Sunday, November 27, 2011

Balance: Key To Good Health, Part 1

We live in a world of duality: Day and night. Light and darkness. Health and sickness. And to underscore the concept of polarity (or opposites), Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using the terms yin and yang to describe the interdependence and relationship of opposites in preventing and treating various bodily ailments. So to live well, we have to balance our body through proper diet and good health.

Dr. Fe Jocelyn G. Merced, who was featured earlier in our blog, offers some insights on the importance of balance in achieving health and vitality. She therefore proposes that there are logical things we can do right now to boost the body’s natural healing ability without costing us a fortune. What follows are health facts to whet our appetite:

  • Our bodies are different, yet our foundation is the same. We all breathe oxygen. We all have the same chemistry – it’s just that our bodies are so complex. Why do some get sick from being exposed to something that their neighbor is immune to? Once you understand the complexity of the human body, it all makes sense.
  • You must work with your body – not against it – and that means discovering and maintaining certain things that your body requires. And as you’ll see, if you can correct your body’s foundation, it has huge benefits in ALL areas of your many systems. Never ever discount the healing power of the human body.
  • Drugs work for some symptoms of disease. However, there are two major problems with that approach. First, the drugs often directly cause more problems (the disclaimers and warnings are several pages long). Secondly, lasting change will not occur if the root cause of the problem is not corrected. A symptom is NOT the cause and by avoiding the cause (beside making lasting change more difficult), you create OTHER problems. So why treat the symptom when it is only temporary at best?
  • Treat the cause and never worry about the symptom again. The bottom line is… Nature Still Knows More Than Man!
  • A confusing point for many: If acids are bad, how can lemons or limes be good? First, there are different kinds of acids – and they are not at all bad – in fact, they are much needed in our body. It’s just the proportion of certain kinds of acid in a sick body that’s out of whack. Secondly, there are four kinds of foods: acid foods; alkaline foods; acid-forming foods; and alkaline-forming foods. The last two are related to the chemical process that happens AFTER a food is eaten. Lemon is an example. Because of its citric acid and potassium, it creates carbonic acid when it enters the stomach, together with citric acid; this combination causes the release of secretin, signaling the pancreas to release sodium bicarbonate and other alkalines into the small intestines.
  • Bicarbonate is released into the body’s circulation through the lymph. But it is the potassium citrate in the small intestines that is the strongest alkaline buffers. Doctors have been using potassium citrate for years without problems to raise pH in urine to prevent acid-forming stones. However, a less expensive and pleasant alternative to raise pH in urine is simply adding lemon juice to your drinking water.

(Part 2 of this article will be posted next Monday, Dec.5, 2011. – J.P.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You Ready For a Stress Test?

Your heart rate is monitored by a physician while you walk on a treadmill.

The Executive’s Personal Health Advisor cautions that if three or more of the following 10 characteristics hit close to home, you’re probably pushing yourself beyond your acceptable stress threshold:Bold

  • Overplannings. You budget your time so tightly that you can barely finish one task before rushing to the next. There’s no time for the unexpected – which you equate with a mini-disaster. Your schedule is unrealistic since it is impossible to produce quality work in the time allotted. As a result, you become frustrated because you can’t meet the high standards you’ve set for yourself.
  • Multiple Thinking. You’ve got too many thoughts racing through your mind because you’ve bitten off more than what you can chew. While you work on one task, your thoughts dwell on the next decision. You appear to be a good listener, but actually you’re not thinking about what’s being said. Moreover, you want to get on with the discussion. You’ll rush slow talkers to get to the point. With so much cramming your cranium, you lose your concentration and inhibit sound thought and logic.
  • Insistence on Winning. You need to be in first place, since being second is synonymous with failure. As a result, you don’t allow yourself to do something simply for the experience or fun of it.
  • Excessive Need for Recognition. You don’t take pride in a job well done or feel a sense of accomplishment unless your efforts are praised. Recognition is what motivates you, and without it, you often end blatantly bragging.
  • “Guilt Trips” Instead of Relaxation. You have difficulty relaxing and distinguishing the line where your business life ends and leisure begins. Social contacts tend to be clients rather than friends and business dominates your thoughts at social events. Even when you do “get away from all,” you feel guilty.
  • Uncontrollable Impatience. You can’t watch someone do something without advising them or actually doing it yourself. If you can’t take charge, you become frustrated and exasperated. You get upset with yourself, too, when things don’t go exactly as planned or when someone else performs a task better than you. You rush yourself and others, and with this accelerated pace, you never enjoy your accomplishments because you’re too busy moving towards the next goal.
  • A Need for Deadlines. If you don’t have a deadline, you’ll create one thinking it will increase your efficiency. Actually, all it does is increase pressure. You try to do too many things at once and try to stagger deadlines to get everything done. In fact, you never have enough time to devote full attention to any one thing.
  • Preoccupation with Time. The clock rules you. While working on one project, you’re figuring out when it will be done so you can start on the next. You become stressed as you check the time and realize that you’re falling behind schedule.
  • Intense Competitiveness. You’re constantly in competition with everyone in your business and personal life. If you stop for a moment, you fear you’ll be surpassed.
  • Obsession with Work. Everything but work is excluded from your life. You’re the first to arrive and last to leave the office – and even then, you take work home.

If these symptoms sound all too familiar, you are stressed. Better yet, get off the daily grind so you’ll have a more comfortable existence. Or indulge in a relaxing hobby, like listening to soft music or reading your favorite pocketbook.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Exercise Strengthens The Heart

When you exercise, noticeable changes occur such as deep breathing, profuse sweating, and a heavy pounding in your chest. Other changes that may not be noticeable are higher metabolic rate and increased size of the capillaries. These variations are called immediate or acute effects of exercise. These temporary changes occur whether you have been exercising for weeks or months or you have just started an exercise program.

If you continue to exercise daily or weekly, other changes take place gradually. The changes occur as the body adapts to the exercise. They are called the chronic effects of exercise and occur when you exercise vigorously for approximately six weeks or more. Long-term exercise is called training.

Below is a summary of the incredible and chronic effects of exercise on the major systems of the body.

The Cardiovascular System. The cardiovascular system consists of the heart, arteries, veins, arterioles, and capillaries. The system's function is to supply blood to the various parts of the body. The blood, in turn, furnishes the tissues with food and oxygen necessary for energy; waste products are also removed by the blood. The heart is the pump that provides the force to circulate the blood throughout the body.

When you exercise, your heart rate increases. Along with the higher heart rate, there is also an increased contracting force of the heart which results in a greater amount of blood being expelled from the heart with each contraction (stroke volume). The increased stroke volume and heart rate result in an increase of blood flow to the muscles; consequently, more blood is pumped by the heart per minute.

Blood pressure is also affected during vigorous exercise. As the systolic pressure increases, more blood is forced into the capillary beds (a maze of capillaries). The diastolic blood pressure is affected in one of two ways. If you have a poor fitness level, your diastolic pressure will increase because of an increased resistance to the blood flow. But if you have a good fitness level, your diastolic blood pressure will drop, decreasing the resistance of blood flow.

Exercise also increases the flow of blood to the heart. Since the heart is a muscle with arteries, capillaries and veins, it needs an adequate supply of blood to keep it strong and healthy.

One of the greatest benefits of regular exercise is the consistent reduction in the resting heart beat. These lowered heart rate allows the heart a greater rest between beats. Our body needs rest to recover from physical stress and the same is true for our most important body organ--the heart.

Monday, November 7, 2011

12 Nutritious Vegetables, Part 2

  • Kangkong (Swamp Cabbage). Swamp cabbage is a common green leafy vegetable included in Filipino dishes such as sour fish, sinigang, and adobong kangkong--the last two dishes being popular among Filipinos. The cabbage's parts are edible although its leaves are fragile and will require careful handling in order to minimize damage and wilting. It has high carotene content that can be converted to vitamin A by the body; loaded with iron, swamp cabbage also prevents anemia.
  • Talbos ng Kamote (Sweet Potato Tops). These are leaves of sweet potato, a root crop grown in the Philippines and used in viands, soups and salads. Sweet potato tops have the highest content of polyphenolics, substances found in plants that can protect the body from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Niacin (that helps in the normal functioning of the brain) and iron (that can prevent anemia) are also found in sweet potato tops.
  • Ampalaya (Bitter Melon). Bitter melon is known for its bitter taste and acknowledged to have outstanding health benefits. Its leaves are frequently used to cure coughs and skin diseases. Bitter melon is recommended to complement medication of people with diabetes because it lowers blood glucose level.
  • Okra (Lady's Fingers). This vegetable with low-calorie content, is packed with thiamin that helps body cells convert carbohydrates to energy and riboflavin that assists in the formation of red blood cells and antibodies. Fiber in okra contributes to a stabilized blood sugar and an improved bowel movement.
  • Saluyot (Jute Leaves). Vitamins A, C, and E, known to be powerful antioxidants, are present in jute leaves. They are responsible in repairing in repairing body cells and in improving eyesight. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in jute leaves lowers the risk of having cataracts. It also contains vitamin E that slows down the aches and pains brought about by aging. Various studies show that jute leaves can address illnesses related to inflammation and pain.
  • Alugbati (Malabar Spinach). This vegetable resembles and tastes like spinach. When cooked, it becomes slimy and sticky like okra (lady's fingers). It is a good source of vitamin A that helps maintain normal vision; loaded with vitamin C, Malabar spinach increases the body's resistance to infections and promotes healthy gums.