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Sunday, October 30, 2011


I remember when I was growing up being intrigued by news stories of the discovery of some shepards in the Caucasus Mountains in Bulgaria who lived to very old ages – healthy lifespans of over 100 years were not out of the ordinary. Their vigour and health were attributed to some special kind of yogurt-like drink they concocted.

It has taken decades for research to be done on the special fermented drink they consumed and now it is available in the health sections of supermarkets. It is called Kefir and no one knows how it originated but apparently it has been around since time immemorial. It is composed of a complex structure of bacteria and yeasts with proteins, lipids and sugars. To make kefir you must have a source of kefir grains (see picture). They may be obtained from a health food store or anyone you know who makes kefir. The grains increase in the process of making a batch of the kefir drink. The video shows how simple it can be to make kefir which is much more healthful than yogurt and temperature control is not critical as it is with making yogurt.

‘Kefir contains different types of beneficial bacteria than yoghurt and many many more of them. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.’

The health advantages of kefir are endless and it is one of the most affordable drink there is! Some of the known kefir health benefits are: strongest natural remedy against any allergy; strongest natural antibiotic without side effects; treats liver disease; cleans the body of perscribed antibiotics; cleans the gastrointestinal tract; treats ulcers; improves the human immune system; cures Candida; stops growth of cancer cells; reduces size of tumors; reverses calcination of blood vessels; boosts the body's energy; has anti-oxidant and anti-aging properties; replenishes body of good bacteria after antibiotic; balances the microflora of the body’s digestive system; and on and on the almost unbelievable list goes – click on kefir benefits.

Even if you don't think you want to live to the really old age of 100, with kefir so readily available, you should at least give it a try just to see how good it makes you feel! Rie

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hindu Cremations

In the news this week was a story about the English researcher who spoke of the environmental costs of cremation and I am reminded of how important a ceremony it is in the Hindu religion.

They believe that until a body is cremated, the soul will remain nearby and that only when it is consumed by fire will it be released to go to the sacred place where it may be reincarnated into a new life. Their next life depends on how well the person had lived in their past life.

There is often much money spent on elaborate carved wooden cremation pyres – there was even a workshop devoted to building them just at the end of our street in Ubud, Bali. Kids often gathered to play with the shavings and build their own pyres. Many people attended cremations and tourists are welcomed as voyeurs of the spectacle and traditional ritual ceremonies around lighting the pyres.

On one occasion in Bali we were touring the north of the island by car and had stopped for lunch when we were approached by a pleasant young man who offered to be our escort to a local cremation. Arriving at the site, the ceremony was already in progress and any wooden pyre had been burned revealing the body on a concrete platform. The family of the body must have been poor and to us, not understanding the rituals or language, it was a very crude sight. There was a large tank of kerosene hoisted into a tree and a hose from it fed a burner trained on the body. We were there about an hour and one of the refills of the kerosene tank, until all that seemed left was the skull. A holy person would soon arrive to crack it open to release the soul and the ashes would then be taken by the family to the ocean to be scattered out to sea.

For Hindu’s there is no question or choice in what happens to their bodies when they die. We do have a choice and mine is to leave my body to a medical school, and leave some locks of hair for family should there ever be need for DNA analysis. For those with concerns about the considerable amount of fossil fuel energy used in cremation of a body, there are some natural burial sites set aside where burials are recorded but no markings are allowed to identify the grave. I know of one such natural site a friend chose for his burial and I am curious about their prevalence.

I believe it to be only considerate for each of us to face our inevitable death and let our families know our wishes for burial and any events they would like to see around it. Rie

Sunday, October 16, 2011

8 Glasses of Water a Day??

I have an ongoing argument with a good friend about how much water we should drink in a day. The common advice is 8 glasses but he says he drinks justa few cups of tea or coffee and feels just fine. Besides he’s well into his 80’s like I am.
A few years ago, I started drinking about 6 or 7 glasses a day because I had leg cramps every night and I found just by accident that the water alleviated the problem altogether and I have felt better physically ever since too - so I am sold! But to prove the point I went on line this week to do some research. First, I was vindicated by the statistics; secondly, no one says it has to be water - just fluid - and finally, the amount depends on how much you weigh.
Your weight in pounds divided by 2 gives you the number of ounces to drink in a day. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs. then you should drink around 150/2 = 75 ounces [or 7 and a half 10 oz. glasses a day].
If you weigh 90 kilos, then you should divide your weight by 30 then 90/30 = 3 litres you should drink in a day
Water affects every cell in the body by absorbing nutrients better and it also detoxifies by facilitating the work of the kidneys and bowels. The brain is 90% water and when properly hydrated, it works better and you don’t tend to get headaches or migraines or tire as quickly. The water we drink protects and moisturizes our joints etc. Going to sites about the benefits of water there are many others.
In my searching I came across a site that informed me of the enormous benefits of drinking water with lemon in it. In the body, lemon water becomes alkaline and has a similar composition as other digestive juices like saliva, hydrochloric acid, and bile. The juice helps dissolve gallstones, calcium deposits in the joints and arteries, kidney stones, and pancreatic stones as well.
Another amazing fluid is green tea. It has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years and an old Chinese proverb says ‘Better to be deprived of food for 3 days than tea for one’. Recent research on green tea has discovered that it contains a compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), that slows the growth of cancer cells and can kill them without damaging healthy cells around them. It also alleviates rheumatoid arthritis, benefits those
with cardiovascular disease and infections. As well it actually lowers and balances cholesterol levels. It is also actually benefits impaired immune functions.
I began by addressing those who poo-hoo the need to keep the body hydrated and ended by learning the benefits of drinking lemon or green tea in the water. Thanks old friend for being so hard to persuade! Rie

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cell Phone Dangers ?

Wondering why cell phones could possibly be so dangerous to teenagers - there were warnings on the radio all this week - I decided to do a little research myself.

The topic also gives me an excuse to use the diagram pictured. I got almost as pleasant a jolt of 'instant understanding' from a diagram like that as when I was first introduced to the periodic table. If you could enlarge the picture, you would recognize that what we call light has a much broader range or spectrum than the small portion of it we can actually see as the colours of the rainbow. Interesting that birds and bees can ‘see’ a little on either side of our visible spectrum.

Well established theory says that light is made up of particles called photons that travel in waves at the speed of light. The length of the waves gets shorter and shorter as you go from left to right in the diagram. The wiggly lines representing wavelengths run from the straight baseline up to the arc. Radio waves on the left have the longest waves from 20 meters long down to 1 mm. Next to them are the more energetic microwaves with wavelengths from 1 mm. to 25 millionths of a meter or 25 micrometers. Next, as you see, are infrared through visible to ultraviolet to X-rays and Gamma rays. The x- rays are so energetic they can do damage to cells on occasion.

Fundamentally there is no difference between the radiation emitted by cell phones and microwave ovens except for power – they overlap in the electromagnetic spectrum of frequencies. Since cell phone waves can penetrate 4 - 6 cm (1.6 - 2.4 in) into the human brain the worry is that, if

more powerful microwave frequencies (shorter wavelenghs) are used, the young developing brain may be harmed by the breaking of weak molecular bonds.

One solution is that cell phones almost all have a feature that allows you to use them as speaker phones so you don’t have to hold them up to your ear except for private calls. Or why not start texting or twittering more ? Rie

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Walking Sticks

As I write, it is my first day home from the hospital for good after an operation that restored circulation to both my legs. Before the operation, I had a great deal of pain in both legs after walking even just across a room and even had a nasty ulcer on one foot that wouldn’t heal. I am elated because I now I have a chance to have a whole new lease on life at 86!

I have inherited bad genes from both parents that cause abnormal plaque to build up in my arteries. One result was that the main aorta leading to my legs was almost totally blocked and a bypass from the aorta above the blockage was not possible because it’s walls were very calcified [my doctor used the term ‘porcelain’ coated].

Instead, during the operation, an artery in my shoulder was tapped using an artificial gortex artery that was slid down inside my body and attached to my groin areas left and right. It has brought oxygenated blood to my legs and it’s like a miracle! My feet are warm, the ulcer is healing and I have no pain when I walk!

I am recovering but having to use a walker until I get stronger. That thing is awkward and makes me look like a poor frail old thing. Soon I’ll get out my walking sticks and they will exercise, my arms as I support my bad back - see picture above. Besides, I stand up straight when I use them. They are sporty and even better than a single cane, give me super balance. I was a skier and I will enjoy the rhythm of getting in stride again. Rie