IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  December 1, 2004

Flu Epidemic?

In the last 100 years, there have been three influenza pandemics. First was the 1918 Spanish flu, then the 1957 Asian flu, and the Hong Kong flu is the most recent, occurring in 1968. On average, an epidemic occurs every 30 or 40 years.

Since it's been 36 years since the last one, the potential for a new influenza pandemic is enormous. A pandemic is a worldwide epidemic.

Quoted in Health magazine, molecular pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland say people aren't scared enough of the flu virus. But when they get it, they are really, really sick for at least a week. What they don't realize is that at least 30,000 Americans die every year from the flu and its consequences.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends only that those who should have a flu shot are adults over 50, youngsters between 6 months and 23 months of age, people with chronic illnesses, and women who are at least three months pregnant.

Armed Forces Institute doctors, however, note that the flu has an alarming tendency to strike healthy people at any age. For example, of the 100,000 U.S. soldiers who died in World War I, 43,000 died of the flu.

Whatever your age, a flu shot will ensure that you miss fewer days of work from both the flu and colds.


Obesity Risks Liver Disease

Experts say that people watching their weight should also be watching their liver.

Most people know that losing weight lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk of a lesser-known, but highly important obesity-related disorder, can also be lowered through weight loss.

It is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A surprising 25 percent of American adults have it. It is the most common liver problem in the U.S.

The disorder is marked by elevated liver enzymes and fatty deposits in the liver in the absence of excessive alcohol consumption. About 15 to 20 percent of these people ultimately develop inflammation and scarring of the liver. Advanced scarring (cirrhosis) is irreversible, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Centers.

A body mass index greater than 30 is strongly associated with NAFLD. Overweight people who tend to store fat around the abdomen, rather than around the hips, are at greater risk. Type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of NAFLD.

A diagnosis of NAFLD is generally easy. Doctors check the blood during routine blood work for elevated liver enzymes, which may be the first indication.

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) recommends gradual weight loss of one to two pounds per week through calorie restriction and increased exercise. A loss of about 10 percent of body weight has proved beneficial in lowering elevated liver enzymes and fatty deposits.


Dry Eyes Require Treatment

An estimated 10 million to 14 million people in the U.S. suffer from dry eye syndrome, according to the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Treatment is important to prevent discomfort and scarring, which can lead to vision loss.

Today, doctors think most cases of dry eyes are caused by inflammation. A topical form of cyclosporine (Restasis) now addresses that inflammation.

They say that most patients with dry eyes should consider Restasis and be treated early to prevent scarring and possible loss of vision.


Exercise Boosts Immunity

You know that exercise strengthens your heart, tones your muscles, and helps you maintain an ideal weight, among its other benefits.

Now research at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and elsewhere shows that people who lifted weights for 30 minutes three times a week have significantly stronger immune systems than a group that didn't lift weights.

With the cold season coming on, it's a good time to get the multiple benefits of exercise.


Some Men Low on Vitamin C

According to the American Journal of Public Health, nearly 20 percent of men don't get enough vitamin C.

It's an important nutrient found in oranges, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables.


Kids Rule

Experts: Kids who rule the roost might not become well-adjusted adults.

Many kids today know they can govern family activities and decisions. Not getting what they want is unfamiliar to them.

The power to control is given to kids by parents with good intentions, but studies show that their children are likely to become self-centered, unpleasant adults who may be unable to make solid relationships or get along with fellow workers.

As teens they are less likely to get along with others or do well in school. They are more likely to use drugs.

Some reasons parents don't impose rules:

  • They are afraid to damage his spirit, creativity and self-esteem. The truth: Kids not only need limits, they want them. It makes their world predictable and safe.
  • They don't want to see the child unhappy. But one who never experiences adversity or disappointment may be unable to deal with the challenges of adult life.
  • They can afford to fulfill every demand and do so. It creates a false sense of entitlement and an inability to delay gratification.
  • They don't want to be tyrants. But the child needs a parent, not a buddy.
  • They're afraid of losing the child's love. Kids are not so fragile that they can't withstand a request to take out the trash.
  • Parents can be authoritative while not being authoritarian, a loving combination of warmth, nurturing, and firmness says Dr. Lawrence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University.
  • To change their style, parents can start with small things. But if a line is crossed, there must be consequences.
  • When we hand kids too much power, the result is anarchy and chaos in our homes.


    Nuts, Fiber, and Cholesterol

    Researchers at the University of Toronto find that this diet lowers cholesterol almost as much as taking a statin:

    A fiber-rich vegetarian diet consistsof foods that lower cholesterol such as oats, barley, soy protein, and almonds. Add a type of margarine that includes cholesterol-lowering compounds.

    In their study, the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin reduced cholesterol by 31 percent. The diet reduced cholesterol by 29 percent.


  • Quotes

    A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
    - Mark Twain

    A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
    - Mark Twain

    A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.
    - Mark Twain

    A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
    - Mark Twain

    A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.
    - Mark Twain

    Pilot Instructions:

    The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.

    Q: How old should you be to start lifting weights? my son is only 11 years old and he wants to start lifting. Is this safe? if not why not? If so, how often is safe and high heavy of weights?

    A: It used to be believed that heavy weight would put undue pressure on the spine and prohibit growth. This is no longer generally accepted. However, I believe there is still some truth to this. Maxing the weights on overhead exercises may do some compression of the still growing spine. However, weight bearing exercises can make bones stronger possibly by this compression. However, the joint and cartilage assemblies are also compressed beyond the normal gravity stresses.

    The prudent course would be to limit overhead weight bearing exercises until growth stops. The theory being that some weight is instrumental to stronger bones and excess weight is damaging, as is the case with everything ... moderation.

    Keep the weight training to three times a week, as usual. Sessions should be accompanied by a spotter who is experienced or personal trainer. Exercises should be limited to other than overhead lifts.

    Q: I have calculated my BMI online and it equals to 25.7, or slightly overweight, as it came out. I was in doubt, so I calculated on other sites and appeared the same, three times on three different sites. To be very honest, I don't look overweight, at least not big big.

    A: BMI is not accurate especially for athletes. It is an old method developed by the insurance companies to determine an individuals fitness level. Unfortunately people still give too much credence to this method.

    Q: Please could you tell me if stretching out muscles (static stretching) is good for pre-weight training or would dynamic stretching be more beneficial?

    A: Dynamic stretching encompass more muscle fibers and is therefore better before lifting.

    Q: I need a general introduction on blood cholesterol, blood glucose and blood protein level in fish also on carbohydrate metabolism.

    A: Try these websites:

    Cholesterol and Fish
    Weight loss and Fish

    Q: I would like some information on what are the best ways to rid of 'The Love Handles'.

    A: The best way to get rid of love handles is aerobics. If you use machines or weights, you will build a muscle love handle instead of a fat one.

    Do aerobics activity for at least 30 minutes a day. You can work lower back every other day. Do back extension machines or lie on the floor face down and raise your upper body. Do 3 sets of 10 or 12 each.