicians (ACP) presents new guidelines for treating diabetes. They will help doctors and patients to consider all aspects of the condition. The three target levels every diabetic should be aware of are:

A1C: Less than 7 percent.
Blood pressure: Lower than 135/80.
LDL cholesterol: Lower than 100.

Doctors think some diabetics take their medicine regularly for only a few days before their appointments so their blood sugar levels are acceptable. Testing for these other factors, however, should tell the doctor much more about the patient's physical condition.

Catch Mountain Bike Air Safely

To the casual observer, 'catching air' seems foolhardy. But, learning to hit a jump properly is vital for safe operation of the mountain bike. Face it, you're going to hit bumps that make you fly, so learn how to do it right.

  • First, learn the pounce position, says John Howard, author of Dirt! Philosophy, Technique, and Practice of Mountain Biking (Lyons Press). Position your body with arms bent slightly, holding the bars firmly, and with your rear lifted off the seat. This is how you begin the lift and how you'll always end in order to absorb the shock of landing.
  • Practice on a driveway with a slight upward incline. Go forward toward the driveway at a moderate speed with your body in the pounce position.
  • As the front wheel begins to rise up the incline, shift your weight slightly towards the back of the bike and pull the handlebars up and back. The motion will give you the loft of the jump, says Howard, reporting in Men's Fitness.
  • At the same time, draw your legs and abs upward to further the lift. Think of it as doing a long jump and taking the bike with you.
  • As you land, keep the handlebar straight and your weight balanced at the middle of the bike. Let the rear wheel land first.

    Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh

  • Use clean, colored-glass vases.
  • Cut stems before putting them in water.
  • Cut stems respond best to warm water.
  • Use commercial floral preservatives.
  • Don't put flowers near fruit, especially apples.  They emit gas that causes wilting.
  • Clean the vase and replace water and preservative  every three days.
  • Quotes

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.

    Albert Einstein

    Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you will still be among stars.

    - Unknown

    A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

    - Unknown but could be anyone

    If you want to take long walks, take long walks. If you want to hit things with a stick, hit things with a stick. But there's no excuse for combining the two and putting the results on TV. Golf is not so much a sport as an insult to lawns.

    - National Lampoon

    Q & A

    Q: Are there any safety concerns in having/teaching a very basic step aerobics class on carpet on concrete floor? Thank you.

    A: An ideal floor would be a suspended wooden floor. However, many gyms carpet a concrete floor. The issue here is concerns about the knee being torqued by the additional friction of the carpet. It is critical that the knee be unloaded during ball of the sole turns. The suspended wood floor provides some shock absorption but not significant enough to compensate for bad form.

    I also question the cleanliness of a carpet that is sweated and stepped on without daily cleanings. Lying down to do floor work should include a towel to cover the carpet. Having carpet on a floor is analogous to nailing your sweats to the floor and subjecting them to walking and sweating for a few years with an occasional dust off. It not very sanitary from a health standpoint and unavoidable at most gyms.

    Q: What is considered the safe limits for cholesterol levels?

    A: Patients are advised to achieve LDL level less than 130mg/dl and HDL level greater than 40mg/dl first. Reaching these goals is first attempted through diet and exercise. If these levels cannot be reached by diet and exercise, then the doctor may prescribe medication.

    You Asked

    1. When people get married, why do we say they are tying the knot? The Celts, Hindus, Egyptians, and others once tied the hands of the bride and groom with fancy cloth to symbolize commitment.

    2. Where did throw pillows come from? In the 17th and 18th centuries, Europe had only hard wooden chairs to sit on. By the start of the 19th century, people were making pillows for more comfortable seating.

    3. Where were birthday candles first used? In the 13th century, German peasants celebrated their kids' birthdays with a candle for each year, plus one to celebrate life. The cake was presented at sunrise, and the candles were kept burning until dinner. Then the child made a wish and blew them out.

    4. Why do we have piggy banks and not doggie banks? According to the trivia goldmine, Straightdope.com, the old English word pygg (pronounced pugg) meant a type of clay used in kitchen pottery. As the language evolved, the word started to sound more like pygg, and craftsmen designed pygg pots in the shape of pigs. The rest is history.