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They say, common sense is not common anymore.

It seems the more knowledge we have,  the more confused we become.

This is particularly true when it comes to health.  As we are bombarded daily by new researched information, miracle drugs development, advancing medical technology, we lose the big picture, the basics, the common sense.

It is the routine obstetric advice that a pregnant woman should eat exactly the same way as when she is not pregnant, apart from taking some extra folate, calcium and iron. Common sense would ask why. As common sense knows when we have  increased demand, we have to increase supply. A fetus could not grow out of just combining folate, calcium and iron.  It turns out that pregnant women have many folds increase in need for protein, zinc, magnesium, iodine, essential fatty acids, to name a few. Pregnant women do not just need to eat, they need to have a special eating plan catered for the special need.

It was such a marketing success when Coke zero was invented. I had countless people coming up to me and said proudly:” At least now when I drink Coke, I drink Coke zero.” When something is advertised  to contain absolutely no sugar and yet tastes sweet, common sense would ask why.  Common sense would look for the substance that brings the taste and find out if that substance is better than sugar. It turns out that substance is aspartame. The adverse effect of aspartame on health is another topic for another day. All I would say simply is that if you have to drink Coke, drink the proper one.

And then we have the cholesterol super fear. Advice is often given to patient to bring the cholesterol down as low as possible. Common sense would ask why. Why on earth we have cholesterol in our body  in the first place?  I have never seen a patient with a zero cholesterol reading before. Because they would be dead. It turns out that all hormones are produced from cholesterol. ( see post”So you think you know cholesterol”)

And what about our appendix?  We are often told it is useless. So much so that some surgeons remove them “prophylactically”. Common sense would ask why. Why everyone is born without fail with an appendix? Are we satisfied  that it is merely a side product of evolution?  It turns out that the appendix contains lymphoid tissues in the highest density compared with other parts of the gut and it acts as the “point of entry or border control” for food allergens. Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix) indicates  fighting with unwanted food particles is occurring.

……

Medical care is not rocket science. Common sense  is often priceless. Keep it if you can.

.

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A young patient of mine had cried all the way through the whole full hour consultation, because I removed dairy products from her diet (due to allergy issues).

“Why are you upset?” I asked.

“Because I won’t be able to have ice cream. It is not fair that I can’t have ice cream!”

And then every five to ten minutes also she moaned about her great “loss” in tears: “Oh, I can’t have ice cream!”

Mum and I were slightly shocked by the incredible pain caused by removing this important item from her diet.

That afternoon, after much doctoring, it was my turn to be a mother. My son and I went to the supermarket to shop for his upcoming 18 birthday party. We had the following conversation a few days before.

Son: “I will shop for my party food with Dad.”

Me: “I can do that with you.”

Son (hesitated): “Er… I want Dad to come as well.”

Me : “Why?”

I know too well why. I am the food police at home. I censor processed and junk food ruthlessly. “Child abuse”, as my son would call it, jokingly (or not?). My behavior is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to choosing party food.  My husband, on the other hand, is usually much more sympathetic and flexible. He reminds me to put things into prospective.  It is his 18th birthday after all. We have to look after his emotional need as well as his physical health, you know…

After some serious self talk and psychological preparation, I went on our shopping trip.

We went from aisle to aisle.  The young man was having a ball picking up his dreamt “food”. I frantically struggled to keep my mouth shut as I saw items piling up in the trolley: E202, E331, acid 330, colourings, preservatives, flavour enhancers, glazing agents, sugar, modified corn starch, MSG, stabilizers, hydrogenated oil, anticaking agent and more….  Apparently we called these “food” nowadays.  And I was watching myself walking to the check out to pay for them.  The bill mounted to more than 100 dollars. What a sacrificial act of unkindness.  But I did not say a word (with big effort). I was proud of myself.

How have we come to this, I wonder.  It seems food is no longer food.   Fresh meat intake is fiercely reduced, because they might cause cancer, we are told. Salt intake is the less the better as it causes hypertension, we are told. Animal fats? well, avoid them like a plague, because they block up  arteries, we are told.  And at the same time as a society, we have gradually given up our natural instinct and surrendered our power to “faked foods”, consciously or subconsciously. To the extent that we almost could not survive without them. To the extent that our social existence is threatened if we walk away from them.

If only we could stop and think for a moment , and being connected to our body, we would remember that our body works best with what mother nature has to offer us as food.  Because after all, our body is a synergistic part of nature. It is profoundly simple.

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Growing Tomatoes

I always dream of eating fruit and vegetable that are freshly picked. I wish I had a vegie patch.

But in reality, I am busy enough running around working and doing my daily chores, the last thing I want on my plate is tending a vegie patch!

One day my neighbor begged me to “adopt” her chili plant. I reluctantly agreed, thinking secretly that at least  I am symbolically growing something. The plant was handed to me sitting in a cracked bucket, which my neighbor reminded me of returning. I frantically went through the local nurseries and managed to buy a large clay pot before the chili plant died of dehydration with its poor roots exposed in the cracked bucket. With fresh new potting soil in the clay pot, the chili plant finally settled in. I took some time to figure out where to place the pot so I could attend to it regularly without too much of an effort (a vitally important decision, otherwise the plant would definitely be left to die without a question) . The final spot I decided was on the deck outside the kitchen, just next to the back door leading to the deck. This way I could walk to the back door, open it and pour water in without even stepping out to the deck.

Things went smoothly from then on. While cooking dinner, I would soak and wash my vegetables in tap water, then rinse them in filtered water. The used filtered water would get tipped into the clay pot for the chili plant. Everyone is happy.

And then one day I saw something.  Something sprouting next to the chili. It was a young tomato plant! A tomato seed must have got tipped in the soil together with the water. My first reaction was to “weed” it out. After all I had only JUST gotten used to the idea of growing a chili plant. And the pot is not a huge one anyway. As I was tossing between “weeding” it or “keeping” it, a few days have passed and the tomato plant was quietly getting bigger, as if to show the world its determination to stay. Looking at the strong and luscious green tomato leaves, I decided to take the risk to keep it!

One pot, two plants. To my surprise, they accommodated each other very well. The softer tomato branches tended to lean on the stoic chili plant for support and the chili plant seemed to take it well. And very soon, they both started to flower! Not long after, small chili and tiny tomatoes came into sight. Just try to imagine the excitement of someone who has never grown anything successfully… 

Fussing over the fruit every morning then became my new routine. Watching the tomato fruit grow bigger each day, believe me, was incredibly therapeutic. It brings out instantly the joy and child-like amazement which are so authentically human’s when we are connected to mother earth, which, unfortunately have long-lost among the modern day hustle bustle.

One day I noticed the biggest tomato fruit was turning red. The biophotons(see previous post “May The Life Force Be With You”) it absorbed from the sun finally reached a threshold which had kicked the ripening  process into place!  My mouth started to drool.  I envisaged the first bite of the crunchy, juicy tomato flesh, I visualised the busting of biophotons  into my mouth and the lighting up of my organs…. I must choose a special day to harvest my first fruit and take time to enjoy it, I decided. Saturday morning would be the perfect time, I decided.

Came Saturday morning. Well groomed and dressed, I solemnly walked to the tomato plant. I froze. In fact nearly fainted. A crime had been committed the night before. The only thing that was left of my first fruit was a piece of tomato skin hanging to the tomato plant. The thief had the evil skill of shelling the tomato flesh from the skin and leaving  scattered tomato skin  in the crime scene under the tomato plant. Ahhhhhhh! My first fruit! My sweat! My biophotons! I could think of a thousand ways to kill the devil(what ever that was)!

A war had been declared. This is now a national security issue!  I drew up a plan: a special trip to Bunnings hardware store. I came back armed with a piece of  “antibird netting” and netting hooks. The net went over the plant and was secured by the hooks buried in the soil. Finished, I looked at my piece of art work and smiled at the prospect of the devil returning tonight feeling completely mad and disappointed!

Two days later, I finally harvested my second tree ripened tomato and officially put it in my mouth. It is a common practice nowadays that fruits and vegetables get picked before they are ready or ripened so that they could last longer for storage and transportation. And then the ripening process is chemically induced when they are ready for sale. The human body has long been deprived of the intense solar energy transfer from eating tree ripened fruits and vegetables, except for that rare moment of eating a ripe tomato from one’s own tomato tree.

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I had a huge “fix” with a dose of fresh food recently during a family trip to Shanghai, China.

In Australia, we go to shopping centers and supermarkets to get our daily supply of food. In China, people still maintain the habit of going to a wet market to buy their grocery and meat. A small version of the Paddy’s, there is one of these markets in almost every neighborhood. Every morning before dawn, local farmers would bring their produce into the city and set up stores in these wet markets.

Make sure you got your own shopping bag/s ready when you went to wet markets (as no trolley or large plastic bags available) and prepared for a crazy ride! A pair of gumboots would be perfect as the floor was wet everywhere!  And by the way you must get there very early in the morning if you wanted to buy the freshest food.

The vegetable and fruit section was usually in the centre of the market with tightly packed stores full of drop dead gorgeous green stuff: vegetable leaves were standing up right, crisp, drew dripping and only hours after being cut from their roots; cucumbers still had the tiny little spikes on them so sharp that you might be stung if not careful (if by now you had no idea what I was talking about then you had not seen fresh cucumbers before – the spikes on a cucumber softened and disappeared very quickly usually hours after being removed from its stem); many roots brought soil with them. So within minutes my shopping bag was full of goodies that I dreamt of for years.

The seafood section was the wettest part of the market as almost all spices were still alive in huge containers splashing and splattering. I wanted to buy a piece of fish head (from a big fish of course) to make soup. The fish lady picked a piece from the wooden chopping board (no plastic chopping board thanks) that was already cleaned and put it under my nose for me to see if I was happy with it. Right at that moment the fish head opened its mouth and took a breath! I screamed and nearly dropped everything. I mumbled to the fish lady “yes, this piece will do, very fresh…” while subconsciously removing myself from the table.

The last section would be the meat and poultry section. Live chickens could be picked and slaughtered right at the spot (not to worry I meant to say in a place behind the store, not visible to the public as the whole market was PG rated). Whole carcasses of pig were hung above the wooden chopping table and you need to know what part or cut of the meat you wanted to buy. For me it was like “sorry, I want to make a stir fry dish, which cut should I get?” But that risked being sold the most expensive part!

We cooked a huge feast using all the ingredients brought from the market and they did taste very differently from the chilled or frozen counterparts. Taste aside, food hygiene aside, I wondered how much more welcoming and healing it was for the body to receive the live nutrients that came in their original states?

We now know for a fact that fresh food,  apart from the presence of  solid molecules of nutrients, also contains that less known, mysterious component called “life energy”, or  to be more precise, the “biophoton emission” . Dr Fritz-Albert Popp, a German biophysicist first discovered that every living thing emits tiny currents of light in 1974. These light currents are composed of biophotons (photons are light molecules without mass). Cells and living systems communicate with each other through these photons that act as information carrying vehicles. Biophoton emission forms the “Biofield” (biological energy field) that is critical for life.  Photosynthesis is the nature’s way to gather solar energy into biophoton energy.  Human beings need to maintain their photon energy by eating photon rich food. But biophoton emission dissipates rapidly after food leaves its original living system, it is no wonder that in processed food, frozen food, or food that has been stored for a long time, biophoton emission is greatly reduced.

“Food milage” is a word used to measure how long food has traveled from the  field to the table to determine its carbon footprint. I think the word can also be used to determine  how fresh the food is when we buy it. The aim is to buy food that has a food milage as short as possible to maximize our photon intake.

These are some practical ways to choose food with better vitality.

1. To avoid buying processed food.

2. To buy food from local farmers. Avoid food that has traveled from another country.

3. To buy food that is in season, eg banana is a summer fruit and should not be available in winter.

4. Best of all, to grow your own. Start off with herbs as they take up very little space and herbs tend to have higher concentration of photon energy than other food.

May the life force be with you!

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My son showed me this clip from Youtube recently:

A brilliant way to illustrate “awareness”.

Everybody has his/her own  “moon walking bear” . Ten years ago when I was still in conventional medical practice, I came to notice the biggest “bear” in my life: many years after graduating from medical school, I was still letting more powerful people, authorities, pharmaceutical companies, medical experts and specialists to think for me. I was to busy following the books to believe I could think and seek truth myself. That blew my mind away. Coming to realize that changed my life and my career.

What is your “black bear”?  It might be the inability to say “no” or set boundaries  so you let others to invade your space. It might be the unjustified guilt that you carry for years. It might be fear that was stemmed for your childhood. It might be that you let others’ behaviour control your happiness. It might be the suppressed anger that quietly eats you away. It might be the additive behaviour that leads you nowhere. Or it might be the talent or creativity that you have not noticed, the unique ability that you have not put into use.  Whatever it might be, the chance is that because you are so involved in surviving the daily routines, it has blended into the background and become an unrecognizable part of your life. Not aware of its existence does not reduce or alter the fact that it is there. Not knowing it is there takes away the opportunity to leap forward, to evaluate its impact on your life and to finally stop losing more energy to block it away. Sometimes it is not so much about not knowing, it is about unwillingness to acknowledge. The outcomes are the same.

“Awareness” is about discovering yourself, discovering life. “Awareness” is enlightening and life changing. “Awareness” is the beginning of breakthroughs.

Start taking notice. Take notice of life and take notice of yourself. Awareness will come when you are ready.

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A group of my friends decided to be good and washed up after a meal. Two volunteered. We immediately realized even a simple task like this would cause dispute. One said, “Wash first (with detergent), then rinse (in clean water).” The other said, “Rinse first (away the left over food), then wash (with detergent) ” The latter guy won in the end as he declared his method was indeed the most professional one because he once worked as a kitchen hand in an upmarket hotel. So there we were, rinsing off the food remnants from the plates before cleaning them in dish washing liquid. The plates were dried by a clean cloth immediately after they were removed from the sink full of detergent, bubbles and all.

I watched in horror. I would have agreed with the first guy. I hope no one else washes dishes like that, although I know this is quite a common practice.

Detergent works by attaching itself to grease and dirt particles to form water soluble compounds. These water soluble compounds need to be dissolved in water to be washed away. A piece of clean tea towel would never function as a solvent like water to take away the grease-detergent compounds. Try washing your hands with soap then dry them without rinsing. You will see what I mean. Without rinsing away the detergent compound with clean water, we are left with dishes that are now covered in a film of detergent for the next meal. It is not so much of a worry if the film is made up of only left over grease or someone else’s saliva. They may not sound very hygienic but at least they are biodegradable. Unfortunately, we are now dealing with detergent. We are practically eating or drinking detergent. So far I have yet discovered a detergent that is eatable.

I  looked up one of the most common dish washing liquids in Australian households. On the manufacturer’s product safety data sheet, it is indicated that “acute or chronic (meaning repetitively—added by author) ingestion of the product can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritation of eyes on direct contact”.  In another word, it says please do not eat it. Do not make your delicate internal mucosa (like the inside of  the eyes, the inside of the mouth, and not surprisingly the intestinal track, etc) in direct contact with it. If you do, seek medical attention.

These are the main ingredients in that dish washing liquid: Water , Ammonium C12-15 Pareth Sulfate , Magnesium Isododecylbenzenesulfonate , Lauramidopropylamine Oxide , SD Alcohol 3-A , Sodium Xylenesulfonate , Sodium Chloride , Fragrance , Pentasodium Pentetate , DMDM Hydantoin , Sodium Bisulfite , D&C Orange No. 4 (active ingredients: Triclosan 0.12%). I would be very surprised if someone tells me these are food grade ingredients!

Our liver does a  damn good job cleaning these foreign particles out, after all, the amount is minute, one might say. I can’t agree more. I am not so sure though when we add pesticides, preservatives, medications, stress hormones, late nights, and more to the list if the liver would thank us. At least the detergent can be washed away while a lot of others may not be avoidable.

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“Cook! As if your lives depend on it!”  The ever popular TV cook show “Masterchef” judge George Calombaris barks at his contestants in the high pressure elimination test.

I smile to myself, cook indeed, because your life DOES depend on it. In fact, our future generation’s health depends on it!

The days are gone when our mothers cooked everything from scratch and eating in a restaurant was a sheer luxury. The readily available fast food outlets and gourmet eatery places mean that cooking at home has become non-essential, not to mention the sweat, the labour, the grocery shopping and the time “wasted” during cooking chores!

A young couple told me recently that they eat out in a restaurant every meal. The wife had breast cancer at the age of 30. And they tried very hard to pick “good” restaurants.

A young man I knew had take-away food every night since moving out of home as he had no idea how to cook and was too busy on the computer to cook anyway. He developed early diabetes. He knew something was wrong and made every effort to hunt me down and asked my advice.  My answer was  very simple, “start cooking please”.  He returned 3 months later, thanked me for my time and said,” I can’t cook even if my life depends on it.”

Commercial cooking differs from home cooking in that decision making in a business is largely commercial based rather than health based. Chefs are not nutritionists. To let someone else who has a commercial interest in you determine what goes in your mouth is, in my opinion, risky. By no means I am against dinning out. Risks require risk management not total avoidance. But try to remember our body is a banking system (see post “Balance”) and dinning out is an activity that often has a “withdrawal nature”.

I am increasingly worried that home-made food and home cooking have become a lower and lower  priority in our daily living. The demands are high from our jobs, our children’s schooling, our relationships, our social life and even our computers!  To me, those who are able to resist the urge to go with the flow and stand firm on what is truly important will be the winners ultimately in the rat race. Those who could not will keep me and other medical professionals in business for years to come.

I am also concerned about our children. We are children’s role models. Seeing us cook at home sends a positive message to them about healthy eating. Forget about ipod, ipad, piano lessons, even education,  teaching them to cook and making cooking fun would be the best life skill ever we can give our children.

Sincerely hope that we would start cooking today and leave a legacy of healthy eating for the generations to come.

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