The China Study

fruits and vegetablesIn the last week, I have read two articles on the benefits to health of going on a meat free diet. They were both interesting articles: one from the Straits Times on “The healing power of food” by Cheong Suk-Wai and the other an e mail sent to me by “Journeyman”. They made me think, “Should I go vegetarian?”

The first article was about an author’s visit to Singapore and the book he wrote which became a New York Times bestseller in 2005. The book was a culmination of 12 years of interpretation of the extensive interviews with 6,500 Chinese in China and Taiwan about their dietary habits in the 1980s to examine the link between diet and cancer. The China Study was a thorough research he did together with Chinese researcher, Chen Junshi, and it costs S$3.3 million and many man hours. “The study found that, among other things, eating mainly plants and whole-grains not only reduced one’s risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but also raised one’s chances of beating them too. In addition, if you want to be fighting fit into your dotage, you should not eat more than 20 per cent fat daily.”

The inspiring part is that the author, nutritional biochemist Professor T. Colin Campbell, of Cornell University, practices what he now preaches, as he has been eating fruits and vegetables almost exclusively for the past 30 years and so also his wife, their five children and five grandchildren.

The second article was written on 17 May 2009 and I have reproduced it in full below. It is titled, “How Dr Wu rid himself of cancer with a vegetarian diet”, by Anjira Assavannonda.

Over the years I have observed that those of the older generation who were born and raised in China and immigrated here seemed to live longer and have the resilience to bounce back in a bout of serious illness. They don’t die easily. Could it be that their economic state restricted their diet to mostly grain and vegetables and fruits? I myself recall that in my growing years roasted chicken was served only on¬† special occasions like Chinese new year’s eve, and meat was not so freely served on the table in the quantity or quality or variety we see today. Certainly with improved standards of living, my children have consumed more animal protein than my generation did four or five decades ago.

I am sort of convinced of the general conclusion pointed to by the research findings of the China Study and the anecdotal testimony of the second article. Its not anything new: but they reinforce what we already know, but have found unpalatable and have never really implemented in our daily diet. Most of us take the line of George Dennision Prentice, who said, “What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn’t much better than tedious disease.” We sort of prefer to eat whatever we want (often tasty and laced with what’s forbidden) rather than be continually anxious about searching for wholesome food (usually not as tasty) in a hawker center or restaurant.

As Christians we regard our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit, a gift from our Creator that we need to steward with faithfulness. And so we raise our eyebrows or point the accusing finger when we see a Christian smoking and filling his sacred space with nicotine and tar. But when others eat food laden with salt, cholesterol, and dripping in unholy oil, we hardly show any concern or distress. Not that I want any Christian to do that while I am tucking into some delicious Singapore chili crab or nasi beriyani. But I am simply giving an example of the generous concessions we make in order to satisfy King stomach.

When it comes to food, our favorite word is “moderation” as it gives us a blanket approval to allow for all kinds of food, pleasant to the eye and good to the taste. I have met only a very few good men whose diet and self-control I respect greatly. How I wish I can go to the lengths that they go in order to consume wholesome and good food for their bodies. Can I live with a low-salt and low-oil and a no-sugar diet even though there isn’t any imminent threat of certain death overshadowing me? Can I go vegetarian? I cannot say Yes with gusto nor confidence. However, I do want to move in the general direction prescribed by the two articles, but …….moderately. ūüôā

“How Dr Wu rid himself of cancer with a vegetarian diet” by Anjira Assavannonda

At the age of 30, Chinese doctor Tom Wu was diagnosed with advanced stages of lung cancer, and was told he had only a few months to live.

However, Dr Wu, who recently spoke with Mylife, has already reached 70 years old, and to our surprise, he still looks like a young and healthy man in his 50s.

Not only has he survived, but the doctor has maintained a healthy life. The cancer is all gone, and he said he’s never caught a cold or other illness for 40 years.
He has stopped going for blood tests.

“My body and feelings tell me I’m well, that I’m truly in good health,” says Dr Wu.

His secret lies in the power of natural healing
. Dr Wu always says that no wonder drug can cure diseases. But our own internal healing power, our immune system, can. And what can strengthen our immune system are simple foods from Mother Nature, and a healthy lifestyle.

In his view, diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease can be overcome by changing the diet.

Dr Wu says people get sick because they eat the wrong foods. Fried food, for example, causes blockage in the arteries, bad circulation, cholesterol, and heart disease.

“Instead of taking a cholesterol lowering drug, I would urge them to stop eating greasy food. My suggestion is to eat clean food, which is high in phytochemicals,” he says.

Phytochemicals are natural cleansing agents that will help rid plaque from your arteries. They come from natural foods such as vegetables, fruits with their seeds, and common garden herbs. Phytochemicals will nourish the body’s cells so they can fight against any foreign substances that invade your body.

Dr Wu’s outstanding contributions to the development of natural medicine earned him the “World Famous Doctor Award” from the UN in 2001, and the “Best Wellness Doctor of the World” award from India ‘s World Wellness Open University in March.

The secrets of how he won the fight against lung cancer and maintains a healthy body are revealed in his first book, Dr Wu’s Principle of Natural Cures,which has recently been translated from its original Chinese version into a Thai edition, Thammachart Chuay Chewit, published by Nanmeebooks Publications.
It was launched in Thailand in March.

Dr Wu says what’s written in the book is unique and easy to understand because “the author is both the doctor and the patient himself”.¬† All the ideas and guidelines suggested in the book come from his own experience as well as what he has learned from his patients.

Dr Wu turns to natural medicine.

Dr Wu had first studied Western medicine in France , and then furthered his education in alternative therapy, earning a doctorate degree.

The turning point arrived when he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 30.  Modern medicine gave him no hope; it was too late  to remove the damaged parts of the lung. The cancer had already spread to other organs, and the doctor told him he had only a few months left.

In his despair, Dr Wu picked up the Bible and prayed to God. Then the Bible fell to the floor, and he read the page it opened to carefully.  The chapter talked about the days God created the Earth and everything needed for human beings. Then he created Adam and Eve,  and told both of them that plants, vegetables and seeded fruits growing on Earth have been provided for them to eat.

“I thought about what I had eaten in the past – meat, fish, fried and grilled food, sweet cake, but God simply wanted us to eat vegetables and sour fruits.¬† I was confused and doubted whether I would become weak if I ate too many vegetables and less meat,” says Dr Wu.

Yet he decided to follow the Bible’s guidance. He ate a lot of vegetables and fruits, drank clean water, and completely adjusted his lifestyle –¬† his sleeping, breathing and exercise habits.

Nine months later, he went for a check-up, and surprisingly no cancer cells were detected.

He advised people in his family and in the neighbourhood about his discovery, and studied natural medicine until he received a doctorate degree  in naturopathy and nutrition from the US .

Dr Wu has been a frequent speaker at worldwide forums, spreading his knowledge on natural cures and the use of organic food.  He advises people to use the most simple foods in the most natural way in order to fight illnesses and maintain good health.

The human body has the power to heal itself. The immune system has a self-defence mechanism to block and destroy bacteria or viruses that invade our bodies, while the self-healing mechanism will get us back on the road to recovery.  When you have a cold and take medicine, the medication may kill the virus but your immune system will not fully function, and its efficiency will decrease. As a result, your body will be more vulnerable to germs.

Dr Wu’s principle is to strengthen the immune system, and avoid medication as much as possible. In his book, he offers the following guidelines to good health:

1. Have at least three bowel movements a day.

Other health experts may advise one bowel movement a day, but Dr Wu says that’s not enough. You need three to four bowel movements a day in order to excrete all the accumulated faeces from your intestine. Your liver will not be overburdened and it also helps reduce cholesterol in your body.

2. Drink at least three glasses of fruit or vegetable smoothies each day.

This is a way to ingest enough phytochemicals to strengthen the body’s cells and immune system.
Use not only the flesh, but also the skin and seeds of fruits and vegetables to make smoothies, as they are rich in phytochemicals.

Most of the fruit seeds have small amounts of cyanide which kill bacteria and viruses without damaging the body.

Actually the recommended smoothie diet is six glasses a day, two in the morning, one before lunch, two more in the afternoon, and one more before dinner.¬† However, if that’s too much, you may start with three glasses a day. Use a high powered blender (at least three horsepower) as it can release phytochemicals
from the fibre.¬†¬† It’s best to choose sour fruits like green or red apples, grapes, pineapples, kiwi and lime.

3. Sunbathe 30 minutes daily.

We often hear that the Sun’s UV rays will damage our skin, and many people apply sunblock before going out.

But Dr Wu says the opposite. He says the UV rays will help convert cholesterol underneath the skin into vitamin A which helps moisten the skin and prevent skin cancer, and also vitamin D that helps prevent colds, osteoporosis, and certain kinds of cancer.

“Therefore, use the Sun. Expose yourself to sunlight about one-half hour a day, at noon or another appropriate time based on your local climate. The Sun will make you healthier,” says Dr Wu.

4. Exercise 30 minutes a day.

Don’t exercise for more than 30 minutes. If you go beyond that, your body will be overworked.

“If you do it more than half an hour, that will become labour, not exercise. Your heart and your body will be working too hard,” he says.

5. Shower with hot, then cold water.

Try an alternating cold and hot water shower: Three minutes of hot water followed by 30 seconds of cold water, then repeat twice more.

This process will bring a rush of blood and energy to your body. It helps increase your immune system, blood circulation, and metabolism.

6. Drink a lot of water, in the correct way.

How much water you need to drink each day depends on your specific situation. If your office is air-conditioned, drinking six glasses of water a day is enough.
If your work involves lots of walking, you have to drink 8-10 glasses a day. If you work under the hot sun, then 10-12 glasses of water are required.

The way you drink is also important. The correct way is to sip it little by little, to give your body cells time to absorb the water. If you drink the whole glass down at once, your cells can’t absorb it all, and the water will be excreted as urine.

7. Eat according to your blood type.

Your blood type determines what you should eat. Eating the wrong foods will make you sick.

People with blood type O have to eat a certain amount of meat. If they eat only vegetables for a long time, their body won’t absorb all the substances they need to strengthen their immune system. The recommended diet for this group is 75% vegetables, 10% fruits, 10% meat, seafood and goat’s milk (avoid cow’s milk),
and 5% grains.

People with blood type A, however should avoid milk and meat, while increasing grains and fruits.

People with blood type B should also avoid meat, while those with blood type AB should avoid chicken and beef.

8. Eat according to your biological clock.

Every human being has a biological clock that tells us when to eat, sleep, and wake up. If you don’t follow your biological clock, the organs will lose their balance. Toxins and wastes won’t be excreted from your body, and soon you’ll get sick.

According to Dr Wu, the biological clock is divided into three phases.

From 4am to noon is the time for bowel movements, so in the morning you should eat foods with lots of fibre. Fruit and vegetable smoothies are recommended.

From noon to 8pm, your body will absorb food so lunch is the most important meal. A vegetable salad with grains is recommended. Fish or boiled eggs can be added to your lunch. Avoid meat at dinner as the amino acids in the meat will disturb your sleep. Try to finish dinner by 6pm.

From 8pm to 4am, the nutrients and energy from food will be distributed throughout your body organs. The golden time for your sleep is between 10pm and 2am, as your immune and self-healing system will function at its best.

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Escape to Tioman

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Off the east coast of peninsula Malaysia, are several beautiful islands, the largest of which is Pulau Tioman. I was blessed to be hosted by Roland Ng, and my daughter accompanied me on this escape from  Singapore. Sorry, did I make it sound like Singapore is a penal colony. The long weekend was a continuation of my vacation of lounging at home, wherever that happens to be:  sleeping, eating, idling, reading, watching, strolling,  reflecting, chatting and journaling.

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Roland had a few of his friends around, other owners of apartments in the Berjaya condotel: Eng Lock(whom my daughter observed a resemblance to Lee Kun Yew) and his brother James; Ron (ex SJI boy who remarkably still meets up with his classmates once a month), and Alan.

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It was a joy to be with my daughter, Elaine. In the bus, on the beach, in the apartment, eating or talking or just being there. One evening   we conversed and walked down the whole 1.5km stretch of fine sand and surf to the restaurant just outside the gate of the resort where we had dinner. Come to think of it, it was good to get closer with my daughter, who has grown up more quickly than I wished, as in a matter of time we may not see her so often.

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The men went out on a boat to fish in the evening and returned at nine with fresh fish which Alan and Roland cooked and we had fish and rice, not fish and chips. We had so much fresh fish for two nights, I wonder if the Lord is trying to tell me something.

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The apartment we stayed in had a beautiful view of the sea and a tiny island. Alan, a real estate friend of Roland said it was better than the $4 million view of SC Global’s Sentosa apartments. I liked just looking out that balcony, standing and gazing, or sitting there with a cup of hot tea, eye on the distant horizon or sky or sea, hearing the sound of the rolling waves dashing against the rocks below, and feel the energetic and playful  breeze caress and massage me. I took in the sights and sounds and savoured it all greedily. Cool sea breeze, an enchanting view, and a good book was all I needed to feel relaxed.

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Restless in Cameron Highlands

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I began my annual leave with a week’s vacation in the OMF Bungalow, nestled just off the road that passes by the Strawberry Park hotel in the Cameron Highlands. This was not the first time I had stayed in this bungalow run for weary missionaries and pastors by the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. I had used it for prayer, silent and staff retreats, alone and with others, and it was the first time I was there supposedly to rest. I say supposedly.

my room for six nightsTo be honest I found it a struggle to rest. I had left Singapore, but Singapore had not left me. The restless engine of mind and heart, though emptied of energy, was still running and the hood warm, for even as I settled into my room, the spirit of productivity, raised its insistent voice and demanded an answer, “What are you going to accomplish during this time of rest?” ‘Do’, ‘accomplish’, ‘achieve’, ‘goals’, ‘results’ were words that reverberated in my mind. Even vacation contorted into a task, a performance, a work with benchmarks to attain. My weak reply was, “I am here to rest, not to follow a schedule or plan. Why can’t I idle, do whatever I felt like, or just waste time, you know, just waste time and vegetate?”

As the slow lazy days passed, I realized how futile a reply it was, for into the third day and near the end of the week , I again found myself pulling the emergency handbrake to stop businesslike cost-benefit questions. Surely I am not the only Singaporean who have had to wrestle down guilt and the Protestant work ethic during a vacation. Time is precious, and we are to maximize it even on vacation! So Singaporeans cram as much activity as possible into their already packed plans. I was determined to rebel; I wanted to do whatever I please and let spontaneity reign. And so I did, or at least tried to do.

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I slept whenever I felt like it, and it was more than usual. I read stuff on design, storytelling, manhood, and started on a novel, The Shack, providentially given by James Tan, another pastor from Singapore who was there with his wife, Kim Eng. I picked up a book titled Travel Mercies from the OMF Reading Room and sauntered through its pages over two cold evenings. I napped on most afternoons. I finished two Japanese TV serials on DVD, Kurosagi, a manga-adapted character who is a swindler of swindlers in eleven predictable plots; and Arifureta Kisaki, a slow-cooker of a love drama about secrets and openness, solidarity and community. I also squeezed in the riveting Frost/Nixon movie, a gem by Ron Howard. I feasted on the mountain views, and sat out in the spacious garden, to stroll, reflect, read, idle, pray and journal. I listened to Kevin Kern, Rod Stewart, Norah Jones and worship instrumentals. I enjoyed two inspiring messages of Bill Johnson.

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On a Sunday morning, we went down to Tanah Rata, and spontaneously took a three hours detour to view the Robinson Falls and trek farther into the forest, till tiredness and good sense bid us to return without completing the route. Good sense because one of us was Malaysian front page news thirty years ago when he got lost while trekking in the forest with a missionary family, and was found by orang asli, after soldiers and Gurkhas failed to find them. We then returned to the Bungalow for lunch without even walking the main street of probably the most touristy of the Cameron hamlets.

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My red letter moments were many. There were no burning bushes of audible voice nor great wonder. But there were those moments when my heart burned with his loving thoughts, and I just knew the Lord was planting faith in my heart. These happened in conversations with my new acquaintances and friends. Certain insights, phrases, testimonies that were shared, were divinely alighted with the Father’s loving touch.

dining areaI was game and went along with pastor James on a low-salt, low-oil menu and surprisingly I cruised along without regret or withdrawal symptoms, largely because of the life-giving and interesting conversations over fresh vegetables and steaming hot coffee and crunchy home-baked cookies, and good company, which included, Rod Lam, a South African OMF missionary based in Hong Kong. Our meals often stretched into two, three hours affairs and we ranged from missions, living by faith, pastoring, spirituality, and theology to African coffee and cookie cornerpolitics, psychology, culture, books, counselling, health, dying well and family. I was also blessed by the visit of a church friend, Chua, who is an oil palm smallholder in Gua Musang, a growing town in the heart of Kelantan, where Nik Aziz the PAS spiritual leader resides. He drove about two hours and stayed two nights in Tanah Rata and we had many hours of faith-inspiring sharing of what God is doing in our lives, families and churches. It was in conversations like what we had that the Lord underlined certain insights and thoughts for further reflection and listening. Like the confirmation of what God had been saying to me through a providential conversation with Therese, the owner of The Lord’s Cafe at Tanah Rata. Its a spirituality of community: the Lord came alongside, like he did with the two on the road to Emmaus, and used something said to burn my heart with holy faith.

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The still and quiet times beside “still waters” when I listened to the Father’s song over me were unforgettable. To have seen how he saw me in His love was very affirming and liberating. He used a huge tree in the large compound to show me how he viewed me. Even more than Jesus, I needed to hear the Father’s song again and again all throughout my life journey,”You are my son, whom I love, and with whom I am well pleased.” It was a song of comfort, freedom, affirmation, passion and grace.

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Am I more rested now? I suppose so.

However my sense is that I probably need a sabbatical, not just a vacation. ūüôā

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