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On Junk Foods
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My five-year old son, Ralph, keep asking these past few days if the food he is about to put inside his mouth is junk food. This is after his teacher told the class never to eat junk food because it will make them "smaller". If my answer was "Yes", he would not eat the food. He would ask me then what makes the food junk.

Junk foods do not make kids smaller. They are junk because they contain no or very limited amount of nutrients needed by a child to support his normal growth and development. They have very limited nutritional value hence, they cause growth stagnation with habitual intake at the expense of more nutritious foods. They are very appealing to kids because they are easily available - can be bought even in school canteens and sari-sari stores - and they are very affordable.

According to the Philippine Pediatric Society and Wellness Institute of Consumer Health, junk foods include:

1. All dry, extruded or expanded cereal based snack foods such as curls, chips, and crunchies.

2. Foods sold in fast-food restaurants such as donuts, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, French fries, and spaghetti.

3. Carbonated beverages, soft drinks, and artificial fruit drinks

4. Processed foods high in sugar and fat containing no protein such as candies, chocolates, and jellies

Oooppss!
I think I'm guilty of #2. I never considered this group as junk because they contain significant amounts of calories, proteins, fats, and nutrients. My family and I once in a while indulge with these kinds of foods. I see nothing wrong with that. They become junk maybe when these are the only food that we eat regularly. But if we make rational food choices and eat a wide variety of food everyday then surely we can attain the best nutrition.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 3:17 PM   2 comments
Exercise, the Best Medicine?
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Somebody gave me an old copy of Newsweek (April 2007)while waiting for my Clinical Anatomy class to start the other day. What caught my attention was an article regarding exercise boosting our brain functioning. We've known for years that exercise makes the body stronger, strengthens our immune response, and helps in the prevention of many diseases, most especially cardiovascular disease. It also is an important factor for diabetic individuals. But it is my first time to read something associating it with brainpower.

It was actually a study done on kids (3rd to 5th graders) in the University of Illinois. In this study the kids undertook a statewide standardized test on Math and Reading after they were subjected to classic Physical Exercise routines. And the result showed that the fit ones performed better. Although the result of this study is not yet definitive enough, I see nothing wrong if we advocate this not only to kids but to everybody in general. This is the reason why teachers in that area of the world are pushing on making PE class a daily routine (at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise) for kids.

In another study, researchers found out that individuals who undergone a three- month aerobic workout regimen resulted in a faster and more efficient brain functioning. They noted increase in growth of new neurons particularly those in the area controlling learning and memory. So, I think this will lessen memory gap and the forgetfulness we encounter as we age if we only subject ourselves to exercise for life. Yes, it should be for life and not just within a few months. The moment we stop exercising, the new nerve cells will shrink again and will not function as well anymore. And its not just any kind exercise. They recommend aerobic cardiovascular exercise.

The paper says that the effects of exercise are long-lasting to brains that are still developing. It also says that on studies, it has been shown that the risk of developing Alzheimer's are less to those individuals who exercise regularly. How wonderful. Is exercise then the best medicine? I think it is. We only need to discipline ourselves to do it regularly.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 5:18 PM   0 comments
Sunday Cooking
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Daisy, the fish vendor selling me kilos of fresh fishes came in this morning. I used to buy from her kilos of different kinds of fishes which her husband caught the night before on any day of the week. As long as there's a catch, she brings them to me. This set-up shuns me from going to the market on Sundays. After 2 days of heavy rains there is no catch, according to her. In order to earn during these times she has to do buy and sell. She buys from Dagupan City market and sells them in our own public market. What she brought me this morning are shrimps.

Me and my family are fish lovers. I always see to it that there's plenty in the freezer to last us one week. We love them cooked paksiw or sinigang. For sinigang we alternate using green mango, sampalok, kamias, or kalamansi to turn the broth sour. Sometimes we fry the fish especially if there's vegetable to accompany it. On most days of the week our menu consisted of fish and vegetables. Oftentimes meat is served only on Sundays.

I had my grocery last night and that included the beef for lunch today. But Daisy was pressuring me to try her shrimps. She even gave me a recipe to cook for the shrimps. So I gave it a try and it tasted so good! Though I rarely post a recipe on my blog I decided to share this for the moms who love to cook shrimps for their family. I forgot to ask her though for the title. Maybe we can call it "Shrimp in Pineapple Tomato Sauce" or "Shrimp Casserole" (photo below).


Here is the recipe:
Ingredients:
1 kilo shrimps, tentacles removed, washed, and drained
2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small can pineapple tidbits
1 small sachet tomato sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Procedure:
1. Melt the margarine in a pan. When hot saute the garlic then add the shrimps and saute until the color of shrimp turns pink.
2. Add the pineapple tidbits and tomato sauce. Mix gently, cover and simmer under low heat.
3. Allow time for the shrimp to absorb the sauce, uncovering once in a while to turn the shrimps.
4. Add the sugar and salt according to taste. Mix. You may add freshly ground pepper if you want.
5. Serve immediately. Enjoy your meal!

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 5:38 PM   4 comments
Time to Relax
Sunday, August 05, 2007
I've been so busy these past days. With so much work to do, I had to wake up on wee hours of the morning just to finish my work - test papers, grades, lectures, patients, home management. There's just too much to do with too little time.

I guess my body is complaining now. I woke up this morning not feeling good. My eyes don't want to open, my body doesn't want to move. Maybe I caught a virus or bacteria? No, I don't think so because I don't even have a fever. It's just a headache. I think it's just fatigue.

My mind was telling me to get moving! There's no room to relax. There's lots of work. But my body doesn't want to respond.

I was physically dragging myself to move so I can join my family at the breakfast table. I'm just glad it's Sunday. I don't have to worry of getting somewhere. I spent a longer time than usual eating breakfast and chatting with my husband. There's just too many stories to tell when both of you work and are exposed to meeting people.

I spent the entire Sunday morning with my kids while they were studying and doing assignments. I'm glad they are performing very well in school. Studying has become a habit every night even without me telling them. I guess not allowing them to watch TV or computer games on school days contributed a lot.

I spent the rest of the day in bed. I just treasured the hours of not having to do anything. My loving husband told me not to get up. " Just sleep", he said, and I agreed.

I'm feeling much better tonight. It was good to have a time to relax.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 5:43 PM   0 comments
Self-righteous People
Friday, August 03, 2007
With my job, I meet lots of people everyday. In my clinic, I see to it that I'll be accommodating to all of them - med reps and patients from all walks of life. Outside my territory, I make it a point to smile and show respect especially when I'm entering new grounds. But still, some people are so self-righteous that they show no amount of consideration.

What am I driving at?

I work as a school physician and part-time faculty in one Nursing school here in Dagupan City. I know of my duties and responsibilities even before I set foot in any of their classrooms. I know that I have to be in school at 8AM on Saturdays and should not leave until after 5 PM.

Being the early bird that I am, I always arrived 30 minutes ahead of time. I had to stay up to past 6PM or until the mass in the school chapel, which I regularly attend together with my family, ends.

August 21, 2007. It was the preliminary examination. I had to divide my morning lecture class into two groups to avoid overcrowding inside the room. I gave each group 1 1/2 hours to finish the exam. Same was true with my afternoon class.

I stayed in the classroom up to 5PM checking test papers. I wasn't actually aware of the time. I hurriedly went down to the finance office to have my "time out". The computer is inside this office and the door was locked when I arrived there.

It was Saturday afternoon and all offices were already closed. I couldn't find a single soul to ask for help. I decided to go to the guards and ask for help. One of them told me to proceed to the chapel and wait inside. They are just going to inform me when they had opened the office. I obeyed and waited. Several minutes passed but no call from them.

Before the mass started at 5:15PM, I went again to check but I got the same response.

I was jittery during the mass. I'm always like this whenever there's something that I failed to do. After the mass, I went again to the guards but I did not see them in their post. I went again to the finance office but it was still close. It was late so I decided to go home.

July 28, 2007. I went to the finance office at 8AM to tell my story but the people I am supposed to talk with were still not around. Somebody told me that they don't come on time when the bosses are not around. So I proceeded to my lecture and decided to go back on my break time.

Finally, I was able to tell them my story. I was met with a stare that tore me down to my innermost person. They simply don't believe me. I felt like I was melting in their eyes. As if I was telling a lie!

I went back to the guards and told them what just happened at the finance office. They too seemed not to remember what happened on August 21. Oh, was I living in a nightmare? Was I hearing the right words from these people?

I teach because I just love doing it. For the people who really know me, they will agree that it is just my passion. I get paid from this job for only Php 130/hour. I am not complaining. Anybody will think that the amount I get from it is small but it is not the money that matters. The satisfaction I get from it is more than enough for me not to see - the fatigue and the little amount that I receive.

They may take away from me my salary because they don't believe I was there. But they can't take away the fulfillment that I get to be able to impart my knowledge to the younger generation.

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posted by Amelyn R. Rafael,MD @ 12:16 PM   0 comments
About Me

Name: Amelyn R. Rafael,MD
Home: San Fabian, Pangasinan, Philippines
About Me: Family Physician, and Associate Professor (Clinical Anatomy and Medical Physiology)
See my complete profile
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