During this Covid19 shelter in place pandemic, I had the time to clean up my house. I found 3 boxes of things I kept from my childhood.
While going thru my memorabilia, it occurred to me there is a real possibility that I could die from Covid19. Looking at all my stuff, I asked “What are the really important things in my life?”.
All of the material goods and money became meaningless.
I did a Marie Kondo and purged a lot of junk from my life. It is rather satisfying.
Then I created a box I call my Happy Box. In this box I put the things that make me happy. Things that put a smile on my face. They are mostly photos, letters, cards, and kids’ art work. Reminder of happy times.
I can go to this Happy Box whenever I need to cheer myself up.
How to make a good Happy Box? Look for a box with an attached lid that is large enough to fit a sheet of paper and small enough to fit on your lap comfortability. Large shoe boxes are ideal. Then fill it with joy.
In the end, all that you can take with you is what is in your heart. Make it a good one.
During this time of Covid19, like many of you, I have been making use of Zoom, FaceTime, and other video conferencing services. Until now, many people have not had the need to prop up their smart devices with a stand. Without a stand, during the video conference, their phone slips and I end up talking to a ceiling.
There is a solution.
You can easily make a smart phone stand with a toilet paper roll. I know there are plenty of these rolls out there because so many people bought so much toilet paper during the pandemic.
Here’s a video on how to make a toilet paper roll smart phone stand.
At my local Trader Joe’s and Sprouts the Cart Cleaning Wipes contain “Quats”. I see people using these toxic wipes to wipe themselves down too! What if it is a pregnant woman using this? What if a baby touches this and then puts his or hands in their mouths? What if you are the next person to use this cart that is now covered with Quats?
I asked the TJ store manager about these environmental and human unfriendly wipes. He said that this all the corporation offers. When I mention it to one of the TJ cashiers, the response was, “Ours contains natural orange oils, so it is so safe you can wipe your hands with it”… Umm, I don’t think so.
Quats are quaternary ammonium compounds, which are endocrine disruptors (see below) in humans and toxic to marine life.
Quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as QUATs, QACs, or QATs). Use of QUATs has been associated with the growth of bacteria that are resistant to disinfection. Sometimes this resistance also transfers to antibiotics. In laboratory studies, QUATs were found to damage genetic material (genes). Benzalkonium chloride is a severe eye irritant and causes and triggers asthma. Exposures to QUATs may cause allergic skin reactions.
Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor (see below) and also lead to the development of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.
Phthalates are used in fragrances that are found in air fresheners and cleaning and sanitizing products. They are endocrine disruptors. Research indicates that phthalates increase the risk of allergies and asthma and can affect children’s neurodevelopment and thyroid function. Studies show links between phthalates in mothers to abnormal genital development in boys. Phthalates have been found in human urine, blood, semen, amniotic fluid, and breast milk.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that vaporize at room temperature. Many VOCs that are released by cleaning supplies have been linked to chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, allergic reactions, and headaches.
But Whole Foods has it right. Their cart wipes are non toxic:
Good to reduce exposure to unwanted bacteria and viruses. No one wants to get the Flu or Corona virus.
So here’s what you can do. Make your own Alcohol based hand sanitizer sprayer or purchase one. You can then spray all sorts of things with this: Shopping cart handle, credit card pen, touch screens, airplane seat belt buckle, arm rests and tray tables. You have to spray enough the the object looks soaked. Then let it dry.
(But glad to see more and more touch-less credit card transactions. I use my Apple watch to pay for many things now. So convenient. And clean. )
Make your own Hand Sanitizer Sprayer
Into your 2oz spray bottle, add few drops of essential oil – the number of drops of pure 100% essential oil you add depends on how strong you want the fragrance. Put a few drops in, see how it smells. You can always add more, combine different oils to make your own scents. I love the smell of citrus, which is uplifting, cheerful. Whereas Lavender is calming. Peppermint is energizing and Patchouli for misc. skin health. Tea tree oil is antiseptic. The tangerine (my favorite) is orange in color so technically it could stain. A word of caution: Citrus oil can irritate some people’s skin, cause allergies more so than other oils and or cause photo dermatitis. All essential oils can be irritating if your skin is sensitive.
I usually add about 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 oz bottle sprayer. Then fill the rest of the bottle with 70% rubbing alcohol. Leaving some room for sprayer tubing. Cons: spraying makes noise. So if you are in a quiet place, you can hear the spray.
Color of the Hand Sanitizer spray with tangerine essential oil is a light orange (on the left).
The labeled hand sanitizer were purchased from Whole Foods: The small one fits nicely into a small purse. They can easily be refilled too.
Make your own Hand Sanitizer Gel
To make homemade Hand Sanitizer Gel: Proportions are mix 2/3 of 91% rubbing alcohol (better to error on the side of adding a little more rubbing alcohol because you do not want to go below 60% alcohol) to 1/3 aloe gel (thicker) or Glycerin gel (waterier) . Optional essential oils.
Use a ruler to measure and Sharpie to draw marks directly onto the bottle, dividing it out into equal thirds. Remember to leave about 1/2 inch at top to allow room to shake your mixture. Then squirt in your gel to the first 1/3 line and rubbing alcohol for the rest. Shake well to mix. Cons: need to shake it before use because the gel separates. Plus it is too liquidity and leaves a “film” feel on my hands.
How to make your own Sanitizing wipes
There are decomposable wipes on the market. But they are not disinfecting. You can hack a natural one with honest ingredients. First, let them dry out and add 91% rubbing alcohol to the container. Or repurpose used natural dryer sheets like the ones from Seventh Generation. Fold some of these into a plastic bag or container and pour some Alcohol on them until they are just soaked. Seal the container so Alcohol does not evaporate. Using paper towel or tissue does not work because they are too absorbent hence use up a lot of alcohol. The latter harder to find and more expensive during a pandemic.
Or buy pure alcohol wipes. For travel, the individually packaged ones are convenient.
WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?*
Hormones are substances that are produced by our endocrine system.
In very, very small amounts hormones control growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, behavior, sleep functions, immune function, and stress. These are all functions that are critical for life.
These functions are controlled by hormonal messages sent by the endocrine system.
Hormones also play a role in many diseases, including diabetes and cancer.Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interrupt or imitate those natural hormonal messages.
Since hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disrupting chemicals can also affect health in very small amounts.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors may cause reduced fertility in women and men, early puberty in girls, and increases in cancers of the breast, ovaries, and prostate.
A 2013 report from the World Health Organization reports that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a “global threat” that should be addressed.
It takes at least 20 seconds to wash your hands because you have 23 areas to wash! I went as fast as I could in this video.
Remember faucets are contaminated so turn water off with your towel and throw it away. In this situation, we use cotton hand towels that we reuse after they are washed in hot water, bleach and high heat of dryer.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions. Please follow me so you can be alerted to new content. Thanks Everyone!
My Hepa filters finally arrived. They are vacuum bags that I cut into 3.5 x 4.5 inch pieces.
There are 3 thin layers so I put a tiny amount of glue in the corners to secure the pieces together.
After wearing it all day today in my pocket mask, I really like it, Thinner and lighter feeling than the double layer tea towel. Was not harder to breath. It is more flexible. Hepa filter is not washable though. Remember to remove it and let it air our for 24 hours after use. Wash mask separately.
People who win a mask will get both filters to try for themselves. Would appreciate your comparison in the feed back especially in regards to comfort.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to them!
Many people are asking do Hepa Filter vacuum bags contain fiberglass?
Cleaning your reusable mask properly will be important. You want to retains its effectiveness for as long as possible. Having the removable insert will definitely help the mask’s longevity.
Covid19 virus is much more stable in the environment than other viruses which makes it highly contagious. Aerosolized Covid is detectable in the air for up to three hours. According the the reference below, on a cloth face mask Covid19 would be viable for 2 days.
To take your mask off, your hands have to be properly cleaned. The outside of your mask is considered contaminated so don’t touch it. With clean hands, take mask off by the ear loops. I put mine directly into a paper bag until I can wash it. The paper bag needs to be discarded. If you will need to put it back on again before washing, then put mask down with outside part facing down onto a couple layers of paper towel. Then, with clean hands, handle only the ear loops to put back on your face. The paper towel will need to be discarded.
You will want to wash your reusable mask for 2 reasons. Grime and build up of virus.
How do I sanitize my homemade mask?
Different options are:
Separate your mask and double layer tea towel inserts. Put mask and tea towel inserts into a cotton pillow case. You will need to tie the pillow case up with a knot, shoelace or string or use a wash bag. If you don’t do this, your mask can get destroyed in either the washer or dryer. Put pillow case and its contents in washer and run hot water cycle with small amount of detergent. After washing, put the closed pillow case with mask and filter into dryer with high heat setting. After it is dry, it is ready for reuse. You need one mask and 2 tea towel filters to do this method.
If you want to leave mask and filters out to air dry, preferably under a heat vent or direct sunlight, then to be safe, leave it out for at least 48 hours before re-wearing. If you put it out in direct sunlight, 24 hours might be good enough. Make sure you open up the mask and put the outside of the mask up towards the sunlight. You might need about 3 masks with 8 tea towel inserts. Each day of mask use, requires 2 inserts since your should change out your mask insert about half way thru your day (every 3-4 hours if wearing continuously). Washing does cause your mask to lose some fibers. You need to check mask and insert regularly to make sure it has not thinned out or damaged. A Hepa insert can’t be washed. You have to let a Hepa insert sit out for 72 hours because they are made of polypropylene. Hepa filters need to be replaced every 6 months or immediately if it looks soiled, damaged, or filled with virus (you cannot see that with naked eye). Hepa filters are not so expensive. You can make more filters by cutting up a Hepa vacuum bag.
You could let it sit for 5 minutes in a diluted bleach solution (colored fabric will get discolored). To make this solution use 1 quart hot water and 2 tablespoons of Regular Clorox Bleach disinfectant (6% Sodium hypochlorite if you are using another brand). Too strong of a bleach solution can destroy fabric. Too weak of a solution will not sanitize. https://www.clorox.com/resources/coronavirus/how-to-make-your-own-disinfecting-solution/ Put mask and tea towel filter into a plastic container like a cleaned large yogurt container. Add enough of diluted bleach solution to cover mask (and dish towel inserts). Never put bleach directly onto fabric. It will destroy the fabric. Avoid splashing, as bleach is an acid and is corrosive. Make sure mask is completely covered with the diluted bleach solution. Gently swirl your mask around then let your mask soak for 5 minutes in the diluted bleach solution. To swirl mask, use either a wooden stick like spare plain wood chopsticks (not lacquered) or wooden spoon to swirl. These wood items and plastic container should now be dedicated to washing your mask only. You can also wear protective gloves especially if you have reusable ones. Don’t want to waste disposable ones. Avoid metal as the metal corrodes but note that the nose wire in my masks are aluminum. The metal will slowly corrode over time if you bleach frequently. Rinse well: 3 times then let it sit in fresh rinse water for 15minutes and rinse again. Use wood stick to hold mask when pouring out the water. This will prevent the mask from falling into sink. Remove mask from water and roll up the mask lengthwise then gently squeeze out water. Hang to dry. If you can, near a heat vent or in the sunlight. This will shorten the drying time. With bleach method of sanitizing, you do not need to wait 48 hours before wearing mask again. Just as long as it is dry. Some important notes about bleach. An unopened container of bleach shelf life is only 1 year and after it is opened expires in 6 months if stored at 70 degrees, in a dark (opaque plastic) airtight container. Light and air will degrade bleach. You want to make sure your bleach is not “expired” otherwise it will not kill the germs, in this case Covid19. Your bleach mixture is only good for 24 hours. It won’t sanitize after that.
Other methods are UV light. A hospital in Nebraska is doing this. I am not going to advise this method because UV only sanitizes the surface it shines on and there are too many folds in our mask to make this work. Plus the power of the UV light and the distance from it are other variables difficult for a non professional to calculate. UV light can damage your eyes. Probably not a good idea for your average household. (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.11.20062018v1)
DO NOT microwave because there is metal in the mask.
REMINDERS – Do inspect your mask for wear and tear. If it feels like it is thinning out or you can see light thru it or damaged, replace it. Hoping this pandemic will be over before you need a new one. Please send me a comment. Any ideas are welcomed.
Congratulations for learning about this. Thank you for contributing to a greater societal good and protecting yourself and the people around you. I know for many, this is a really difficult time. We will get thru this.
Question: How do you personally cleaning your mask? I am either letting it sit for 48 hours or washing with detergent and hot water, hanging it to dry for at least 48 hrs. Reasons for that are 1. Bleach will likely corrode the wire piece, 2. bleach weaken the mask fibers 3. I could not find any bleach anywhere so bleaching not an option for me right now.
Question: How do I prevent my eye glasses from fogging up when I have a mask on?
Here ‘s what I have done- pull the mask up closer to my eyes so hot expelled air is further from glasses and can escape out up at top glasses and not on your glasses. It also means the seal at top of my mask is not air tight. Try to get a better fit with the top of the mask. A true N95 mask would not fog up your glasses if properly worn. You can also try dipping your glasses in a diluted dish soap solution and letting it air dry.
The goal of this article is to show you how to create a mask that is effective against respiratory viruses using materials found in most households. No mask is 100%, as seen by the study in part 1 comparing N95 to surgical masks. My other criteria are that, not only must it meet some known standard of protection, but must also be reusable, washable and comfortable enough that you could wear for hours if you had to.
Logic tells me that we need to practice universal precautions. If everyone, absolutely everyone, is wearing some sort of mask all the time and with the addition of proper hand hygiene, it would really help stem this Covid19 pandemic.
We need to assume EVERYONE has a Covid19 infection because asymptomatic carriers can still spread the infection. This is called presymptomatic transmission. We can technically get sick without face to face contact too. Covid19 can stay in the air for up to 3 hours after someone coughs. Wearing a mask all the time will help prevent that method of transmission.
Let’s go step by step as to how to make an Effective Reusable Face Mask.
What fabric to use?
For fabric, I recommend using 100% cotton. Cotton is highly absorbable, so things tend to stick to it (but not water resistance). Also cotton is washable in hot water and high heat of dryer and comfortable against your skin. I chose to use the color white because it allows for the option to use bleach in the wash (more about this in part 3).
Thicker bed sheets, pillow cases or dress shirt with high thread count are other options for fabric. I bought 100% white cotton fabric from Joann Fabrics. The fabric was probably too thin to use as a single layer. I hoped the weave would tighten after I pre-washed it in hot water and high heat of dryer. It did, but not enough. With 100% cotton, you need to pre-shrink the fabric in hot water and high heat of dryer before sewing with it. If you don’t, your finished product, in this case your mask, will shrink after it’s first hot water or high heat dryer exposure. I decided that with my current fabric, to use it as a double layer so that it was thick enough that I can not see through it. In your finished product, when you hold it up to the light, you should not be able to see through it. If you can see through it, it is not a good filter.
As you will see later, with the mask pattern that I used, I ended up with a mask that was 4 layers thick with a pocket. The pocket allows for the option to put additional protective filter(s). I made a 15 x 15 inch cardboard template to guide cutting out the fabric pieces. The fabric was folded in half and ironed to remove the wrinkles and flatten the fold. Final fabric piece was 15 x 7.5 inch as required by the YouTube video. If your starting fabric is thick enough, you can cut it into 15 x 7.5 inch pieces.
This is the pattern I used: Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCJcE-r7kcg&t=2s . One thing I saw wrong about other Youtube videos was they used pins which puts holes in the mask! No Pins Please. This definitely would reduce effectiveness. Use sewing clips as depicted in this video. It is very well done and easy to follow. Plus love the pocket.
According to this website, out of all the household materials they experimented with, paper towels do not work very well (hence not shown here) but a double layer of dish towels was superior.
Based on these results, a mask made of 2 layers of tea/dish towel has the same filtering effects as a surgical face mask. Therefore, I decided to use a double layer of tea towel in the pocket of my homemade mask. (Update: my Hepa filter Vacuum bags arrived and I am also using them too). These 2 materials should be close to effectiveness of a surgical mask.
You can see that as the breathability goes up, the effectiveness goes down. Another reason why I like the mask with the pocket. You can personally vary the comfort of the mask with various inserts, knowing that with increases in effectiveness there is also an increase the airflow resistance. Increased air resistance makes every breath a little harder. Having 2 separate parts to the mask allows for more flexibility, easer to replace insert if a part wears out and easier to clean.
Pocket Insert Material. For the pocket of my face mask, I cut out 2 pieces of preshrunk dish towel to 5 x 5.5 inch pieces. The 2 layers were sewn together with a zigzag stitch, then a straight stitch around the edges. I will be experimenting with a Hepa filter when it arrives from Amazon in a few days. Will re-post then as to its comfort level compared with double layer of tea towel.
For the nose piece wire, I used aluminum jewelry wire. But 2 pieces of twist tie or gardening wire would work too. A small strip of foam was glued over the wire area for comfort. Other fabrics instead of foam could be felt, fleece or piece of an old sweat shirt. The elastic bands were 12 inches. Other substitutes for elastic bands are rubber bands, ribbon, shoe strings, cutting a wider elastic band into multiple strips.
How many hours can the same mask be worn and still be effective? Smartfilter tested N95 and Surgical masks for up to 3 hours and the masks were still performing well. Unknown how it performs beyond that time. For the pocket masks you can change out the filter at about 3 hours or even change out the mask if your mask tends to get a moisture build up. You have to have a spare ready to go.
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask? Smartfilter tested the an N95 mask for up to 30 days and there was only a slight decrease in performance. New mask, 20 days, 30 days respectively: 99.4%, 99.1%, 99.5%. With the homemade pocket mask, washing creates some fiber loss. How critical this is has not been tested. If depends on many factors, hence be gentle with it. But you can change out the insert for a new one easily – Hepa or a double layer of tea towel are the recommended inserts. The mask itself becomes the framework.
Note: Having a beard reduces efficacy so an additional face shield is recommenced.
Part 3 will cover how to sanitize your reusable mask.
Disclaimer: This homemade mask is relatively effective only, good enough for personal or non clinical use. It has not been tested for particle size transmission.
https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/best-face-masks-coronavirus-171040782.html The researchers found that the best homemade masks had 79 percent filtration, compared to surgical masks (62 percent to 65 percent) and N95 masks (97 percent). But some masks only had 1 percent filtration. The best design was made of two layers of high-quality, heavyweight quilter’s cotton, with a thread count of 180 or more. Fabrics with an especially tight weave and thicker thread such as batiks also did well. A double-layer mask with a simple cotton outer layer and an inner layer of flannel got good marks as well. Single-layer masks or double-layer masks that were made with lightweight cotton performed the worst.
This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.
During this COVID19 pandemic, proper face masks are difficult to find or outrageously expensive.
So why not make your own? As I embarked on my journey to make face masks to donate to health care providers, I wanted to know how much protection face masks actually provide against respiratory viral infections, (part 1), which videos on YouTube make the best masks (part 2), and how to sanitize and reuse a mask (part 3).
There are 2 interesting distinctions when it comes to masks: the particulate size rating does not necessarily mean the same level of protection against respiratory viral illnesses. The mask you chose must depend on its intended purpose.
Let’s start with particulate size.
The particulate size rating is very useful. When looking for a mask to protect you from smog or allergies, you want a mask that is rated for 0.3 microns particles. You don’t really need a mask that is rated better than that because 0.3 microns sized particles are the hardest particles to capture. Why is that?
Particles that are either larger or smaller than 0.3 microns are in fact easily captured by a 0.3 micron filter. This may sound counter intuitive especially when you think of the example catching a basketball vs catching a ping pong ball with a net which has holes nearly the size of a basketball. A net with holes that are just slightly smaller than a basketball will unlikely to catch a ping pong ball.
But the physics of motion changes when we get down to micron size particles.
Particles smaller than 0.3 microns have more Brownian motion. At room temperature, these tiny particles bounce around randomly. They don’t travel in a straight line. So these particles literally are bouncing “off the walls”. The smaller the particle, the more bouncing. Eventually they will hit a fiber and stick to it. For this to be true though, the net must be rated for 0.3 micron particles.
Let’s look at rate transmission of respiratory viral illnesses for N95 and surgical face masks.
Surgical (medical) masks are not designed for use as particulate respirators and do not provide as much respiratory protection as an N95 respirator. N95 masks are designs to filter at least 95% of inhaled air of 0.3 microns sized particles. Most surgical masks do not effectively filter tiny particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales or exhales. Not all “surgical” masks are rated by the ASTM rating system either. If they are not certified, their performance is unpredictable. Then there is the NIOSH rating system used by N95 masks. The number represents the percentage of the air being filtered. Many “N95” masks on the market are fakes, claiming to be N95 but not up to NIOSH standards. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html
Many people are wearing N95 masks with an exhalation valve. These valves makes it easier to breath and more comfortable. Useful if you are jogging down a busy city street but somewhat useless if you want to stop a pandemic. If you should have a contagious respiratory infection, the exhalation valve allows unfiltered air to escape that could infect another person. If you have a choice, during a pandemic, don’t use a mask with a valve.
The infection rate in studies of influenzas and Corona Viruses (not Covid19) comparing N95 masks vs medical masks were not significantly different: 8.2% vs 7.2%. Currently we have to extrapolate and assume this likely applies to Covid19.
Wearing a mask only provides partial protecting. Multiple other factors are involved in contracting this highly contagious Covid19. Are you practicing Social Distancing? How physically close were you to the infected person? Did they have on a mask? Did you have on a mask? For how long were you with this person? What surfaces did you touch? How good is your health? Do you have any chronic conditions? Could you be taking better care of yourself? What are the barriers do you have that prevent you from taking better care of yourself?
Now we know that the more comfortable surgical/medical face masks perform as well as N95 in the real world against respiratory viral infections. N95 masks are uncomfortable to wear because of increase air resistance and the tighter fit against your face. Because of this discomfort, most people cannot wear an N95 masks for a long period of time.
Ideally, if we ALL, that is 100% of us wore a face mask for 2 weeks and practiced correct hand hygiene, this pandemic could come to a halt. Universal mask precautions. Assume everyone is infected with Covid19.
In Part 2, I will examine how to make a homemade surgical grade mask from household materials.
Other helpful ideas are: humidify the air. Indoor heated air can be super dry. To increase the humidity without a humidifier – try hanging a damp towel over a chair and place near the heat vent or radiator, Vicks steam vaporizer ( It is very powerful. Might see streaks of water on your walls. If not careful could increase risk of mold), boil some water but need to watch it so you don’t burn you place down by causing a fire, Diffuser, facial steamers, steam from a hot cup of tea. The humidity helps ensure more intact mucous membranes in your nose and some viruses seem to thrive in dry air.
Acupuncture can boost your immunity.
I am not going to recommend any supplements here because if taken incorrectly, can potentially affect autoimmune disorders, trigger malignancies, allergies. Plus the quality of supplements in the USA is not reliable. Best one can do is to find a product that is GMP certified or 3rd party tested from a certified lab. Always check with your doctor if you have any personal concerns.
*1. Toum = 3 heads of garlic (it has to be fresh, smashing with a knife is the fastest way to peel them). Put peeled garlic cloves in food processor or blender with 1 tsp salt. Add juice of 1 lemon (1 tsp of juice at a time alternating with 1/2 cup of Canola oil or avocado oil. Do not use olive oil). I usually use a total of 1 1/2 cups of oil. Blend until looks like mayonnaise. After you eat this, your breath will be so bad that no one can come within 6 feet of you. LOL.
*2. Ginger and scallion tea- slice about 1 tbsp of fresh organic ginger and scallions (AKA green onions). Add to boiling water. Steep 10 mins. You can freeze them down so they keep longer.
*5. Mushrooms – I slice up the mushrooms and toss in olive oil salt and pepper and then put in air fryer at 375-400 deg for 5-10mins…watch it does not burn. Cooks up fast.
Have 1 piece of pineapple- its up to you how much you can tolerate- too much gives me canker sores
Please let me know what works for you in the comments.
What are your home remedies?
This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.
Stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick with a (potential) respiratory infection. No more hand shaking. Many cultures don’t hand shake anyway. No more cheek kissing.
Proper Hand Washing
Good to wash or sanitize your hands after after you come into contact with anything potentially contaminated before you touch anything else. On hard surfaces, Covid19 can be found up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Remember never touching any area from neck up unless your hands are clean. For example if you touch a contaminated surface like a door knob, then touch your hair and then you hair contacts your mouth, nose or eyes, a respiratory virus can enter your body. This really happens. Frequent proper hand washing a necessity.
Proper hand washing.
To do this, you need to wet your hands and then rub the soap all over your hands while singing the Alphabet song or count one Mississippi up to 20 Mississippi. It takes about 20 seconds to rub soap onto back and front of both hands (3 areas) ; in between the front and back of the webs of your fingers (4), both sides of both hands (4), then to get soap each one of your digits (10), then all your nails esp the tips (2). That makes 23 areas to rub soap on. It takes about 20 seconds. Try it. The soap coats the bacteria and viruses on your skin. Rinsing with clean running water, washes them off. Note: if you have long nails, acrylic nails, or painted nails – these are difficult to clean and hence always hold some germs. Dry your hands. Turn the faucet off with the paper towel you dried your hands with. Faucets are a source of germs too. Moisturize afterwards to prevent drying of skin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IisgnbMfKvI
Use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash. Use a brand equivalent in quality to Purell and use at least a dime sized amount of the gel. This process is good to kill viruses and bacteria but not spores. If you can’t wash or sanitize your hands, eat your food like a “Banana”. This means use a wrapper to hold your food if you can’t clean your hands. Do not tough your food if your hands are not washed properly. Do not touch you face or hair unless you have just cleaned your hands. If you have to touch, use the back of your hands or wrist. How to make your own hand sanitizer: https://elainemd.com/2017/05/11/toxic-shopping-cart-cleaner-alternatives/
Wear a Mask if You Are Sick or Not
You can reduce spread of Respiratory Infection by wearing a proper mask. You can reduce the spread of your own infection to other people by up to 60-80%.
I like the idea of everyone wearing masks because it prevents people spraying saliva in your face when they talk, accidentally coughing into your face, and coughing into their hands (yes people still do this). Taiwan, an island of 23 million, where they wore masks and took other precautions, had only 50 cases of Covid 19 as of March 2020, with 1 death.
Intuitively it makes sense that respiratory contagions would spread less if we all wore masks. With Covid19, the virus hangs around environment for longer than other viruses. detectable in aerosols for up to three hours. Below is a link that shows how to make your own mask.
Looking at the diagram below, 6 feet distancing clearly is not enough unless your are wearing a proper face mask.
“I am wearing this mask so I don’t make you sick” is a beautiful sentiment.
Please cough into your shoulder or elbow. Do not cough into your hands unless you sanitize or wash them immediately afterwards. I see so many people who continue to cough into their hands and then touching everything around them. They seem to be completely unaware of the germs they are spreading. When you cough into your hands, your hands are covered with germs. Hence you contaminate everything you touch and can make other people sick. If you cough into a tissue, throw tissue away and then sanitize your hands. Don’t put the tissue into your pocket or purse (!)
Now for some fun – Gloria Gaynor singing, “I will survive” while washing her hands for 20 seconds. Love it.
Use of face masks by ill persons: CDC might recommend the use of face masks by ill persons as a source control measure during severe, very severe, or extreme influenza pandemics when crowded community settings cannot be avoided (e.g., when adults and children with influenza symptoms seek medical attention) or when ill persons are in close contact with others (e.g., when symptomatic persons share common spaces with other household members or symptomatic postpartum women care for and nurse their infants). Some evidence indicates that face mask use by ill persons might protect others from infection.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
For 3 years, I tried to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). First attempt, while in DC I tried to get same day tickets but my hotel wifi too slow and weekend tickets were in high demand, tickets were literally gone in a snap.
Second time, I was more organized and got tickets 3 months in advance (they are free from NMAAHC website). But in 2019, we experienced the longest government shutdown. All the Smithsonian Museums were closed. I left DC disappointed again.
This year I again booked advance NMAAHC tickets for MLK weekend. No government shut down but the evening before I was to go, I receive an email saying the History Gallery would be closed for repairs.
No way. Really? What are the chances of this happening? Why does the universe not want me to see this exhibit? But I was not deterred.
Next day, I arrived early to NMAAHC, hoping for better news. Standing outside in the cold January rain with a few other diehard visitors, I got the opportunity to chat with some employees standing guard outside. No one could tell me when the History Gallery would re-open again. Everyone politely advised me to check the NMAAHC website every evening for updates. I was explain my sad story to several employees: this is my third trip from Los Angeles to DC and I could not believe I would miss the History Gallery again. The NMAAHC employees were all empathetic to my plight. As a consolation, they would honor my tickets from the previous year and with those tickets, I could come back tomorrow if need be. Maybe the repairs would be complete but no one really knew. Could only stay hopeful.
At least now I had all day to explore the top two floors of the NMAAHC. I could take my time. No rushing. The bottom subterranean floors are comprised of History Gallery. The top floor exhibit was about present day Black culture and second floor recent Black history.
Some of the exhibits were so emotionally moving, so emotionally disturbing. By not rushing, I had time to absorb what I needed to absorb. There were moments, I had a hard time holding back my tears.
The following examples are new things I learned and I cannot forget.
Slavery abolished by the rest of the world. Everyone knew it was morally wrong. Yet Americans continued and made slavery a permanent status. Profits over humanity.
Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The burning down of a successful Black town when Oklahoma became part of the USA.
Emmett Till, senseless horrific brutal murder of a Black teenager. Triggering people like Rosa Parker and Martin Luther King, Jr to speak up and the start of the Civil Rights movement.
Racial discrimination protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during 1968 Olympic Games. This display reminded me of the Colin Kaepernick protest and #BlackLivesMatter movement today. The same struggles continues.
Present day Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana is in part equivalent to government sanctioned slavery.
Immense resilience and strength shown by black people to overcome tyranny.
A new admiration of black people. How, by their sheer strength and will power, were able forge ahead and developed a new sense of self, belonging and unique culture.
I needed a full day to see the top floors at the NMAAHC. What I thought at first was a misfortune, ended up being a blessing.
Later, that evening, on NMAAHC website, the History Gallery was going to open tomorrow!
Things happens for a reason. Karma. I really needed 2 days to appreciate the displays at NMAAHC.
The History Gallery is a must see. Somber and humbling.
A one way elevator takes you down several floors. The History Gallery experience depicts the beauty of Africa during the 14th century and its role in world trade. Then it goes onto to depict, in chronological order, how events evolved into present day Black culture in the United States.
The dark truth of American history is presented with raw honesty. Overwhelming at times. The amount of hate and bigotry in our country created deep scars.
The History Gallery revealed that we still hold onto the idea of slavery:
Human ego’s willing acceptance of supremacy over another.
America’s low minimum wage = slave wages.
American employers can work people so hard, it triggers anxiety and depression.
We need reparation as a way of healing the scars.
Passing laws helps, but not enough. We need to change the hearts and minds of Americans in order to achieve equality.
How to change the hearts and minds of Americans so that we can move forward together.
Here some ideas:
1. Teach empathy in school. Start early. In Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world does this.
2. Retrain the police to end the fear.
3. End Poverty with a Universal Basic Income as a form of reparation.
4. Get more resources to predominantly Black schools and neighborhoods. Education matters.
6. If you are more privileged than others, then reach out to help. Raise others to your level. Then you can both move forward together.
7. Follow these two examples: Germany’s Never Again Movement for its role in WWII; South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid.
How to personally help:
Make a donation or volunteer.
Be a Mentor or Coach.
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Accept the truth about our horrible past and make amends.
“The rest of you, get up. It’s time to go. What makes you human? The better world is still possible. Come fight with me”. Andrew Yang.
A shout out to Shaquetta and Briayna…. These special gals made me feel at home during my trip to DC.
Grateful to Trevor Noah between the scenes – always enlightening.
Two common questions I hear from non black people are:
“If a black person is innocent why do they run from the police?”
And this statement, “I am not responsible for what happened during slavery. That happened before my time.”
To answer the latter, Black oppression is still exists today in American society. Since we are part of American society, we all have to take responsibility for Black oppression. The mentality of slavery still exists.
Attention is brought to this problem with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Leaders like Colin Kaepernick should be admired for using his voice and platform to defend American values like freedom, equality and justice. He is making us conscious of the work that still needs to be done in this country. He should be revered but instead he is reprimanded. Punished by losing his job.
Why do Blacks run from the police?
White people see the police as someone whose purpose is to protect them. This is not the same narrative for Blacks. Instead, there has been a long history of systemic racism and police brutally against Blacks. Blacks are tired of frequently being stopped, of being harassed and fearful of the outcome of such encounters which includes death. They run to increase their chances of survival. As Michael Dyson says in his book, Tears We Cannot Stop, the difference between white and black encounters with the police is, white people live to talk about it. A view point most white people have not even thought about.
My son, while being driven home by his basketball coach who is black, was stopped by our local police for no reason. My son describes that the policeman was at the driver window asking some questions while having his hand on his gun. The whole episode really frighten him. I cannot imagine what it is like to have to live a life where this happens to you or to constantly have to be in fear of it happening to you: being stopped by the police for no reason. It can make life impossible.
These unprovoked encounters between the police and Blacks can potentially end up with innocent black men being charged with resisting arrest, police assault, leading to felony charges, prison, reduced employment potential, loss of voting rights, enabling a vicious cycle of poverty and resulting in innocent people driven to crime just to survive. All of this is preventable/unnecessary.
This explains why running to get away from law enforcement before there is any confrontation would be an attractive option. But white people think that this is an admission of guilt.
Dyson explains in his book that during that “talk”, black parents have to have with their kids, they tell their kids to be afraid of the police. When encountering the police, they are told to lower their eyes, don’t upset the police. In addition. always keep your hands in view and calmly ask permission to do anything before you do it. Move slowly. Describe every move before you make any movement. And explain why you are doing it. Do not startle the police.
As for the police, we know they have guns. But they don’t know if whom they stop has one. Years ago, I had a policeman as a roommate. He worked in daily fear, always hyper vigilant. Cops on the beat usually are on high alert, with immense tension depending on the neighborhood. Hence the police can be tipped into aggression.
Once on my lunch hour, I had to go to a section of town that was a little shady (strip clubs, multiple warehouses, railway yard) to pick out some granite slabs for my kitchen renovation. When I was headed back to my office, the road I drove in on was barricaded. Nothing was around that I could see. Since there were no sidewalks, I thought I could just drive around it and be on my way. I needed to take this way back to work because the other direction was a long way around via a loop which was at least several miles more. And I was short on time. Suddenly a patrol car appears. Policeman gets out and proceeds to just shout in my face. His face was right in my face. Shouting things like where do you think you are going? Did you not see the barrier? You think you could get away why this? He had lost it. He was out of control. I could not see how I could ever be a threat to him – an Asian female about 100 pounds.
I needed to calm him down and get out of there. There were no witnesses. No help. I was shaking. I said to him, “Ok Officer, no worries. I was just trying to get back to work. I am a physician (with emphasis). I have patients waiting for me and I didn’t want to be late”. Back in the day, the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses had a bond together since we were all serving the public as first responders in potentially crisis situations. When they brought patients into the ER, we needed to count on each other, to help each other out when need be. I hoping this guy who was yelling in my face would remember that we are on the same team. Luckily, I was able to leave that situation in one piece, only a little scared and late for work. I was convinced that if I had been Black, he would have shot me. I could feel his out of control aggression. Unfortunately, when under direst like that, not easy to ask his name or think about looking his badge number.
The attack dog kills the submissive dog. This equation needs to change.
I know a 90 year old black man who grew up in Mississippi. He is an extremely positive person, with an aura of happiness and joy about him. He claims he has never had a negative encounter with the police. When asked how he has been able to achieve this, avoidance, attitude and luck are at the top of the list. But when he does encounter law enforcement, he behaves like a “police psychologist”. Somehow, he was able to make the police feel safe and calm. That sounds crazy but cops have their own problems just like anyone else. Sometimes you need to show them empathy and compassion. Although not easy to do when they are shouting at you with a gun in hand. Another possible explanation is he chooses not to remember the negatives.
Make them feel happy that they met you
Now, whenever I can, if I see a policeman, I go over to them with a friendly smile, introduce myself and say hello. “Hi officer how’s your day going? I know it’s not an easy job you have”. Many times they are alone and I will say to them, “I think you should patrol in pairs. Much safer to be with a partner, don’t you think? What about a K9 partner? They should give you a dog”. They almost always smile with that and say something like, “Don’t I wish”. Then to show respect, I say, “I really appreciate you and the job that you do for us. I know it is a difficult job. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know”. We can be of service to the police.
Of course there are bad apples in every profession and they need to be weeded out and held accountable. Body cameras help. Change needs to start somewhere.
Everyday, we need to set positive intentions with purpose and then go for it
It is good practice to have police know your name and your face and you know theirs in a friendly, relaxed and safe situation.
Here are other things that I have done and recommend you try :
-Make a phone call to your local police station and ask about what community out reach programs they have. Then organize a neighborhood meeting with them.
-I have invited them to neighborhood gatherings to talk about crime in our area and recommendations for crime prevention in our community.
-Invite their K9 unit and let you meet their dogs (By the way, those dogs are impressive! When one came into my house, that dog immediately without pause sniffed and checked out everything. I think he could smell my cat in the back room or maybe that is the routine the dog does every time to protect his human partner). Really really beautiful animals.
-We had another meeting where they explained how the helicopter system work.
-Make a trip down to your local police station and bring some Girl Scout cookies or other treats as an offering.
-Ask them, “How can our community help them with their jobs?”.
It is good to know names and faces.
How will we know that racism is gone from American society? People like Colin will tell us.
We must defend those who cannot defend themselves:
Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By….Leviticus 19:16
Let’s make a difference. What can I do to help?
Many Thanks to my patients who shared their stories with me.
The police lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020: the racism is this country is deep, the violence is deep. The infrastructure exists to allow this to happen again and again for 100 and 100s of years.
Racism – teach empathy in schools – start in preschool thru to HS. When this generation becomes our future parents they can teach their kids empathy, compassion and love.
Near the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather immigrated to Canada. United States was not an option for him because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, formally known as Immigration Act of 1882-1943. The Chinese are the only race ever to be excluded from USA. Below is a cartoon from 1870 which depicts the “Chinese Wall” that America had created to stop out Chinese immigration. (Since 2016, history is repeating itself, with the President wanting to build another wall: the “Mexican Wall”).
Back then, to enter Canada, the Chinese had to pay a hefty head tax. To earn the amount equivalent to the head tax, it was like being an indentured servant. The labor was difficult and dangerous. In addition, the Chinese had to endure racial discrimination. But the differences between what my grandfather experienced and what the American slaves experienced were:
He came by choice to the “golden lands” of the west
He knew his family. They were never sold.
He never had his self-esteem beaten out of him
He never had his identity taken away from him
He remained a free man
What my grandfather went thru does not even come near to the oppression of Blacks in America.
April 1992, I moved from Canada to Los Angeles, landing in LAX during the week of the Rodney King Riot.
Welcome to America.
Afraid, I stayed up all night glued to the television. The police had warned the public they might not respond to our calls of help because they were, “preoccupied”. The sky was dark with smoke. There was anger, vandalism, arson.
To better understand the etiology of all this, I read the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley.
I did not know about the horrible injustices described in the book. But I empathized with the anger.
My first impression as an unbiased observer: Blacks deserve reparation. They need to get some compensation for the hard and difficult work their ancestors did as slaves.
Robbing them of generational wealth. While white society benefited. Leaving many Blacks to struggle in poverty. Unsurmountable barriers against them when they try to move forward.
The Karma of landing in Los Angels that April forced me to pay attention to racial discrimination in America. It was shocked into my consciousness.
This was the start of my journey. What could I do to help solve this inequity? Still after all these years, as much as I thought I knew, I really know very little.
These super fast home-baked organic cinnamon rolls are from Costco. When you and your friends/family are together for the holidays, this is one of the comfort foods. On top of being organic, they are also vegan/plant-based.
Prior to baking it in my toaster oven, I did not space the rolls out like it recommended on the label. Makes for a prettier presentation with the rolls touching side by side. In the box, there are 3 individual containers containing 5 rolls per container. Fifteen cinnamon rolls did not last long at our house. Label does say potential milk contamination. So many labels say this for (maybe) liability reasons. But if you have a serious allergy or intolerance, better not risk it as cross contamination is a real thing.
For the purist, this is a cheat. But a good cheat nonetheless. Not the healthiest but not the worst. Who has time to make this from scratch? Your time is better spend relaxing and enjoying your family and friends.
I love Costco and the affordable organic options they have. My biggest concern with Costco is the packaging overkill. The double packaging leads to excess garbage. I sent Costco an email about my concerns. If you agree with me, please take the time to send them an email too. Hope they take heed especially if many of us write in.
What is a gift? A gift can be a natural talent, an emotion like joy, an object or a service. By discovering your own gifts you are better able to give a gift to another. I was inspired to write this because of the holiday season and at the same time listening to Oprah and Deepak Expanding Your Happiness 21-day Meditation experience (I am a huge fan of of those two).
This meditation series introduces Oprah’s prayer. It is like a mantra to get her into her Flow Zone. This is what she said to herself prior to each one of her shows. “Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself. How can I be of service? ”
Wow, that is powerful. Oprah’s mantra, along with mindfulness, has helped me find my gifts.
But what if you are stuck and can’t seem to be able to discover your gifts? They could be hidden behind all the mind chatter. You need to go to a deeper level of consciousness to discover them. Meditation, even 10-20 minutes everyday is a start to help you get rid of the useless chatter in your head that fogs up your concentration. Many great minds meditate for 2 hours or more every day! This training provides a background for your mind to be receptive to inspiration and knowing.
Your purpose and gift(s) will be something that flows so easily for you and it will feel grounded. It resonates within you and the universe. It will feel uplifting and a sense of belonging (to your authentic self). Hopefully, purpose won’t feel like work but bring you joy whenever you engage in it.
Of course, you can have more than one purpose. Or it can evolve over time. Gandhi’s method of finding purpose or gift is: the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. That is the secret to expanding your happiness. Give from your heart.
When you are serving others, on the soul level, you are really giving yourself the perfect gift.
Whether you give service or something tangible, feel joyful when you give and bless the person to whom you give. Through out this coming new year, be conscious of opportunities to bringing joy to those you love and care about. Sometimes, you will get an aha moment and know that that will be “the gift to give”. Joy is always the perfect gift.
In this same meditation series, Deepak talks about Karma Yoga. The Karma path is whenever you give in the spirit of freeing someone else from “care and want” and while at the same time your action brings you bliss. When choosing a gift let your ego go. It’s not about you but the recipient. Ask yourself, what would bring them joy?
Remember your soul expands when you help others. The joy of helping others is its own reward. Here are some examples gifts that bring joy: shoveling your neighbors walkway, picking up their newspaper or mail when they are away, baking them some goodies, walking their dog, offering help to an older person with groceries or taking them on an outing or doctor’s office or walking with them, giving a meal to a panhandler who you know who can’t find a job because no one will hire them, pay for the pizza lunch ordered by the guy beside you who is wearing his custodian uniform and likely is making minimum wage, volunteer at a local organization that you believe in, give a great big smile, and a tiny flower, etc (future blog on the “etc” part coming soon).
This holiday and throughout the year, always give in the spirit of bringing joy to someone else. The joy is the perfect gift. Make this the purpose of all your gifts. It does not have to be tangible.
As the recipient of any gift, never look disappointed. Always be grateful and appreciative no matter what. Someone thought about you. That’s the REAL gift. Remember it is the thought that counts. For those people who make the disappointed face, it is telling of their soul.
Deepak’s advice: Go beyond your ego and experience Unity consciousness where you perceive no division between you and anything you perceive.
My advice: finding the perfect gift starts with finding yourself.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
The above photo is from our office’s Charlie Brown Holiday Tree. Inside the pyramidal boxes are Rishi Organic Valerian Dream tea bags. The gift of sleep. That is powerful too 🙂
World’s oldest Olive trees are found in Greece with estimated age between 2000-3000 years old. Drought tolerance, disease and fire resistance has contributed to their longevity.
We toured the The Governor Olive Mill on Corfu, Greece. This particular farm grew the olive variety Lianolia, native to Corfu. It has the reputation of producing an exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with unusually rich content of beneficial polyphenols. Harvesting begins in early October, usually within a 3-week window, and the pressing of the olives must been under 24 hours. A fast harvest and processing time is needed to preserve the nutrients. Green olives have more beneficial compounds than the more ripe black ones.
During our tour, we learned 4 important facts about olive oil.
The beneficial olive oil compounds are destroyed by Heat, Oxygen and Light. Hence quality olive oil must be made by Cold press (versus chemical extraction and warmer temperatures). Extra virgin is defined by lower Fatty Free Acid (FFA)) content. The better Olive oils have a low acidity. . EVOO should have acidity of < 0.8% acid (Less than 2% is called virgin, 2% to 3% acid content is called “pure”). The highest quality oils have < 0.3% and this fact should listed on the container. As olive oil begins to degrade, the FFA content increases. To reduce the exposure to oxygen, the milling should to happen quickly ie < 24 hours. Finally the bottle or cantainer must be completely opaque. You should not be able to see the oil at all, meaning zero light exposure. Those dark glass bottles would not be good enough, if you are a purist.
Olive oil should not be used for cooking as heat destroys the health benefits. Also olive oil has moderate smoke point of 350 F degrees. This means Olive oil will start to create smoke at around 350 F (range 325-374 depending on the quality of the oil). When an oil started to create smoke, carcinogens start to form. I recommend if you have to fry with olive oil, do it at low heat, quickly and use a cheaper brand because you are losing the healthful nutrients anyway. Hence, heating olive oil means you are just using it for flavoring and not the health benefits.
Best to consume olive oil raw, uncooked such as in salad or with bread or directly in a spoon like a medicine. If you do the latter you need to remove from your diet some saturated fats or carbohydrate calories to remain calories neutral ( 1 tbsp EVOO = 120 cal). Also once the container of EVOO has been open, best to consume it within 30-60 days. With exposure to oxygen, EVOO starts to degrade.
A good EVOO should have a fruity smell (not rancid). It should taste slightly spicy, bitter and fruity. It creates a tingle in your mouth and throat as you swallow it.
When purchasing high quality Extra Virgin olive oil look for certifications of California Olive Oil Council (COOC) or North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). Much better if it is organic and the acidity is listed on the container. Make sure your container is opaque such as in a can or a non see through glass bottle. In my local groceries stores, I could not find any with EVOO in opaque containers. Trader Joe’s had an organic Tunisian Olive Oil no the acidity is listed but there is a date. That date says expiration is 2 years form canning. Not sure if canning happened here in USA or Tunisia. EVOO should be consumed within 12- 18 months of harvest. So I cannot vouch for the quality of TJ’s EVOO but I will email TJ and ask what their date means and update you when I find out. The Governor EVOO is rather pricey in the USA but there are high quality EVOO from California. I will be ordering those once my supply from Greece runs out.
Now that you know what to look for in a top notch Olive Oil, here is a list of the health claims from from the The Governor Olive Oil Mill, specifically for their EVOO. We were told that they alone can make these claims because it was their oil that was used in several medical studies. On the tour, the owner showed us a binder full of medical studies where they supplied the oil.
The Governor EVOO, “Our premium olive oil has been subjected to exacting scientific testing, and has been found to contain extraordinarily high levels of polyphenols, with a rare concentration of Oleocanthal. These compounds are at the heart of our extra virgin olive oil’s benefits”.
The Governor extra virgin olive oil has been awarded a prestigious health claim report from 3 universities: The National Kapodistrian University of Athens, in cooperation with UC Davis Olive Centre; Hunter College, in cooperation with the University of New York; and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Health benefits of EVOO based of daily intake of 20 gr (1.46 tbsp) of Olive oil containing >5mg of Hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol or its derivatives:
Biological Properties of Oleocanthal:
Action against Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, inhibition of the cycloxygenase enzyme COX-1 and COX-2 , anti-cancer activity, prevents skin aging, antibacterial action. Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil exerts effects similar to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.
Biological properties of aldehydic form of oleuropein aglycon has protective effects against Diabetes
Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, has been found to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, and beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (30).
Keep in mind that chronic, low-level inflammation is usually fairly mild, and it takes years or decades for it to do damage.
EVOO protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms (16):
Reducing inflammation: Olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease
Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol: The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease
Improves blood vessel health: Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels
Helps manage blood clotting: Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes
lowers blood pressure: One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141571)
These benefits mirror the Mediterranean diet which is low in saturated fats and high in olive oil (mono-unsaturated fats)
With very low acidity (0.17%) – The Governor EVOO, Total phenolic compounds: 1.427 mg/Kg (Harvest 2018) – (CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST)
One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:
Saturated fat: 14%
Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K: 7% of the DV
Given the biological effects of olive oil, it’s not surprising that people who consume the greatest amounts of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.
In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets ( remember when you add calories to remove (esp the unhealthy ones) calories eslewhere) in your diet or you will gain weight.
Let every bite of food help you heal.
Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.
Our summer trip to Greece was fabulous. We saw the country from the comfort of a 7 day Princess Mediterranean and Aegean cruise ( I know purists will criticize a cruise is not really visiting Greece. But it is what it is). We started in Rome and ended in Athens. The ship was clean and beautifully new and up to date. The variety of delicious plant based foods was sufficient to satisfy my vegan appetite. Every restaurant, the service was top notch and did their best to accommodate my dietary needs. Kudos to Princess.
Our first stop was Salerno (close to Naples), Italy. We took a private tour of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius and Naples. For 4 people, this was more economical than a group tour plus we got to see much more.
Next port was Kotor, Montenegro. In the morning, we kayaked, swam at the beach and biked back into town for lunch. Then we walked around the impressive ancient walled city of Kotor.
The next port of call was Corfu. Here we toured an Olive farm. This tour is worthy of its own blog (next month in November).
Then off to Crete where we snorkeled. It was refreshing but no comparison to Great Barrier, Belize or Hawaii. Nothing to see except a few small fish. The city of Chania was worth wandering around.
Then to island of Mykonos. Too much to do on your own for one day, so we took another tour that included the highlights of the town’s maze of blue and white buildings and across the water to the ancient ruins of Delos. Out tour guide told us some trivia that is too “cool” to forget. She said the building were painted white with lime, which is alkaline, hence making the buildings antimicrobial. This apparently helped to reduce the spread of the Plague. In addition, the white color reflects light to help keep homes cooler during hot summers. The Loulaki blue roofs because that color is abundant and inexpensive. The town was purposely built like a maze, so it allowed easy escapes for the locals from invading pirates. Invaders would get lost in the maze of all white. I can vouch for the latter!
Final destination was fabulous Athens. Friends had advised not to stay too long in Athens because of congestion, heat, and pollution. Due to time constraints and this advice, we only stayed in Athens for 2 nights but could have easily enjoyed a few more days .
We arrived in Athens in the early morning. Luckily we were able to check into our Airbnb early too. It was perfectly located on a side street off the main pedestrian walk way, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. From there we could walk to plenty of cafes that were conducive to people watching. It is a very walkable city. Close by was a lively night market. The night view of the acropolis was spectacular.
Athens Night Market
I was impressed by how the Greeks we met were so easy going: life is to be enjoyed and worries pushed aside.
On our first day we took a Segway tour of Athens (Athens Segway Tours). During our introductory lesson, we were told number one rule is: do not hit any pedestrians! That was good to know especially as we zoomed through winding paths in the busy market place weaving in-between pedestrians. It was a blast.
The next day we took a comprehensive full day tour of Athens (Keys Tours was discounted by purchasing tickets from our bank’s travel site). It included a tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum. Warnings: don’t leave the museum unless you have a ticket in hand – that includes going to book store or cafe. We did that and they absolutely would not let us back in. (Being part of a tour, our guide had on 1 ticket for our whole group. It was impossible for him to get more than one ticket). Also, wear pants, shorts or some very good underwear if you don’t want o expose yourself. The glass floors become glass ceilings for the floor below so if you look up, you can potentially see underwear, etc. Could have been better designed, such as installing reflective see thru glass facing the floor below. But maybe this is part of the whole experience(?).
As part of your full day tour with Keys Tours, we had lunch at the lovely Arcadia Restaurant. I was served a delicious plant based meal. Highly recommend this restaurant. It is within walking distance from the Acropolis Museum.
On another note, it was shocking to see how much the Greeks smoked. That was the only downside. Suppose you could bring a N99 face mask. But on average, Greeks people live longer than Americans despite the smoking. Some explanations for this are: they have fewer gun deaths, lower suicide rates, more doctors and hospital beds per capita, they are able to express their emotions better than we do hence less stress despite high unemployment and financial crisis.
With all this talk about Medicare for All going on, I thought now is a good time present this.
It is a myth that “Medicare For All (MFA)”, will cost more. If you do the math, it would actually cost less. Gone will be high paycheck deductions and employer contributions to private insurance companies. Any additional taxes will be much less.
I have practiced medicine both in Canada and the USA. Canada has a MFA health care system. Canadian doctors enjoy much more freedom and autonomy as to how they practice medicine compared to American doctors.
The American patients that I see are presenting with much more serious levels of illness, and the amount of time I am given to see them is less. I witnessed how high out of pocket costs to consumers and reduced access to primary care are deterrents to getting care in a timely manner. The intense workload American doctors are expected to work under is overwhelming.
The typical American response to MFA is that “it is a form of socialism and Canadians have prolonged waitlists for this and that.” Contrary to those beliefs, the large majority of Canadian doctors are actually in private practice and self-employed. Canadian patients are not limited to which doctor they can see. There are no HMO’s in Canada. Meanwhile, in the United States, our “waitlists” are our preauthorization, appealing of denials of care, denial of care and inability to afford the deductible and/or copay. No matter how much Americans fear a Canadian-like health care system, the bottom line is Canadians live longer and are happier people than Americans.
Private health insurance companies control financial health dollars and physicians are caught in the middle between insurer and patient. This results in burned out doctors and dissatisfied patients.
The American healthcare system feels more “socialist” than the Canadian. Millions of Americans pay into an insurance “pool” of multiple private health insurance companies. This creates an inefficient system with high overhead costs and long non productive hours to handle the unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative chaos. Corporations dictate how doctors practice medicine and what patients can and cannot receive for medical care. The spin on “it’s socialism” comes from those who gain profit from the status quo. Large corporate entities have created fear in patients and doctors that a single payer system would be catastrophic.
But data shows Medicare is our most efficient system. Americans with government plans are more satisfied than those with private plans. If anything, private health insurance companies delay care by prerequisite amounts of paperwork and creating disincentives that deter people from getting care.
Canadians spend 50% of what Americans pay for health insurance. If we implemented a similar single payer system, the amount we would save per year would be about 1.5 trillion dollars. We are paying double and NOT covering 44 million people.
MFA has transparency. The reimbursement fees and costs are public information. The game of hidden costs can be abolished.
Employer savings and a healthier workforce will make us more competitive in the international market. Expanding Medicare will also help it stay solvent for our current seniors and for future generations. With MFA, the substantial savings are obvious. Yet there continues to be powerful rhetoric against the cost savings. Let MFA compete with private, for-profit insurance companies. Let the consumers decide which option is best for them. No one will be forced to use a single payer plan, but it gives all of us more choices. One suggestion is to slowly lower the age to qualify for Medicare. For example start by lowering it to 64 years old, then after a set period, lower it to 63, etc.
Let doctors be independent and work for our patients and not private corporations. Our economy will gradually absorb the change. Change is our only constant.
This is a great smoothie. Easy to make. Healthy ingredients. Sugar free. Tasty. I make it the night before, leave in fridge overnight and grab it on my way out the door in the morning. It will be my lunch. All of the ingredients are from either Costco or Amazon.
The amount of each ingredient is variable. How much you put in will be dependent on your current diet, supplements and health status. Remember to treat food as medicine. The right balance both in ingredients and amounts (calories) is important. You want to get the correct nutrients by eating foods that will prevent disease and the right amounts to prevent obesity. You don’t overdose on your medicines, so you don’t overdose on your food.
With all of these ingredients, you can check the packaging for serving sizes and nutrients.
Here is how I make mine. I start with a pinch of mushroom powder and Dulse seaweed. Then a teaspoon of beet powder. Then scoop of protein powder.
Add one frozen fruit smoothie pack, few spoons non dairy yogurt, some green drink and fill up the rest of my smoothie container with a non dairy milk (I have been avoiding the organic almond milk from Costco because it lacks calcium and protein). Shake and refrigerate.
You will need a thermo container that comes with a shaker ball. This is a must because the protein powder clumps and the shaker ball breaks it up.
Other options to add instead of fruit or green drink.
To wash my smoothie container, I put in some hot water and dish soap then shake it around. If the water is very hot be very careful when opening the top. It can be under pressure and spray all over. Need to open it gently as possible as far away from anyone and yourself as you can. Release the pressure first before you continue to open.
*Raw mushrooms or powders may contain a naturally-occurring toxin called agaritine. it can be deactivated by cooking, boil for 5minutes, heating in microwave 30 seconds or freezing. I store my powder mushrooms in freezer. Reference: How Not to Die by Michael Greger Part 2, Dec 2015. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.
We have taken so much from Mother Earth. She has always provided and nurtured us. She has sustained us. It is time we take care of her.
We have used her resources. Her abundance has always been there for us. We took it for granted. We wasted and destroyed. It has caught up with us.
For example, every piece of plastic that I have ever used is likely somewhere still on the Earth. The amount garbage that we have produced has reached a critical threshold. But with our ingenuity and innovation, we can solve this.
We need to get better at recycling, reusing, and buying products made from recycled and or compostable materials. For the most impact, let’s focus on the most common single use products found in the ocean.
The worse offenders are cigarette butts, bottle caps, straws, cups and plates, single use plastic bags, food wrappers, and beverage bottles.
Here is how we can easily reduce the use of these products:
Cigarette butts – the best solution is DO NOT SMOKE. But if you must, consider rolling your own or purchase brands without filters. The filter don’t provide any benefit.
Bottle caps – re-attach them to their original bottles and recycle them together. Avoid using plastic bottles. Bring the tops back to recycle centers.
Drinking straws- Many options for reusable straws (a subject of a previous blog) or switch to 100% compostable straws made from materials like cornstarch, wheat, avocado seeds, paper, bamboo, etc.
Cups and plates – use non plastic products that are 100% compostable made of same material as the straws above or better yet reusable dishes.
Single use bags – Bring your own reusable bags including those in which you put produce. Ask your grocer to use compostable bags.
Food wrappers – use beeswax food wraps, compostable wrappers, buy products in bulk.
Beverage bottles – use metal, glass or reuse your plastic one. See the links below as to how some communities are making use of the ones we already have on the planet… So innovative!
We need to create a thriving market for products made from recycled or compostable materials. There are products like clothes, shoes, rugs, household products, feminine sanitary items, etc made from recycled or compostable materials. When ever we can, we should buy these types of products. This will make recycling financially sustainable.
We can all participate locally. Bring our own bags, useable containers, straws etc. The worse plastic offenders are starting to be banned at the municipal level. You can engage in local politics to ensure this happens in your community.
Some other Earth friendly solutions: Put solar panels in parking lots. It keeps cars cool while generating carbon free electricity.
Plant and also protect as many trees as you can.
Human over population is the core cause. More people more garbage.
Fact or Myth? “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.”
Let’s analyze this comment by doing some calculations on a vegan/plant based diet.
To get a complete protein with all your essential amino acids when eating only a plant based diet, it is best you eat two of the three of the following food groups every day :
#2 Whole grains
The one nutrient that is impossible to get enough of is Vitamin B12. So you have to supplement with Methylcobalamin supplement. This is available at Costco!
How to calculate your daily Protein needs:
You need to know your ideal body weight. NOT your actual weight unless you are one of the fortunate few whose weight is between a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 19-24.9. Majority of Americans have a BMI is 25 or more (Asians that number starts at 23 or more). A BMI of >25 is in the overweight or obese categories. This would not be considered your ideal body weight. To calculate your ideal body weight use a BMI chart to figure this out. Below is a BMI chart I screen shot from internet (apologies for blurriness but you can get a better view from this link https://www.hmrprogram.com/resources/getting-started/bmi-chart ).
Find your height by looking in the first column- I circled 5’4″. After you find that on chart, go across to your weight. If it is not in the Green zone, then you need to calculate your ideal weight. Go back to Green zone for you height level. Pick any of the weight from Green zone for your height. Big boned folks pick BMI of 24. Average person pick 23. For example for someone who is 5’4″ and a BMI of 21. That persons ideal body weight is 122 lbs. For BMI of 23, that 5’4″person’s ideal body weight would be 134 lbs.
This will be the weight you use to calculate your daily protein needs.
3. Once you know your ideal body weight, you will need to multiply it by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So for average adult that factor would be 0. 36.
The chart below gives you some estimations.
Back to our example. Ideal body weight 122 lbs X 0.36 = 44 gm of protein per day is the RDA. Using the weight of 134 lbs ->48 gm
4. Here is a chart of foods and the amount of protein that it contains.
Sample diet for our 5’4″ example person who needs 44gm pf protein per day.
As you can see a Vegan Diet supplies plenty of protein.
Our example person needed 44 gm of protein a day and the sample diet supplied 55-72 gm of protein per day.
Of course if you are a bigger person, you portion sizes would be larger and hence protein amounts increases accordingly. Plus for athletes, there are many varieties of protein powders and drinks to meet increase protein needs.
So there we have it. “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.” IS A MYTH
Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. Everyone’s situation is different.
So shocked to be subjected to these negative comments from some of the guests:
It’s not enough protein for me
I can’t live without my red meat
I love red meat
Who cares about getting Alzheimer, I will be comfortable in a nursing home
Cows and global warming it’s fake news
I have fatigue when I do not eat meat
Too many pesticides in vegetables. Organic is fake
No human studies to show pesticides, GMO are bad for us. So what if bad for animals
Something was wrong with me (the host) bc I only ate plants
Wow. One person starts a negative comment and then others feel they have permission to join in. Herd mentality. Next thing you know everyone is making fun of people who eat a plant based diet. I felt like everyone was ganging up on me, the person who spent hours preparing a homemade meal. Rude. Is this what it is like in the school yard when a kid who is different gets bullied? Have people lost their sense of grace? Sense of appreciation? What was their intention? Lucky, I am grounded enough not to let this phase me.
I am not sure how these people were brought up, but I teach my kids this: Always be a great guest, no matter how much you disagree with something or someone. Find something positive to say. Be grateful that you were invited and thankful for friendship. Appreciate the work your host put into the dinner. Go out of your comfort zone and try something new and different. Practice giving positive compliments. If you don’t, you might not have another chance because likely you will not be invited back.
It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green…Kermit
“Roe” from Ikea and so are the quality of these directions 😉
This blog is a step by step guide to hosting a successful 4 hour dinner party.
Make everyone feel special by considering your guests’ dietary needs like food allergies, intolerances, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, lactose free, gluten free, etc. You can ask this question in the invitation. You want to be inclusive of everyone’s needs at your party. Something for everyone. People gave up their time to come, so make it worth their while 🙂
Request an RSVP at least 1 week before the event so you can plan things properly. Always plan for an extra guest or 2.
Some preliminaries to set your foundation for success:
Timing is important. You want all your hot foods to be ready at the same time. Slow cookers, rice cookers, and chafing pans are very useful to keep food warm until ready to serve. The food for dinner needs to be ready all at the same time. Write down a protocol with a timeline. What you are going to do and when. It starts days before and the day of the event. Included on this list should be cleaning up your place before the party.
You can always get hired help to assist in clean up at beginning and end, cook and serve. Local High School may have students willing to help especially those who have studied culinary arts or worked in a restaurant.
As the host, make sure everyone is engaging in the activities or conversation.
Menu wise, I always avoid Dairy (with some exceptions ) and sugar (honey is OK). Try to keep local and seasonal and organic.
Sample Menu: Appetizers, Drinks, Main Meal, Desserts
Standard Appetizers: Purchase these 2-4 days before event or if you are really busy most groceries stores deliver.
Comte Cheese from French Alps made from Raw milk and fermented 8-36 months, Brie, Vegan Cashew and or coconut milk cheese. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
Smoked Wild Salmon decorated with thin Lemon slices, Capers and or Dill. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
Fresh finger fruits like grapes , strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and or blackberries
Olives or Olive Tapenade. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
Guacamole or Salsa served with Corn Chips
Red and White wine. My general rule- no red wine drinking near carpet. In a small group people generally respect this
Kombucha is very popular these days
Water, plain and carbonated, lemon and or lime slices
Coffee and Teas
No soda, no juice
Make sure you have lots of ice on hand.
Main Dish :
Stews can be made 2-3 days before and heated up on stove or microwave and kept warm in chafing dish. Slow cookers are also handy for stews. Good to do this so you can focus on your guests during party. On the day of party, if serving rice, use a rice cooker. Set this up the night before. You can set timer so it can be ready when dinner starts or kept warm until you are ready to serve it. Some pastas can be ready in 5-10minutes. I boil some water in electric kettle and some on stove. Then combined the 2. This saves time.
Having your party catered in another option or bring in a chef. But that really adds to the cost. I have not done well with potlucks. The flavors of dishes that people bring don’t always complement each other and some people can bring some very unhealthy foods eg. Deep fried foods, processed foods, meaning they buy them because they don’t cook to have time to cook.
Easy Vegan main dish: examples Baked Tofu Bowl , Spaghetti or Fusilli with garlic marinara sauce or capellini with olive oil, chopped garlic, olives, and fresh basil (pescatarian can add chopped anchovies). I have posted other dishes on my blog, plus more to come in future. You can even have as an activity, all your guess make their own food, like rolling sushi or spring rolls. It is rather a fun thing to do together.
Make a salad dressing night before. Buy pre-washed organic baby kale or your favorite greens. Some come as mixes with carrots, cabbage etc. Open when ready to serve and mix with dressing. You should own a large wood salad bowl for tossing (Ikea has these).
Vegan ice cream or sorbet topped with fresh berries, sprinkle with liqueur (optional). Top with a tablespoon of almond or coconut yogurt. Then decorate with a mint leaf and or dark chocolate shaving. Skip the ice cream/sorbet if you want to keep sugar content down.
Offer coffee and tea (black and herbal)
Teach the practice of Hara Hachi Bu
The Japanese phrase, Hara Hachi Bu, means eat until you are 80% full. Higher caloric intake and overeating is common in USA. The Okinawans have a custom of self-imposed calorie restriction and regularly consume only 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day. This is a few hundred calories less than what the average American consumes. This is likely a major contributor to Okinawans remarkable health and long life spans.
Topped with Kim Chi and Asian Pickled Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach
This recipe is for the Baked Tofu. The bowl is filled with Brown Rice, then topped with Seasoned Tommy’s Sweet Potatoes from Costco, Spinach, Pickled Veggies, Baked Tofu recipe is below. To keep it low carb, you can skip the rice and use a bed of your favorite lettuce.
Set Oven for 400 degrees.
One package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu (14oz). Do not buy the super extra firm because it is so hard, it does not absorb the marinate, hence lacks flavor.
Drain fluid off Tofu. While still in box, cut Tofu into 1/2 x 2 inch pieces.
Cut Tofu in the box
Place into a medium glass dish and pour in enough marinate to cover the tofu pieces. Examples of marinates are Teriyaki, Curry or Gyoza dipping sauce. Cover. Marinate at least 2 hours to over night in refrigerator.
Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Spread out the Tofu pieces evenly onto sheet.
Bake at @ 400 degrees 15mins x 2 -> At 15min mark, flip tofu over and continue to bake for another 15mins. Although I don’t bother with flipping. It seems to turn out ok. You could use a metal rack to have the underside bake. I prefer to use Pure Convection setting on my oven. You get crispier results. For my oven, if I am using convection, I lower the temp by 25 degrees and reduce time by 10%. You need to know your oven…bon appétit.