You can start your day by doing this simple exercise that combines aerobics, muscle-building, and Qigong:
Start by standing in the basic Qigong stance ( stand with arms akimbo and knees slightly bent ), then bring up both arms forward to the horizontal level ( hands in front at shoulder level ) and straighten your knees.
Now, swing both arms downwards and backwards as far as you can, bending your knees and breathing in at the same time. Next, swing your arms forward to the original position as you straighten your knees and breathe out. This completes one cycle. You can repeat as many times as you like.
Doing it slowly is Qigong. Doing it faster adds aerobics exercise. By bending the knees more, you strengthen the leg ( thigh ) muscles. You can try going down gradually to as low as the squatting position.
This is an excellent exercise to energize yourself upon waking up, or as a warm-up exercise before starting a proper Qigong or other exercise routine.
HEALING WITH RAW FOODS
Qigong and other healing arts are effective in maintaining health and reversing many diseases by supplying the healing energy ( qi, or its many other names ) that the cells need for their reparative mechanisms to work. This energy is different from the calorific energy ( that comes in loads in our cakes, candies, meats and fatty meals ) that we are all familiar with.
The food that we eat is meant to provide us with energy and nutrients. Apart from providing the caloric energy, food is also an important source of qi. But qi can only come from raw foods.
The different nutritional values of food are affected differently after the food item is separated from the living source, and further handled or treated in various ways. The food is denatured in some way or other by heat. Thus enzymes and some of the vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals are destroyed by heating and cooking. The best way to retain the nutritional value is to eat fresh, raw foods. And foods, taken whole, contain so many nutrients ( many yet unidentified ) that no supplements can hope to reproduce.
Realising this, many health enthusiasts have promoted raw food diets. The traditional Japanese diet is in fact rich in raw foods, and must be one of the reasons why the Japanese live the longest. The Japanese also popularized the macrobiotic diet, which emphasized eating much raw grains, greens, grasses, beans, roots, shoots, etc. There have been many testimonies of people benefiting from this diet, including many cancer survivors.
While those who were dedicated diligently planted their own macrobiotic ( and organic ) food sources, these are now easily available even in supermarkets. However, for many of us, the modern lifestyle excludes the routine preparation and cooking of such healthy meals on a regular basis. So apart from frequenting restaurants serving organic or macrobiotic food, it is difficult to have sufficient intake of a wide range of raw food nutrients.
The only raw foods most of us get are the fruits, and only some vegetables, since most of our vegetables are also cooked, and therefore, lose much of their nutritional value.
A German-trained Korean cancer specialist, Dr James Hwang, observed that his cancer patients tolerated the severe side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy better if they were given raw foods. They also recovered better. Seeing this, he started giving the raw foods as part of their therapy to recover from the cancers, not just from the side-effects of medical treatments. The results he achieved amazed him that he resigned from his post in the hospital so that he could rely more on this raw food-based therapy. He extended the use of raw food to treat other degenerative diseases as well.
To achieve the wide range of nutrients necessary for recovery from these diseases, he used many different foods, which included cereals, grains, herbs, beans, legumes, mushrooms, probiotics, green algae, ginseng and even royal jelly. To make it convenient for his patients to consume enough regularly, these foods are prepared in powder form for them to drink after mixing with water, milk or fruit juice.
I am relating this story because the benefits of raw foods can be formidable if combined with the healing power of Qigong. Cancer patients especially, stand to benefit a lot from this synergy. For the healthy, you may well be reminded that our lifetime risk of getting cancer is 1 in 4. I am sure that the benefits of raw foods also extend to preventing most degenerative and diet-related diseases.
GETTING FAT WITH FOOD
The excess intake of caloric energy is one of the main health problems of modern society. Whatever form of food ( carbohydrates, proteins or fats ) eaten can be broken down to their building blocks by our body, and be utilized for energy. As energy sources, fats are most rich since they provide twice the calories of carbohydrates or proteins.
In the normal situation, the body uses glucose as its energy source. This can be regarded as the body’s “cash” energy available for immediate spending. Indeed the brain uses only glucose.
Excess glucose is converted to glycogen, most of which is stored in the liver and muscles. This is the body’s “current account” energy which can be withdrawn once the glucose supply is depleted. But the body is mindful that this standby energy is always adequate for emergencies and future use. So the response to glucose depletion is hunger so that more energy is brought in through eating food, and the reserves are not touched.
However, for most of us, the excess energy input is more than sufficient to fill up our glycogen stores to the maximum, so that we start building up our “fixed deposit”, that is, our fat stores. Although fat is important and play major roles in all cells and in certain organs, especially the brain, what is bad is excess unhealthy fats. Like the bank fixed deposit, fat stores are difficult to lose because you have to chronically deplete your glucose and glycogen stores before the body starts burning the fats for energy. That is why the fat person is equally as hungry ( or even more so ) than the thin person, even though the former may have fat stores equivalent to fifty meals in calories. He finds it very difficult to skip meals due to the hunger despite his huge reserves.
When the excess fat accumulate in the organs ( visceral fat ), the risk of heart attacks is higher. Since there is correlation with the external abdominal fat ( central obesity ), measuring the waist-hip ratio is an important risk indicator. There are now gadgets that can measure the total body fat percentage, as well as the visceral fat distribution.
Persistent high carbohydrate ( especially simple carbohydrates which rapidly increase glucose levels ) and fat intakes will cause the insulin level in the blood to increase to cope with the load. After some time, the cells become less responsive to insulin, which then loses its ability to efficiently regulate glucose and fats. This condition of insulin-resistance is now recognized as the underlying factor for a group of health problems – hypertension, dyslipidemia ( high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and low level of good cholesterol ), hyperglycemia ( high glucose ) and obesity ( especially central obesity ). This “Metabolic Syndrome X” in turn leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers, many other degenerative diseases, and premature aging. Excess carbohydrate-fat intake is probably the mother of all diseases.
Many diet gurus have come out with their diet prescriptions. The current craze is the New Atkin’s diet which allows high protein intake while restricting the others. My prescription is – take plenty of fresh raw fruits and vegetables ( preferably organic, and limit the starchy veggies like potato ) so that there is not much room left for the excess carbohydrates and fats to creep in. So you have to eat your fruits and veggies first!
However, our real problem is not that we overeat, but that we under-exercise, such that the calories that come together with the nutrients we really need are too much and get stored as excess fat. So get moving!