IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  October 1, 2010

October is National Vegetarian Month

After every holiday, cooks grumble about what to do with the leftovers. Most of this dilemma is associated with Halloween dinners, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It includes the vegetables from a relish tray.

But there are also the garden leftovers when autumn descends. When nights begin to chill and the garden is growing brown, it's time to harvest everything.

Many dishes can be made from garden leftovers, including frittatas and pizzas.

A perfect way to celebrate October, National Vegetarian Month, is with a vegetarian pizza. This recipe is rich, tasty and healthy. It can incorporate almost any garden fare.

Veggie pizza

1 12-inch pizza crust, any kind
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red onions, cut in pieces.
1/2 cupdiced tomatoes
5 shredded spinach leaves
1 tablespoon tender diced fennel or a teaspoon of fennel seed
1/4 cup peppers of your choice
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated.

Coat the crust with olive oil. Spread the Mozzarella evenly from edge to edge and add the vegetables in an even mixture.

Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and brown the pizza under the broiler, being careful not to burn.

Then bake at 425 degrees, for about 30 minutes or until the crust browns and cheese is melted.

Other items that could be added are okra, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, chives or lemon balm.

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Exercise at mid-life predicts successful aging

You know why exercise is good for you right now. Just a few reasons: It strengthen your lungs, heart and bones while making you think better, feel better and look better.

What about the future? Picture yourself at age 70, 75 or even 85? Will you be a "successful survivor" with few chronic conditions and a brain that still works?

One new finding by Harvard School of Medicine shows that people who regularly participated in physical activity during middle age are more likely to be in better health at age 70 and well beyond.

Four new studies reported by Tufts University should prompt people to get out of their easy chairs and get moving. Experts at the University of Miami, on reviewing the studies, conclude that regular physical exercise is associated with greater longevity and reduced risk of physical disability and dependence in old age. And it extends people's lives.

An analysis of the Nurses Health Study shows that the most-active one-fifth of women were nearly twice as likely to be successful survivors compared with the most sedentary.

Even those in the middle group improved their chances of a healthy old age by 37 percent.

The Nurses Study included only women, but these findings should be an eye opener for men as well.

You need to bank more than money in order to enjoy your retirement years. How about starting your own exercise bank.

You'll enjoy your withdrawals.


A summary of Columbus' Journal

Columbus Day marks the discovery of the New World.

Leaving the Spanish port of Palos in August of 1492, Christopher Columbus and his ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, sailed some 69 days in search of a land called the Indies.

By October 10, his fearful crew was near mutiny for the second time. He promised that if land was not sighted in two days, they would turn back.

In the evening of the following day, the crew of the Pinta signaled that it had spotted land. Admiral Columbus saw a light on the horizon but couldn't say for certain that it was on land.

The crew sang "Salve Regina," as was their custom each evening. It begins: Hail holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.

To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Columbus then promised rewards for the first person to see land in the distance. Everyone watched for it.

At 2 a.m. on October 12, land was confirmed at a distance of two leagues. Columbus ordered the three ships to stop. At daylight, they proceeded to an island, which he named San Salvador. They saw very green trees, good water and fruits of many kinds.

Columbus called his captains and crew members to the shore to witness that he now took possession of the island for the King and for the Queen of Spain.

The natives came to the beach and Columbus gave them red hats and beads. The natives gave gifts of parrots, cotton and other goods.

Columbus noted in his Journal that the natives, who wore no clothes, were handsome people.


Chuckles Corner

A single shot protects against H1N1 and the seasonal flu

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a "universal" vaccine program.
They want everyone six months and older to get a flu shot for the 2010-2011 season. Many health authorities also say the vaccine is important for teenagers with health problems.

This year's vaccine will also protect against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and two new flu virus strains. Last year, those who wanted to be protected against both the flu and H1N1 had to get two separate shots. This year, a single shot is all it takes.

Flu shots are easy to get. At most workplaces, schools and clinics, they are free of charge. Medicare and health insurance programs usually cover the cost of the vaccine.

Retail clinics in pharmacies and grocery stores offer flu shots.

That means you could get groceries, newspaper and a flu shot all in the same trip.

Immunization is especially important for people in various groups.

  • Those with diabetes should get a flu shot because they are more likely than others to suffer serious side effects.
  • People with asthma need to guard against respiratory infections, such as the flu, that could cause a serious asthma attack.
  • Cancer patients and survivors have a higher risk for complications.
  • Heart patients: The risk of dying from a heart attack increases by one-third during outbreaks of the flu and colds. Researchers at the University of Texas say coronary deaths could be reduced by 90,000 a year in the U.S. if more heart patients got a flu shot.
  • People with compromised immune systems, such as from HIV/AIDS are at an increased risk for heart- and lung-related hospitalizations.
  • School and childcare workers should make sure they are immunized. About 1/5 of the population attends school or works in a school, according to the Department of Education.

    Because of close contacts, school and childcare workers should protect themselves against the flu so they don't become ill and so they won't spread it to their charges.

    Save yourself a week of misery and lost work. Get a flu shot. If you have children, protect yourself so you don't get the flu from them or give it to your charges.

    If you do come down with the flu, stay at home so you don't spread it to others.


    October is national liver awareness month

    It can happen when people visit their doctors for an annual checkup.

    When the doctor orders a medication, they are surprised to hear that they can't take it. Certain drugs, including statins and cholesterol-lowering drugs, can't be taken by many people with liver disease.

    'Love your Liver'

    That's the advice of the National Liver Foundation. It's not hard to do, because most of their advice about keeping your liver healthy is the same as for general health. For example:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, especially if you are a woman. One and a half cans of beer a day can cause liver problems in some women.
  • Maintain a normal weight so you don't develop a fatty liver, which increases the risk of cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking is linked to liver cancer, and it may increase the toxic effects of some medications.
  • Never share a toothbrush or razor with anyone. The toothbrush or razor could carry hepatitis B or C.
  • For a tattoo or body piercing, only use establishments that practice meticulous sterilization of instruments.
  • Practice safe sex to protect yourself from hepatitis A and B.
  • If you have ever been told that something is wrong with your liver, even if you have no symptoms whatever, see a liver specialist (hepatologist).

    Risky business

  • Avoid recreational drug use. Intravenous drugs are a common mode of hepatitis B and C transmission. Never share a needle.
  • If you have ever experimented with intravenous drugs, even if it was years ago, see a liver specialist. Symptoms of liver damage may not be present even when the liver is significantly damaged.

    When you love your liver, the body's largest organ, and avoid risky business, the liver will serve you well for the rest of your life.


    October 6 is German-American Heritage Day

    Tap a keg and turn up the oom-pah for Oktoberfest. As it turns out, in 2010, Oktoberfest has become a little like St. Patrick's Day. Everyone enjoys the event. Even if they aren't Irish on St. Pat's or German at Oktoberfest, it's a great time.
    When event organizers put on their lederhosen and bring out the beer steins, the celebration begins.

    The event recalls the 1810 marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Bavaria. It featured days of horse racing, beer, food, music and dancing. Oktoberfests have been held ever since.

    In the U.S., many are held in September, including the largest celebration outside of Bavaria: Oktoberfest Zincinnati. Up to a million people crowd the streets of Cincinnati each year to celebrate the event.

    Oktoberfests of all sizes are held across the U.S. In Milwaukee, it has become a family affair celebrated on the four weekends after Labor Day and ending Oct.2. It is held at Old Heidelberg Park with live music and dancing plus beer and soft drinks to wash down the bratwurst and pork loin dinners.

    If an Oktoberfest is held near you, now or next year, visit and enjoy.


  • In heart patients, Fish oil may slow biological aging

    Researchers at Northwestern University and elsewhere have found that the omega 3 fats in fish oil have a life-lengthening effect for heart patients. The question is: Will they do the same thing for the rest of us?

    Patients in their studies who consumed the most fish oil showed the least shortening of telomeres, a sign of biological aging.

    Patients with the lowest levels of omega 3s had the fastest rate of telomere shortening over a five year period.

    The study did not specify cause and effect. That is, those with higher omega 3 levels might have healthier habits.

    The American Heart Association reports that other studies have shown increased survival rates for patients who consume omega 3s from fish oil, but previously, no one could establish why it happened.

    At this point, the telomere length is becoming an important indication of biological age.


    Antioxidants in coffee

    Coffee is a valuable source of disease-fighting antioxidants. Fruits and berries have higher levels, but because coffee is consumed more often, it is the top antioxidant source in American diets.

    The good news for decaf lovers is decaf is very similar in antioxidant content. Even better, adding milk to either type of coffee doesn't affect the antioxidant level.


    New gel reduces risk of HIV infection in Africa

    A clear, odorless gel applied by African women before and after sex cut the chance of acquiring the AIDS virus by 39 percent and the risk of acquiring the genital herpes virus by 51 percent.

    It's an important discovery since donor nations have been balking at continued increases for funding AIDS treatment. Doctors at the Ragon Institute, which is dedicated to immunology and the HIV vaccine research, say the herpes virus renders women more susceptive to HIV, so blocking it adds to the gel's ability to prevent HIV infection. The gel could prevent half a million infections over the next 10 years in South Africa.

    The gel, which contains the antiviral drug tenofovir, was provided free by Gilead Sciences, which markets it in the United States as Viread.

    Longevity gene identified

    Boston University scientists analyzed the DNA of 1,000 of the world's longest-living people They now say they have discovered a genetic signature of longevity. They expect to offer a test that will let people learn whether they have the DNA that helps people live to 100

    The researchers identified 150 genetic markers that, taken together, are linked to extreme longevity. They say they have no plans to patent the technique or profit from it. They plan to make a free test kit available on the Internet to foster longevity research.

    Blood pressure cuff for fast heart attack treatment

    A Danish study shows that inflating and deflating a blood pressure cuff en route to the hospital can help protect the heart muscle from injury.

    The practice is called ischemic preconditioning. It briefly deprives the fingers of oxygen and reduces damage to the heart when blood flow is stopped during stenting. The percentage of heart muscle saved was nearly 50 percent greater than if the cuff wasn't used.


    Avoid the afternoon slump

    Why not just drink some water in the afternoon if you begin to feel tired? You could be dehydrated, which can cause fatigue. In addition to drinking water, experts quoted in Health give this advice:

    Have a high-energy snack like celery with peanut butter or some dark chocolate.

    Walk. It will raise your energy level.

    Go outside, especially into the sunshine, to perk up your energy and mood.

    Ties with family and friends help you stay healthy

    Social connections with family and friends play a part in your health and well-being, say doctors at the Mayo Clinic. They give this advice:

  • Take time to converse with your partner and friends. Express love and appreciation. Do things together.
  • If you appreciate the support and encouragement of others, express an interest in them and be ready to support them in return.
  • Don't overwhelm family members or friends with too many visits. Respect boundaries.
  • A positive attitude in conversation is best. Constant complaining and negativity may drive people away.
  • Learn to listen. If you always do most of the talking, spend time listening. Remember what's going on in people's lives and what you have in common.

    The 10-minute exercise prescription

    The idea of doing the recommended 30 minutes of exercise every day keeps some people from doing any at all. But how about 10 minutes?

    Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., say every bit of exercise helps. Studies show that just 10 minutes a day of low-impact exercise, such as walking, can improve your general health and reduce the size of your waistline.

    That's an important benefit because belly fat can surround your vital organs and that's linked to higher levels of disease-causing inflammation.


    Nursing grads searching for hospital jobs

    New RN graduates are having a hard time finding jobs at hospitals in spite of the national nursing shortage.

    Those who can't find good paying jobs at hospitals are turning to employment with nursing homes, home health care and other settings.

    According to the National Student Nurses' Association, the economy is responsible. Experienced RNs have come out of retirement or delayed planned retirement because of financial needs.

    Nursing shortages are still forecast as aging Baby Boomers will need care. When more Americans get insurance under the new health care law in 2014, it is predicted that the U.S. will be short 260,000 nurses.