Posts Tagged ‘health’

What are the worst lines you can hear from a doctor when you are partially anesthetized in the surgery room?

“Oh oh…”

“What is that?”

“Quick, quick, pass me the XXX (some precision surgical tools)!”

“I can’t see…”

“Can you call Doctor XXX in?  Tell him it’s urgent.”

“Where the hell is my cigarette?”

“Where is the electricity?”

“Houston, we have a problem.”

I went for my first dental implants yesterday with a dental surgeon from a referral.  As part of my obsessive character that’s known as a control freak,  I had done plenty of research over the past few days about all there is to dental implants.  At the clinic, I still went through the details of the solution, procedures and all the questions I had gathered from my research, with the surgeon, extensively.  All of a sudden I felt like I was doing a feature interview on TV news, and I constructed my questions logically, using analogies to provoke interests.  It didn’t take a surgeon to figure that I was nervous.  Very nervous.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  The moment you feel you are completely helpless and at the mercy of someone you barely know is a daunting reality.  It’s not my first time having surgery, but last time there was no time for me to do any thinking.  It was an emergency operation, and the doctors unanimously told me there was only one solution.  One route, one way, and it had to be there and then, right away.  In about 3 hours, I was wheeled into the surgery room.  I didn’t even have time to panic or feel anything.  The first things I did were to call my family, my insurance agent, text my office and cancelled my travel bookings.  With these as my last words, I woke up a few hours later with a status report available for me.

This time, though much less complicated or life threatening, there could be multiple routes toward a destination.  There could be risks, complications, what-if scenarios, and a bunch of uncertainties, even after I have done all the research and all the detailed explanations provided by my surgeon prior to the procedure.

Worst yet, is the partial anesthesia part.  You don’t feel pain (thank goodness), but you are wildly aware of what’s going on around you.  I couldn’t see anything because my face and eyes are covered, but I could hear every sentence, instruction and finding of the surgeon along with his helpful assistants.

“Huh… Where are the tooth roots?”

What’s happening?  I don’t like questions.  Questions mean uncertainty, and uncertainty means this highly trained surgeon doesn’t know what to do.  That’s not good.

“There isn’t even bone graft.  Get me bone graft!”  Then the assistant repeated the request through what I imagined to be an intercom system.

Bone graft.  I think I remember reading about it.  The surgeon didn’t prepare me for this in our pre-surgery discussion.  Wait, my research tells me that replacement bone graft is generally taken from the patient’s other body parts!  Is he going to saw into my jawbone or somewhere for such?  Help!

What kills your spirit is always the fear, agony, pain, late nights tossing and turning, financial burden etc., much more so than the illness or physical conditions you are actually facing.  And I’m known to be a paranoid in areas that are out of my personal control.  Hearing such questions or orders sure doesn’t help in my immobilized but conscious state.

Luckily, the operation was over in less than 40 minutes, with the surgeon reporting that the procedure was completed successfully with no complications, and subsequent steps to be continued in the next few months.  He also told me he implanted cow’s bone graft on one of my implants.  Don’t be fooled by thinking it’s something you use to make delicious beef soup.  This bone graft is one pricey item that is life-saving.  I have never been a big fan of beef or steaks, and maybe that’s how they thank me.

On top of all the other wonders in life, I now have a new respect for cows.  “Moo…..”

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I’ve gotten quite a number of questions from my previous post on healthy foods since most people know for a fact that fruits and veggies are good for them.  Despite this obvious and profound fact, we should always be reminded that any serving of fruits and vegetables equals to one less serving of unwanted carbs, fat and processed foods that we would otherwise be consuming in our daily diets.   Our food choices out there have gotten so incredibly confusing, hazardous and misleading that it just seems the more we eat, the more unhealthy we are.

That is when I find the following article by Courtney Hutchison of ABC News worthwhile to share.  Heart disease death rate drops with each added fruit and veggie serving we take in. 

“It’s time to make friends with the produce aisle: pumping your diet with fruits and vegetables isn’t just good for your waistline — it could save your life, according to new research from the University of Oxford.

While “5 a day” has traditionally been the mantra for fruit and veggie consumption, researchers found that those who consumed eight or more servings were 22 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed three or fewer servings a day.

Even among those who couldn’t manage the eight servings, more fruits and veggies consistently meant a lower risk; for every additional serving above two per day, researchers observed a four percent decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths.

Though past studies have linked the consumption of fruit and vegetables to heart health, many remain skeptical as to whether these foods have a direct protective effect on the heart. Given the size of Tuesday’s study (over 300,000 participants from eight different European countries) and the strength of its findings, some doctors feel that it may erase and remaining doubts concerning fruits and veggies, and cardiovascular health.

“This is probably the largest study of its type and should convince even the greatest skeptic of the value of fruits and veggies,” said Dr. Randall Zusman, director of the division of hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“This compares ‘enough’ fruit and vegetable intake to ‘more than enough’ and suggests that ‘more than enough’ is better,” said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. This could have big implications considering that the U.S. population “doesn’t even approximate the ‘enough’ target” as it is.

The study, which was published Tuesday in the European Heart Journal, is part of the EPIC trial, a long-term study in Europe initially set up to track the effect of vegetable and fruit intake on cancer.

In the U.S., the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables has often been promoted as “five a day”. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved away from that recommendation in 2007, to a more flexible approach, dubbed Fruits & Veggies – More Matters.

Instead of a flat recommendation of five servings a day, the new program changes recommendations based on age, sex and activity level. For a 40-year-old sedentary man, recommendations are now two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day; for a sedentary woman of that age, the recommendation is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies.

From 5 a Day to “the More the Better”

So what exactly would the eight portions a day observed in the study look like? 

“A large navel orange can easily weight close to 8 ounces and so does a large apple,” says Carla Wolper with the Obesity Research Center at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. “That leaves a measly six ounces for salad, string beans, or other vegetables on the dinner plate, so yes people can easily eat this much,” she said.

Considering that the majority of the general population in the U.K. and the U.S. consume fewer than five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day, asking for eight may be a bit of a stretch, concedes Dr. Francesca Crowe, lead author on the study. 

Given that each additional serving suggested an additional heart health benefit, “it may be a relatively simple public health goal to encourage everyone to increase their intake of [fruits and vegetables] by a portion per day,” she says.

What Are Fruits and Vegetables Doing?

We all know that fruits and veggies are good for us, but why would eating them prevent death from heart disease?

The evidence points to a number of ways that these foods could work to boost heart health.

It could be that vegetables and fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are having a specific effect on cardiovascular health, says Dr. Keith Ayoob, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Another possible mechanism “is the impact of fruit and vegetables to lower inflammation, a known mechanism contributing to cardiovascular disease,” adds Dr. Stephen Devries, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern Hospital.

No Harm in Piling on the Fruits and Veggies

It also may not be what fruits and veggies add to the diet, but what they replace. There’s less room in the diet for the high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-salt foods often associated with increased risk of heart disease when someone is consuming so many fruits and vegetables each day, doctors noted.

This makes for “lower blood pressure (because these foods are salt free), lower cholesterol (because they are fat free), lower weight (because they are likely to be associated with weight loss), [and] lower blood sugar (lower carbohydrate and sugar content),” says Zusman.

“Just by taking up a lot of room” in the stomach, [those] ounces of fruits and vegetables inherent in eight servings “will have a salutary effect vis-a-vis [cardiovascular disease],” Wolper says.

More importantly, there are few if any drawbacks to consuming a good amount of fruits and veggies .

“I tell my patients to eat whatever fruits and veggies they like at whatever means they can,” says Ayoob >. “They’re that good for you. Indeed Weight Watchers doesn’t even count them in their programs now. No one gains weight eating whole fruits and veggies.”


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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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Watching the documentary Food Inc. is still disturbing considering it is already 3 years old.  The reality is terribly frightening.  The below summary is extracted from its website.

“In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.”

What I find most alarming is genetically engineered food products, all the way from the staple ingredient of corn to cows (who feed on corn nowadays) to all meats, soda and snacks.  As the end of the food chain, we human beings are unaware of how much genetically engineered products we have taken in on a daily basis.  I hardly think it is doing anything good to our bodies.

So I conduct a quick round of web research and I want to share the below from The Center For Food Safety.

“…By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 80 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.”

This is not an American problem.  This is evident in all parts of the world, and we can find traces of engineered corn as ingredients on mostly every food product label we see in supermarkets.   It’s difficult to fight all this as our food supply is highly monopolized by a handful of manufacturing giants in the global and regional markets.  Though as a rule of thumb, I am trying my hardest to get away from as much processed food as possible, and I am beginning to pay more attention to organic ingredients.  Fresh vegetables and fruits now become my main diet.  It’s not an easy journey and it takes work and money to lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle.   Yet even if we cannot avoid all hazardous ingredients at once, being aware of such risks and getting committed to be more selective in choosing what we put in our bodies, is never too late.

Be a smart shopper at the supermarkets, and go beyond bargain hunting.

 Check out the trailer of Food Inc. below. 

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