Singapore


The search for the viagra alternative is relentless. On the natural approach, besides Tongkat Ali, now the attention is switching to我的美人(wo3de1mei3ren2, “My Belle” in Chinese), pun for Watermelon.

It is now believed that watermelon is richer in citrulline than previously thought. Citrulline is the amino acid which converts to arginine in the body. This boosts nitric oxide which relaxes and dilates blood vessels much like Viagra and other ED(erectile dysfunction) drugs.

Watermelon is one of the most common and favourite fruit in Singapore and around the region and most probably worldwide. It is not uncommon to see people savouring pieces of watermelon during lunch hours at those public eating places. Did these people feel the anti-ED or extra sensation ?

Surely not. According to the report, Dr Bhimu Patil of the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M University disclosed that although the flesh has citrulline, most of the citrulline is found in the watermelon rind.

Who will eat that ?

During your next lunch hour, start looking out for those people bitting the watermelon rind or those asking the juice vendor to grind the rind together with the red or yellow juicy flesh. Sweet and no side effect, you know ?

Hang on !

No one including the researcher can tell how many “Belle” one will need to achieve the desired effect.

Is it true Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

From the recent global survey of 9,000 people across 13 countries (UK, USA, UAE, France, Czech Republic, Romania, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia) by a global market research firm, Synovate, Singaporeans are the least weight-obsessed people in the world as compared to the American and the French :-

  • 37% of Singaporeans saying that they never weigh themselves
  • 29% said their weight never change
  • 60% eat whatever they want, whenever they wantbathroom-scale.jpg

15% of Hong Kong people weigh themselves once or more every week and 60% only weigh when they remember.

Americans and French are most weight-obsessed, 15% of French people and 12% of Americans weigh themselves every single day and 50% of them will weigh at least once a week or more.

French attributed this to the fact that “French people take care of their image as a matter of course. Being thin is part of our culture and a point of pride. We are known for it. On top of this, there is increasing awareness of the devastation that obesity can cause to one’s health.

So, is it true that Singaporeans never weigh themselves?

Most homes do not have a weighing scale even though the price is so affordable now and they comes with digital meter (more accurate), all kinds of colors and design. Are we too busy to weigh or we are like the 29% who really believed that our weight never change or there a no necessity to weigh since we believed we are healthy or weight change doesn’t matter.

Some feedbacks are that they are afraid to see their weight fluctuate, especially when it has increased. Some felt weighing scale is quite a silly gadget to buy, a waste of money. Some Chinese old folks joked that Chinese don’t weigh themselves except to animals for sale (butcher’s family!?).

Going by the sprouting of health fitness and slimming centers, etc. around the island, weighing scales are everywhere. Moreover, all medical clinics will have it too. Those who are consuming weight-loss medicine, traditional herbal weight reduction beverages, etc should be weighing prior and after the dosage period to assess its effectiveness. So, most people would have themselves weighed.

I really wonder for those 29% who said that their weight never change, are they those who frequent the fitness center or exercise regularly themselves or resort to weight control medicine or supplements? In addition, for those 37% who do not weigh, do they eat whatever they want and whenever they want?

On 16th November 2007, the Prime Section’s headline of the Straits Times, “Want to slim down? Don’t count on weigh-loss drugs” would have a lot of Singaporeans and those reading in the air (e.g. Singapore Airlines) fitting their eyes on this piece of news.

What a great catchy headline as many Singaporean particularly the female population considered themselves overweight, judging by the continuous flood of slimming advertisements in all appropriate local media. Is this to wake Singaporean up as their online version was not punchy – Weight loss drugs may slim users down – but at high costs” ?

It has been reported obesity and overweight affect over 1.1 billion individuals worldwide and are highly and increasingly prevalent chronic conditions associated with premature mortality, chronic morbidity, and increased healthcare use.

Apart from traditional non-medicinal herbal options, the commonly used treatments are through the use of anti-obesity drugs such as orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant. They are approved for long term treatment of obesity and choked up an estimated US$1.2 billion in global sales in 2005. The 3 drugs are prescribed for severe cases of obesity as obese people can reduce their risk of getting diabetes by 30 to 40 percent if they were to lose 4 kg.

Orlistat also known as tetrahydrolipstatin is marketed under the trade name Xenical. Its primary function is preventing the absorption of fats from the human diet, thereby reducing caloric intake.

Sibutramine is marketed under the trade name Meridia in the USA and Reductil in Europe and other countries. It acts by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. The S$4 pill makes the patients feel full with less food and is needed to be taken for between 6-12months.

Rimonabant which is also known as Accomplia, Riobant, Slimona, Rimoslim, Zimulti and SR141716, is an anorectic anti-obesity drug. Its main avenue of effect is the reduction in appetite. On 15 June 2007 the BBC News reported that a committee advising the US FDA has voted not to recommend the drug’s approval because of concerns over suicidality, depression and other related side effects associated with use of the drug.

The Straits Times report was following up on the British Medical Journal’s article published a day ago on their meta-analysis that :-

  • 30 per cent of patients on Xenical lost an average of 3 kgs and had unpleasant digestive and intestinal side effects, such as incontinence.
  • Patients on Reductil lost 4 kgs and had improved cholesterol levels. But up to 20 percent suffered from raised blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia and nausea.
  • Patients on Accomplia lost the most weight – 5 kgs on average. Their blood pressure and cholesterol levels also improved but their risk of mood disorders rose 6 percent.

Straits Times reported that another study released on Friday by a different medical journal, The Lancet, found that patients on Accomplia were far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and, in severe cases, suicidal tendencies.

Thus the conclusion from the BMJ article is that “Orlistat, sibutramine, and rimonabant modestly reduce weight, have differing effects on cardiovascular risk profiles, and have specific adverse effects.”

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.”

Erectile dysfunction has gone nutty !

During the Canton Fair 2007 in Guangzhou in April, I first saw the new wonder-pill that is supposed to help erectile dysfunction and “enhance sexual ability”, just like what Viagra or Cialis has been doing for the hundred of thousands of men around the world.

This pill is not created from drug but from walnut kernel extract.

Today, in our local newspapers,The Straits Times, it printed a report by The Star newspapers of Malaysia that a team of Malaysian researchers has just developed a similar tablet name N-Hanz which is comparable to Viagra. Like the one I saw in China, this N-Hanz has to be taken 1 hour prior to sexual performance and will last for about four hours. This looks like going to outshine Tongkat Ali, the potent herb of Malaysia that was supposedly a safe alternative to Viagra.

The active ingredients they found inside the walnut which will cause the enlargement of the blood vessels and enhances blood flow in the male sexual organ is “arginine, an amino acid that is absorbed into the body and converted into nitric acid”

It was also said that “because it is not a drug, it is safe for those with hypertension or diabetes or (those) who have recently had heart bypasses”.My salute to those who recently had heart bypasses and still wanting to go for such sexual thrill! They can sure shout “I’m coming” because Heaven’s waiting.

What is amazing is that it said that “a person would need to eat about 3.3kg of walnuts for the same effect as one tablet”. I wonder if the Romans and French had been eating so much regularly to achieve such effect since one of the researchers said that he read about them which led him to conduct the research.

Did the Malaysian researchers know that the Chinese had launched the products 2 months before?

Hello Tongkat Ali, Cat Whiskers Tea is MY Tea

While on a trip to our factory, 200km away in Melaka (formerly known as Malacca), I was pleasantly surprised to hear and read that the local government is promoting Cat Whiskers Tea in this second smallest state of Malaysia.

It was reported on 24th May in the Malaysian’s Chinese newspapers, Nanyang Siang Pau that Melaka Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam had announced that the Melaka Government has classified Cat Whiskers Tea “猫须茶”as its official beverage and was given the name “MY Tea”. The daily has reported that this traditional herbal tea is good for health and beneficial for illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

It looks like the Malaysian government is serious about making this Cat Whiskers Herb another popular herb after Tongkat Ali. It can be drunk as normal Cat Whiskers tea or can be blended with other herbal ingredients used by products such as our Good Image Cat Whiskers Tea. Prior to the news, I had already heard that plantations has been created or converted to grow Cat Whiskers Herb (locally known as Misai Kuching).

What’s in coffee drinking that lowers gout risk ?

There is no answer as it is not caffeine.

It is recently researched by the University of British Columbia that coffee (including decaffeinated) drinking (4 or more coffees a day) is more likely to have a much lower uric acid level in the blood.

I will take it that the kind of coffee mentioned in the research is the usual “diluted” “no-kick” morning coffee found in hotels and fast food restaurants and not those dark and strong kopi (coffee) that we drink in the kopitiam (coffee shop) in Singapore and other Asian countries. Drinking 4 or more local kopi per day even for a coffee drinker like me will be too much for my heart.

Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Although purines are found in all of our body’s tissues, uric acid can build up in the blood when a person eats too many foods high in purines, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.

When the kidneys do not get rid of enough of the uric acid, it can later crystallize out of the blood into the joints. The result is gout, one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It can wake one up in the middle of the night with pain, swelling, heat and or stiffness in the joints in the big toe, ankles, heels, knees, insteps, wrists, fingers, etc.

A gout attack can be brought on by stressful events, too much beer, or eating too much red meat or drugs, or another illness. Early attacks usually get better within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. The next attack may not occur for months or even years.

The main way to tackle the condition is to take anti-inflammatory pills, change diet and drink more water, or in more severe cases, to take more powerful drugs to reduce uric acid levels in the blood.

Researchers said that coffee drinking can lead to lower insulin levels in the blood, and that there is an established link between higher insulin levels and higher uric acid levels. However, high blood uric acid levels does not necessarily lead to gout attack as some people with high uric acid levels throughout life don’t suffer such attack.

So it looks like it is about not letting the uric acid crystallises out of the blood into the joints. That means healthy kidney, healthy diet with balanced purine-producing food. So, apart from my kopi-O (black coffee with sugar), I’m continuing with my daily consumption of Clerodendranthus Spicatus or Cat Whiskers tea and start drinking more red wine than beer.

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