Friday, July 31, 2009

Are organic foods just a fad?

Undoubtedly, organic foods have hit the supermarket and specialized stores like a hype on more nutritious and supposedly less toxic chemicals or fertilizers in these produce.

Today, on CNN, the verdict (or at least for this round) is out - on the question "Are organic foods healthier than conventional ones?"

Are organic products more nutritious?

A few small studies have shown that some organic foods contain higher nutrient levels than conventional ones. For example, a recent study showed that organic ketchup had 57 percent more of the antioxidant lycopene than regular ketchup. But the wholesale claim that organics are more nutritious than conventional is ahead of the science. "More research is needed before it can be stated that organic foods provide more nutritional value," says Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., director of university nutrition at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Organic foods may have other benefits, though. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., chief scientist at The Organic Centerexternal link, asserts that some organic products are less processed, which means they may contain fewer chemically adulterated ingredients (think hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives).

Bottom line: "Read labels and look at each product in its own right," Benbrook says. An organic potato chip may contain as many calories and saturated fat grams as a conventional chip. "The price premiums associated with processed organic food are not as great as the premiums charged for organic whole foods," Benbrook says. ( Labeling in the grocery storeexternal link )

Are organic products healthier for the environment?

What's best for the environment is hotly debated among experts. "There is no scientifically accepted evidence that organic foods are better for the environment. Organic production allows natural pesticides, which can be toxic to humans and wildlife," says Alan McHughen, Ph.D., professor of botany and plant sciences at the University of California, Riverside. Organic fertilizers may also contain harmful bacteria, such as E. coli. Plus, organic farming yields only 75 to 90 percent of the crop of conventional systems, meaning that more land must be planted in order to have an equal return. ( Community-supported agriculture programsexternal link )

Organic advocates counter that chemicals used in conventional farming spread far beyond the fields where they are applied and have unintended consequences. "Synthetic pesticides have been linked to developmental and neurological problems," Benbrook says. "Organics eliminate synthetic pesticides and the damage they do to farmers, land, and drinking water."

Organic regulations also prohibit the use of genetic modification -- another thorny issue with as-yet unclear implications for the environment.

Bottom line: Focus on foods' benefit to your immediate environment -- i.e. your body -- first. "A good diet means variety, balance, and moderation, regardless of the farming method that produced the food," McHughen says.

There will be advocates to pros and cons on organic foods. And this multibillion dollar industry continues to rise at over 20% each year. Really now, considering the fact that more Filipinos do not even have a decent meal, nor eat the right diet due to economic constraints and the fact that over a billion people in Asia, India and Africa and the rest of the world go hungry, others spend more money in buying food that probably has no scientific benefit on the short term and doubtfully on the long-term basis as well.

What's your take on this?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Therese's mom doesn't mind the things she posts on Facebook - she's cool that way. Her mom though Therese was cool about it, too, and one time she posted a reminder on her wall: 'Anak, you left your tita's pasalubong to you on the kitchen counter, 'yung mga underwear na Victoria's Secret.'"

It was time to say thank you then slap her mother.

The article last July 18, 2009 on the Super LifeStyle section of the PDI (Philippine Daily Inquirer) by Ruby de Vera was an eyeopener, if not an eye popper for the parents who are Facebook wannabees.

Alright, don't get me wrong. It's not that I never started on the wrong foot with this FB thing. I also made comments on the walls of my friends that should have been something that I should have just sent as a personal email. And twiddle-de-dee and twiddle-de-dumb, but it took a few days to maneuver my way into FB. What was once upon a time the world of the yuppies and the teens on social networking has now become passe. The "older generation" has started to blog, to use social networking sites in order to FB or Twitter, upload on MySpace, or share pics (non-adult or adult) in cyberspace.

But putting notes in cyberspace, particularly for social networking sites, requires a little tack and responsibility. As adults, and as parents in particular, you've just invaded THEIR SPACE!

As kids, there's the tendency to cringe when parents have fun at their expense. I've seen parents upload their kids singing karaoke or their kids pics in the nude when they were babies or their kids dressing funny for a party. While FB or Friendster or Twitter IS NOT the exclusive domain of the young, we have to hand it to them that when they started off this chain reaction in cyberworld, times have indeed changed. And believe me when I say that the kids agonize whether they should accept or ignore you when you request to tag yourself as their 'friends'! As de Vera puts it "Facebook is your turf, the one place in the cyberworld where you can be yourself with your select group of friends, in a setting both public and at the same time private. You really don't need your parents to see what kind of hangover you had from your friend's birthday party, as evidenced by the pictures where they tagged you."

But this social network has gone beyond just friends and a group of friends. It has spilled over to politics, particularly with the Obama presidency in the United States. In the Philippines, presidential wannabees like Chiz Escudero and Richard Gordon have put up a FB post where I believe that some techie that is paid by these politicians puts up posts to get the opinion, pulse and eventually vote of the youth. Watching the thread of opinions from these lackeys is not fun, as you can read the boot-lickers clawing their way to a pat in the head. Gimme a break, it's not even Dick Gordon or Chiz Escudero you're chatting with on FB!

But back to the topic at hand. So your kids are complaining. Their parents are on facebook and they need help! Erika Brooks Adickman and Jeanne Leitenberg have created a website that is interestingly funny. It allows the kids to throw the pie back at the parents in a humorous way, as in a "back in your face" where kids want their parents to simply behave like parents.

At the end of the day, you'll realize that FB is all about each others space and not for parents to be monitoring their kids activities. For both the kids and the adults, we just need to delineate that space. After all, as adults, we were once kids and enjoyed the flow of fun before life eventually caught up on us. As for the kids, well, you'll soon be adults and some will eventually end up as parents, and you'll get the drift that your parents are probably going through now.

So the next time parents get the impulse to tag their kids as "friends", talk to them first if it's okay and not just ask permission in cyberspace. There's enough space to enjoy cyberworld. One click away should not create animosity in the family.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nutrition lies, dieting and the body to die for

So you think you're overweight and you've got flabs? Or that you're too thin and need to put some bulk in your body?

There's always the desire to look like a cover model or to get great abs. And the wish that we were all born with great genes to put on model jeans fit for a ramp model.

And there are products in the market that taunt us to buy them in order to look like the model in the magazine picture. Advertising actually is the greatest lier! Believe me! You can put all your money into the advertising claims and you'll eventually find out that you're poorer, hungrier and grouchier than you ever were when you started this dieting program.

Franklin Roosevelt once said that "repetition does not transform a lie into a truth". What we hear people say about the food that we eat is who we are are partly true...but partial truths are also partial lies.

So let's get some nutritional myths out of the way:

1. EATING LATE AT NIGHT MAKES YOU FAT - while this may be so because we DO NOT metabolize when we go to sleep, our body doesn't have an internal timer that causes late night eats to be stored directly as fat. Weight gain happens when you eat too much yet exercise too little. You could eat too much in the morning, the afternoon, or late at night and it could all result in weight gain.
Solution: Count the calories you eat and burn each day, rather than what time of day you eat!

2. SNACKING PROMOTES WEIGHT GAIN - Eating snacks throughout the day is a great way to keep your metabolism up and to avoid overeating when it comes to mealtime. That's why when parents ask me why their kids are thin, it's because the kids snack in between. But if you snack junk food, then be prepared to pack on the pounds.
Solution: It's not about snacking. It's what you snack on and how much to avoid to gain weight! It's a no-no to snack on DQ (for the Dairy Queen fans out there). Look at the queue at DQ...most of them are abhorently obese, but wouldn't care less what their blood sugars and cholesterols are! When you get snack foods, make sure you read the nutritional content at the back. Rich in vitamins or all salt? Cholesterol content or zero transfat? How many servings does a bag fill? Read the label. Sometimes we think that just because it's zero fat, you can eat the whole bagful. You will notice that the big bags are usually 8-16 servings. Which means that if it's 100 calories per serving, and you ate the whole bag, you just ate 800 to 1600 calories. In short, do the math!

3. YOU CAN LOSE FATE WITHOUT EXERCISE - Hmmm...I've heard this line before. Exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand when it comes to permanent fat loss. Your body needs exercise just as it needs to be fed a diet filled with fresh produce, whole grains and lean protein.
Solution: Accept exercise as part of your daily life. Just as you're tempted to just sit down and fatten your ass while you're updating your status on Facebook, you need to remember that exercising is a habit that is learned. And it can't just be your fingers getting all worked up and toned, while your flab sinks slowly and molds your figure into that chair!

4. FAT-FREE MEANS "ALL YOU CAN EAT"! - duh? a fat-free diet or snack is not the equivalent of flavored air - they contain plenty of calories and often lots of salt or sugar.
Solution: Read the label on the box. That's why there's a label. If you're buying food that doesn't have a label, DON'T! Be mindful of calories when eating food that claims to be "fat-free".

5. EAT AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE FOR MAXIMUM FAT LOSS - eating too little causes your metabolism to shut down and puts your body into starvation mode. It then actually becomes prone to storing fat than burning (especially if you don't like to exercise).
Solution: When it comes to losing fat and eating right, think BURN rather than STARVE!

6. DIET PILLS WORK FOR FAT LOSS - think rubber band! You lose weight from diet pills because they cut down your appetite. But if you're not eating correctly and exercising regularly, the only thing the diet pills are burning is the extra cash in your wallet. Billions of diet pills are sold yearly to couch potatoes - and all to no avail. Get me a couch potato who claims that he has lost weight PERMANENTLY and developed a beautiful body from just diet pills alone. You lose weight then gain it back rapidly when these diet pills are not around anymore. And these diet pills have side effects - your heart and your brain.
Solution: Eating right and exercising regularly even for 15 minutes a day, can never be replaced by a pill.

Eating right and regular exercise is the key to it all. Sure, there's the temptation to binge, and we're allowed that once a week. But the secret to getting a body to die for is not to die before you achieve that goal. It's all about healthy living - both mind and body! You've got to learn to love that body of yours. Wouldn't you want to wow yourself every time you look in the mirror?

It's a work in day at a time. Without the use of illegal drugs!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The boob job

Okay, so it's none of our business that Ate Glue had a boob job some 20 years ago. For whatever reason it may be, whether it was due to an underlying illness or for aesthetic purposes, we have no business in the boobs she bears.

What is eating the public and the unfortunate attention that it has been given is the fact that it was discovered through a leak (no pun intended) through some blabbermouth who just couldn't keep the giggles off the lid.

My take on the situation:

- while there is a patient-physician confidentiality that binds the doctor and the patient, the "on-lookers" during a procedure are usually the leak in information and are not bound by the same confidentiality agreement. I've always said that when only one person knows what's going on, it's a secret. When two people know it, it's not a secret anymore. I agree that when it comes to some degree of 'secrecy' that went on behind the boob leak and the boob job, it was no one's business.

- the initial take by an incompetent media on malice put into the minds of the gullible public regarding the boob job of GMA was unforgiving. The NBI should be investigating who the f**king idiot that began spreading the "indecent" rumor was!

- but there is the truth portion. While the boob job WAS and IS none of our business, the person's health was the actual story behind the issue. After all, as public figure, as president of the country, the people needed to know. And public figure will always be public property. This is true, not only for entertainers, but for people in public office as well. During the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, truth pray tell that the failing health of Apo Ferdie was highly talked about. Speculations were confirmed when the deposed president and his family had gone into exile in Hawaii, with the people finding out that indeed there was a hospital bed and dialysis apparatus in Malacanan. The transition of power in a democratic country should always be transparent. One can argue the case of Tita Cory, where she has supposedly refused chemotherapy and is very ill. Why does not the public barrage the case of ex-President Aquino? The answer is simple. She is now a private citizen and Citizen Cory has the right to privacy because she is not the president of the country anymore. There is no vested interest in the health of Mrs. Aquino (whom I continuously pray for strength during these trying times) because there is no National Security issue.

If only the officials in Malacanan had provided the truth from the get go, the boob job of Ate Glue would not have even been an issue. What was so wrong in acknowledging the humanity of a president?

What is wrong with the current picture is the fact that the President's men continue to lie to us. She didn't check in to Asian Hospital to be self-quarantined. There should have been no denying that the President needed to undergo certain tests because she had medical concerns. There is no infallibility when it comes to being human. After all, only God is infallible. And Gloria is not God.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Delicadeza and pardon my skepticism

Effective June 30, we celebrate our one year countdown of the Arroyo administration. One of the longest and most corrupt political career of a president, I have to hand it to Ate Glue for playing the Game of the Generals in order to survive in public office.

During her term of office, there have been so many allegations on her husband's alleged graft and corruption and the collusion with friends and families close to them in order to corner government deals or big business ventures. Then again, there are the paid cronies and spokespersons who stood by her side defending her to their grave, rewarding the military officials with choice positions in government controlled corporations or diplomatic positions in foreign countries. As if there is no other competent person in the Philippines, the choice of some lacky cabinet official was based on friendship or being neighbors at her La Vista home, rather than credentials.

For the 3 year illegal term of GMA (through some weird People's Revolution Part II and Part III), up to the time that she supposedly questionably won a 'real term of office', she has not received any accolade from the Filipino people. It has been one quirky decision to another, from one scandal to another, from one graft and corruption allegation with her husband to another, from one son to another entering public has been a calculated effort at putting her family in the political circle, akin to the time of the Marcoses.

The mere fact that she was able to defy gravity at the rate she was going, and that the people particularly the middle and upper class showing laziness and ending up tired with the kind of government system that the Filipinos have been used to, leaves little to say about the respect that Filipinos have towards themselves.

When I picked up the newspaper this morning, I was curiously astonished to find out that owner of Total Information Management, part of the consortium that won the automated election bid for next year's election, is linked to the Aboitiz clan. A clan close to the Arroyo family, especially the first gentleman. Doesn't the government participate in any exercise of bidding that does not involve FG or do all these scandals happen to be coincidental? I don't think so, because the graft scandals have been so far accurate by 100% and statisically speaking, the probability of this being a chance outcome is nil.

I formally announced on Facebook and Twitter that the health advisories and globe trotting soirees of the president being advertised in whole page ads in the newspapers leave a bad taste in the mouth. This, particularly with the pictures of both GMA and the health secretary! But hey, it's free campaign material for a health secretary who is practically unknown to the community, and who has minimal knowledge of what he is talking about. I am fine with the health advisories, but to put your face on the advisory is electioneering. It actually has NO RELEVANCE to the advisory.

The presidential election is simply a few months away. There are calls for a new movement, for renewed morals, for choosing a candidate that will lead the Filipinos to the promised land.

Pardon my skepticism. But the average Filipino has no delicadeza. In selecting a candidate, the average Pinoy will always vote for someone who he/she will "invest in". He/she must qualify for the question - what's in it for me?

Pardon my skepticism. But the average Filipino is a masochist. It's probably because we are used to the flagellations of our colonizers that we will always think of ourselves as slaves. We easily forget a crime. We feel the need for a bad spanking every day.

Pardon my skepticism. Today, they have involved the youth, hoping that this group of new voters can and will make changes for this country. They have put all social networking sites to work and are banking on the world wide web to make a difference. Perhaps this could be a strategy, but 60% of Filipinos still do not have access to the internet and live in the hinterlands where the votes can be bought and snatched and where a Garci scandal will always be ready to preserve the political dynasties in the Philippines.

Pardon my skepticism. Unless we band together for a greater cause and unless we reach out to our Filipino brothers and sisters who live below the poverty line, I do not see much change in this country in the next election. If this happens, there will be the continued exodus of OFWs, continued graft and corruption where delicadeza can always be bought for a loaf of bread, where only a few will benefit from the ties that bind the government official and the culture of corrupt practices...where the choice of heaven for one is hell for the other one.

Pardon my skepticism. But the momentum on reforms has practically died. The Filipino was the model for the peaceful revolution to unseat an unpopular president during the Marcos regime. Ironically, the Filipino is the model for keeping the devil in its place during the Arroyo administration. Scandal after scandal, the Filipino has been callused to simply live in hell on earth.