Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A dose of friendly bacteria

Today, Tuesday, August 30, 2011, Page T6, Health
Source Website:
Eveline Gan, eveline@mediacorp.com.sg, 04:46 AM Aug 30, 2011

PHOTO: Yoghurt
Photo: www.jupiterimages.com, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd


Just how effective are probiotics?
IF YOU are a regular supermarket-goer, you would have probably noticed a mindboggling number of probiotic beverages, dairy products and even baby formula lining the aisles.

Food products containing "live cultures" or "friendly bacteria" have been around for years. Good sources of probiotics include yoghurt, soy beverages, fermented and unfermented milk and miso. In recent years, however, food manufacturers have become more adventurous with their offerings.

Not the sort to slurp up yoghurt? Well, you could still get your daily dose of probiotics in the form of powder, capsule or a snack bar.

For the uninitiated, probiotics are "beneficial microbes" that exist naturally as part of the intestinal microbiota, said Dr Reuben Wong, consultant and assistant professor at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at National University Hospital.

"We tend to think of bacteria as dangerous and disease-causing, but 'good' bacteria are actually essential components of the ecosystem in our gut," explained Dr Wong.

PHOTO: What are Probiotics?

A healthy gut to stimulate immunity
Professor Hania Szajewska from the Department of Paediatrics at The Medical University of Warsaw told TODAY that "disturbances in gut microbiota during early life may have consequences extending into adulthood".

Gut microbiota plays an important role in developing immunity. Certain diseases such as asthma, allergy, obesity, Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease have been linked to abnormal intestinal colonisation, said Prof Szajewska, who was in town in July to share clinical evidence on the use of probiotics during pregnancy and lactation.

Prof Szajewska said the use of probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding may be a "promising strategy" in reducing the child's risk of developing certain diseases later in life.

Relieve certain tummy woes
According to Dr Wong, there is good evidence for the use of probiotics in relieving gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome - it has been found to improve consistency of runny stools and reduce tummy pain.

In children, probiotics are also used to treat gastroenteritis, added Dr Wong. It also helps to reduce the duration and severity of diarrhoea.

According to Mr Kua Chong Han, a patient care pharmacist at Guardian Health and Beauty, who is also in the Ministry of Health's Food Drug Administration Instructions Committee, those who experience tummy discomfort and diarrhoea from taking antibiotics may also benefit from probiotics.

Explaining how, Mr Kua said: "Antibiotics kill the foreign bad bacteria in our body. However, inevitably, they may also end up killing the good bacteria in the large intestine that keeps our bowel healthy. This leads to diarrhoea and stomach discomfort after a course of antibiotics."

Mr Kua added that taking probiotic strains consisting of "good bacteria" similar to those found in the intestine, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, may help restore the balance disrupted by antibiotics. He advised taking probiotics at least an hour before consuming antibiotics.

Safe for everyone?
According to the experts, probiotics are generally safe and have little side effects for most people.

However, Prof Szajewska said caution should be taken for the critically ill, those with a compromised immunity, such as those on chemotherapy, and pre-term infants.

She added that not all strains of probiotics are equal. It is important for consumers to choose a probiotic product from a recognised manufacturer. The safety and effectiveness of the product should be supported by clinical trials, said Prof Szajewska.

Dr Wong also stressed that probiotics are "not a panacea for all ailments".

"There are lots of claims on how probiotics can do everything from strengthening immune system to reducing allergies but you will need to study the evidence carefully before drawing any conclusions," he said.

Dr Wong offered this advice: Check out the evidence to find out which specific strains and formulations have undergone clinical trials. Then, if the product helps with your symptoms, stick with it.

The skinny on probiotics - tips from the experts on what to look out for
  • Go with well-established brands and reputable retailers, advised patient care pharmacist Kua Chong Han.

"Online retailers may not be subjected to the same strict regulations," he said. A good brand will list the full names of the strains, the number of colony-forming units (CFU), dosage and storage conditions. It may also list the studied clinical benefits of each strain and support its claims with studies.

  • Check with your healthcare professional before starting a probiotic product, or if you experience any side effects.
  • Remember that while probiotics can be used as a complement to your medical treatment, they should not be used as a complete replacement for prescribed medical care.
By Eveline Gan, eveline@mediacorp.com.sg, 04:46 AM Aug 30, 2011


Alexandra Canal — A new look and better drainage

Today, Tuesday, August 30, 2011, Page 4, Hot News,
Source Website:
CHANNEL NEWSASIA, 04:46 AM Aug 30, 2011

PHOTO: An artist's impression of Alexandra Canal from Zion Road. PHOTO COURTESY PUB, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

SINGAPORE - A 250-metre stretch of Alexandra Canal, between Zion Road and Kim Seng Road, will be reconstructed to improve drainage and prevent floods.

The national water agency, PUB, said yesterday the stretch will also be transformed into a scenic waterway with recreational spaces.

PHOTO: Singapore River/Alexandra Canal, 14th March 2010

The canal will be widened and deepened from an original 27m-by-3m trapezoidal drain into a 28m-by-5.7m U-shaped drain. This is expected to improve drainage capacity and help alleviate flooding at nearby low-lying areas such as the junction of Alexandra Road and Lower Delta Road and the area between Jervois Road and Prince Charles Crescent.

The PUB has awarded the public tender for the project - worth S$46.8 million - to Eng Lam Contractor Co. The project starts next month and is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2014.

The transformation of the waterway will bring a softer, more natural landscape to the busy urban setting, said the PUB.

PHOTO: Alexandra Canal (An artist’s impression of Alexandra Canal, where residents can look forward to lookout decks with water features, softened canal banks and urban wetland)

A rain garden will also be incorporated to help treat rainwater runoff from the promenade so cleaner water flows into the canal. Four cantilever viewing decks will also be constructed together with landscaping to allow visitors to enjoy the view from there.
By CHANNEL NEWSASIA, 04:46 AM Aug 30, 2011


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Art books elevate the Picassos of pulp

The New York Times, Sunday, August 28, 2011, Page 15, Arts & Styles
Source Website:
Dana Jennings (The New York Times), Updated: 2011-08-28 08:01

PHOTO: A darker knight

The place of comic books at the cultural dinner table has never been more secure. Summertime films have come to mean superhero movies. Comics-related museum shows and gallery exhibitions are a regular part of the art world palette. And the market for original comic-book art continues to be strong.

Comics' rising legitimacy means the genre can focus more than ever on defining its four-color canon. In the old days that canon was pretty much set by price guides aimed at collectors. But a recent proliferation of art volumes continues to help anchor and expand notions of which artists matter most in the 80-year history of comics.

A quiet revolution is going on in comics art books. There are portfolio-size editions scanned from original artwork, and younger and less-well-known artists getting the full-color hardcover treatment. These books are aimed at serious fans, but also at those who savor graphic design and illustration.

Scott Dunbier, senior editor of special projects for IDW Publishing, a leader in books of comics art, says there's a pleasure in having "the ability to present the art in a way you've never seen it before, in showcasing this very American art form beyond what can be appreciated from a comic book."

PHOTO: Peeking over the artist's shoulder

Peeking over the artist's shoulder
Looking over one of IDW's Artist's Editions is like being there at the beginning: you swear you can hear the "scritch-scritch" of pencil on paper. These books, measuring 44 centimeters by 31 centimeters, are reproduced from the original art. They not only help create and reinforce the canon of comic book art, but also pretty much make the idea of going back to reading regular-sized comics seem futile.

Dave Stevens' "
The Rocketeer" kicked off the project last year.

PHOTO: Too cool to be forgotten

Too cool to be forgotten
Though some recent projects focus on modern talent, that doesn't mean comics' old-timers are being snubbed. There's no shortage of art books celebrating patriarchs like Jack Kirby, who essentially created the Marvel universe with Stan Lee.

A good example is "Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth." This oversize tome beautifully reproduces page upon page of comics drawn by the influential Mr. Toth. But what's most shocking is that the book's cover shrieks Matisse - not vintage comics artist.

PHOTO: A darker knight

A darker knight
"Batman: Hush Unwrapped" is Durer on steroids, the Northern Renaissance dragged through the rough and roguish streets of Gotham City. Written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee, one of the most popular mainstream artists in the late '80s and early '90s, "Hush" was one of the best-selling graphic novels of the 2000s.

But "Hush Unwrapped" is all about the art. Printed in black-and-white right from Mr. Lee's pencil work, you can almost taste the unholy urban grit. The art, above, is raw; so overpowering, in fact, that it's
impossible to focus on the story. It's an unprecedented kind of book from DC Comics, and fixes Mr. Lee's place among the best interpreters of Batman, alongside Frank Miller and Neal Adams.
(China Daily 08/28/2011 page12)
By Dana Jennings (The New York Times), Updated: 2011-08-28 08:01


Friday, August 26, 2011

New Serangoon bus interchange to open soon

ource Website:
David Lim, my paper, Friday, Aug 26, 2011, limhw@sph.com.sg

PHOTO: COOL PLACE: The fully air-conditioned bus interchange im Serangoon Avenue 2, which is linked to retail mall nex and Serangoon MRT station, will open next Saturday, September 3, (PHOTO: JAMIE KOH)

After nearly three years of waiting, residents in Serangoon can look forward to a new bus interchange next Saturday, September 3.

The fully air-conditioned facility will provide a seamless link to retail mall nex and Serangoon MRT station, which is on the North-East Line as well as the Circle Line.

Occupying a land area of 7,000 sq m, the interchange in Serangoon Avenue 2 will replace the non-air-conditioned one in Serangoon Central.

PHOTO: Graphic illustration of traffic improvement measures

It will take commuters 2.5 minutes to walk from the new interchange to nex, down from the current five minutes.

Mr Chan Kwok Cheong, the Land Transport Authority's (LTA's) director for public transport promotion and services, said yesterday: "The new bus interchange will give commuters easy and direct access to the MRT station and nex.

"This makes it easier for them to run errands or grab a bite before continuing with their journey."

The $18.8 million project is the fifth integrated transport hub to be completed, allowing commuters to move between a bus interchange, MRT station and adjoining commercial buildings conveniently.

The other hubs are in Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Sengkang and Boon Lay.

PHOTO: Multiple Entrances to New Serangoon Bus Interchange

The new Serangoon interchange is accessible from six points, including basement two of nex and via a sheltered pedestrian overhead bridge in Serangoon Avenue 2.

The facility comes with barrier-free accessibility features, such as dedicated boarding points, tactile aids for the blind and graduated kerb edges to facilitate boarding and disembarking from buses.

An LTA spokesman said that about 6,000 commuters use the existing bus interchange, with the number expected to go up with the completion of the new hub.

To manage vehicular traffic, LTA has implemented measures in the vicinity, such as creating a traffic-light junction at the entrance to the new interchange.

With the opening of the interchange, two of the 10 existing bus services - 81 and 82 - will have their routes amended, said SBS Transit. The two services will no longer end in Serangoon, but will become loop services originating from Tampines and Punggol bus interchanges, respectively.

Yesterday, nex opened a covered pedestrian bridge linking the mall to a Housing Board multi-storey carpark in Block 264 of Serangoon Central.

Serangoon resident Tan Keng Kiang, 31, an engineer, said that the new interchange will provide a more comfortable environment for commuters, but he also voiced concern that the integrated facilities will attract more people to the area, leading to congestion.

Over the next decade, LTA will build more transport hubs in Jurong East, Bedok, Joo Koon and Marina South. Another one, in Clementi, is expected to open by year's end.

我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Direct access: 直达通道 - zhíí dá tōng dào
Boarding: 上车 - shàng chē
Traffic light: 交通灯 - jiāo tōng dēng
Congesion: 拥挤 - yōng jǐ


Potassium-rich diet lessen stroke risk

Source Website:
Reuters, Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:47AM GMT

PHOTO: High-potassium foods are generally healthy ones, including beans, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy.
http://previous.presstv.ir/photo/20110818/mortazavi20110818092004890.jpg http://www.presstv.ir/detail/194498.html

People that enjoy a diet high in potassium may be at a lower risk of developing a stroke, compared to counterparts who consume less amounts of the mineral.

A review of 10 international studies involving nearly 270,000 middle-aged and older adults showed Swedish scientists that stroke risk decreased as people's reported potassium intake went up.

PHOTO: Many normal functions of the body depend on the proper amounts of potassium in the body.

According to the results, every 1,000-milligram (mg) increase in daily potassium intake were associated with one percent lower odds of stroke in the next five to 14 years, the scientists wrote in the journal Stroke.

"Dietary potassium intake is inversely associated with risk of stroke," wrote lead researcher Susanna Larsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

PHOTO: Benefits and Nutrition in nuts/Grains

Since high-potassium foods are generally healthy ones, including beans, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy, the findings offer one more reason for people to eat more of them, Larsson told Reuters Health.

PHOTO: SWEET POTASSIUM: The sweet potato is an excellent source of potassium.
(Photo: USDAgov/Flickr)

Potassium is an electrolyte needed for maintaining the body's fluid balance, and is also involved in nerve and muscle control, and blood pressure regulation. Studies suggest that high-potassium diet helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and possibly protect against heart disease and stroke.

The researchers said that the mineral was specifically associated with a lower risk of ischemic strokes, those caused by a blockage in an artery feeding the brain, which account for about 80 percent of strokes.

PHOTO: Foods with Potassium - Apples

However, potassium was not linked to lower odds of hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when there is bleeding in the brain, Larsson and her team added.

If potassium protects against ischemic stroke only, that would suggest there are reasons other than better blood pressure control, the researchers suggested.
By Reuters, Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:47AM GMT, SJM/MB

PHOTO: Eating breakfast – some people think that skipping meals will help them to lose weight, wrong!
Skipping breakfast is the biggest mistake people make. When you wake up your body is conserving energy as it doesn’t know if and when you will eat again. By eating breakfast you are telling it that food is available and your metabolism increases so you actually burn up more fat during the rest of the day.


我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Potassium: - jiǎ
Heart disease: 心脏病 - xīn zàng bìng
Ischemic strokes: 缺血性中风 - quē xuè xìng zhòng fēng
Excrete: 排出 - pái chū


Monday, August 22, 2011

Sold on excellent Thai service

Source Website:
Geoff Tan, my paper | Mon, Aug 22 2011

PHOTO: Sold on excellent Thai service

PHOTO: Geoff Tan
The writer is a senior vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings’ marketing division.


I can't help but rave once more about its people's warm and affable hospitality.

HAVING just returned from my annual golfing holiday to Thailand, I can't help but rave once more about its people's warm and affable hospitality.

Last year, I wrote about what I called the khob kun kha culture - because just about every encounter ends with khob kun kha (thank you) in "the Land of a Thousand Smiles".

In particular, I mentioned a foot reflexologist who had waded through a flash flood to hail a taxi for me and my friends, without expecting anything in return.

She even made sure that the driver reversed the vehicle as close to the kerb as possible, so that we could enter it without getting our feet wet.

This year, my friends and I encountered many more examples of such excellent service during our five-day trip.

From going out of their way to make additional arrangements for us, to taking the time to point us in the right direction, Thai service staff are exceptional.

One incident that really stood out occurred when I was shopping for Apple accessories at MBK Centre, a huge shopping mall in Bangkok.

I saw a floral iPad cover that I really liked. After much bargaining, I negotiated the price from 1,800 baht (S$72) to 1,500 baht.

I paid happily and continued shopping - only to be confronted with the same product being sold in another shop.

"1,000 baht each. If you buy two, I give you for 900 baht each!" the salesgirl said.

That was when I felt cheated by the staff of the first shop. I quickly bought two more covers.

I decided to storm back to the first shop to give the salesman a piece of my mind.

However, he flashed a big smile when he saw me approaching, which was enough for me to ditch my aggressive stance.

I explained to him that I felt taken for a ride and showed him the products and receipt from the other shop. He examined them and then consulted his boss.

Looking a little embarrassed, his boss reached for his money pouch.

I thought he was going to match the price of 900 baht and give me a 600-baht refund. Instead, he apologised, handed me 1,500 baht and said that he would take the product back.

I was stunned by what had just happened. I thought immediately: What would have happened if a similar situation had occurred in Singapore?

It was my turn to feel embarrassed. The boss then explained to me that he could not sell the cover at 900 baht, because the shop had bought it for more.

I left MBK Centre, happy, impressed and determined to spread the word about the culture of good service in Thailand, where people show a natural and genuine humility without the need for national campaigns.

Khob kun kha, Thailand! I am sold, once again.
By Geoff Tan, my paper | Mon, Aug 22 2011

The writer is a senior vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings’ marketing division.

我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Hospitality: 招待 - zhāo dài
Foot reflexologist: 脚底按摩师 - jiǎo dǐ àn mó shī
Floral: 花纹图案的 - huā wén tú àn de
Consulted: 咨询 - zī xún