[COLUMN] RP calamity

16PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. declared an extension of the state of calamity which former president Rodrigo Duterte initially proclaimed two years ago (in March 2020), in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country. Press Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the state of calamity, which expired on Monday, September 12 was extended by about three months, “primarily to allow purchases and provide hazard allowances for healthcare workers.

The Philippines “is among the Southeast Asian nations that has imposed the longest lockdowns around the world, causing economic recession in decades and deepened poverty, hunger, and unemployment.” In spite of the infection rate, the authorities seem to be in a hurry to end, instead of maintaining, the mitigating strategies (masking, distancing) against COVID-19 viruses, while extending the state of calamity. Lowering the guards now might spell spikes and waves of infections.

Longevity extender

Like Ponce de Leon, we all want to find the fountain of youth and extend our longevity. Since life is wonderful, despite all the challenges and tribulations on our good earth, it is but natural for man to desire for a life that is longer than our current life expectancy, which in the U.S. is currently 79.05 years, and 71.53 years in the Philippines.

Researchers recently recognized that the drug Rapamycin is a potential anti-aging drug. This drug was named after the island where it was discovered in the late 1960s – Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (the Polynesian equivalent). It was isolated from bacteria living in the island soil which were found greatly effective in suppressing the immune system, and may slow skin aging in humans, effective against neurodegenerative illnesses, and extend the healthy longevity of some organisms.

But it is also known that long-term use of Rapamycin have undesirable side-effects, like any antibiotic. The question scientists are now wondering about is whether a short course of this drug prescribed early in life would provide anti-aging results over an entire lifetime of humans. Experimental laboratory results in animal studies are so far very promising.

Mocked for his obsessive search for the fountain of youth since 1513, Ponce de Leon in his grave must now be saying to us “I told you so!”.

Unhealthy foods

Processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods are linked to increased risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, and death (all-cause mortality), according to two new studies at the Tufts University, published in The British Medical Journal. Earlier research revealed that poor diet was associated with 20 percent (1 in 5) deaths worldwide, which could be prevented by a healthier diet. On the same issue, Italian scientists noted that people with the lowest quality diet and consuming the highest amount of ultra-processed food have an increased risk of both all-cause cardiovascular deaths.

If a food item has any single one of the following ingredients, it is an ultra-processed food: sugars, fats, and preservatives; additives designed to imitate natural unprocessed foods; flavor enhancers, colorings, and  ingredients made through the synthesis of various unhealthy food constituents, like maltodextrin, high-fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated fats. Hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and canned/bottled vegetables, meats and fruits are unhealthy processed foods.

Samples of ultra-processed foods include sodas (soft drinks), sweetened juices, sports and energy drinks, energy bars, powdered and instant soups, margarine, hamburgers, fries, mass-produced and packaged bread and baked goods made with hydrogenated fats, sugar, and additives, pre-prepared meals such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks, infant formulas, meal replacement beverages, mass-produced ice cream, candies, sweetened yogurt, etc.

Around 58 percent of American and more than 80 percent of Filipino diets are made up of unhealthy ultra-processed foods, causing metabolic syndromes (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, joint diseases, thyroid problems, gut illnesses, etc.

Protecting DNA

As I have underscored in my 800-page home health guide on healthy lifestyle and preemptive and proactive disease prevention (Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children, published by Xlibris, available at amazon.com and philipSchua.com), the best way to maximize health and longevity is by protecting the body’s DNA, starting from the womb and “dieting” to start in the crib, not when they are in grade school or later when their DNA has already been subjected to various insults to their health.

When the DNA is damaged, weakness in our health results and various metabolic illnesses creep in gradually, until we get to our 40s and the signs and symptoms start. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s…one by one, or any combination, as we get older.

The less red meat, the better for us. Fish and legumes (various color beans, chickpeas, peanuts, green peas, lentils) are good plant-based protein. We do not need red meat to survive. Vegetarians are healthy people. And don’t worry about muscle weakness. Many of the powerful animals are herbivores (elephants, cows, horses, carabaos, rhinoceros, and many dinosaurs, with massive strength).

Minus negative behavior and bad habits, a healthy lifestyle requires abstinence from tobacco, disciplined alcohol intake, a positive state of mind, and stress management. During this COVID-19 pandemic, part of our disciplined life strategy includes mitigating measures (masking, distancing, avoiding crowds where cases are high), and most importantly timely vaccination. At this juncture, the bivalent booster #3 or #4. This will greatly help protect our DNA too.

Flu shot lowers stroke

A clinical study recently showed that individuals who received the flu shot have 12 percent lower risk of a first stroke. The vaccine’s anti-inflammatory effect is postulated to be the reason for this side-benefit of the vaccine.

COVID-Flu shots?

Yes, the COVID-19 booster vaccines and the flu shot may be administered at the same time, one in each arm, according to experts at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. In the United States, the flu season occurs in the fall and winter, with the peak in the period between December and February, but this could last till May.

COVID-19 update

As of last Tuesday, September 13, 2022, there were 87,002 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 569 deaths, and 32,291 in the hospital. Only 68 percent of the people are fully vaccinated, so there are still more than 100 million unvaccinated. This large number of potentially virus spreaders will keep COVID-19 with us much longer, if not permanently. It is, sadly, most unfortunate.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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