Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SELF-ISOLATING DURING COVID-19


Am writing this on the last day of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia from 18 March to 31 March 2020. It has been extended for another fortnight from 1 April to 14 April. I am not complaining. Better safe than sorry. We should be thankful that we are staying at home in relative comfort, with food in our fridge and pantry, and activities to keep us occupied. There are many others who are not so fortunate.

What to take note of during the MCO
For the past month, there has been a continuous stream of Covid-19 news coming to us via social media and on telly. Let's not overdose on it. Most of it is depressing and causing viewers undue fear and anxiety, especially for senior citizens like us. We belong to what the health authorities call 'the vulnerable group'.

My mom is 94 years ago and in a nursing home. Strictly no visitors allowed since 18 March. The staff keep me updated on whatsapp and send me instant photos of her so I know she is eating well and sleeping well.
I feel we should instead look at the positive side for a change. Even in times of sadness and pain, there is always something to learn, and I daresay we have many lessons to learn from this experience. We will all come out of it wiser and more appreciative of the things we have always taken for granted. Our values will change and the world will be a better place to live in. Hopefully we will learn to live in peace and harmony, helping one another across the borders as countries are doing now.


The stay-home order has kept us apart from our families. I am self-isolating. It will be at least a month before I can see my grandchildren, especially Ryder, 6, the livewire of the family. My last two big family gatherings were my niece's wedding on 7 March and my aunt's 90th birthday dinner on 14 March, both before the MCO was imposed. But it's ok. We will get together again and celebrate when the outbreak is over.

It is important that we remain active physically and mentally at home. Can't go jogging in the park or workout at the gym? No problem. Here's all we need for some exercise at home: yoga mat, weights, stretch band and a grip ball. Oh, and a pair of sneakers. Don't have dumbbells? Be creative. Fill two 1.5-litre bottles wirh water and use them as weights. With the condo gym closed, my grandson lifts 5kg rice bags placed in tote bags for muscle exercises.

There are also plenty of online videos on keeping fit: yoga, taichi, qigong, chair exercise, aerobics and dance. I enjoy brisk walking. Only now I have to do it in  my room to this video below. I can work up a sweat just keeping up with the instructions.

This is the best time to learn something online. There are many free classes and tutorials on practically anything you want to learn. Just do a Google search. I would recommend learning a new language, or some art and craft. Try out some new recipes or start on a project. I finally have time to do some decluttering and it's such a joy to find things that I have long forgotten I had, like old photos and mementos.


A typical day begins with me at my laptop after breakfast, going through my email and checking out whatsapp and facebook. Meals are simple and homecooked. I have only been out briefly twice in the past two weeks to get groceries and other necessities from the supermarket nearby. I walk there so this means I can't buy much. Just enough for a few days. After dinner it's either watching the news on telly, enjoying music videos on Youtube or entertainment on Netflix. I wonder how older folks without internet spend the evenings. 


I made the above to show my gratitude to the courageous medical and healthcare professionals for taking care of the sick, to the police and security personnel for maintaining order, to the NGOs and volunteers who make sure that food and supplies reach those in need, to the drivers, delivery workers, refuse collectors, cleaners and so many more, THANK YOU, for your services during these trying times.


We are all in this together, and together we will pull through. Everything will be alright. We need a song like this to comfort and reassure us. Do view. Stay safe and positive.

I am writing this so I can remember what it was like when I had to stay home and had only myself for company for four weeks. No visitors. No one to talk to. It will give me a better understanding of why older people living alone often complain of loneliness and isolation. This will be a social experiment. Well, another two weeks to go. Let's see how I feel by then. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

SHOULD WE SAY NO TO MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS?

Ever wonder why fewer women in China get breast cancer compared to their western counterparts?

In her best-selling book “Your Life In Your Hands”, Professor Jane Plant, herself a breast cancer survivor, shares her extensive research on the subject and concludes that dairy-product consumption is a risk factor for breast cancer (and perhaps prostate cancer), as smoking is for lung cancer.

"Cow's milk is a perfect food for a rapidly growing baby calf," she writes, but "cow's milk isn't intended by nature for consumption by any species other than baby cows."


In her research, Prof Plant discovered that the typical Chinese diet does not include milk or dairy products. This is in stark contrast to the western diet where milk and dairy products are consumed at every meal. She began to eliminate dairy products like cheese, butter, milk and yoghurt from her diet. Within days the tumour on her neck started to shrink!

For men, there is a link between diet and prostate cancer, according to Dr Robert Kradjian. In an interview for Nutrition Health Review, he advises men to minimize or eliminate all animal protein and fats and avoid all dairy products.


In his “The Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients”, Dr Kradjian argues very convincingly that “The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human milk. Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content. However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as much of the essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. It (cow's milk) simply is not designed for humans."

But what about the calcium that milk provides? Take a cue from the cows themselves, argues Dr Kradjian. Cows get their calcium from eating grass, so humans can get their calcium from greens.


It may surprise mothers to know that Dr Benjamin Spock, the guru of childcare is another strong opponent of cow’s milk for children. He went on US national TV to advise mothers not to give their children milk, reversing what he had been saying in his books for over 50 years. He himself stopped taking milk and dairy products in 1991 when he was 88 years old. At the time he was suffering from a host of illnesses. He switched to a macrobiotic diet and within two weeks, all his symptoms disappeared.

What these distinguished anti-milk crusaders say makes sense. The onus is on everyone of us to read up more on this milk issue and make an informed decision on whether to eliminate milk and dairy products from our diet. I have made a small start – I've replaced my regular magarine with ‘milk-free’ margarine.

If you could see only one documentary this year, do make it 'Forks Over Knives'. It could change your life forever. It could even save your life! (Available on Netflix. If you don't have Netflix, watch it on YouTube.)

As the title implies, the documentary's central theme focuses on why we should choose a diet of plant-based foods over meat and dairy products. It offers convincing data to back this up, including the landmark The China Study, a 20-year collaboration between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. It is the largest study ever done to examine the correlation between health and diet. The findings showed that people who followed a diet rich in animal-based foods were at risk of more chronic diseases, while those on a mostly plant-based diet were the healthiest.


The film also traces the personal journeys of Professor T.Colin Campbell, 86, (above right) a renowned nutritional scientist from Cornell University, and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, 86, a former top surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. These doctors are a picture of robust health and boundless energy!

Note how doctors would always advise their patients who are obese, diabetic or have heart problems, to cut down on meat, diary products, and processed foods. They should increase their intake of whole foods and commit to a regime of daily exercise.

I am a pescatarian - as far as possible I avoid eating meat except for seafood. I haven't ordered a steak, chicken chop or pork cutlet at restaurants since 2008. I don't get tempted when I see my friends tuck into stick after stick of satay, although I must confess I still like to dip my ketupat rice into the peanut sauce.

I also avoid milk whenever I can. In 2009 I attended an Anthony Robbins seminar. He was advocating that we stopped drinking milk for health reasons. That was contradictory to what I had been taught all my life, that milk is good for us, and especially good for children.

I decided to check out the validity of his statement. The more I read, the more sense it made to me that mother's breast milk is best for babies, and cow's milk best for calves, not human babies. Indeed, our intolerance of milk increases as we become adults. It is quite common to hear people say they are lactose-intolerant.

To browse hundreds of academic research papers on the subject, click HERE.

Just think about all the hormones that are injected into the cows. No wonder breast cancer is more prevalent in the west than in Asia. Unfortunately, with the fast food industry making giant inroads into China and Japan in the past decade, meat-based diets are gaining popularity among Asians, and the result of that is reflected in higher incidence of heart disease and cancer in these countries now.

The documentary 'Forks Over Knives' also dispels fears that people who follow a plant-based, dairy-free diet are weak, small in stature, and prone to fractures. We need protein to grow and build muscles, and calcium to build strong bones. Well, the documentary provides compelling evidence to prove that these 'beliefs' are myths. Eating more meat, drinking more milk and consuming more fast food puts our health at risk. Sure, it contributes billions to the meat-based food industries and businesses. It is in the interest of these companies to perpetuate the myths, and for people to buy into these myths.

Here's the official trailer for 'Forks Over Knives'. Hope it motivates you to check out the film, as it did for me.


In the end, readers should be the judge and decide for themselves. Perhaps this article below 'Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans?' may help. It lays down both the pros and cons of drinking milk. Not surprising that most of the proponents come from organisations and companies that are associated with the dairy industry, while the opponents are mainly doctors.

Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans?

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine