IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  October 1, 2004

Avocados: Loaded with nutrients that fight disease

Don't skip the guacamole. Its main ingredient is avocados, which are rich in magnesium. The more magnesium in your diet, the less likely you are to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease, say Harvard University researchers. (Other magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, some fruits, and shellfish.)

Magnesium isn't the only benefit. Avocados are also full of monoun-saturated fats, particularly one called oleic acid. It helps to raise "good" cholesterol levels in the body and lower "bad" cholesterol.

Each avocado contains a lot of potassium. Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center say people who eat diets high in potassium have a lower risk of high blood pressure.

Avocados are rich in folate. Half an avocado contains 14 percent of the recommended daily value. Folate keeps nerves functioning properly, fights birth defects, and reduces the risk of heart disease.

The idea for healthful living is not to rush out and buy avocados by the dozen. It is to include this healthful food in your diet whenever you want it. If you have never worked with an avocado, here's how to get started: If they are not soft to the touch, let them stand on the counter a day or two to ripen. To open one, cut it lengthwise all around the pit. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate them, and remove the pit with a spoon.


Cut 2 avocados in half. Remove the pits and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into it.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small finely chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/2 pound tomatoes (skinned, seeded, and finely chopped), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a dash of Tobasco. Mash.

Top with freshly chopped parsley and use as a dip for low-fat, baked corn chips.


Decaf reduces the sugar rush

Next time you stop for donuts on the way to work, or pick up a pastry next to the coffeepot when you get there, have a cup of decaf with it.

A new British study reported in Health magazine shows that people have a less intense sugar rush if they wash down their sweets with decaf instead of regular coffee or water.

Sugar produces a burst of energy that feels good but makes the pancreas pump out insulin to move it from the blood. When the sugar's gone, you feel sluggish.

Chemicals called polyphenols in decaf suppress the sugar surge by slowing the rate of consumption in the intestines. Regular coffee has much fewer polyphenols.


Aspirin may reduce breast cancer risk

Aspirin has been credited with reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke, and it also appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer, say doctors at Columbia University.

The finding was indicated for tumors fueled by estrogen or progesterone, which cause about 70 percent of such cancers. Women in the study who used aspirin at least four times a week for at least three months were about 30 percent less likely to develop hormone-fueled breast cancer than those who took none.

Results of the widely reported study are very interesting, but study authors say more research is needed before doctors can recommend that women take aspirin.

For many people, taking aspirin at all is not advisable. They should not begin such a program without consulting a doctor first.


Exercise for IQ

Studies at Oregon Health & Science University show that physical activity makes people more mentally alert. Regular exercise helps to grow more of the blood vessels that supply brain cells with oxygen- and sugar-rich blood.

Reported in Prevention, a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, showed that exercise stimulates production of a substance that prompts neurons to grow and link up, making the brain more efficient and effective.

Try not eating after 8 p.m.

Buddhist monks in Southeast Asia don't eat past noon each day, and they stay healthy and slim. Too much for you? Try not eating after 8 p.m.

If night time TV makes you munch, go to bed earlier. You can probably use the extra sleep.


Reason to stop smoking

A new study shows that if you smoke a pack a day, you are at greater risk for diabetes even if you're young and healthy.

Researchers at Yale University measured how well blood sugar was absorbed in the muscle of volunteers. Smokers' muscles malfunctioned. Chronic nicotine exposure, they conclude, raises the odds for diabetes and its life-threatening complications.


Hypertension Treatment

Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium find that people with an average daily systolic blood pressure of 135 (considered the high end of normal) are nearly twice as likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes as those with lower average readings. Systolic is the top number in a reading.

They say blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. It could be much higher at times. The doctors suggest that those with borderline readings wear a portable round-the-clock pressure monitor to discover the real blood pressure facts.


A Lifting Message

Stock people lift cartons. Office workers often pick up computers and hard drives. Production workers lift heavy parts or boxes of parts. And it doesn't stop there. People lift boxes and containers when they check out at a home improvement store, and there's no end to things that are lifted around the home. Everybody lifts!

Here's what the National Safety Council says that will help you do it without hurting your back:

  • Don't lift on slippery surfaces. Get good footing.
  • Make sure the space you'll use is clear so you don't bump your head or bump into something or someone.
  • Avoid awkward bending, reaching, twisting, and turning while lifting. Lift straight up. Then turn your whole body.
  • Lift with your legs by bending your knees so your arms are level with an object. Keep it close to your body.
  • Push rather than pull when moving heavy objects.
  • Make a smooth lift. Don't jerk it up.
  • Know your physical capabilities, get help if you need it.


  • Quotes

    Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.
    - Charles Babbage, Mathematician

    Any 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, Physicist

    Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.
    - Sigmund Freud, Psychologist

    The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.
    - Sigmund Freud, Psychologist

    A day without laughter is a day wasted.
    - Charlie Chaplin

    Pilot Instructions: Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.

    Q: I am 37, 5-8, and 155lbs. I jog about 20 miles a week. I have found, through the use of a heart rate monitor, that I routinely have an average heart rate above 85% of my max (183). Might this indicate either a strong or weak heart? It should be noted that I have mitro valv prolapse - would this affect anything? I am concerned that I might be running to hard for my own good. Can this be possible? Any suggestions you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Jeff

    A: Your heart rate seems fine. If you want to lower the target, you would simply jog slower. A HR of 85% of max is acceptable for cardio training. Actually exercise is beneficial to the MVP patient. Here is an article that you should find both informative and useful. Mitral Valve Prolapse

    Q: When my daughter runs in high school track and basketball, she says she can't feel her legs and her chest hurts. Her doctor ran an EKG and took chest xrays and they both came back normal. They gave her an inhaler to try but I'm not sure that has helped. She is very athletic so this really concerns me. Have you ever heard of not having feeling in your legs after running?

    A: Go to another doctor and ask him/her to do a Cardiac Stress Test. This will monitor the heart function while she is on a treadmill simulating real world activity. No it is not normal, but then again, may or may not be serious. Continue to pursue this.

    Editor's Note: This was determined to be related to asthma. The doctor was able to prescribe medication that solved the problem.

    Q: I currently teach kickboxing at a dojo. Recently, a child of the age of 7 has requested to take a cardio kickboxing class. All the other participants in the class are adults (over 18 at least). We use floor standing punching bags for a good portion of the workout (at least 30 mins). The classes are 60 minutes, sometimes longer with our warm ups and cool downs. I'm wondering if cardio kickboxing is even appropriate for a young child.

    A: You are correct in your assumption. A 7 year old child is a not only a distraction to the focus of the adult class. The child may be mature enough to follow instructions, but he should be in a class of peers. As for liability, that would be a good question to ask your insurance company. However, personally, I feel the child might be overly exposed to being injured by more aggressive adult activities.

    Q: I just recently recieved my Sports Nutrition Cetification,... Am I authorized to construct my client's meal plans along with counseling?

    A: Yes, provided it is not for obesity or other clinical situations. It should be done within the realm of sports performance enhancement.

    Q: How many steps would I take to equal a mile? I read somewhere that 2000 steps would equal a mile. Please advise!

    A: Assuming your stride is 1 yard or three feet, 5280 feet / 3 = 1420 steps ... approximately