Thursday, 17 August 2017

Eat for Life: Naturally maintaining my gut

We often are more reactive than proactive and we tend to want miracle cures.  I decided to change my diet from being reactive to proactive and one of the major changes is the diligent inclusion of turmeric and ginger, roselle probiotics and virgin coconut oil in my diet.  This combination provides a wealth of health benefits but in a proactive measure, one of the main ones that I want is the care and maintenance for my gut.  I have done a lot of research on this and will continue to follow developments from both the medical world as well as the alternative holistic therapies.
Our gut is the biggest immune organ in our body with the main function of processing our food and removing toxins.  It is basically our digestive tract.  Over the last few years, more and more information has been disseminated regarding a condition called leaky gut.  A leaky gut causes allergens and toxins as well as bacteria and viruses to enter out bloodstream leading to many illnesses including infections to other organs like the brain, heart, kidney and others, allergies and autoimmune.  The symptoms are many and is often misdiagnosed resulting in our medical treatment addressing the symptoms but not the condition.   Some of the symptoms are:

  1.  allergies
  2. infections to various organs and within the body
  3. body aches and pains
  4. bloating
  5. cramps

The symptoms and manifestation of the problem is common enough that the treatment is often for the symptom and not addressing the underlying issue.

Some of the causes are:

  1. age
  2. gluten
  3. antibiotics
  4. food additives
  5. carcinogens

How to avoid a leaky gut?  Easy but can be difficult to do for some: take care of your gut and prevent the lining from breaking down or having holes.  Basically, one needs to take care of what one consumes.  A healthy gut has good digestive tract walls and good bacteria.  As we age, our body will breakdown and need repairing so similar to having a car, one needs to do maintenance.  Some repairs here and there, replacing what is worn down, etc.

In my proactive mode, I have added 3 items which not only is good for my gut health but also contains other health benefits:

  1. Bentong ginger and turmeric with black pepper
  2. Roselle probiotics
  3. Extra virgin coconut oil

These 3 items promotes the repair work, addressing the symptoms with its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti inflammation properties and then continues to promote the health of my gut with the probiotics and "cleaning" activities.  They are simple to add to my daily diet and doesn't require major changes to my routine and readily available.  I am a firm believer that if we cannot make something a normal thing to do, it will be hard to remain diligent and sustain it as a normal course in our life.  Whilst some of this are available in pill forms, a few factors make it less desirable:

  • I do not know what is added during the process to convert it from natural state to pill or capsule
  • The cost is higher than the natural state
  • While it may be convenient, over a period of time, I will become bored and lazy to pop the pills and ultimately, just stop doing it
  • There is no fun in pill popping - there is no enjoyment in consuming it and it becomes a to-do task as opposed to something I do normally

My focus has always been on organic and local so that it is easily available and affordable.  After all, if it is expensive that it is out of reach to the masses.  As with everything you consume, do find out about the source of what you consume and that it is natural, organically grown without hormones as well as additives-free and this includes preservatives, sugar, colouring.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Go organic and go local

Over the last few days I have been involved in many discussions regarding GMO vs non-GMO, organic vs non-organic, local vs imported.  The underlying grievance was the cost issue.  So I thought I will lay down my take on it.
GMO vs non-GMO
GMO food inherently contains carcinogens at the cell level so if is just about impossible to get rid of it.  The purpose of GMO was to alter the natural state of the produce at a cellular level so that it can contain pesticides to enable the plant to produce more and or standardised product.  This is great for commercialising a produce as you can have high yield at a lower cost. The major GMO produce are corn and soy and more will probably be added in the future.  These two items appear in many forms,  For corn, some of the items are  fresh corn, frozen corn kernels, corn oil, corn syrup, corn flour, and breakfast cereal.   Another item often forgotten is animal feed as many use corn which are GMO so the toxins gets transferred from the feed to the animal and to us such as in chicken, beef and fish and shellfish and also in milk.  For soy, some of the items are soya bean oil, soya sauce, soy milk and soy flour. The pesticides are carcinogens and though Big Businesses claim that it is safe, there are many non-industry sponsored studies that show otherwise including the proliferation of a new disease called Autoimmune.   Good for business but bad for people.

Organic vs non-organic
Organic produce is produced without using any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers.  The soil has also got to be toxic chemical contaminant free.  Hydrophonic method is not necessarily organic.  For non-organic, anything goes.  Organic farming is also more labor-intensive.  For my definition I also include avoidance of plant hormones.

Local vs Imported
For some reason, many are ignorant and automatically assume that if something is imported then it is good.  Not necessarily so.  Imported costs more as there is transportation costs, handling costs and other related costs.  So the higher price doesn't mean that it is of better quality.  It goes back to knowing your source.

What it boils down to is: "Do you want to pay now or pay later?".  So, if you think that choosing organic, non-GMO and local is more expensive or not of high quality, do be sure to add up the costs properly.  The other hidden costs are medical bills, transport costs (for treatment and related services required), pharmaceutical bills (bear in mind that sometimes you will be prescribed a few drugs as the first is for your condition and the others to treat the effects of the first drug), future higher food costs (as then you can only eat foods that meet the criteria for your condition), loss of work days, lower quality of life and other costs.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The bountiful God's Crown (Mahkota Dewa) Fruit

With such a grand name, Mahkota Dewa (God's Crown) is traditionally used in many ways.  It's botanical name is Phaleria Macrocarpa.  At the farm, our 4 years old tree stands about 2 meters.  I haven't trimmed it since I propagated it from
seed and it is now fruiting in abundance so I will wait a little while before I prune it a bit.  Watching its growth, I would say it is a slow grower in height but that doesn't mean the same for the fruiting.  It starts fruiting in about 1 year.  The fruit is a dark red color when it ripens and it is at this stage that I harvest.
The outer skin of the fruit is slightly waxy and the flesh is fibrous and white in color.  For the first 3 years, I only fertilised it about once every six months so there wasn't much fruits produced.  However in the last year, I fertilised it quarterly and I see a marked difference in the quantity of the fruit.  I use organic, farm-produced fertiliser since I wanted to ensure as best as I can that it is free from toxins and chemicals as ultimately, I plan to use it as a health "supplement".
I use the fruit to produce my tea.  It contains alkaloid, flavonoid, polyphenol and antioxidants making it rich in benefits in traditional preventive and curative therapy.  I drink the tea at least once a week as part of my detoxification regime with its alkaloid content.  It helps to cleanse the liver, kidneys and digestive system.  It is also antiviral and antibacterial which helps strengthen my immune system.  Sometime I drink more times depending on how I feel.
Amongst its other uses in traditional therapy are:

  1. To help lower the blood sugar for diabetics due to its saponin content
  2. To cleanse the blood due to its flavonoid content
  3. To improve the body's metabolism due to its flavonoid content
  4. To reduce cholesterol due to its flavonoid content
  5. As an alternative tutor and cancer therapy from its antioxidants and alkaloids
  6. To reduce the fats in the blood due to its flavonoid content
A noted point is pregnant women and post-natal women shouldn't consume this.

I checked around for dried Mahkota Dewa fruit and the price ranges from RM 50-60 per 100 gm.  As I cannot verify that it is organically produced nor using the method that least introduces contaminants, I decided to make my own.  I produce the tea by first harvesting mature fruits, slicing and dehydrating them.  Traditionally, it is sun-dried but I prefer to dehydrate so as not to introduce contaminants.  Once dried, it can be stored
for many months - at least 3 months - though I tend to prepare mine at regular intervals.
I use a claypot to are my tea, about 10gm per litre of water.  I bring it to a boil and allow it to cool in the claypot before drinking it.  It looks like regular tea and the taste is slightly bitter (like when you are too strong tea) with fruity undertones.  To make it more bland, you can always add more water to dilute it but I find that it is not necessary.
With all the benefits and the taste, I find it easy to add it to my regular drinks list.  In case you wonder what is on my regular drinks list, they are misai  kucing tea, soursop leaves tea, Bentong ginger and turmeric drink, Roselle (tea and drink) as well as variations of calamansi drinks (with lemongrass or bunga telling).  With this variety, I am never bored but I feel that it makes going organic and natural brings lots of benefits to my health maintenance.