Another year has passed, and I also celebrated my 50th birthday recently. This is a significant mark for us Malaysians as many of us start getting into major health problems ( heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and others ) in our fifties. This is not a good reflection of our health, as people in many other countries only start getting these chronic diseases in their sixties or beyond. We have advanced by leaps and bounds in our infrastructure. Our skyscrapers and physical comforts are comparable to the developed countries, and we are catching up fast in technology and other spheres. It is about time we also invest more on our health so that we Malaysians become fit and healthy, and are not burdened by so much expenditure and lost productivity due to health problems.


Over 1/3 of Malaysians above 50 have hypertension; over 1/3 are overweight or obese; and about 1/3 have abnormal fat profiles ( high bad cholesterol and/or high trigycerides ). Another 15% have diabetes. Over 1/3 have 2 or more of these problems. Already over 50% of Malaysians above 50 are on some daily medication for these and other problems. And over 60% of the men smoke.

Over 100,000 are expected to get heart attacks this year. Nearly 50,000 will get cancer and another 40,000 will be stricken by stroke. While many deaths from heart attacks and stroke can be avoided due to advancements in medical care, the deaths due to cancer continue to rise because success in treating cancer continues to be dismal. Over 5,000 are expected to die from cancer.

While the Ministry of Health has been very proactive in educating the nation and promoting healthy living, more needs to be done because our economic progress also brings along many health problems. Affluence means less physically-active work, and more reliance on unhealthy pre-cooked meals and fast foods. For example, in USA, the overweight/obesity in adults increased from 45% to 65% from 1960 to 2000. Obesity is the mother of many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. It is not surprising that these diseases have become insurmountable.

The trend is happening here as we are also on track towards becoming an affluent nation. As the nation gets fatter, it also gets sicker. Diabetes, in particular, is increasing at such an alarming rate in this region that experts have already declared that the diabetes pandemic will eventually kill more people than even the bird flu pandemic ( if it happens ).

Industrialization and modern living also mean exposure to pollution and synthetic chemicals, many of which are dangerous and have already heavily polluted our bodies. An Environmental Working Group USA ( report in July 2005 revealed that the cord blood of 10 newborn babies studied had 287 pollutants (average 200), of which 217 are toxic to the brain/nervous system, 208 can cause birth defects in humans and animals, and 180 are carcinogenic in humans and animals. They certainly were born by polluted mothers!

It is obvious that a drastic change is needed. We can contribute to that change by starting with ourselves.


Advances in health continue to deluge us as the world attempts to confront the myriad of old and new diseases. Previous knowledge has often been found inadequate or even erroneous. Better understanding of health issues will continue to change the advice given, and make more effective preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic methods available.

On a personal basis, you should continue to keep yourself abreast of health reports, articles, journals and documentaries. You should be health conscious for your own good. Try to participate in seminars, workshops and retreats to learn health tips hands-on from experts, and also discover that learning about health and becoming healthy can also be loads of fun. After all, laughter is still the best medicine.


I am convinced that a major reason why we age too fast and get cancer is the high load of toxins we allow into our body. The above report about newborn babies being contaminated proves this point. While we try to drink filtered or treated water, we have less control over the air we breathe. But we must still attempt to have clean air in our homes and offices. Fortunately, good air filtration and treatments systems are becoming more affordable and I recommend that all homes and offices be equipped with one.

However, we can do much more in preventing the toxins from getting in through our food. I implore that you educate yourself about the usefulness of using the water-ozonizer to clean your fruits, veggies, meats and rice before storing, cooking or eating. I have repeated this often because many people are still not aware of the importance of removing contaminants from their food. For those with cancer, this is a must.


Another major reason for our premature aging, chronic diseases and cancer is the lack of nutrients. In my opinion, most of us are deficient in many important nutrients, which collectively cause our cells to malfunction as the years go by. Although by current definitions, the levels may be “adequate”, the problem lies in defining what are the levels required to promote optimum or excellent health. Current guidelines only define the minimum levels required to prevent deficiency states or disease.

Although it has been only 2 years since the medical fraternity officially acknowledged that vitamin and mineral supplements are beneficial to health, it does not mean that the supplements became necessary only since their official proclamation. Health enthusiasts have been advising supplementation for many years.

I am among those who advocate maximal supplementation, within safe limits, and with cost-effectiveness considerations. However, there is plenty of debate over these issues – Why supplement? Which supplements? How much (dose)?

The most common health supplement is vitamin C. Let us take this as an example. The USRDA ( United States Recommended Daily Allowance ) for vitamin C has just been raised from 60mg for adults to 90mg for men and 75mg for women. Since 1 orange has about 50mg of it, and many other fruits and veggies also have it ( many actually have more of it than oranges ), most of us would be getting enough from our diet, if we were to follow this guideline.

The late Dr Linus Pauling ( two-time Nobel Laureate ) advocated taking mega-doses of vitamin C to prevent and fight diseases. He took about 6,000mg daily despite criticisms by others. His prescription continues to be controversial, but more and more doctors are following in his footsteps. Some doctors in other countries are using up to 100,000mg (IV) to treat cancer and other chronic and “incurable” diseases.

So how much do we really need? It seems that most people don’t believe the US health experts either, because almost all vitamin C supplements for adults now come in 500mg or 1000mg tablets or capsules! That’s way above 90mg.

Perhaps we should learn from animals. Virtually all animals, except for some primates (monkeys and apes), guinea pigs and a few fruit-eating birds and bats, not only manufacture vitamin C every day, they manufacture a lot of it. A typical animal manufactures 50mg or more of vitamin C per kilogram of body weight every day. By this guideline, a 70kg man needs 3,500mg and a 50kg woman needs 2,500mg of vitamin C daily. I follow the brilliant Dr Linus Pauling and take 6,000mg ( 1,000mg acid-free vitamin C every 2 hours ) daily. Equip yourself with information. Get advice from health experts you trust. Then you make your own choice.

That’s just about vitamin C. What about other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy oils, DNA, fiber, enzymes, probiotics, hormones, phytonutrients and other nutrients? Experts differ on these too. There are certainly a lot more you should know.


My New Year advice would not be complete without a reminder to charge your body with Qi. As I research more on the scientific basis of energy-medicine, I begin to be more convinced that Qi is in fact the net total combination of all the different energies that exist in our body. We have evidence that low electric currents can heal, and in Beijing, I had the chance to learn that high currents can also heal. Electromagnetism, radiofrequency (RF), magnetic resonance, radiation ( X-rays and others ), laser, ultrasound, infrared, light, heat and various other energy modalities can all be used to improve health and treat diseases ( and also for diagnosis ). These energy methods are also increasingly being used for beauty treatments.

Our body survives and thrives on these energies ( each existing in small but appropriate amounts, though some are toxic even in small doses ), and together they are correctly called life-force or Qi. The mind has the capacity to take charge of these various energies and regulate the flow through the body’s energy channels. Qigong is the art of harnessing this composite energy (Qi) to sustain and improve health, and to reverse disease, if present.

If you witness Qigong masters causing movements in other people, you will be convinced that there is indeed this energy that can be transferred. Even paralysed limbs can be made to move, and sometimes even slowly recover.


Among the advances in Medicine that we are very thankful for is that of tissue and organ transplantation. Many thousands have had their sight restored through corneal transplants, and many also had their lives saved by kidney transplants, and a fewer number saved by heart transplants. Several also had liver transplants. However, many more critically ill patients are on the long waiting list for transplants due to the lack of donors.

I was fortunate to celebrate Muhammad Fikri’s 15th birthday with him and his family before his recent successful heart transplant, and join the nation in praying for his speedy recovery. But there are many more out there whose lives will drastically change for the better if only we Malaysians are more caring and pledge our organs should we die and our organs remain healthy and be useful to others.

My entire family ( including my 4 year old daughter ) have all pledged our organs, and I hope you all will follow too. Please add that to your New Year resolution list.

My health resolution is to keep a healthy diet and lifestyle, and exercise everyday. I will continue with an hour of Qigong daily ( including Qigong in my ritual prayers ). I hope to remain young and healthy always, and I look forward to another 50 healthy years!

I wish you all a healthy and prosperous year.


Dr Amir Farid Isahak
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