Health

without too much technical terms, let us talk about health issues

OUNI ルクセンブルグのお店

OUNI shop front door

うちから歩いて3分。ほぼ毎日行く有機食品のお店。名前はウニという。See OUNI's Official Website (in English)

ルクセンブルグ語の ouni ウニは、ドイツ語の ohne、 フランス語の sans 、 英語の without にあたる。日本語で[・・・]なしに [・・・の]ない、を示す。野菜や果物やたまごがバラ売りされていて、プラスティック容器やビニール袋や廃棄物など要らざるものをできる限り、すべからくなくす。 「なし」がウニの名前の由来だ。

小麦粉やお茶も、オリーブオイルやバターも、お菓子やナッツ類も、洗剤もはかり売り。客は容器を持参し、自由に品物を選んでレジで払う。お店の棚に置かれた空き瓶に、入れてもよい。私の場合は・・・くるみチーズを切ってもらってから、容器を忘れたことに気づき、そのまま手持ちのネット編み袋に入れて持ち帰ったこともある。最初はまごついたが、2回目からは過剰包装がなく、すずやかな感じがした。

夕方たちよるのが楽しみで、お目当てはオーガニックのクロワッサンとパン。季節のくだものと野菜。秋にでまわるミラベル(飴色のが一般的だが、ブルーベリー色のもある)が好きで、reine-claude というスモモ種を見つけて毎日通うようになった。

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OUNI championing the organic packaging-free trend

OUNI front desk and team representatives

This is a little blog about OUNI, Luxembourg’s first packaging-free organic grocery store. Visit OUNI's Official Website. We eat their croissants nearly everyday (or at least 300 croissants a year), though we hardly get tired of eating them… their croissants are simply natural, yet profoundly tasty.

OUNI is a self-service shop, but also a social vision of making community a sustainable better place. I believe that the secret of OUNI’s popularity lies not merely in their concept and their fresh/environmentally friendly products. But also it lies in their positive atmosphere created via face-to-face interactions; the store generates a spirit of connectivity, trust, and shared responsibility for sustainability in the course of community life.

Thoughts on Jujitsu and defense

This blog is about training sessions of Belgian jujitsu club (30th anniversary) in Bastogne last June. More than 50 participants came from Swiss, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Japan (only two Japanese: Sensei and myself as a cultural facilitator/interpreter.)

護身術とディフェンス

護身術とディフェンス

6月の週末。日本から武術の先生がベルギーのバストーニュにいらっしゃった。先生にとっては、3泊5日!?という強行日程セミナー。会場に着くまでは5〜6人の集まりかと思いきや。スイス、フランス、ルクセンブルグ、ベルギーそして日本(日本人は先生と私のみ)の5カ国から50人強の武道家が集い、さらにその家族がとり巻き見守るという盛会ぶりだった。

(海外に誇れる良きものが日本にはあるのですね。こういう指導力こそ、クール・ジャパン戦略にすればよろしいのでは)

予定は半年前に知らされていた。先生は「英語」を話されるので、技の説明は大丈夫だけれども、会食時などになかつぎが要るようだった。つまりは「要通訳」という無言のプレッシャーを感じた。とりあえず、ほうじ茶だけ淹れて早朝ベルギーへ向かった。

普段は「畳の上ででんぐり返りして、何が面白い」などと思っているが、いざ目撃してみると……。かなり興味深い。廻転にも洗練を感じる。

師範の友人(写真下・地方テレビ局にインタビューを受ける彼)は、畳の上にあがると水を得た魚のようだった。技を教える横顔にも、満面におさえきれない笑みがひろがる。畳をかかえて、広々とした体育館の中をひょいひょいと弾んで歩く後ろ姿は、まさに少年のようである。いつもは、やや神経質な人だと思ってたのですがね。しかも子どもたちに慕われる先生でもあるようだ。「彼の説明は本当にわかりやすい。痛くもなくってね」「へえ〜。そうなの。私、あの人の友だちなの」と自慢したくなった。

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Health and Well-being

Last June 19 - 22 was Well-Being Week at the European Parliament and there were exhibitions and information sessions held to inspire and help people to be healthy and happy. June 21 was Music Festival not only in France and Luxembourg but in many parts of the world, and it made many people joyful. June 22 was UN International Yoga Day and it highlighted the useful contribution of yoga to humankind's healthy lifestyle that is harmonious with nature. In Luxembourg, the 23rd was a public holiday as it was the country's national day filled with festivities, food stalls, concerts, fireworks and merrymaking.

These were different events, but had similar goals, which were to inform, entertain and encourage people to relax and be peaceful -- important for our well-being. When we are happy and peaceful, we are stressed-resistant and our immune system functions favourably maintaining a healthy body and mind. My adult students recently did a class project on health and well-being, and concluded that “Healthy workplaces are positive and positive workplaces are healthy.”

You may argue that achieving a work-life balance isn’t easy as it doesn’t only involve you and there are issues beyond your control, such as a demanding job and/or boss. Rightly so, however, this one person (YOU) has choices. We can have positive daily work experience in the midst of deadlines, not-so-caring supervisor and uncooperative or annoying colleagues. At home, relationships can be improved by having open communication, by being honest and respectful, and by showing more empathy and understanding. We have different levels of optimism, but even a half-empty glass has a space that can be filled. If everyone contributes to filling this, it does not take long for it to be full again.

On the global level, The World Economic Forum (Matthieu Ricard) has identified 5 ways to improve health and well-being: (... Read more ...)

二週間でみた日本(3)最終回

年内に済ませておきたいことは、山ほどある。日曜の元日まで、いくら指を折って数えても、あと三日しかない。が~ん。

なので。ブログに書きたいことは山ほどあるのですが。またの機会にします。

写真はわが家のオーガニック蜂蜜。私の咳どめ用自然薬です。味わいはアカシア、オレンジ、タイム、フュメといろいろ。国籍もイタリア、ドイツ、フランス、マルタ、スロベニアといろいろ(残念ながら、ルクセンブルグと日本のは写ってない)。蜂蜜にそそぐお湯の温度も、一緒に添えるものもいろいろ(有機のレモン、しょうが、片栗粉など)。山のものは、熱いお湯に溶かしても大丈夫です。

ヨーロッパでも日本でも、風邪が流行っているようです。皆さん、お大事に。

よいお年をお迎えください。

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Healthy and wise

It was a rainy day in the morning of November 5, and there was already a queue at our local theatre hall. A young lady opened the door and helped me find the umbrella rack. She said, “I’ve never seen these many people eager to donate blood, especially on a gloomy day like this.” I remarked, “It might be the warmth and dryness that have brought them here.”

After over an hour of waiting and filling in the 4-page questionnaire, the doctor told me politely that I could not donate blood because I’m less than 50kg. I was surprised and disappointed thus as soon as I got home, I checked online to make sure that it had nothing to do with reasons other than weight.

Yes, it’s true that donors are required to have the minimum weight of 50kg for a minimum of 400ml of blood for the blood bag to contain the sufficient therapeutic dose (as the doctor had explained to me).

I was really looking forward to it that I had ample breakfast to help me avoid feeling unwell or fainting; consequently, I had to delay lunch.

The Etablissement Français du Sang – EFS (French National Blood Service) is responsible for the collection of all types of blood donation and takes all precautions to ensure that donations (whether they be whole blood, platelet, plasma, and bone marrow or cord blood) are done in high quality and safety conditions for both donors and receivers.

While queuing I heard that about 14% of the French population donate blood annually. People between the ages of 18 and 70 can donate blood. After the age of 60, however, all donations require the approval of an EFS doctor.

Expired Medication

There were more rainy than sunny days in my region last month. As in previous spring months, I took the pleasure organising not only my wardrobe but cabinets and cupboards. I was heartbroken putting outdated medicines in a paper bag. I thought of bringing these to the chemist (UK)/pharmacy (US) on my way to work, but the queue was half a kilometre long and my bus was about 5 minutes from departing, so I ended up bringing this with me to a nearby country (where I work) that does not legally obliged chemists to take unwanted or expired medicines.

Arriving in the classroom, the first thing I did was to ask my students if they knew of the nearby chemist that accept expired drugs. Co-incidentally, one of them actually took an expired aspirin that morning and she said that she had done this before and it was effective in getting rid of her headache.
The other two students asked me if we can still consume drugs after their use-by date. The Harvard Medical School has reported Psychopharmacology Today’s advice that a drug is absolutely 100% effective even when the expiration date has passed a few years.

According to Psychopharmacology Today, most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration for the military, and this study found that 90% of more than 100 drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter) were perfectly good to use even after 15 years of its expiration date (except nitro-glycerine, insulin and liquid antibiotics), and placing a medication in a cool place (such as a refrigerator) will help drugs remain potent for many years.

(Do you wonder about the role of manufacturers and those in the market chain regarding the use-by or expiration date?)

Consumption of dietary and vitamin supplements is cultural

Getting into a chemist (Oceania and the UK)/pharmacy (US) in Australia, you notice immediately the wide range of dietary and vitamin supplements occupying almost a third of the store. There are a variety of choices from A to Z of brands locally and internationally. But, in France and Luxembourg this is not the case. Often, you have to ask the staff for common vitamin supplements, such as Omega 3 and grape seed tablets, which are stocked between beauty products and medicines. In developing countries of Asia, Africa and Central & South America, these are highly unaffordable for most people. Surprisingly, however, the Nielsen study showed that Asians (and North Americans) lead the world in the usage of dietary and vitamin supplements with the highest levels found in the Philippines and Thailand (66% compared to 56% in the USA). Europe (30%) and Latin America (28%) had the lowest intake (France and Spain at the bottom: 17% and 13% respectively). The respondents' main reason for not taking vitamins was that "their diets were already balanced while those in Poland, Russia and the Baltic states felt that "it is too difficult to understand which product to use." (''North-America, Asia lead vitamin and supplement usage'').

It is known that, generally, Europeans have poor vitamin D. A comparative study of eating habits and calcium & vitamin D intakes in Central-Eastern European countries conducted by the Faculty of Health Sciences in Semmelweis University, Hungary headed by Dr. Katalin Tátrai-Nèmeth concluded that the highest calcium intake was in the Hungarian population while the lowest in Slovenia, and vitamin D intake was critically low in both of these countries. (''A comparative study of eating habits calcium and vitamin D intakes in the population'').

Beauty, Love and Health

Lately, I've been bumping into online photos of Pierce Brosnan (James Bond Golden Eye, Mamma Mia, TV series Remington Steele, etc.) and his wife. There seems to be a fascination for the couple's physical attributes: “Pierce Brosnan should be able to get any woman he wants, but the 60-year-old is sticking with his overweight wife” (Celebromance.com March 7/14), which I find stomach-turning. Most women, me included, would exchange place with Kelly any time to have the love and devotion of a partner or husband. Likewise, we rather be with a physically unattractive but faithful and caring spouse than otherwise.

Our concept of beauty is learned and transmitted through family values, cultural traditions and socialisation via formal education, entertainment and the media (print, audio-visual and internet). Generally, beauty is not only about face and weight; it involves smell, movements and a combination of all the individual's qualities that please our senses and mind.

Beauty is the label we attach to different criteria based on what we've been(and are..) socialised into, experienced and exposed to regularly. It is relative and not universal as it means different things to different people. For example, Samoans and Mauritanians consider big women as more desirable and make better wives. (“Samoa's prime minister has called for his nation's women to stay away from international beauty contests because they favour skinny and scrawny-looking women” (Samoaobserver, 6/10/13).

Mental health and safety concerns

First and foremost, our condolences to families, relatives and friends of the 150 passengers on board Germanwings A320 Airbus flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf that went down in a French mountain. According to media reports, the victims included 72 Germans (16 were school students), 51 Spaniards, and those from Argentina, Australia, Britain, Colombia, Denmark, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the US and Venezuela.

The following is AirlineRatings.com's 2015 annual list of the world's 10 safest airlines: Australian airline Qantas ("Continues to lead the industry with safety innovations and its fleet is now the youngest -- 7.9 years," AirlineRatings.com editor Geoffrey Thomas tells CNN). The others, in alphabetical order, are: Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. (see CNN's "What are the world's safest airlines?").

Lufthansa owns Germanwings, and its reputed safety measures didn't prevent a psychotic deed from killing innocent people. The cockpit voice recorder's information suggests that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz took over the control of the plane and crashed it. There have been reports of Lubitz' depression as the reason for such tragedy. This incident, no doubt, will make airline companies more stringent when hiring personnel and conducting compulsory mental and psychological examinations of all flight crew members (in addition to the physical ones).

Illegal drone flights and iodine pills

ドローンの違法飛行とヨウ素剤

9月~10月。この秋、たくさんの妊婦さんのお腹をさわった。私のまわりは出産ラッシュで、ベルギー人、スロベニア人、アルジェリア人の友人カップル3組があいついで親となった。分娩室からでてきたアルジェリア人の友人は、出産シーンをくわしく知らせてくれた。2回ほど倒れそうになったらしい。

日本人の『叔母』としてはうれしいのと同時に、この子たちがこれから生きていく難事にみちた1世紀を思うと、心配せずにはいられない。

現在、私たちが住むルクセンブルグ市では、ヨウ素剤の配布作業が始まった。万一の原発事故発生(カテノム原発は市から南南東約25キロ、国境近くのフランス側にある)にそなえた実施で、全居住者にヨウ素剤と対応マニュアルが薬局で無料配布された。

ルクセンブルグ内には原発はないが、パンフレットには事故発生を知らせる速報、避難経路、子どものいる家庭、農家、自宅の菜園、飲み水、新鮮な野菜の確保などくわしく緊急用の対応が書かれている。

原発から25キロ圏の自治体に住む運命について、あらためて考えずにはいられない。私は日本と欧米で暮らしてきたのだけども。思い返せば大半は『原発銀座』の近くだった。幸い原発事故はなかった。が、大人になれば『他者におこったことは、自分にもおこりうる』と考えるようになる。

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Wealth and Health

Two weeks ago, I received a letter from the State advising me to avail of the free testing for colorectal cancer. It says "It has already been 2 years and is time to do this." All I've to do is bring this letter to my generalist who'll organise it at the expense of the French Government. Though the positive results are between 2-3%, it's fairly important to do it because colorectal cancer develops in the colon, rectum and intestine from an abnormal growth of cells that can spread to other parts of the body. The common signs of this cancer are: change in bowel habits, nauseas, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, weakness and anemia.

As such, I take this preventive measure seriously and feel lucky to be in a country where health, social and welfare services are accessible to its population. The government is wise because "prevention is better than cure." Treating an illness is more expensive, takes more time and is more emotionally draining. So, all governments should do this, but why don’t they? These preventive measures cost and, not really the priority, especially of those who are struggling to feed their people. Hence, it’s not surprising that, generally, wealthy nations have healthy people. However, there is also the question of politics and policies.

According to World Health Organisation's (WHO) data, the country with the highest government spending per person per year on health is Luxembourg (US$ 6,906/ Euros 5,441.60); country with lowest government spending per person per year on health is Myanmar (US$ 2/ Euros 1.60); country with highest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health is Switzerland (US$ 2,412/ Euros 1,900.73); and country with lowest annual out-of-pocket household spending on health Kiribati (US$ 0.2/ Euros 0.158).

Konjac or konnyaku

Konjac - Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

Konjac or konnyaku (in Japanese) for health benefits/use

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