Month: September 2013

Cherish Charity

Charity is a very long-established concept. All the main religions embrace it, in one way or the other. Charity is very much in line with both religious philosophy and general, securlar concerns about humanity. In addition to religious bodies numerous foundations, trusts, non-governmental organizations and philanthropic individuals work for good causes all over the world.

There are the big names in the “industry” such as Oxfam, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that many heard of. These tend to run by professional staff, have huge budgets, receive generous donations and can have a significant impact on globally pressing matters. In addition to the big “brand-name” charities, there are also small, local organizations and little charity shops that work with local staff and volunteers, tackling small-scale but significant problems in their locations.

Today’s post aims to promote the work of the small charities and seeks to encourage you to get involved, give support and help the needy. Some of these points will be well known to a number of you.  However, it may be beneficial to remind ourselves from time-to-time of the benefit of charitable endevors.

It is a nice idea to offer small donations if you have the means. Even small contributions can make a difference, especially if enough of us contribute a little for a good cause. Little by little substantial amounts may be raised and thus big goals can be realized. Nevertheless, charity does not solely equate to monetary donations. Contributions via volunteer work, time and effort also counts and sometimes it is even more valuable than simply opening our purses and wallets. Sacrificing our time or offering our skills are equally charitable acts.

CharityShopKatie Wright, The Telegraph

If you wish to get involved but don’t know how to start, here are five tips to help you to get started:

  1. Offer your unnecessary items for the needy – things that you don’t need or don’t use but are still in good condition. Unwanted presents and clothes that you haven’t worn for a few years, or household items that are sitting around in your house without any plans to use them will be appreciated by someone else. You can do so via the nearest charity or religious organization. Contact them or look out for collection boxes, where you can place your items.
  2. Help out at one of the local charities. If there isn’t any in your area, you can offer your help to the local nursery, school, old people’s home or the social department of your municipality, the public library, the local hospital or an animal shelter. The choice is abundant. Teachers and social workers tend to be overworked and underpaid so they will probably welcome your giving a helping hand, even if it is only for an hour or two. Whatever your skills are, somewhere both your time and your skills will be useful and very much appreciated.
  3. If you are into sports, sign up for a charity run or walk. The concept is getting more and more popular and lots of money may be raised to support you on your charity run or walk.  The secondary benefit of such an endeavor will be your increased fitness level! Check out to find an event you may be interested in.
  4. Offer a little cash for a microfinance loan offered to low-income people or individuals without access to credit. A microfinance loan can help disadvantaged people to launch a small business or fulfill their diverse needs. Check out Kiva and choose a little project that you would be happy to lend your money to:
  5. Sponsor a child in a developing country.  Organizations such a and allow you to review profiles of children in various corners of the planet who need help with basics, such as access to clean drinking water and education.
Children in AfricaChildren in Africa by Jonathan Tolleneer
on Pinterest

In my view giving or sharing something, doing something for others or helping someone in need can be deeply rewarding. Giving or helping just for the sake of it, without compensation or expectation, pleases the soul. It is part of our human nature. So, find a cause that matters to you. Help, give and enjoy the spiritual reward and the knowledge that you can make a small difference.

Not So Fantastic Plastic

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), production of plastic has reached a staggering 265 million tons in 2010. Additionally, plastic production has increased by about 5% per annum since the 1990s. It can be expected that this trend will continue and may even increase over the longer term.

Plastic surrounds us

Wherever we look, we find ourselves surrounded by plastic. Furniture, gadgets, utensils, clothing accessories and even building materials are either made of, or make use of, plastic.

A mind-boggling amount of plastic is used by the food industry, too. Ready-made food tends to be packaged in attractive looking plastic or plastic-coated packaging. Vegetables are sold in little plastic boxes or trays presented so as to convince us about their quality and purity. Bread is delivered in a plastic pouch, juices and milk comes in plastic bottles or plastic coated cartons, frozen food is sold in thick plastic bags. Whatever product we can think of, it comes with a layer of plastic around it, in some form or the other.


The personal care industry is no different. Most products on supermarket shelves come in plastic containers. The packaging of shampoos, lotions, creams, and toothpaste all come with high amounts of plastic, not to mention personal hygiene and baby care merchandise.

This pervasive use of product is a marker of the modern era. Various chemical technologies help to make our lives easier. These technologies contribute to the development of consumption-oriented societies, where a vast amount of merchandise is available cheaply, thanks to mass production in the Far East. Given the low price, quality cannot be always expected to be good. So, we use such products for a while and then throw them away. Replacement is easy and inexpensive and the choice is abundant.

What’s the problem with plastic?

The key problem with the unprecedented level of plastic usage in the 21st century is the amount of waste it generates. Many types of plastic do not biodegrade at all. If they do, the breakdown process may only take place if certain circumstances prevail. Sometimes an extremely long time is needed for plastic waste to degrade.

Due to the lack of biodegradability, plastic either ends up in landfills, is incinerated or ends up in our oceans. Given the amount of plastic we use, landfills are scarce. Incineration may cause the release of toxins and heavy metals ending into the air, waters and soil. Eventually these harmful harms can end up entering the food chain.


So, the process is sometimes dangerous to the environment and to human health. Sometimes plastic waste is washed into our waters and floats around for several years in sewers, streams, rivers and seas before vast quantities of plastic items come together in the middle of our oceans. As a result, marine debris patches are found in the North Pacific and in the Atlantic. The plastic floating around in the middle of the oceans has wide-ranging consequences including substantially disturbing the marine life.

What can we do about this matter?

Given that plastic dominates the modern lifestyle, it is impossible to eliminate it. What we can do is to recycle what we can and reduce our plastic consumption.

Recycling plastic is sometimes a tricky business as it cannot always be recycled. Sometimes, it can be “downcycled” only, i.e. lower grade plastic items can be made out of recycled plastic. However, downcycling can only happen a few times before such a plastic item ends as a waste product.

What may be more effective is to reduce our plastic consumption. Here are five tips that can help us in dramatically decreasing our individual plastic consumption. If enough of us try to embrace these idea, such can have a powerful, collective impact.

  1. Refuse to use plastic bags when shopping. Handsome textile alternatives and wicker baskets are readily available. Use reusable cotton mesh produce sacks to measure fruit and vegetables in supermarkets. The fruit & veg section tends to be a major place of plastic bag usage.
  2. Don’t purchase overly-packaged food & personal care items. Opt for ones that are sold in glass jars, glass bottles or metal containers, as these are easier to recycle. Refuse all plastic that you don’t need.
  3. Reduce take-away food purchases, use your own metal mug when you buy your take-away coffee and ditch straws, plastic cups, tops and plastic cutlery.
  4. Buy in bulk. Larger items require less packaging. As a consequence, less packaging is thrown away and therefore the impact on the environment is proportionally less. As a nice bonus, you will also save a little money in the process!
  5. If you no longer need a possession that is in decent condition, don’t throw it away. Sell it via an online market place or, better yet, offer it for the needy. There are countless charities that welcome donations. It is not only better for the environment, but it feels good, too.

If you have thoughts on the subject and further tips, let me know!


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Foods to Fight Cancer

Cancer is a disease (or more accurately a series of diseases) of the modern age that “is the leading cause of death worldwide [which] accounted for 7.6 million death (around 13% of all death) in 2008” according to the World Health Organisation. The prevalence of cancer cannot be ignored.  As a consequence, prevention and the fight against cancer are matters that deserves our utmost attention.

With the number of cancer deaths continuing to increase, it is natural to look for ways in which our exposure to the disease can be limited. A scientifically well-founded argument about a nutritional route to preventing and fight certain types of cancer is presented in the book: “Foods to Fight Cancer” by Richard Béliveau, Ph.D. and Denis Gingras, Ph.D. The book does not promise to cure the disease, nor does it suggest that cancer is wholly preventable.  However, it does advocate a sensible dietary route that may help to with prevention.  The book also offers good advice for those who have already been diagnosed as having cancer.

Part one of the book elaborates on what cancer  is, the types of cancer there are, the distribution of the disease and its risk factors. It provides some statistics and briefly elaborates on the link between cancer and the modern life, as well as the connection between cancer and obesity. We learn quite a bit about cancer and its nature as well as the stages of its evolution. Additionally, the books gives insight into the currently available therapies and treatments. Once a base understanding of the disease has been established, the authors proceed to explain that food is an abundant source of anticancer agents.  Further, how plant hormones (phytoestrogens) act against tumors and how nutrition therapy can help us prevent and fight this disease. We learn what nutraceuticals (a combination of “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”) which include potent anticancer agents.

Although it is a highly technical subject, the authors provide a perfectly understandable overview for general readers, without medical knowledge. Flow charts and graphs provide visual aids for understanding the content of the book, making sure that anyone with interest in this subject can grasp the content.

Part two of the book contains eleven chapters. Each of these chapters gives an informative overview on a nutraceutical, a food that fights cancer.

We learn that “cancer hates cabbage” and that the members of the cabbage family (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) have therapeutic virtues due to the fact that they contain the largest variety of phytochemicals. We also learn that “garlic and onions ward off cancer” and what kind of anticancer properties onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives contain. For example, garlic contains a compound named “allicin”, a antimicrobial agent that prevents the formation of carcinogens.



The chapter “Benefits of soy” provides an introduction to soy, which is an integral part of Asian diets, but which is much less commonly used in the West. We also learn that soybeans, miso, soy milk and tofu contain isoflavones, a type of molecule that can influence events associated with the growth of cancer cells. The book also introduces us to “turmeric: the anticancer spice”, which is primarily consumed in India, where certain cancer types occur are much more rarely than in Western countries. It is believed that the consumption of tumeric makes a significant contribution in this regard.

The book educates us as to why we should drink lots of Japanese green tea. In short, green tea – especially the Japanese type – contains complex molecules called catechins, which have antifungal and antibacterial properties.

The chapter “A Passion for Berries” provides insights into the benefits of eating delicious raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries. These are particularly abundant sources of polyphenols.



Béliveau  and Gingras explain that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the human diet for the synthesis of anti-inflammatory molecules. These are unsaturated fats that should be consumed preferably in the form of whole foods e.g. sardines, herring, mackerel or salmon. Vegetarians may also boost their intake of Omega-3s from flax seeds or walnuts. Omega-3s not only play a role in cancer prevention but they block the formation of cardiovascular diseases, too. The book also suggests that tomatoes are the friend of prostate, especially in cooked form. Lycopene, a pigment that gives the red colour to the tomatoes, can potentially interfere with cancer formation, in particular prostate cancer.

General wisdom is that citrus fruits including lemons, oranges, grapefruit and mandarins are abundant source of vitamin C. Additionally, citrus fruits contain significant amounts of phytochemicals. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the consumption of citrus fruit can decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancers, in particular digestive tract cancers. The book recommends moderate consumption of red wine, as it has unique health properties thanks to a plant hormone, which is exclusively found in red wine, called reservatrol. It is an extremely powerful and potent anticancer molecule. According to the book chocolate is a “good obsession”, at least a good quality version of dark cholocate. It is rich in important polyphenols and due to its antioxidant activity its consumption may have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, too.



Part three of the book explores the role that supplements play in our diets. It provides a solid argumentation against taking supplements as a substitute for a diet rich in nutraceuticals. It also promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables and other anticancer foods as opposed to pills and capsules.

To conclude, the book suggests simple and practical lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, lowering calorific intake, reducing red meat consumption, exercising regularly, as well as focusing on a diet containing a variety of anticancer foods.

The book is inspiring and gives a good guidance for nutrition.  Following its advice won’t of guarantee any outcome but it may contribute to helping any of us avoiding one of the most frightful diseases of the modern times.

The book is available on Amazon:

Foods to Fight Cancer


Have a good read and let me know what you think.

Buzz in Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the most exciting cities in South-East Asia. It is a busy Asian metropolis, which has both a modern and a traditional face. While the city has modern facilities it is also possible to observe a traditional, truly Asian lifestyle here. It is full of buzz, so no wonder that it gets under the skin of the unsuspecting traveler.

Bangkok has many sights that are worth paying a visit to. The Grand Palace is a must see for visitors. It used to be the official residence of the kings of Siam for more than 200 years. Although the current king of Thailand does not reside at the palace, many government offices are still housed here and it is used for official and diplomatic events. The palace is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and it consists of several buildings, pavilions and halls, as well as courtyards and gardens. Its architecture and atmosphere are absolutely amazing!



There are more than four hundred temples in and around Bangkok. Out of these, four hundred temples (known as “wat”-s, literally meaning “school”) three deserves special attention: Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Pho are definitely worth your time when you are in Bangkok.

Wat Pra Kaew is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is the most famous Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Buddha statue, carved into a block of jade, is an impressive sight. So is the gallery, which is covered with murals featuring scenes of the Ramayana, an epic work of literature. Wat Arun is the “Temple of Dawn”, a famous landmark of Bangkok. It is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun is built around a central “prang”, a Khmer-style tower, which is flanked by four lower towers. The temple is nicely decorated with various figures and statues. Wat Pho is known as “The Temple of the Reclining Buddha”. It is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and is famous for its giant Buddha statue, covered in gold leaf.

Once you have visited these fantastic landmarks of Thai culture & architecture, it is worth exploring Bangkok’s vibrant art scene, too. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is a new facility, devoted to the display of contemporary arts. The centre offers exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances and cultural events. The Thailand Creative & Design Centre features modern Thai design. Exciting interactive exhibitions display Thai history and culture in the Museum of Siam. If you are interested in unusual and quirky things, the Royal Barges National Museum and the Bangkok Doll Factory & Museum may be a place for you. In the former, the fleet of royal boats can be observed, while the latter features 400 dolls from around the world, as well as handmade dolls, inspired by Thai mythology and history. If you are fan of handcrafts, you may watch dolls being skillfully made on the spot.

Thai markets are fun to visit, too. They are so lively and vibrant, it is easy to soak in their fantastic atmosphere. The Chatuchak Weekend Market, also known as JJ, is an institution in Bangkok, where you can buy absolutely everything! They sell clothes and garments, antiques, souvenirs, books, plants, pets and food, too.  The floating markets are very special, too. The Amphawa Floating Market, which is roughly 90 kms away from Bangkok, offers insights into the traditional, local way of life. It is not too touristy compared to other floating markets in and around Bangkok (e.g. Damnoen Saduak), but offers fantastic insight into how market traders offer their fresh vegetables, fruits and even local food cooked in the floating kitchens or on the boats. It is a great experience, and is definitely worth taking the time to visit one of these exceptional markets and taste the local food made in this special way.


Papaya Park

Thai food is delicious; so don’t hesitate to taste some of the famous triumphs of Thai cuisine. The cuisine often uses meat but one can find vegetarian options or you may ask to substitute meat with tofu. Pad Thai (with tofu, instead of chicken) is an amazing dish, which is made all over Thailand in slightly different variations. Rice and vegetable curries, stir-fry vegetables and soups are on offer to please vegetarians and vegans. Those who eat meat have a wide range of exciting and exotic options when it comes to a good Thai lunch or dinner.

Bangkok is famous for its nightlife, too. It is a good idea to visit one of the rooftop bars, which offer amazing views over the city skyline. Dinner cruises, ladyboy cabaret shows, jazz bars and pubs all await you to show another, unique face of Bangkok.

Bangkok is also a great place to try the famous Thai massage (which may be somewhat of a painful experience) or one of the more gentle oily massages. You may visit a Thai kickboxing match or enroll for a day at a Thai cookery course. Whatever you prefer, this city and its people won’t let you down. The city is ideally located and very well connected for exploring the charming cities and islands of Thailand, or the treasures of the wider South-East Asia.