Thursday, September 24, 2015

Raw Foods for Better Health

In this article, we will discuss the following topics:
  1. Why you should eat more raw foods?
  2. Cautions to be taken for preparing your raw foods for eating

Health Benefits of Eating Foods Raw

Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. The more food that you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of your digestive enzymes from your food.[18]

"I personally try to eat about 85 percent of my food raw", said Dr Mercola[3]. Maybe it is also wise for us to strive to get as much raw food in our diet as possible . One way to achieve that goal is to drink fruit-and-veggie smoothies[8,19].

Health Hazards of Over-Cooked Foods

Cooking tends to destroy the nutritive value of the foods we eat. For example,
  • Vitamin C
    • Cooking can destroy the vitamin C in veggies. 
      • Dr. Liu[1] at Cornell University has found that vitamin C levels declined by 10 percent in tomatoes cooked for two minutes—and 29 percent in tomatoes that were cooked for half an hour at 190.4 degrees F (88 degrees C). 
  • Enzymes
    • Heating your food above 116 degrees F renders most enzymes inactive.[18]
However, another aspect, and one which less people are aware of, is the toxins (including carcinogens) that exist when food is heated past a certain temperature over time. As found in the HEATOX studies[2], such toxic substances include:
  • Acrylamide[20]
  • Nitrosamines, HCAs and PAHs
    • HCA could form when muscle tissue is subjected to high temperature.
    • PAHs could be produced when meat is grilled.
    • The fumes produced by frying bacon could contain nitrosamines.[26]
  • Advanced Glycation End product (AGEs)
    • AGEs are produced by "meat and meat-derived products" exposed to dry-heat cooking methods.[28]
      • AGEs are formed primarily when fat- and protein-rich foods are exposed to high temperatures.[29]
    • AGEs are thought to accelerate the aging process by cross-linking proteins together, causing tissue stiffness, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
      • This process may play a role in cataract formation and macular degeneration in the eye, as well as damage to the bones, heart, kidneys, and liver.[27]
  • Oxidized Unsaturated Oils[22]

Food Contamination

Before start eating raw foods, you need to be warned that:  each year, 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from contaminated food[6]. Common culprits include bacteria, parasites and viruses[11,16,23]. However, harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illness.

In summer 2011, a deadliest E. coli outbreak has killed 31 people, sickened nearly 3,100 and prompted much of Europe to shun vegetables[5]. After a month of searching and testing, Health officials have finally tracked the bacteria's origin—the bean sprouts grown at an organic farm in Germany.

While sprouts are full of protein and vitamins, their growing conditions and the fact that they are mostly eaten raw make them ideal transmitters of disease. They require 100-degree heat and humidity — precisely the same conditions E. coli needs to thrive. Sprouts have abundant surface area for bacteria to cling to.

Clean Your Produce

Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated by pathogens, pesticides, and other toxins. They may become contaminated when they are growing or when they are processed. But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Handling food safely can help prevent foodborne illnesses. So, if you choose to add raw foods to your diet, you need to clean them thoroughly. Some advice provided in [8,9,17] include:
  • For firm-skinned food, use a gentle scrub brush; if leafy or soft (lettuce, spinach, broccoli, strawberries), soak for minutes and separate leaves or parts. 
  • Make up a produce wash of one part of white vinegar to four parts water and keep it in a spray bottle by the sink to deep-six any microbes. 
  • Peel fruits and vegetables when you can and discard the outer leaves of leafy veggies. 
  • You need two cutting boards: one for meat, one for everything else

Will Washing and Peeling Help?

As reported by EWG, washing can help reduce the level of exposures to pathogens, pesticides or other toxins. But, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful materials[10].

Although organic produce is a better choice, it still has its own problems:
  • Pathogens 
  • Pesticides 
    • About 1 in 4 organic produce bears some pesticide residue, usually as a result of "pesticide drift".
Finally, some foods are poisonous if eaten raw and you should avoid them.[12-14]


  1. Fact or Fiction: Raw veggies are healthier than cooked ones
    • The reason is that Vitamin C, which is highly unstable, is easily degraded through oxidation, exposure to heat (it can increase the rate at which vitamin C reacts with oxygen in the air) and through cooking in water (it dissolves in water).
  2. The HEATOX project
  3. When You Heat Natural Plant-Based Foods You Can Get Cancer-Causing Acrylamide
  4. Heat-generated food toxicants: identification, characterisation and risk minimisation
  5. E Coli and Bean Sprouts
  6. Foodborne Illness (MedlinePlus)
  7. Will Washing and Peeling Help? (EWG)
  8. "Juiceman's Power of Juicing" by Jay Kordich
  9. "Eating Well for Optimum Health" by Adnrew Weil, M.D.
  10. Eating Organic, Local, and Seasonal Foods (Travel and Health)
  11. Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked To Townsend Farms Frozen Berries From Costco
  12. 7 Everyday Foods That Just Happen To Be Poisonous
  13. Yes, Apple Seeds and Cherry Pits are Poisonous
  14. Blending Fruit Seeds In Your Green Smoothies – Beneficial or Dangerous?
  15. Raw Food for Dummies
  16. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (Wikipedia)
    • Most HUS cases are preceded by an episode of infectious, sometimes bloody, diarrhea acquired as a foodborne illness or from a contaminated water supply and caused by E. coli O157:H7, although Shigella, Campylobacterand a variety of viruses have also been implicated.
  17. Four Important Cleaning Tasks In Your Morning Routine (Travel To Health)
  18. The Type of Food that Will Slow Nearly EVERY Inflammatory Disease...
    • Enzymes are relatively large and their protein structures are fragile
  19. Smoothie Recipes for Better Health (Travel To Health)
  20. Xu, Y; Cui, B; Ran, R; Liu, Y; Chen, H; Kai, G; Shi, J (Apr 5, 2014). "Risk assessment, formation, and mitigation of dietary acrylamide: Current status and future prospects.". Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 69C: 1–12.
    • The discovery of acrylamide in some cooked starchy foods in 2002 prompted concerns about the carcinogenicity of those foods. 
  21. 紅肉致癌成分與對策懶人包 (in Chinese)
  22. New Warning About Olive Oil (Dr. Mercola)
  23. Chipotle says norovirus — not E. coli — might have sickened 80 college students
  24. Preserving Nutrients When Cooking Foods
    • Virtually all minerals are unaffected by heat. Cooked or raw, food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, and sodium.
      • Exception: Potassium
    • With the exception of vitamin K and the B vitamin niacin, which are very stable in food, many vitamins are sensitive and are easily destroyed when exposed to heat, air, water, or fats (cooking oils). 
  25. Which Food Fights Cancer Better? (Travel to Health)
  26. Lijinsky W. N-Nitroso compounds in the diet.  Mutat Res. 1999 Jul 15; 443(1-2):129-38.
  27. Semba RD, Nicklett EJ, Ferrucci L. Does accumulation of advanced glycation end products contribute to the aging phenotype? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2010;65(9):963-75.
  28. Uribarri J, Cai W, Sandu O, Peppa M, Goldberg T, Vlassara H.  Diet-derived advanced glycation end products are major contributors to the body's AGE pool and induce inflammation in healthy subjects.  Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005;1043:461-6.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Seniors: Flu Prevention through Vaccination and Good Alternatives

People 65 years and older have some of the highest rates of hospitalization and death as a result of influenza infection. If you are in that age group, you could choose:
  • No flu shots 
  • Regular flu shots 
  • Higher dose flu shot[1] 
All medical interventions have a benefit-to-risk ratio. Each person has to weigh the supposed benefits against the potential risks[2]. No matter what your decision is, always do:
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick
    • Avoid hospitals
    • Stay away from people with runny noses
  • Practice good hygiene
    • Wash your hands
  • Build strong immunity[2,3,4]
    • Optimize your vitamin D levels
    • Avoid Sugar, Fructose and Processed Foods[5]
    • Get Enough Rest
    • Have Effective Tools to Address Stress
    • Exercise[6]
    • Take a Good Source of High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
    • Use Natural Antibiotics
    • Choose nutrition over medication[2,7,8]
      • People do not build health via the ingestion of medicinal substances.
        • Even natural, herbal products that have pharmacologic effects work because of their toxic properties not their nutritive content.
      • Don't abuse antibiotics and cold/flu medicines[8]
If you do get flu, Dr. Fuhrman recommends you to[2]:
  • Stay home
  • Sip water all day, as opposed to guzzling a lot all at once 
  • Eat as little as possible
    • If you're hungry, stick to light food, mostly juicy fruits and salads. 
    • Anorexia of infection (loss of appetite) is one way the body has of activating a more powerful immune response.
  • Know when to call the doctor
    • Watch for a sudden worsening of the overall condition, especially if worsening symptoms start to involve labored breathing, persistent fever above 103 degrees for three days, abdominal pain, changes in behavior or mental status, and persistent diarrhea or vomiting.

What Factors Could Affect Your Flu Shot Decision?

Several factors can affect whether you should get certain vaccines — or wait before getting them. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:[9]
  • Are planning to travel abroad 
  • Have had your spleen removed 
  • Work in certain occupations where exposures could occur 
  • Are or might be pregnant 
  • Are breast-feeding 
  • Are moderately or severely ill or have a chronic illness 
  • Have any severe allergies, including a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine 
  • Have had a disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome 
  • Have a weakened immune system or are being treated with an immunosuppressant 
  • Have recently had another vaccine 
  • Have recently had a transfusion or received other blood products 
  • Have a personal or family history of seizures


  1. National Council on Aging Urges Older Adults to Get Their Annual Flu Shot
  2. Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 
  3. Confirmed! Flu Vaccine INCREASES Risk of Serious Pandemic Flu Illness (Dr. Mercola) 
  4. Natural Immuninity Plays Important Roles in Your Health (Travel to Health
  5. The Sweet Relished and the Bitter Loathed (Travel and Health
  6. Exercise and Its Benefits (Travel and Health
  7. Western Diets and Western Diseases (Travel and Health
  8. Are You Fever Phobic? (Travel and Health) 
  9. Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
  10. The Pros and Cons of Flu Vaccination (Travel and Health

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tai Chi Tips

To get you started with Yan-Style Tai Chi Chuan, you can following instructions in the following articles:
In addition, we have provided more helpful tips in this article.


  1. Exercise with empty stomach
  2. Warm-up first
    • Easy motions, such as shoulder circles, turning the head from side to side, or rocking back and forth, help you to loosen your muscles and joints and focus on your breath and body.
  3. Coordinate your breathing with your movements
    • There is a pattern in healthy breathing that relates to the timing of the inhale, exhale and pause
      • Pauses are the time at the bottom of the exhale where no in breath or exhale is occurring
    • Consider Tai Chi a repeated 1, 2 pattern in breathing and movements
      • 1, 2 breathing involves the inhale and exhale (considering pause a part of exhale phase)
      • Ideally, the whole session last as long as 7 minutes (hint: don't rush)
    • Different from Chen-styleYang-style has slow, steady, expansive and soft movements suitable for general practitioners
    • Listen to slow-paced music like the ones used for meditation during your exercise
    • Pay special attention to small movements in the video to see how arms and legs are positioned to balance the body
    • Wear loose clothes to allow free movements of all joints during exercise
    • Always start at the same location and orientation everyday
      • From relative positions of furnitures in the area, it could remind you what forms to follow next
    • Eyes normally follow your leading hand
    • Choose appropriate footwears
      • For sneakers, choose light, soft, flexible, and flat-bottomed ones.
      • At home, I find the following flip-flop a good choice:

    Challenging Yourself

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions

    If you plan to learn Tai-Chi by watching video without teacher's help, one of the difficult parts is to learn in which direction you should face in the exercise.

    In this article, I will try to help by providing directional guidance.

    Clock-Facing Position

    Whatever position you take at the start of the form (or whatever direction the center of your chest
    and navel face) consider that starting position to be facing the 12 o'clock position.[2]

    When the center of your chest and navel face the 12 o'clock position, your right side faces
    3 o'clock, your back side faces 6 o'clock, and your left side faces 9 o'clock.


    In Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan, it is composed of 24 forms. Starting at the starting position facing 12 o'clock, you move from right to left and then left to right on approximately a line as shown in the diagram. When you finish, your final position will face 12 o'clock again.

    From below, please find each form annotated with its final facing direction:

    1. Commencing (Qǐshì, 起势), Preparation, Beginning
      • 12 o'clock
    2. Part the Wild Horse's Mane (Zuoyou Yémǎ Fēnzōng, 左右野马分鬃), LEFT and RIGHT
      • 9 o'clock
    3. White Crane Spreads Its Wings (Báihè Lìangchì, 白鹤亮翅), Stork/Crane Cools Its Wings
      • 9 o'clock
    4. Brush Knee and Step Forward (Zuoyou Lōuxī Àobù, 左右搂膝拗步), Brush Knee and Twist Step, LEFT and RIGHT
      • 9 o'clock
    5. Playing the Lute (Shǒuhūi Pípā, 手挥琵琶), Strum the Lute, Play Guitar
      • 9 o'clock
    6. Reverse Reeling Forearm (Zuoyou Dào juǎn gōng, 左右倒卷肱), Step Back and Drive Monkey Away, LEFT and RIGHT
      • face 9 o'clock, but move backwards
    7. Left Grasp Sparrow's Tail (Zuo Lǎn Què Wěi, 左揽雀尾), Grasp the Bird's Tail
      • 9 o'clock
    8. Right Grasp Sparrow's Tail (You Lǎn què wěi, 右揽雀尾)
      • turn around and face 3 o'clock
    9. Single Whip (Dān biān, 单鞭)
      • 12 o'clock
    10. Wave Hands Like Clouds (Yúnshǒu, 云手), Cloud Hands, Cloud Built Hands, Wave Hands in Clouds
      • 12 o'clock
    11. Single Whip (Danbian, 单鞭)
      • 12 o'clock
    12. High Pat on Horse (Gāo tàn mǎ, 高探马), Step Up to Examine Horse
      • 9 o'clock
    13. Right Heel Kick (Yòu dēng jiǎo, 右蹬脚), Separate Right Foot, Kick with Right Foot
      • 8 o'clock
    14. Strike to Ears with Both Fists (Shuāng fēng guàn ěr, 双峰贯耳)
      • 10 o'clock
    15. Turn Body and Left Heel Kick (Zhuǎnshēn zuǒ dēngjiǎo, 转身左蹬脚)
      • turn around and face 4 o'clock
    16. Left Lower Body and Stand on One Leg (Zuo Xià shì dúlì, 左下势独立)
      • turn to 6 o'clock and then 3 o'clock
    17. Right Lower Body and Bird Stand on One Leg (You Xià shì dúlì, 右下势独立)
      • turn to 12 o'clock and then 3 o'clock
    18. Shuttle Back and Forth (Yòuzuǒ yùnǚ chuānsuō, 右左玉女穿梭), Fair Lady Works with Shuttles, (Walking Wood), Four Corners, RIGHT and LEFT
      • turn to 2 o'clock and then 4 o'clock
    19. Needle at Sea Bottom (Hǎidǐ zhēn, 海底针)
      •  o'clock
    20. Fan Through Back (Shǎn tōng bì, 闪通臂), Fan Penetrates Back
      •  o'clock
    21. Turn Body, Deflect, Parry, and Punch (Zhuǎnshēn Bānlánchuí, 转身搬拦捶)
      • turn around and face  o'clock
    22. Appears Closed (Rúfēng shìbì, 如封似闭), Withdraw and Push, as if Closing a Door
      •  o'clock
    23. Cross Hands (Shízìshǒu, 十字手)
      • 12 o'clock
    24. Closing (Shōushì, 收势)
      • 12 o'clock

    Final Words

    During Tai-Chi exercise, your face, arms, legs (or feet), center of chest and navel (note that this is the facing position that we describe in the instruction) may face different directions.  That's the difficult part of learning Tai-Chi—your whole body is continuously moving in the 3-dimensional space and, at the same time, you need to balance the pose without tilting.

    Photo Credit: