Another article that I wrote on the Health and Fitness Section of the Lowyat.net forums. The original discussion is here.
Some of you may know that I’ve been spending the past week with parents and doing a bit of research on diabetes. Somehow along the way, I stumbled across something interesting that touches upon cancer and other diseases / illnesses as well as the impact of exercising regularly. Thinking of parking this post under some of the other posts such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, didn’t quite seem to fit because it also covers the impact of exercises and other illnesses.
It started out coincidently by a book called “”What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You” by Dr. Ray Strand at a local bookstore. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out to be a boring read but an interesting one, especially from a medical doctor who can explain in layman terms about modern day illnesses and issues. Plus, the approach is different where he admitted that he had been wrong about nutrition supplements and that it took his wife’s disease and cure to finally convince him.
He gave an explaination about a bodily process known as Oxidative Stress which is currently link to modern day diseases. Click here for an explaination about it : http://www.nutritional-medicine.net/oxidative-stress.asp . The fire-place analogy is a good explaination of the process that is hapenning in our bodies. If you Google “oxidative stress”, you will find more info but it’s written in medical terms that it takes quite awhile to digest.
This includes cancer, diabetes, heart problems, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lung disease, eye problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative disease (Alzeheimers, Parkinson although his remedy is only to slow down the disease and not eliminate it like the others). What he says is gleaned from medical research evidence and through google searches, there’s a lot of talk about Oxidative Stress impacting people and that doctors are now looking to see how to get the body to react better to such stresses. And that’s where antioxidants come in.
Some links for more reading :
Reading information online just confirmed by he said although he himself admitted that his findings were based on medical research anyways. Now the interesting bit was that information online and what he says, also claims that exercising can also bring about this oxidative stress and that it must be balanced out by a good diet as well as the necessary nutrition supplements.
So, it looks like there’s now 3 things to have a balanced lifestyle
- Relevant exercise
- Proper eating of the correct food groups
- Making sure that one has the proper nutrition
1) is flexible i.e. depending on your goals. 2) and 3) are the hardest one to balance out. With 3), I think that there are truths in what Dr. Strand says and even though the quantities that he recommends in his book are higher than what is usually recommended, it may just work. So that leaves 2) to work on and do more research.
What to eat
I’ve skipped fad diets although I do make mention of Atkins because that is one that I dug up info from my previous effort on it from years ago (before they filed for bankruptcy). For the past month, I’ve checked out (but some are just skimmed through because of the fad diets) quite a lot of diet plans : from the fad diets like South Beach, Atkins, Cabbage soup to the medical ones like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), diabetes diet plans and even to reading about vegetarian diets and Japan diets (Japan is an interesting country when it comes to eating). There are so many options out there but they more or less borrow from the same ideas :
- Portion control : don’t overeat. In general, it’s the idea that a 10-inch plate can be used to plan your meal – 1 quarter of complex carbo, 1 quarter for protein, 2 quarter (half of the plate) is for veggies. For people who are ill, they may not be able to eat this much. For athletes and ppl on strenous exercises, their portions may be different because their metabolic rate is much higher than the rest of the normal population.
- Vegetables : This must be in the diet, not only for the nutrition aspect but for the insoluble fiber that helps with your bowel movement i.e. for ease of shitting, insoluble fiber will make your shit move through your intestines better. There is also an increase in colon cancer and one of the main causes is the lack of proper vegetables. The diet plans seem to be made up of different variety of vegetables and usually planned through color or even just as many types but still limited to half a plate in every meal.
- Carbo : The recommendation in the diet plans are all unanimously complex carbo as it is not easy to digest, they will help the body have sufficient fuel throughout the day. Here is an interesting link about a quick survey done on what people think is complex carbo and why they weren’t quite correct : http://www.precisionnutrition.com/safe-carbs. It’s an eye-opener.
- Some grains aren’t carbo. This seems to be a strong myth going around and has caused health problems for a lot of people who exercise, just because they don’t like the green stuff. Oats does have nutrients and it does have fiber. What it doesn’t have is the nutrients (minerals, antioxidants) that comes from vegetables.
- Controlled portions of fruit : In all the diets, fruits are seriously restricted because even though the sugar/carbo content isn’t as bad as refined/processed carbo, it can still be converted to fat if the sugar is not used up in some way (usually exercise). There is also a strong belief that fibre can be provided by fruits which is true but they are not as fibrous as vegetables.
- Raw / Processed sugar are kept to a minimum. Plus, if a person has restricted their diet on carbo + sugar, they will start to begin to taste sugar from carbo sources such as rice, potato and even some vegetables (capsicum, tomato, carrots) will taste sweeter than they have before. It’s just a case of reducing your sugar (including carbo content as carbo is converted to sugar by the body and your own saliva) and you will taste sugar everywhere.
- Controlled eating of carbo food so that the blood sugar doesn’t spike too much. This is based on the theory that low blood sugar may be the cause of hunger pangs. http://www.caloriesperhour.com/tutorial_sugar.php
- Weight loss is about eating less and you might have to start initially by keeping a food diary and actually calculate the calories to get an estimate. There are a lot of websites out there that can help you.
- Eat regularly and don’t skip breakfast. Portion control your food. Again, a lot of sites on this information.
- Reduction of salt intake.
The above are just some of the common themes throughout all the diet plans and recipe books out there. But they all are unanimous in one stand :
There are no one single MAGIC ingredient that can fix all your health problems or provide you with the sense of well-being and healthiness.
Even vegetarians will take a look at their diet and make sure that they have their source of protein, carbo and nutrients covered just by eating vegetables alone. Although, you probably find that after eating a healthy portion of vegetables daily will help in the long run.
There is also a problem with food though : there’s just not enough nutrients in them to keep one healthy enough today than it was a century ago. One theory is that the soil conditions have been depleted and that the fertilizers don’t have the nutrient to compensate for this. Another theory is that we eat less than our ancestors for certain food groups and eat more of other foods that we don’t’ need ~ at the same time, we move even less than our ancestors due to modern day conveniences (buses, trains, supermarkets to get food easily – ever slaughtered a chicken? Tough work). If you do a nutrient check just on any one minerals today in any food source and then compare it against a recommended nutrient list, you’ll find that you’re very short off the mark. To counter this, today we take nutritional supplements which can be bought off the shelf.
Reducing Salt Intake
This is a touchy subject for Asians since we love our soy sauce so much. An example of this was a pamphlet I picked up recently about “World Heart Day : 30 September 2007”. This was prepared by the Heart Foundation of Malaysia/Yayasan Jantung Malaysia in collaboration with World Heart Federation with sponsorship by WHO and various pharmaceutical companies. In there, it’s stated that the daily recommendation is less than 5g (5000 mg). Note that this is a 2007 brochure that is given to hospitals and I just happened to pick one up a couple of weeks ago. That 5g was based on a WHO Technical Report titled “Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases Report of a join WHO/FAO Expert Consultation, Geneva 2003”. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/pu…d/en/index.html
On the other hand, the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute conducted a study on a diet eating plan that controlled both calorie and salt intake to see if it would have an impact on reducing hypertension. That diet plan is now known today as “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)” – http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/hea…/dash/index.htm. They did 2 studies and found that 2,300 mg of sodium is the daily intake but if people can reduce to as low as 1,500 mg daily, that’s even better. 2,300 mg is about 1 teaspoon of table salt. Note that the DASH diet included in hidden salt in canned food, flour, baking soda, baking powder, soft drinks.
2 problems with the DASH diet. One – deemed too difficult for people to change their lifestyle. Even WHO knew this and debated about this (http://www.who.int/entity/dietphysicalacti…ltintake_EN.pdf). Even the cost impact was debated by WHO (http://www.who.int/entity/dietphysicalacti…tpaper_2006.pdf). It looks like a bit of a stalemate and there’s even linestatement about how much salt is eaten in a bowl of mee curry in Malaysia. The excuse that it’s too difficult for people to change is just too idiotic. Yes, it is hard for people but if they really do care about their health, they will make the necessary changes. Look at the number of people who decided to exercise more or change their diet just to lose weight or just feel better. Sounds like a good conspiracy for food companies and pharmaceutical companies no?
The other problem is knowing the salt content in process food. This is very hard to come by because according to the Malaysian laws about food labelling, giving information about the sodium in food is an option, not a requirement (http://www.nutriweb.org.my/gallery/Guide%2…nd%20Claims.pdf). Maggi Mee doesn’t have it. Jacobs biscuits only just started having it for their biscuits in recent months. A1 food seasonings are interesting : sodium is less than 2,400 mg but they don’t say specifically how much. Milo doesn’t reveal how much refined sugar is in their products but just list down the total carbohydrates and put “refined sugar” in their ingredient list. Majority of the local food products don’t list down sodium because it’s not compulsory. And yet, cardiologists in hospitals are asking people to reduce salt intake because it’s one of the causes of high blood pressure. Talk about irony.
There’s an interesting survey about heart problems. It’s not only salt but smoking, obesity, diabetes making heart diseases complicated but the number 1 killer today worldwide. Follow the steps :
- Click on this link : http://www.world-heart-federation.org/cardiovascular-health/
- Click on Ischemic (narrowing of arteries and decreased blood supply to the heart).
- Check out the stats of Europe, South-East Asia and Australia. It’s all in the millions.
- Compare the land masses of those 3 areas and even the population count.
- Now click on all the other buttons : Rheumatic, Hypertensive, etc.
It’s scary when you think of how more South-East Asians are dying from heart diseases. Note this is death stats, not patient stats (which may probably be shockingly higher).
If you’re a female, your heart problem symptoms are totally different from men (http://www.world-heart-federation.org/card…/warning-signs/).
Note that the salt intake is to help with prevention of heart problems but so does proper eating habits and the correct supplements as well as good exercise. Eating healthy food alone doesn’t solve all problems.