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Archive for March, 2011

Have you heard of phytochemicals?  If not, it’s time to pay some attention to this most natural and valuable element on earth.  Phytochemicals help our bodies fight cancer and all kinds of illnesses.  It is a natural element that can only be found from natural foods, like Isoflavones from beans, Lycopene from tomatoes, Allicin from garlic, Indoles from cabbages, and Catechins from green tea.  In the past, nutritionists did not pay much attention to phytochemicals since they are neither minerals nor vitamins that are vital to maintaining the smooth operation of the human body.  However, scientists have since discovered that these colorful natural chemicals provide excellent antioxidation capabilities.  We all know that most illnesses (cancer included) as well as our aging process has a lot to do with oxidation, so phytochemicals provide the much needed and most effective natural remedies for our bodies.

So instead of popping pills and supplements with unknown origins, concentration and doubtful manufacturing processes, getting phytochemicals from the world’s most natural fruits and vegetables is not only safe but also inexpensive.  It may take time and energy to make it a ritual to go to the markets for fresh produce every other day, but it’s a rather small price and effort to pay when health is at stake.

Where are these chemicals located in our fruits and vegetables?  Well they are mostly found under the skin fiber, inside the seeds, pits, stones and stems.  Ironically, these are the parts that we often discard when we prepare fruits and vegetables.  Hence many of us fail to fully benefit from the fruits and vegetables just from the way we consume them.  That’s how high-speed food processors come into play.

And now let the drum roll begins…

15 Most Photochemicals-Enriched Foods

  1. Garlic.  Garlic helps prevent a number of cancer formulations, has high anti-inflammatory effects, and protects the heart.  However over-dosage has its side effects and hence the right dosage per day is roughly 0.125 grams of garlic for every 1 kg of body weight.  A little goes a long way.
  2. Ginger.  Ginger has Curcumin which helps with blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels, and contains anti-inflammatory effects.
  3. Almond.  Almonds have vitamins A, B17 or Amygdalin, and E, which are proven to prevent cancer and reduce cholesterol levels.  Picking fresh almonds is key however as it oxidizes fairly quickly.
  4. Tomatoes.  My refrigerator favorite.  Lycopene can inhibit cancer cells and boost our natural killer cells.  It is inexpensive, and simply delicious!
  5. Carrots.  Another refrigerator favorite.  It’s nicknamed “ginseng for the poor” because it contains over 490 types of phytochemicals.  We all know that carrots are good for night blindness, coughing, high blood pressure as well as our liver.
  6. Beet Root.  Before I never heard of beet root.  I recall seeing it in salad bars in the school cafeteria when I used to study in the States years ago.  It was cooked and has that amazing red color that is overpowering.  I seldom see it in local markets here at home and almost never heard of anyone incorporating beet root into their diets.  In fact, beet root is considered as the equivalent of Chinese Lingzhi in Europe.  You can just begin to imagine the incredible health value of beet root from that analogy.  They are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.  Additionally, several preliminary studies on both rats and humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the build up of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes, among other causes. The nutrient also helps individuals with hypochlorhydria, a condition causing abnormally low levels of stomach acid, by increasing stomach acidity.  Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems.   Now, I always make sure I have enough beet root in my fridge.  It’s definitely way cheaper than Lingzhi!
  7. Asparagus.  Particularly beneficial for women who are preparing for pregnancy.  It has high concentration of vitamins A, C, E, as well as the capability to fight many types of cancer.
  8. Celery.  Amazing food to lower blood pressure!
  9. Blueberries.  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that blueberries are good for cancer prevention and anti-aging.  I remember it used to be quite pricey in this neck of the woods since they used to be imported from United States, but lately I see a lot of cheaper options originated from Chile.  Not bad.
  10. Cherries.  Prevents cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, aging, inflammation, eye fatigue, insomnia…the list goes on.
  11. Strawberries.  Great fruit to fight cancer, but it’s not in my daily diet since it is still relatively pricey.
  12. Wolfberry, or Lycium Barbarum.  We almost always see them in dried reddish form and we Chinese always put them in soups and desserts.  When Chinese Emperor Qin (221 BC) ordered his people to look for the “prescription of eternal life”, the few rumored prescriptions that are countered for today ALL contain wolfberries as a critical ingredient.  It’s good for our eyes, skin, immune system, liver and kidney.  I don’t think it will give me eternal life (and not that I ever want that really), but I won’t say no to healthier skin!
  13. Cranberries.  Known for its effect on urinary infections.  Relatively more rare and expensive here, and imported concentrated juices can be rather costly too.
  14. Linseed or Flax seed.  Can be found in most organic health food stores.  It contains Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9.  It prevents heart disease and cancer, lowers cholesterol, blood sugar, degradation of the brain, and prevents hair loss, sight degradation and dry skin.  I have not yet tried this, and it just seems that I’ve been missing out.
  15. Sesame.  We Chinese are known to prepare creamy black sesame puree as desserts, though in the last decade or two its role on the dining table  has been largely replaced by ice cream, fancy cakes and puddings.  It does incredible wonders to our skin and helps delay the aging process.

There you have it.  Don’t over-stress yourself to find all 15, instead just go for the ones that are easy to get, in season and affordable.  Nevertheless most of these foods are low-priced relative to the so-called bottled supplements in health food stores, without the unknown side effects and artificial addictives.   If taking these foods can improve your health and energy PLUS offering the sense of fullness to your stomach, I really don’t see how one won’t be able to lose weight while feeling great, at the same time. 

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Aside from sit-down restaurants, the most patronized F&B outlet in town for me is Starbucks or Pacific Coffee.  No I don’t really go for the caffeine kick or the taste of freshly ground coffee beans, and quite frankly I don’t find the quality of these coffee chains any appealing either.  I visit their outlets when I need a place to rest my feet, stay sober from the crazy pedestrians on the world’s most crowded streets, and to kill time in between appointments around the city.  In Hong Kong where a 500 square feet jewellery store in Causeway Bay was reportedly rented for HK$1.4 million per month, or the new to-be-opened Apple store is spending US$20 million on fit-out in Central’s IFC mall, a HK$33 venti cappuccino feels like a bargain for a 2-hour refuge in the midst of all that madness.

 

There is a lot to be studied under the Starbucks logo.  Economists use Starbucks’ pricing of different sized drinks to explain costing theories.  Psychologists will tell you how that each order can be customized provides the one final shred of perceived control that each patron gets to salvage in today’s helpless world.  Nutritionists question the high calorie content of its Frappucinos (and plenty more), though Starbucks fearlessly rolled out its Trenta-sized iced products that are 30% larger than Venti.  At 916 mL, the Trenta is actually larger than the average capacity of the adult human stomach (900mL).

So what are The Top 10 Things You don’t Want To Hear From A Guy At Starbucks?  Here is David Letterman’s answer.

10.”We ran out of coffee filters, so I’m using one of my old undershirts.”

9.”Try our triple cappuccino — It’s a legal alternative to crack.”

8.”Let me make sure that’s not too hot.”
 
7.”You know, I licked every one of these stirrers.”
 
6.”One Decaf Venti Skim Latte — 39 US dollars.”
 
5.”Sugar with that?”
 
4.”Grande Caramel Macchaito? Talk English!”
 
3.”If I catch any of you people going into a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, I’ll break your legs!”
 
2.”Some whipped cream for you… and some whipped cream for me.”
 
1.”After work, I’m gonna pick up a hooker-uccino.”

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No To Facebook Depression

I had no idea that some kids end up feeling even worse after seeing Facebook updates of their happy looking friends having a good time.  Apparently it’s called “Facebook Depression”.  Right, those status updates are so “in-your-face” and more often than not, bragging the hell out of oneself, as I covered earlier on my advice for these people.  Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines, said that “…it can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria or other real-life encounters that can make kids feel down, because Facebook provides a skewed view of what’s really going on. Online, there’s no way to see facial expressions or read body language that provide context.”

No doubt Facebook can be a popularity contest for those who aspire to be followed or idolized, regardless of what age they are at.  I choose to play no part of that.  I use Facebook to let my friends know whenever a blog post is published, and I leave it at that.  I believe some may find it annoying if they don’t find my posts relevant to their liking, and they might have hid my updates using the site’s privacy settings.  For those who are tolerant enough to leave me unhid, I choose not to add to their burden by planting self-promoting catch-phrases on each update like some people I know.  I choose to let my friends and readers decide whether my posts are crap or inspiring, and I am not going to rob them out of their freedom to make their own judgements. 

Well, if it’s a commercial establishment then it’s another story.  However, Facebook is Facebook.  I would like to see it remain as a social networking platform, at least on my news feed page.

The other form of “Facebook Depression” lies with relationship matters.  I come across this Top 10 Facebook Etiquette Rules on Relationships from yourtango.com which is just too hilarious not to share.

  1. Relationship status is a mutual decision.
  2. It’s OK to look through your friend’s friends for people you might want to meet/ date/ friend. It’s not OK to skip the middleman on the introduction.
  3. Ask first before friending a close friend’s ex-squeeze.
  4. It’s OK to remain friends with someone you used to date on Facebook.
  5. Posting a ton of pictures, videos and comments regarding a recent, failed relationship is a bad idea.
  6. As with all things, there is such thing as too much information.
  7. This is sort of an addendum to 2 previous rules, but it bears its own space: don’t friend an ex’s new squeeze if you’re not actually friends.
  8. Know the difference between the Wall and a message.
  9. Again, the interweb is not a therapy session and shouldn’t be used with severely impaired judgment.
  10. Above all other rules (in this actually is in the Facebook rules), do not create a fake page as a way to punish an ex.

Don’t you just love this?  For the complete write-up with clarifications and examples (if you ever need anything more really), check this out.

Happy Facebooking, and don’t end up making yourself look laughable or pityful, please.

 

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Heart-Wrenching Sorrow

I’m sure you have experienced some form of heart wrenching moments in your life, and though it might not necessarily be your greatest moments, they are still worth remembering.  Obviously I have experienced my fair share, and to be honest I do try my very best to see the silver lining of every one of them.  I won’t agree that this is self-deceiving, as I believe withering away in my own demise isn’t something I am thrilled about.

Sometimes listening to the signs of your body is pretty amazing.  When I feel that the left side of my chest (aka my heart) starts to grip slowly sending sour emotional notes up my brain, I know I have gone into areas that matter.  You know sometimes we are lost as to what we are fighting for and what’s it all about in life, just because we tend to follow paths where they are all decided for us.  It’s these late night heart wrenching moments which remind me that I am alive and human, and my organic human needs lie with my family, my relationships and my beliefs.

A few lines from Yahoo’s associated content:

“Sorrow is usually accompanied by tears and much pain. The pain from sorrow is definitely more acute than physical pain because it is something which cannot be alleviated by medicine. Some people have described the pain sadness as the breaking of the heart.”

” Although sorrow is something unavoidable, we must also learn how to deal with it so that it does not develop into manic depression. The only way to deal effectively with sorrow is to come to terms with the loss which triggered it. Accepting that what has happened cannot be altered and coping with life thereafter is the best way to combat depression. Although it is not a fool-proof cure, because the memories remain; carrying on with life is the best possible antidote. For the inexplicable sorrow which is triggered from innocuous events, it should not be allowed to overwhelm us so much that we lose self-control and sink into despair.”

Amanda Harvey has the following to say on her life-coaching portal:

“To feel the pain, is to stop fighting the nature of reality. In Buddhism it is said that pain or sorrow is as much a part of our life as joy. The difference that we can bring to the pain that we experience is whether or not we allow it to cause us suffering.

Very few people want to feel pain. It is not nice or pleasant, but it is inevitable. Whether our pain brings suffering to our lives is largely dependent on how we handle it. Suffering is always caused by a conflict between what we believe reality should be, and what reality actually is. Fighting against reality does not change what is happening in our lives, but rather, it intensifies and distorts the pain of difficult experiences.

By allowing ourselves to feel, rather than fight the sorrow of life’s tough times, we can move through the pain much faster, and experience it as a pure sensation rather than an inner turmoil. Fear of feeling pain is almost always worse than the pain itself, and giving into the pain can actually lessen its intensity.

If you are going to experience sorrow, as part of the human experience, why complicate the issue with resistance, fear, and suppression? By allowing yourself to feel the pain when it comes, you also open your heart to making a quick recovery, and to being able to fully experience the joy that will also come, as surely as night follows day.”

Right on.  The keyword for me is allowing ourselves to feel rather than combating sorrow full frontal.  Feel it, live it, accept it and move on from it.

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Tweeting is hugely popular in the States and somehow the version here in Hong Kong is named “Weibo” (literally translated as microblog) which gains its popularity through Chinese “tweets” by celebrities in the region (for those  who are interested in the difference between Sina Weibo and Twitter, read this).   Whether it is in the form of tweets or Facebook updates, there is no turning back once an update is posted.  Never underestimate the effect of a post especially if you are one of the opinion shakers in the community. 

So when I see the following slideshow on the top 10 Twitter firings and fallouts, I cannot believe how the movers and shakers could have been so careless.  If they have listened to US President Obama’s advice that “…whatever you do [when posting on Facebook] , it will be pulled up later in your life…“, they wouldn’t be at where they are today.

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In Part One I wrote about procurement salaries and I recently come across new United Kingdom data from The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS).  For those who are curious over the profession’s earning power, read on.

Earning Power

By Supply Management magazine

Purchasing managers are more highly paid than their colleagues in marketing, HR sales, IT and finance. Members of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) earn £1,500 more a year than purchasing professionals who are not members. The pay gap between men and women is virtually non-existent in procurement. And more than half of purchasing professionals say they have good or excellent job satisfaction.

Figures like that make procurement a real contender in the graduate jobs market. The profession is seen by many organisations as the department that saves money, and while purchasers were not immune to job cuts during the recession they have generally escaped the worst of the cull. And now, procurement recruiters are reporting a buoyant market post-recession as posts open up and buyers become more confident about switching jobs.

And salaries are holding up well. The general complaint in this resurgent procurement jobs market isn’t that there aren’t enough applicants, but that there aren’t enough of the right calibre, so employers are willing to pay more than average to get the right people.

For junior managers, which is entry level for graduates, pay is about on a par with the national average for similar jobs in other professions: £30,000 compared with an average of £29,650, according to the 2010 Purchasing & Supply Rewards research from CIPS and Croner Reward. This is ever so slightly less than you’d get in an equivalent position in IT (£30,904) or sales (£30,441), but a bit more than in finance, HR and marketing.

As you rise through the profession, though, you can expect the gap to grow. At senior manager level you would probably be earning in the region of £52,500, about £10,000 more than you would be in HR or marketing, and compared with a national average at this level of £45,000. The trend continues right up to director level, where the average for purchasing is £90,000. For HR this is £72,611, against a national average of £80,000.

It is only at director level that there is any discrepancy between the genders, with the women who responded to the survey (10 per cent of the directors who responded were female) saying they earnt an average of £78,000, compared with an average of £90,000 for the men.

Average bonuses reported in this year’s survey were £2,500, with the top earners getting £4,800. Middle managers generally ended up with about £2,160, and 29 per cent of all respondents received a bonus averaging £1,200.

Of course, reward isn’t all about the pay. Working conditions and job satisfaction are also part of the package. The news isn’t quite as rosy as far as working hours go. There has been a general increase over the past year in the number of hours procurement professionals work, although this is by no means unique to purchasing. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has recorded a rise in the number of hours worked across the UK as the economy recovers and labour demands grow. In procurement, this has meant that the biggest proportion of employees work 41 to 45 hours a week; last year the biggest proportion worked 40 hours a week.

Despite this, 54 per cent of survey respondents rated their job satisfaction as good or excellent. Almost all of them said that their job security was fair to excellent, and 77 per cent said they thought their total pay package was equal to or above market rates. A happy bunch, then – and with the right skills and abilities you could be well placed to join them.”

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Centralize, decentralize, reorganize, re-engineer, grow, downsize, externalize, outsource, insource…

These are just a few of the most heard-of verbs in today’s corporate workplace.  Some are well warranted, but I bet some of you must have chuckled over the various reorganization episodes in your work lives.  Can you honestly tell me the following thought have not come into your mind?

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