By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
“Food is medicine,” said a doctor in a television interview recently. But of course, he was not the first to acknowledge that food is medicine.
Hippocrates, a Greek physician said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” more than 2,000 years ago. The Chinese culture has viewed food as medicine more than 5,000 years ago.
A healthy mind and body needs the nutrition of healthy foods. The rewards are plentiful and outweigh the instant gratification of junk food. Of course, the transition might be difficult if you are used to your own diet, but here are some suggestions and thoughts if you want to attempt a transition.
Two decades ago, I frequently got sick being publisher of the Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post. I decided I needed to make changes and it was necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle, so I can deal with work stress. The main focus that helped was watching what I ate. I needed a change. And it worked.
Sure, I indulge myself once in a while with unhealthy temptations. But now, those moments are rare and sporadic. Only during travel, when work is not on my radar, do I turn myself loose and treat myself to sinful pleasures like bacon and a deep-fried morsel of something equally delicious when it is not deep-fried.
For two years in a row, my family doctor gave me an “A” for my health report card. That means my blood pressure and my heart is in good condition. My Vitamin D, glucose, iron, cholesterol level, and everything else is normal.
For the past few years, I have developed my list of food for stress, and I consume the favorites diligently most of the time, if not every day. These are foods I enjoy, not foods I feel like I have to eat for the sole purpose of maintaining a healthy body (even though they do).
Yes, top of the list, but I must admit, this is my least favorite food for stress. To make myself like salmon, I experiment with preparation so I can tolerate it. I discovered that salmon head and stomach can taste fantastic. The head takes too much preparation, but the salmon stomach is doable.
Whenever I shop for salmon, I look for pieces which have the fatty white stomach attached. My family members save the stomach part for me, while they eat the rest of the fish. I get the most fatty, but the best part of the salmon.
Chocolate is known to be a mood enhancer. However, dark chocolate is not for everyone at first.
It is an acquired taste. After munching on it for four months, I really enjoy it. I prefer the kind with 75 percent dark chocolate. Anything over 80 percent tends to be bitter and expensive, too.
Dark chocolate not only makes you happy, it is an antioxidant as well.
White chocolate, milk chocolate, or chocolate with caramel coating, I will probably pass on. Too much sugar and calories cause your body more harm than good.
When stressed, my body temperature rises, including my face, eyes, and head. Watermelon instantly cools me down, nourishes, and replenishes my well being. Most important, I don’t feel dehydrated. A piece of papaya also boosts my energy when I am tired.
Apples and bananas are considered to be “happy” fruits. I eat them every day to lift my spirits.
When I wake up in the middle of the night, I will drink a glass of apple juice. An hour later, I will fall asleep again.
Green grapes are my dessert after dinner.
Grapes aid digestion. Interestingly, even though I don’t really like red or black grapes, I found out they will give the body more resveratrol, which is known to increase longevity.
Most people know that if you can’t sleep, try a glass of hot or warm milk. here is a chemical in milk that helps you relax. I don’t use milk to entice my sleep. Instead, I have hot milk with cereal to increase my energy for the morning.
When I feel energetic, I am in a good mood. Besides, milk consists of calcium and protein, which helps to build strong bones, muscles, and teeth.
I love the calming effect of green tea. Usually, I end my breakfast with one cup of green tea.
Why? Because green tea extract should not be taken on an empty stomach due to the potential for liver toxicity from excessive levels of epigallocatechin gallate, according to drugs.com. Although it is recommended safe for 3-5 cups a day, one cup is good enough for me. And I only take it in the morning, so it won’t affect my sleep at night.
Every day, I consume my brain food, which supports brain function. My list is filled with nuts, one egg, cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric. Nuts, including cashews, almonds, and pistachios, are considered to be “happy” nuts, and I use them as my snacks. I put cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric powder on my egg. These powders make my egg tasty and they also are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon can stimulate your sense of smell and your brain. Turmeric is a property inside curry powder. Studies have found that Indians who consume much curry have less experience with Alzheimer’s disease than other countries.
I don’t like curry, but I don’t mind turmeric. I have added it to my diet last year. It actually gives more flavor to my egg.
I like to begin my day with vitamin B12. It strengthens my nervous system. It helps me to tackle the challenges of the day. I have felt the difference after taking it for the past five years. When I discontinued it for a while, my blood pressure jumped.
The list of food for stress is long. For example, some recommend avocados and asparagus. I dislike asparagus, so it’s never on my dinner table. Avocados mix well with salads. My family eats them once to thrice a week.
If you can’t afford foods like dark chocolate, no worries, you can find ways to release stress without cost, such as exercise.
Another alternative, according to Lord Byron, an English poet, “Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.” (end)
Pictures taken in this blog are from the 2015 Vegfest. Taken by Assunta Ng/NWAW
The 2015 VegFest this past Saturday and Sunday at Seattle Center was a huge success. The popular annual festival offered over hundreds of samples of vegetarian and vegan-friendly foods. There was also free blood pressure screenings, BMI counts, artery analysis, and glucose level counts.