Comfy Feet, Healthy You

Our feet can be one of the most neglected aspects of our bodies, even though they do most of the hard work everyday. They are charged with carrying us through every trail life takes us on, and oftentimes they are stuffed deep in stinky, sweaty shoes. Take a peek at your feet right now. Are they loose and free and comfortable, or are they being neglected? I think one of the best things about growing up in South America is that I learned the importance of caring for my feet, as it was ranked right up there with dental care!

Brazilians value their foot health, and they treat their feet with the utmost care. Although every culture is different, some of the most serious side effects of bad health are neglected feet. For example, in diabetes, we check feet on every exam. This is because the first signs of complications from diabetes can often be seen in feet. What are your feet telling you about your health? Go ahead and buy those shoes that give them the extra comfort they need. Who knows, maybe that will help you be as active is you want to be as well. Here are some pointers on picking the right shoes, directly from Harvard:

Shop for shoes in the afternoon, as your feet expand throughout the day.
Wear socks that you would normally wear.
Walk in the shoes before purchasing, and trust your own comfort fit more than size!

As I think about the past 10 years in medical missions, I think the best stories are of being able to give someone the gift of new shoes. For many of us it’s easy to take for granted that we can have the right shoes we need. But, this is definitely a luxury in many parts of the world.

I think particularly of a woman I met in Africa, who walked five miles every day to work. Her feet looked so worn and tired, and all she had to wear were flip flops. Once I realized we wore the same size, I gave her my favorite running shoes that I was wearing that day. The colors looked so cheery on her feet, and definitely gave her an extra bounce as she walked the dirt road home. The look of relief on her face was priceless when I handed her those shoes. She could now walk to work with shoes that supported her. As I watched her step turn into a bounce, I was reminded how easy it is to take something as simple as good shoes for granted.

Setting The Record Straight on Meat Health

Red meat is often wrongly portrayed as being unhealthy. Even chicken has been getting attacked by some in the media as being unhealthy or not environmentally friendly. Vegan, fish and other non-meat diets have been proposed as healthier alternatives. The result of this onslaught of negative meat messages has influenced many persons including moms and dads to drastically cut back on their meat and poultry purchases. Perceptions may be seen as reality, yet truth trumps non truths. Parents and other consumers want what is best for their health and that of their families. They are also aware that a lot of false information is out there and as such are open to scientific facts that can correct their misconceptions. Below are the facts:

A) LETS IRON OUT THE TRUTH ON MEAT!
1) “You would need to eat a massive amount of spinach to equal (the iron content) in a steak,” says Christopher Golden, an ecologist and epidemiologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (As quoted by nature.com in the article ‘Brain food- clever eating’.)
2) Let’s get precise. For a woman to receive her recommended daily intake of 18 mg of iron would need just 300 grams of cooked bovine liver, 625 grams of cooked beef or an astounding 2.4 kg of spinach!
3) In addition, the Iron found in vegetables is harder to absorb than the iron found in meat as it is attached to fibre which inhibits its absorption.

B) MEAT FOR A HEALTHIER BRAIN!
1) Being deficient in the micronutrients found in meat have been linked with low IQ, autism, depression and dementia says Dr. Charlotte Neumann, a pediatrician at the University of California, as quoted in the above article.
2) Zinc found in meat is crucial for learning and memory.
3) Vitamin B12 found in meat preserves the sheaths that protect nerves.

C) MEAT- BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY!
Due to its antioxidant powers, zinc is involved in creating antibodies to fight free radicals that increase our risk for chronic diseases.

D) MEAT- POWER YOUR MUSCLE GROWTH!
1) The protein in meat helps build and repair body tissues.
2) Muscles are made of protein. That is why athletes who are building muscle strength increase their meat protein consumption.
3) The protein and zinc found in meat are important for muscle growth and repair.

E) MEAT- THE COMPLETE PROTEIN!
Meat contains all of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make by itself. Say ‘hello’ to histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lycine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, and valine. Meat supplies all nine. That is why it is called a complete protein.

F) MEAT- FOR A HEALTHY HEART!
1) Meat contains lots of the B vitamins needed for the production of hormones, red blood cells and for the proper functioning of your nervous system.
2) Say ‘hello’ to niacin, folic acid, thiamine, biotin, panthothenic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. They are all found in meat.

So let’s counter those negative meat health myths, by setting the record straight.

Is Traditional Chinese Medicine Better Than Modern Western Medicine?

Since young, I’ve only visited doctors trained in modern western medicine. Usually the pills and liquids prescribed to me worked, or so I would think as I recover days later. However as I grew up and learnt biology, we were taught one important fact – because we have our immune system therefore we are still alive now. Hence even without any drug interventions, we would have recovered from our illness all by ourselves, as long as our immune system was in good working conditions. However as humans, we’re always impatient and want to feel well again as soon as possible or there are times when our immune systems just aren’t at their peak conditions and our bodies cannot cure itself. This is where medicine comes in.

Modern Western medicine considers illness as being triggered by something that causes a series of wrong chemical relays resulting in bodily malfunctions, and sets out to correct this by destroying that something or intercepting somewhere in this signal relay and hence stop the spread of the illness or even get rid of it. On the other hand, Traditional Chinese Medicine tackles this issue of falling ill by strengthening the immune system, while at the same time expunging the disease causative agent if necessary. Precisely because of the way they work, Modern Western medicine usually exhibit a faster recovery rate, whereas Traditional Chinese medicine makes an individual more able to fight of pathogens and less likely to fall ill in the long run.

Another issue between these two kinds of medicine that comes under fire is that Modern Western medicine is backed by solid scientific research, whereas there is insufficient scientific research that can support the use of Traditional Chinese medicine. I am definitely not arguing against the strong evidence that modern western medicine has from research, but western medicine is termed as ‘modern’ simply because it revolutionized about 200 years ago, whereas Traditional Chinese medicine has a history of more than 2000 years. The long history of Traditional Chinese medicine indicates that since its crude origins, it has been tested on many other humans, been put through the test of natural selection, and still has managed to evolve and survive to this very day. This surely has to be a proof for its efficacy.

Despite all the research and history behind both these fields of medicine, they too have their share of failures. Modern Western medicine’s research is based on clinical trials that require a certain statistical percentage of successfully treated cases before it can be used. However, there are those on the other side of the percentage – the unsuccessfully treated ones. Likewise Traditional Chinese Medicine history has been dotted with unsuccessful treatments that resulted in deaths. However without these failures, both kinds of medicine would not have been able to progress to where they both stand today.

Therefore, it cannot be simply concluded which field of medicine is better. Both Traditional Chinese medicine and Modern Western medicine have differing treatment principles and methods, results and failures. As long as they both continue to benefit mankind, I believe we should acknowledge that both Traditional Chinese medicine and Modern Western medicine have a place in our society, and our society can do with both.