Thursday, June 12, 2008

Not Just a Banana

bananaI received this interesting email from a friend about banana, which happened to be one of my favorite fruits also. I know that banana is good for runners to prevent muscle cramp. When I was in Philippines, I liked to have the banana que once in a while; it is fried with brown sugar. I have even tried eating boiled banana when I was there. According to my Pinoy friend, he told me that it is one good meal for the poor people as they can get it at low price. As I ate the boiled banana, I also learned gratitude and to appreciate life. I must re-evaluate the way I look at banana.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression:

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:

Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia:

High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:

This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:

200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation:

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers:

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn:

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:

Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:

Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves:

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?

Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers:

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:

Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking & Tobacco Use:

Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress:

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes:

According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts:

Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Are Mosquitoes More Attracted To Some People

While I was waiting for my cousin to pick me up from the train station the other day, I was thinking, "why are mosquitoes more attracted to some people compare to other?" I am someone who have always attracted more mosquito bites than most of my friends. It must be because I smell better, look better (I'm kidding on this) and 'taste' better. Is mosquito ever choosy on its food? That I could not answer on their behalf although my name was being associated with mosquito once in a while when I was young. However, there has been a study that shown that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to people infected with the transmissible forms of malaria than to those infected with non-transmissible forms of the disease or to unaffected people.

How does a mosquito find its target?
According to a BBC news, a team led by Rockefeller University has found that mosquitoes target exhaled breath using protein receptors in the structure extending from their jaws. The lead researcher Professor Leslie Vosshall said: "Insects are especially sensitive to carbon dioxide, using it to track food sources and assess their surrounding environment." This would be an important discovery as at least one million people die of malaria world wide each year.

Besides carbon dioxide, let us take a look at other factors that lure the mosquitoes to us:
  • Lactic acid that is released during exercise or consuming particular food.
  • Body heat.
  • Dark-coloured clothing (this together with body heat could be two major contributing factors to more bites for me as I like to wear black tee-shirt and I have high body heat).
  • Perfumes, used in a range of body care products (e.g. shampoo, body shower cream, body lotion), also help mosquitoes identify a target.

A combination of these factors could be the reasons why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others. There are some other interesting theories as to why some people get more mosquito bites.

Some theories involving gender were proposed and then discarded. One theory said that women were more likely to be bitten than men because mosquitoes are repelled by the strong odour of human sweat. Women who are deem to 'smell' better than men received greater attention from men. However, some men are bitten more than some women (and vice verse).

Another funny theory said that mosquitoes prefer thin-skinned people and thus women get bites more because women generally have thinner skin than men.

Third, it was theorised that women had some secret hormonal attractant that brought them to the attention of mosquitoes more than men. Even menstruation and ovulation could be factors in this. But such an attractant was never found. Gender does not now seem to be the all-important factor in mosquito "bite" susceptibility, according to The Register.

One interesting factor that caught my attention especially was about banana; since I love to eat banana. It was said that if you like to eat banana, you will tend to attract more mosquitoes. There is no scientific proof to confirm the connection however. It was speculated that eating of banana released scent of banana that seeps from your pores when you sweat and that attracted the mosquitoes, which can "smell" its human blood meal from a distance of up to 50 kilometres (30 miles) away. This was immediately refuted by some who said that it did not work for them as they do take bananas but still end up with more mosquito bites.

In so speaking, how do you know if you have a higher risk of being a target, and just what kind of people the mosquito is most attracted to? "That's a hard one to answer," says Professor Andrew Spielman of the Harvard School of Public Health, and one of the world's leading experts on the mosquito. The combination of the reasons above of how mosquitoes find their targets could be why some people are more prone to bites than to other. If you are one of those getting more bites, you might want to see which of the above reason/s that could contribute to you getting more bites. Since it has been said that diet may be one of the contributing factors, you may like to think about what are the food that you are taking more compare to others.

Until there is a confirmed report of why mosquitoes are more attracted to some people than others, the only thing we can do for ourselves now is to equip ourselves with a good insect repellent especially if we expect mosquitoes in the places that we are heading to.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Could You Have Been a Millionaire Too?

As I was lying in my bed last night, I was hit by a sudden thought, "I could have already been a millionaire many times and I could be ... I would have been on my way to be a billionaire." How is that possible? Just through reading my email. Yes ... just as simple as that. Easy money right? Almost right, easy money but easy way to lose our money! Having been on the Internet for years now, I have seen how their email evolving and getting more and more creative each day.

Just yesterday I received yet another scam email with the subject line, "YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY" and I thought, "so now Yahoo is giving away money?" Such email should have ended up in the Spam folder but somehow it sneaked into my Inbox. Trying to amuse myself, I opened up the email and read it.
So they weren't kidding when they put "YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY" in the subject line. I did win the YAHOO INTERNET LOTTERY or did I? As you can see, the email even comes with Yahoo! logo to make it all appeared legitimate and real. Apparently, Internet scam is here to stay and they undergo constant changes to keep up with time. On one hand, I have to say that whoever is coming up with this email did put in some effort to make this email appeared to be from a reliable source. At the end of the email, there was even a photo of a guy (which is something new to me) who signed off as Mr. James Walker LOTTO CO-COORDINATOR, The Yahoo.com staff. On the other hand, I really wondered, "Could this creativity be put to better use than to try to cheat people of their money?" It certainly can! If one is new to the Internet, one may have fall for this.

Some people may say, "Serve them right for being greedy and for being stupid to fall for this old trick. They deserve it!" Maybe they are right to say so. Pardon me that I was once like them and had the same thought. The number one factor why these Internet scams continue to work could be greed but these scams also prey on people who are ignorant and hopeful. Although more and more people are becoming Internet savvy, there are still a small number of people who are naive and maybe one would call them virgin Internet user. Everyday, there will bound to be new user of the Internet. There are some people who are just simply hopeful that these scams are real.

How does these Internet Scams work?

Usually they would explain the nature of the draw and how you had ended up as one of the winners. In this email which I received, they explained, "YAHOO, collects all the mail ID of the people that are online on yahoo messenger, among the millions that subscribe to yahoo messenger we only select five people every month as our winners through electronic balloting System without the winner applying, we are congratulating you for been one of the people selected." A ticket number would also be provided to one and one will be told to contact the agent as soon as possible with one's details like name, address, telephone number, email, ticket number etc.

One would also be told to keep the information confidential from public until the claim was processed and the prize released. These Internet scams even answered your doubt of why you shouldn't inform anyone. They said, "This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted taking advantage of this programme by non-participant or unofficial personnel." Naturally one will follow their instructions.

Upon contacting the agent involved, he/she would explain to you the whole procedure of claiming the prize until a point of time they would ask you to remit a certain sum of money for the legal processing fee or priority mailing fee to send you the money order or cheque securely. How I know? Of course I tried it out. When I am in the mood to play with the agent, I would tease him/her and tell him/her to deduct the fee from my winning prize or to help me pay for the fee first and I will give him/her 10% of the winning. It is always entertaining to see the replies.

With the Internet becoming so common nowadays, such Internet scams are also becoming very common. As long as you have an email, you will bound to receive such scams once in a while. The best thing to do is not to do anything and just put them into the trash folder.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

One Habit to Save Up to 21% of Your Electricity Bill

I was so excited to see the electricity bill in the mailbox the other day. I promptly reached for it as if someone would sneak up from behind and snatch it away from me. You might be thinking it must either be the heat in Singapore that was getting into me or that I was going crazy; who in the world would be excited to get an electricity bill in the mailbox. On the contrary, it was neither the heat nor that I was going crazy. I was conducting an experiment and this was the second months of the experiment. Even before I could get into the elevator, I was already anxiously opening up the bill.

On the first look, everything seem normal. However, when I turned the bill over to look at the other side, I was all excited again. A scanned copy of part of the electricity bill said it all. Referring to the bar graphs below, I had saved another 25 Kilowatts or approximately 27.5 pounds of coal (amount of coal needed to generate 25 Kilowatts of electricity) from February to April. According to
Wikipedia, the USA consumes about 1.053 billion tonnes of coal each year, using 90% of it for generation of electricity. The world in total produced 6.19 billion tonnes of coal in 2006.

Now for the grand result for the two months the experiment was ran, I had saved a total of 63 Kilowatts of electricity in the two months or up to 21% of electricity.
You may be saying, "What is the big deal? It is only 63 Kilowatts." A baby step to a healthier planet. According to the Department of Statistic of Singapore, there were a total of 923,300 resident households in Singapore in 2000. Imagine if every household can save the same amount of electricity (and even better if they can save more) every month, we can save up to 23 million Kilowatts of electricity every month (hope I gotten the Math correct). That would not look like a small deal anymore right?
Power Switch to Off position
Lets take a look at how can we achieve that baby step toward a healthier planet. It takes less than 5 minutes to do it - that is to turn off any unused appliances at the socket and not just to put it in a standby mode. Yes, saving electricity can be that simple and straightforward. The first time I read an article about this, I was very doubtful and thus I decided to experiment it in my home. I was amazed of the result too.

Putting unused appliances to standby mode still uses lots of energy. We can save this energy by turning off televisions and other items when they're not in use. That includes your computer's monitor as well. Screen savers only stop the screen from getting burned in images. Energy saving mode cuts power usage but nowhere near as much as the on/off switch does.

Some of you may be saying, "It'll be so inconvenient to turn off the switch; keeping any unused appliances in the standby mode mean I can switch it on immediately using the remote. I don't have to move 'half way across planet home' to turn the switch on. I had the same thinking initially too. However, it was not a challenge for me to change. By moving around the house to turn the switch on, I become more active and I treat it as an exercise. And the ultimate motivation comes from doing my bit for planet Earth, as well as saving my electricity bill up to 20% every month.

Just that one baby step, it can create a big different. Lets us all do our bit for our planet Earth. Wishing you goodness in all areas of your life.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

One More Shot?

The driver of this car was under the influence of alcohol and drove into a small guard house in MalaysiaHow many time have you heard the tagline, "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink?" Every year during the festive seasons, commercials, banners and posters will be used to relate this message to the general public in Singapore. How effective are they in putting the message across? No one really knows. One thing for sure, for one with high civic-mindedness, he/she will not need such means to remind them not to drive if they drink. Naturally for one who does not has any civic-mindedness, no amount of these commercials, banners and posters will get the message into their head. Fortunately, I believe the latter is only a minority group in our society as most people still have a good sense of social responsibility.

Drunk driving is an offence in most countries around the world. Anyone who is convicted of injuring or killing someone while under the influence of alcohol can be heavily fined, in addition to being given a lengthy prison sentence. In Singapore, repeated offence of drunk driving can cause you to be fined up to $30,000 SGD and three years' imprisonment. For an offender causing death or serious injuries can also be caned up to 6 strokes. In a report from Associated Press dated May 17, 2007, a man in New York was sentenced 20 years to life in prison for drunk driving for a seventh time since 1982. His first conviction in 1982 was involved in an alcohol-related crash that killed a man. He was sentenced to one year in the county jail after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and misdemeanor DWI.

death-finitionAccording to the
Office for National Statistics of UK, they reported that alcohol related death rate in the UK continued to rise in 2006, from 12.9 deaths per 100,000 populations in 2005 to 13.4 in 2006. The number of alcohol-related deaths more than doubled from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,758 in 2006. In the US, in 2006, an estimated 17,602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes—an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41 percent of the 42,642 total traffic fatalities (from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

From a speech by Dr. Teo Ho Pin, Chairman of The Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs of Singapore dated 13 December 2006; he cited an accident which happened earlier in March that year. Two colleagues were on their way home together on a motorcycle and they crashed into the centre divider along Bukit Timah Expressway and their bodies were found lying along the road. It was found later that both men had a high concentration of alcohol in their blood. In that tragedy, two families lost not only their sole breadwinners but also their husbands and fathers. Indeed as what he mentioned, “The penalties of drink-driving are very high – with the ultimate penalty being death.

The serious consequences of drunk driving cannot be overemphasized and the consequences don’t end with legal action. It could very well cause a disruption in your life. More often than not, drunk driver endangers not only himself/herself, but also other innocent road users. Often time, you may think that you are still sober enough to drive after drinking but there are too many cases where drunk drivers caused death of their loved ones and innocent parties.

Prevention is always better than cure. If you are going out on a group, there can be a deathdesignated driver to send the rest home. And in the case when even the designated driver had a few drinks, there is always public transport or a cab instead. Never leave things to chance. When it happened, saying things like, “If I know … I would not drunk drive” or “I thought I am still in control” or “I’m sorry, I did not mean to kill her.” Whatever you’ll be saying, it would not make any sense anymore. Please do not ruin your night of fun and enjoyment and be sentenced to a lifetime of guilt and regret. Everyone of us can do our part to make this world a safer place for everyone else to live in.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

5 Tips to Prevent Boredom With Exercise

Exercise is great, but it can get repetitive. After a while of just doing the same things over and over again you might find yourself stuck in a rut. Not only will doing the same exercises over and over again prevent you from seeing more results but it will also allow your body to adapt to what your giving it.

This is why it’s very important to change up your workouts every two weeks at the least. This will give your body enough time to change and grow from the exercises you do without having your body to adapt to the exercises. By doing this, you never allow your body to get to a point where it adapts as well as it’ll keep your workouts interesting because you’ll always be doing something different. Because you’ll always be changing up your workouts, you’ll be able to keep seeing results as you progress in your routine. Another benefit to doing something different every two weeks is that you won’t set your body up to plateau or get stuck at a certain time of your routine.

There are many different ways to spice up your routine. Here are the top 5 ways you can easily adjust your workouts to make them more interesting and prevent boredom.

1. Use Different Equipment

Now a days, you have the benefit to choose from an array of different exercise equipments and tools. From foam rollers to BOSU balls every different piece of equipment can add a little bit more challenge to your exercises. What you can try to do is look for a piece of equipment that you don’t really know how to use and use it for 2 weeks. This will give enough to time to learn how to use it , and how to incorporate it into your routine. If you end up liking it then great if not move on to a different piece of equipment. So already by following this recommendation you’ll be able to try numerous amounts of fitness tools within a matter of weeks.

2. Workout With a Partner/Group

You know that saying two heads are better than one? Well it kind of works the same way for exercise. If you choose to work with a partner or friend you can benefit a whole lot in the motivation and social departments, however one great thing that you get when working with a partner is that you can come up with a crazy amount of exercises that you wouldn’t be able to do by yourself.

3. Learn New Exercises

This is probably one of the easiest tips to employ. There are many resources out there that can teach you how to perform different exercises that fit your preference. Whether you get ideas from magazines or from sessions with a trainer you can definitely pick up some great exercise to add to your routine.

4. Participate in Sports

Do you remember playing sports as a kid? Did it feel like exercise? For the most part not really…you were too busy focusing on what was going on that you didn’t realize you were exercising. Playing sports give you the opportunity to work super hard without you knowing. So if you don’t like to exercise you could try and find a community centre that has different sports that you can play or even join a local house league.

5. Create An Obstacle Course

If your looking for a creative way to add a little spice to your workouts you can look at making some Obstacle courses for yourself. You can make as long or as short as you want, it’s totally up to your preference. Personally what I do is look for a playground with monkey bars, benches and other objects I can implement into my obstacle course. Group 6-8 exercises together and perform one right after the other. It’s simple and creative way to kick your workout up a notch and get some serious results.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Tips on Coping with Jet Lag

Jet lag, a term that is ever familiar with the frequent travelers. With the world becoming a global village and with the increase in need to travel for work and for other reasons, people are traveling more and more regularly. There is a saying, by some people who are traveling a lot, "I'm taking the plane just like taking a cab."

Jet lag is a physiological condition which is a consequence of alterations to the biological clock, which is a small cluster of brain cells that controls the timing of biological functions (circadian rhythms), including when you eat and sleep. When traveling across a number of time zones, the body clock will not be in sync with the destination time, as it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms to which it has grown so used to. Besides being caused by traveling to different time zones on jet as its name implies, jet lag can also be due to shift work, daylight saving time, altered day length. They are known as desynchronosis, dysrhythmia, dyschrony, jet lag, or jet syndrome.

The condition of jet lag may last many days and depends on individuals. People who normally stick to a rigid daily routine, are often the worst sufferers. People whose normal lives involve highly varied routines can often adjust their circadian rhythms better, and adapt to a disruption of normal eating and sleeping patterns. People who sleep easily can also cope better with the adjustment. The intensity of the condition of jet lag also depends on the number of time zones cross. For people flying across only one or two time zones, they may be able to adjust without noticeable effects of the time change as compared to others who are flying across three or more time zones.

Direction of flight will also determine how intense the condition of your jet lag will be. There seems to be some evidence that traveling west to east is the more disruptive. Travelers flying east "lose" time. This disruption to their body clocks affects their meals, sleep, bowel habits, and other daily routines consequently. Travelers flying west "gain" time and usually have an easier time adjusting than eastward travelers.

Symptoms of Jet Lag:

The symptoms of jet lag can be quite varied, though on the whole, an individual may experience the following:


  • Dehydration: Jet lag sufferer may experience dehydration and the dry air in aircraft may make it even worse. It is advisable to drink plenty of water. Water is better choice than coffee, tea and fruit juices. Drinking of alcohol is strictly not advisable as it is not only useless in combating dehydration, but also has an intoxicating effect in an aircraft environment.

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and/or upset stomach

  • Headaches and/or sinus irritation

  • Fatigue: Becoming tired and disoriented for days after arriving. Lack of concentration and motivation, especially for any activity that requires some effort or skill, like driving, reading, or discussing a business deal. But even simple activities can become harder. And your ability to really enjoy that vacation is significantly reduced.

  • Disorientation and/or grogginess: Long haul flights can get very tiring toward the end, not to mention the process of going through customs and immigration and then getting to your hotel. "Losing their coolness" is one symptom reported by flight crews.

  • Insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns

  • Mild depression


  • 5 Tips to Cope with Jet Lag

    Below are some tips which you can use to help you cope with jet lag:

    1. Pre-flight: Try to relax and not be too excited or concerned about your trip. Staying in shape also helps you to cope better with jet lag. Whether you are traveling are not, it is always important to stay in tip-top physical condition and that will mean plenty of rest, exercise and eating right. And remember to get a good night of sleep prior to departure.

    2. Drink Plenty of Water: As mentioned above, to prevent dehydration, it is important for you to drink plenty of water during the flight. It is advisable not to drink alcohol or even caffeinated beverages before, during, or just after the flight as they not only cause dehydration, but also disrupt your sleeping schedules.

    3. Move around on the plane: While seated during your flight, exercise your legs from time to time. For example, moving your legs up and down and back and forth, bending your knees or standing up and sitting down etc. You may also want to take a walk in the aisle every hour or two. This not only prevents blood clot in the legs (which may lead to death in serious cases), but also helps to reduce discomfort and refresh your body. Just don't do jumping jack in the plane, you have caused the plane to 'jump' too. In the event where there are stopovers, do get off the plane wherever possible to do some exercises or take a walk.

    4. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes: For once, looking good on the plane is not as important as feeling good. Make sure you are comfortably dress for the flight. Avoid items that pinch, restrict, or chafe. A good point to note is also to keep in mind the climate in your destination.

    5. Sleep aids: Blindfolds, ear plugs, neck rests and blow-up pillows are all useful in helping you get quality sleep while flying. Kick your shoes off to ease pressure on the feet (some airlines provide soft sock-like slippers, and many experienced travellers carry their own).

    A few words of cautious: some people use sleeping pills to alleviate jet lag. It is highly not advisable as sleeping pills induce a comatose state with little or no natural body movement, and it is well known that prolonged immobility during flight can lead to fatal blood clots (deep vein thrombosis). In addition, many so-called sleeping pills are variants of anti-histamines and they tend to dehydrate significantly, adding to the already significant problem of in-flight dehydration.

    Thus with proper planning of your flight in advance by taking notes of your flying direction (whether it is east to west or west to eat), time and coupling with exercises and diet and plenty of rest before the departure can alleviate jet lag. Wishing you a pleasant flight!

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