Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Stay healthy this Christmas

Chrisley Ann Hinayas - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Christmas is not only an opportunity for families to get together. It is also one long season of festivities and holiday treats. It is a safe bet that Filipinos, especially Cebuanos, would not miss on the crispy lechon (roasted pig) paired with a glass of cold beer or softdrinks at Christmas dinners!

This is the time of the year when all of us seem not to mind the self-imposed no-rice diet or the all-vegetarian meal. For some, Christmas is a much-anticipated indulgence of the taste buds. After giving in to the temptation - the mouth-watering lechon kawali, crispy pata, pochero, calderata, however, not to overindulge and take note of the serious health problems that might develop later on.

A bigger waistline, extra pounds, and the sudden increase of blood sugar, higher bad cholesterol level and blood pressure need to be taken into consideration also. When the holidays are over, we find ourselves regretting having eaten that extra slice of chocolate cake or drinking all that alcohol.

No, this is not about abstaining or depriving ourselves of the food while others are happily celebrating. This is about reminding ourselves that Christmas is also a time of being aware that too much of what we eat and drink can bring serious health risks. There is no "un-eat" button on our body to offload the extra food we took so as to get rid of the excess that's likely to cost us our good health.

What we give our body everyday as nourishment determines the eventual state of our health. The foods that we eat that are rich in fat, for example, can increase our risk of acquiring diseases like cancer.

Fat, per se, is not bad, as experts say it does not only supply calories but also provide essential fatty acids, including the omega-3 variety; and vitamins A, D, and E. Fats like these in the oily varieties of fish and nuts make our blood vessels function well. These fats also prevent ailments like heart disease, arthritis, and immune system deficiencies.

It is the excessive amounts of fats that harm our body systems. High-fat diet tend to be higher in calories and may increase the risk of obesity or being overweight - which can, in turn, increase the risk of cancer.

The key is moderation.  This applies to alcohol, intake, too. Though it is a challenge to most men, they should only drink alcohol beverages with temperance. Too much alcohol consumption can significantly expose one to a higher risk developing one of several types of cancer - liver cancer.

Liver cancer is disease in which liver cells become damaged and are replaced by scar tissues. Most primary liver cancers begin in the liver cells or the hepatocytes. This type of cancer is called hepatocellular carcinoma or malignant hepatoma.

The 1998-2007 data from the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.-Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center show that there were 2,623 deaths out of the 3,174 liver cancer cases in Metro Cebu in that period, or a mortality rate of 82.64 percent. In the same study, Lapu-Lapu City has the highest number of liver cancer cases in Metro Cebu, where 80 percent of those diagnosed developed liver cancer due to Hepatitis B while the remaining 20 percent is due to alcoholism.

Liver cancer has a poor prognosis because signs and symptoms often do not appear until it is already at a very late stage. The common symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen on the right side; a lump or a feeling heaviness in the upper abdomen; swollen abdomen; loss of appetite and feelings of fullness; weight loss; and yellowing of skin and eyes or jaundice.

Cancers that are linked to particular behaviors and habits are the easiest ways to prevent. Thirty percent of cancers can be prevented by regular exercise; healthy diet; and avoidance of smoking and alcohol drinking.

But despite being extra careful Christmas need not be dull. At Christmas gatherings, focus on your loved ones, not on the food. Talk to your grandparents or cousins whom you have not seen for a long time. Or bring back the connection you have lost after moving out from your parents' house.

Choose to eat healthy. Take a small part of meat, chicken, vegetable salad, and fish. Be conscious of the amount of what you put on your plate so you would not end up having leftovers. Also, drink moderately. Learn how to say no, especially if you have had a few class glasses already. As much as possible, go for non-alcoholic beverages so you could enjoy the rest of the celebration.

And though we always feel tired after the "let's morning the night" celebration, we must not forget to exercise, such as brisk walking, running, or having a workout session - all to burn the excess calories.

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