diabetes


First it was about Taoist’s enlightenment, meditation and self-defense in the 13th century, then it was seen as an exercise for the old and those who got nothing else to do. Now, it might be the easy exercise that one can practice to effectively curb diabetes and thus saving and prolonging one’s life.

Tai Chi, better known as Tai Ji Quan (太极拳) was founded by Master Zhang San Feng (张三丰), one of my most admired heros in Chinese history. Since then,  it has more than 100 possible movements and positions and is now enjoyed by people all over the world.  Many Community Clubs (CC) in Singapore have regular Taiji or Qigong classes and there are also many free video online. Unlike many exercises, this dance-like exercise can be done by people of all ages as it is slow (some movements are fast paced), gentle, graceful self-paced kind of exercise and does not required any equipment. It can be done at any permissible open space with clean air.

Yin Yang - Taiji symboltaijimove.jpg

It is easy yet not that easy as it combines movements with meditation to align the body and the mind. Those who had been practicing it can attest to its benefits of reducing stress; increase agility, flexibility, energy, stamina as well as improve muscular strength. Overall, it is a great feeling and makes one sleeps well.

 The British Journal of Sports Medicine has just reported that studies by researchers in Taiwan and Australia indicated that Tai Chi exercises can help people control type-2 diabetes, the disease suffered by some 250millions people worldwide and which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, high blood pressure and heart disease.

 Of the group of 30 diabetics involved in the Taiwanese study, at the end of the 12 weeks (3hours per week) program in which they learned 37 Tai Chi movements, their blood sugar level had dropped. The levels of glycated haemoglobin  (excess sugar carried by red blood cells) fell significantly. Thus, the researchers suggested that Tai Chi may prompt a fall in blood glucose levels, or improve blood glucose metabolism, which in turn sparks a drop in the inflammatory response

 In Australia, 11 diabetic patients were put to a 12 week sessions of Tai Chi and Qigong 气功(Chinese Yoga) for 60 to 90 minutes three times a week. The result was they have less craving for food, slept better, experienced less pain but more energy, lost weight averaging 3kg, waist line reduced by almost 3cm but most importantly, their insulin resistance improved, blood sugar level dropped and blood pressure dropped significantly.

 It was explained that “the relaxation element of Tai Chi may help to reduce stress levels, preventing the release of adrenalin which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels”.

 Long live the tradition of Tai Chi which promotes maintaining optimum functioning of the body’s self-regulating systems to restore the body to its natural state of health through the cultivation of inner strength and calming the mind.

In the absence of the Viagra/Cialis alternative, N-Hanz that the Malaysian researchers have reported to have developed last year using walnuts, the only available walnut-based anti-erectile dysfunction solutions should be those from China, one of which was exhibited in last year’s Canton Fair.

Yesterday, the Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued a warning against a product called ‘Power 1 Walnut’. The name of the product must have misled ignorant sexually dysfunctional people into thinking that it contains natural herbal ingredients, not knowing that this Power 1 Walnut contains 2 potent ingredients, glibenclamide and sildenafil which can be deadly if mishandled. These 2 are strict prescription medicines – glibenclamide is used for treating diabetes and sildenafil is the drug found in Viagra which treats impotency.

Power 1 Walnut’, supposedly manufactured by a company in Guangzhou, China is one of the 36,000 illegal sexual enhancement pills seized by police and HSA 2 evenings ago.

At the time of the report by ChannelNews Asia, 6 male people who had consumed ‘Power 1 Walnut’ suffered a serious adverse reaction, resulting in hypoglycaemia (very low blood sugar levels) and if untreated in time, could lead to unconsciousness, seizures and sometimes death. Although the 6 patients were discovered and treated, one of them is critically ill and is under close observation in a hospital.

HSA founded that this ‘wonder‘ pill is more like a diabetes drug than a sexual enhancement one as it contains 90mg of glibenclamide – about 5 times the amount prescribed to a diabetic patient – and only 7mg of sildenafil, far below the 25mg to 100mg needed for any sexual enhancement effect.

This kind of unscrupulous company who“挂羊头卖狗肉” (displays goat’s head but sells dog’s meat) should be severely punished as it again also tarnishes the reputation of honest manufacturers and also other decent “Made in China” brands of health enhancement products.

(see comments for more interesting updates on this “killer”)

Like a Garfield poster I seen a decade ago, “Don’t talk to me until I have my morning coffee”, coffee has been Morning Savor for many in the world. In Singapore and many neighboring countries, kopi (thick coffee with sugar and milk), kopi-O (thick coffee with sugar only), kopi-C (thick coffee with evaporated milk) are the switches that turn on the human machinery before each day begins.

coffee.jpg

Now, contrary to previous research which said that people who drank coffee had a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, and those who drank the most coffee had the lowest risk, the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina is reporting that Caffeine appears to disrupt glucose metabolism in a way that could be harmful to people with type-2 diabetes’. It may interfere with the process that transports glucose from the blood into muscle and other cells in the body to be burned as fuel and that also triggers the release of the hormone adrenaline, which can elevate blood sugar levels.

Will all the coffee sellers alert diabetics and ask them to settle for decaf ? Will this research be reversed again in the foreseeable future ?

The only RED Dragon Fruit (aka pitaya or pitahaya or strawberry pear) that I am used to were those with RED SKIN and WHITE FLESH (Hylocereus undatus). It tasted a bit bitter to me and I didn’t like the after-taste. Other reports said it tastes like a mix of kiwi fruit and watermelon.

I didn’t take notice of it other than eating what was being served to me until a friend shared about its benefits and salad recipe. As it is beneficial to health, I posted it here under “Why Dragon Fruit?“. Only then did I notice that there is a RED SKIN Dragon Fruit with RED FLESH (Hylocereus polyrhizus) variation.

Now I also found out that there is YELLOW SKIN variety (Selenicereus megalanthus) and with only white flesh.

3 types of Dragon Fruits

The taste of the red flesh variety is sweeter and the after taste is great to me. Other reports said it tastes like raspberries. I will usually eat 1 whole fruit (about 300-500gm) willingly which I normally won’t with other fruits. However, it is not that common as they are in Malaysia.

Yesterday, at a neighborhood market, I saw red Dragon fruit selling at a stall and as usual, only white flesh variety was on sale at S$1.50 (approx. US$1) per fruit. When asked, the seller said that white flesh variety is preferred by most consumers because those who consumed are paranoid about the reddish variation of urine or stools that they will pass out after consumption. They are apparently worried that the red flesh is a result of genetic modification, adding of artificial coloring or preservatives, etc.

This red “symptom” happened only if one eats quite a bit, a fruit or so as I have experienced myself.

Exporters in Malaysia for pitaya explained that the color is 100% natural and that it is not genetically modified or dyed red. The color comes from natural pigments known as hylocerenin and isohylocerenin and is also known to have natural florescent property. That makes the red flesh variety prettier when served.

If one were to eat a lot of blackberries or those fruits with such pigmentation, the output into the toilet bowl will be similar. However, how many people eat 0.5kg or more of such berries?

Yet, red flesh variety is more expensive and they are sold here in kilogram (S$4-S$5 per kg) instead of by quantity. I recently bought 2 red flesh fruits for close to S$4.00 (approx US$2.80).

Malaysian exporters justified the higher cost to its benefits. One reported that “Eating red-fleshed pitaya fruit was reported to increase bone density, prevent colon cancer and ease constipation. This can explained why red pitaya cost more expensive as compared to white pitaya“.

It was also reported that the red flesh variety is believed to be rich in antioxidants and has an exceptionally high content of soluble fiber. It is considered a good source of vitamin C and its vitamin C is more easily absorbed than vitamin C from a pill supplement. Some bloggers swear that it helps to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.

Well, anyone out there got a health benefit comparison report between the red and white flesh? Ahh, don’t forget the yellow skin.

Meanwhile, I will still go for the Red Flesh Red Dragon Fruit whenever possible.

 

On my morning transit flight onboard the Air China from Beijing to Dailan on the 11th of November, flipping through the only available reading materials, Beijing Evening News, I stopped at the headline “千个北京娃 五个糖尿病”. Only interesting headline like this can stop me in this world of media clutter.

The disease control center of Beijing states that in every thousand of the female children population, five of them have diabetes. Majority of the “甜娃娃” or diabetic dolls (little girls are referred to as dolls in China) are also “胖娃娃” or obese dolls. The information released is to part of the global observation of the disease.  

Used to be observed as World Diabetes Day on 14 November yearly at a global level since 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation with co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization, the United Nations has since passed a resolution to observe it as United Nations Diabetes Day yearly starting from 14 November 2007.

Once only thought of as the disease of the aging population, diabetes is catching up with the younger population and in particular, the young children and teenagers. This is evident as the number of young people seeking treatment is increasing as according to the eye clinic of the University of Beijing. One doctor there reported that a 23 year old patient has become blind.

In Beijing, the number of diabetic children between the ages of 6 to 18 is 5.4% of the diabetic population. This rate is increasing at a staggering 10% yearly. The report stated that currently, for those 6 to 10 years old, 4.7% is diabetic, 10 to 15 years old 5.3% and 15 to 18 years old 6.1%.

The trend is so worrying that the local medical authority is publicing the UN anti-diabetes messages and has sent out a “远离糖尿病 健康新生活” (Keep distance from diabetes, have a healthy new living) proposal to all parents of students in all primary and secondary schools.

Dragon fruit
Also known as the Dragon Fruit, the Pitaya is a stunningly beautiful fruit with an intense colour and shape, magnificent flowers and a delicious taste. The fruit, apart from being refreshing and tasty, contains a lot of water and minerals with many different nutrition ingredients. It tastes light sweet and it’s good for liver, laxative, supplementing fiber and very suitable for diet.

Besides, dragon fruit is also good for person who has a high blood pressure. According to popular experience, obese person who has eaten dragon fruit regularly can reduce his/her weight naturally and have a beautiful balanced body but it does not influence on his/her health. Moreover, eating this fruit can stop and reduce diabetes. Hence, dragon fruit is a favorite fruit of many people especially Asian customers.

Benefits of eating the Dragon Fruit

1. Enhance the body metabolism (Protein)
2. Improve digestion (Fiber)

3. Reduce Fat (Fiber)

4. Improve memory (Carotene)

5. Maintain the health of the eyes (Carotene)

6. Strengthen bones and teeth development (Calcium)
7. Tissue development (Phosphorus)

8. Help to metabolise carbohydrates and produce energy (Vitamin B1)

9. Improve appetite (Vitamin B2)

10. Moisturise and smoothen skin and decrease bad cholesterol level (Vitamin B3)

11. Improves the immune system and promotes healing of cuts and bruises (Vitamin C)

USEFUL TIPS:

How to Select and Store
They should be full-colored and free of moldy spots. Dragon Fruit should be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to 5 days. Serve chilled.

Dragon Fruit Salad recipe
Dragon fruit salad
Ingredients needed :

1 package of ready to use pre-made sugar cookie dough
8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 dragon fruit, peeled and sliced

3 kiwi, peeled and sliced

1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1/4 cup apricot glaze

Directions
Rolled out cookie dough into a 12 inch round.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare fruit by washing and slicing it into 1/4 inch slices.

Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice.

When the crust is cool, top with the cream cheese mixture.

Lay fruit in a circle on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Spread apricot glaze over fruit.

Chill until ready to serve.

Obesity Epidemic – Can America learn from Singapore TAF programme?

It is sad to read headline news recently like this one in the Philadelphia Inquirer Americans getting ever fatter. In most states, a new report says, 1 in 5 is obese. But little is being done about it“.

This came right after Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released the report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007”.

Notwithstanding some experts think the estimates in the report are conservative because people are underreporting their weight in surveys, 85% of the Americans surveyed believed obesity has become a public health epidemic. Yet it seems that most Americans aren’t doing much about it and they are not only getting fatter, but they are actually getting fatter faster.

The unfortunate young generation

Washington Post reported that “A new report gives District (Washington DC) children a dubious distinction: Nearly one in four of those ages 10 to 17 is overweight, making them the heaviest kids in the country.

In the Los Angeles Times, Jim Marks, a senior vice president of a healthcare philanthropy group was reported that he was so discouraged that “These children could be the first generation to live sicker and die younger than their parents“.

Obesity costs America US$117 billion a year in preventable healthcare expenditures and Mark said that it “is pushing the healthcare system to the breaking point“.

How can it so high and still growing when corrective measures at the local and state levels have been implemented? Example, nine of the states with the highest percentages of overweight kids track the MBI (body mass index) of students, improve the nutrition of school lunches or limit the sale of high-calorie foods in school vending machines or snack bars.

However, it seems that the desired effect is doubtful. Weeks ago, I watched a documentary on Singapore TV station, Channelnews Asia in which one of the experts commented that although American schools provide healthy meals, kids are flocking to the vendor machines filled with irresistible unhealthy snacks and beverages. It also showed that young teenagers are getting diabetes and are experiencing heart diseases.

Should America learn from Singapore ?

Although being criticized from time to time even by foreign media, Singapore’s TAF (Trim and Fit) programme which was launched in 1992 by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and refined through the years have reduced the percentage of overweight students (primary schools to pre-university levels) from 14% to 9.8% in 2002.

No system is perfect but the result has been impressive. Many children have emerged from the TAF Programme fitter and more aware of the importance of keeping a healthy lifestyle; and the number of students passing the Singapore government’s National Award for Physical Fitness (NAPFA) test went up from 58% in 1992 to 82% in 2002.

MoE works with the Health Promotion Board (School Tuckshop Programme), school canteen operators and parents closely to make the “TAF programme a more meaningful part of school life, with due emphasis on the physical, nutritional and psychological aspects. It will work with schools to introduce activities and programmes that are inclusive, fun-filled and interesting for all students, so that they take pride and ownership in their own health and physical well-being.”

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