Monthly Archives: May 2015

Lessons From My Dream Trip To Bolivia

Have you ever had a dream to do something, but thought that you had to defer it until years later? I did. And, then, I made it happen last month.

When I was 16, my Grandma asked me to join her on a trip to Bolivia. She had spent two of her teen years living there while her parents were missionaries. Having retired, she decided to take a reunion trip and wanted a traveling companion who wasn’t afraid to talk to strangers, me. It was the first time I had the chance to travel beyond North America, and the first time I saw what real poverty looks like in person. The people of Bolivia have held a special place in my heart ever since, and I promised myself that I would return to help them someday.

©HolliMargell The road to Toro Toro, Bolivia.

©HolliMargell The road to Toro Toro, Bolivia.

I thought that I would have to wait until I was in my retirement years and my kids were grown to follow that dream. And, then last summer, I stumbled upon a website for Workshops With Purpose, whose mission is to teach photographers about non-profit photography in practice – actually on the ground, immersion style. Suddenly, that old promise had a chance to shine. I applied, and just got back from the trip on April 26th.

Photography has been my passion since I was 17, and having the chance to use my skills in a way that helps while learning was a dream come true: A full circle journey to learn that I love helping people with my photography. We traveled as a team of 16 people working outside ToroToro, Bolivia to document the work that Food For The Hungry is doing to change the fact that Bolivia has the 2nd highest infant mortality rate, and a high malnourished childhood population. The rural people live in mud-brick houses with little more than potatoes and corn to eat. Food For The Hungry is changing that by helping them diversify their crops, learn irrigation and teach them basic nutrition.

I could sing praises for the work being done, but instead, I wanted to share what the malnourished in Bolivia showed me through my experience. They work hard and are open to learning new things. Food For The Hungry isn’t handing out free food. They are offering to teach and empower the people to do the work themselves. Can you imagine being malnourished and still willing and eager to learn? To work hard when you haven’t had enough to eat your whole life?

Another thing that I learned from the malnourished kids in Bolivia is that we are resilient. The kids I met were not only eager to learn new skills and try new vegetables, but they are able to grow past the poverty they were born into in order to thrive. We visited a school, and learned that they have been given 3 old sewing machines. Both the teachers and students were excited to learn a new skill no matter if they had the latest equipment or not. They were grateful.

Teaching farming and irrigation to fight childhood malnutrition.

Teaching farming and irrigation to fight childhood malnutrition.

There has been a bit of a reverse-culture shock for me now that I am home. My kids still fight for “screen time” to watch their favorite shows, my husband still works too late, and yet we have plenty. We have good food to eat, water we can drink out of the tap, even if we want to filter it first, and access to good health care (yes, even if a Traditional Chinese Herbalist isn’t covered by health insurance). We have many resources, and yet we have some things to learn from those less fortunate than us, like I did on my trip to Bolivia.
Hopefully sharing a little of my trip will inspire you to dream.

Warmly, Holli Margell

What You Didn’t Know About The Way You Eat May Be The Cause Of Your Digestive Problem

Digestive disorders are extremely common, not only in the United States, but also in any parts of the world where modern Western way of living dominates. Unless you have your own farm (by the way, that’s one of my dreams), grow your own vegetables and fruits, raise your own livestock, our access to high quality 100% organic foods are very limited. If you are lucky enough, you may have a resource to acquire high quality food on the daily basis without worrying about your bank account. But your busy lifestyle may prevent you from preparing and eating the kind of food you should be eating. This is why many people end up dining out more than they should, or eating store-bought processed foods. It has become normal part of daily life to eat the food on the run or consuming food while you are working. And not surprisingly, a stressful lifestyle causes you to crave for richer, saltier and sweeter unhealthy foods. I must admit, I am certainly guilty of this problem.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the way or the spirit in which food is eaten is very important. While eating, you must focus on the activity of eating without any distraction. Worrying and stressing will cause the harm to your body. You should also take your time and really enjoy your meal. Too much talking can disrupt digestion. For example, my kids tend to talk too much, asking me so many question while I am trying to eat. I found myself very stressed and not enjoying the food at all. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I believe eating alone slowly in silence is so much better for your digestion than busy talking or being distracted by others. So, I trained my kids not to even bother me while I eat after long day of work. I usually get bombarded with their stories and questions afterwards, but that’s okay.

Returning right back to stressful work or physical activities will greatly inhibit the digestive process. Again, I am very much guilty of this crime. I’ve struggled so many years. And I’ve definitely noticed my digestion has become very weak over the years because of eating while at work or stressing right after eating (or maybe I am just getting old.) My solution is to skip a lunch. No eating at work. Period. But, to be honest that’s not working out quite well either. It seems that “Stress” somehow gives you permission to do whatever is harmful to your digestive system – like eating junk snacks while working, or drinking alcohol after work (to release stress). I guess you already know what I am talking about here. We all know it’s bad for you, but can’t seem to control or break this habitual pattern.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the chronic digestive disorder as the result of food stagnation. The word ‘Dampness’ is often used to describe the food stagnation. Feeling of fullness in the stomach, bad breath, acid reflux, belching are the symptom of this Dampness in the digestive system. One of many causes of Dampness (food stagnation) is the diet mainly consists of Cold foods. Eating raw foods like salad or fruits is a typical example. Many patients here at Hen Sen Herbs claims that they eat very healthy because they eat nothing but salads and other raw foods. They believe that raw food contains much more live enzymes to aid digestion, which true, and no argument there. However, what they do not understand is that our digestive system is like ‘Fire’ that cooks the food to break down into small bits our body can convert into energy. Just imagine a pot full of cold foods (inside of your tummy) being cooked by Fire (energy to breakdown foods). It will take a lot longer and a lot more energy to breakdown foods into small digestible pieces. So, consuming Cold foods is like a pouring water into Fire. It immediately puts strain on your digestive system and causes food stagnation. If your body is young and strong – full of Fire, or living in the very warm climate, your body can handle Cold foods without a problem. But, if your health is less than ideal, or living in the cold climate, you should definitely avoid Cold foods altogether. Watermelon is the typical example. It should be consumed when your body is overheated during very hot weather. Cooling property of the watermelon effectively cool off your body. However, if you do this when the weather is cold, the Fire (digestive system)will be put out immediately. It will result in harming your digestive system, and you will be more susceptible to the common illness. Worrying about eating more enzyme rich foods is understandable. But if you are harming your digestive system with Cold foods (not to mention drinking Cold beverages), your body’s ability to produce enzymes is greatly compromised. So, your focus should be first to protect and reduce the strain on your digestive system with warm easily digestible foods so that it can function at an optimal level. In order to compensate for the loss of enzyme from cooking, fermented food should be always be added to your regular diet. Look at any traditional diet of countries with highest longevity. Fermented foods are always a staple of their diet. Even a hamburger come with tiny slice of fermented food tucked in between the buns: the Pickle. Unfortunately, the amount of fermented foods that average Americans consume is way too low, and typical American foods are too acidic or hard to digest.

Fire Energy required for digestion.

Fire Energy required for digestion.

There are so many other factors you should consider when it comes to maintaining a healthy strong digestive system. With so much information is available online, and it can be very confusing. And, many of them are misleading. So, be very careful. If you really want to learn about your health and digestion., go find someone who is 100 years old or older, and study how he eats, sleeps, exercises and everything about his lifestyle. I bet you will learn so much more about digestion and health overall than just reading research papers. If you can’t find such a person, next closest person you can depend on is experienced Chinese herbalist who have acquired wealth of historical knowledge complied by past great herbalists over many centuries. You need someone who understand the truth about human health. The truth that withstand the test of time. In other words, what was good for human health centuries ago should still be true today, and will be true centuries from now. So, stop chasing current fad diet or reading scientific researches that deals with only small aspect of human health. Good luck.

P.S. If you are too lazy to cook healthy meals or actually dread eating healthy food. Make sure to take Taifu Plus regularly. It will help break down nasty hard to digest junk out of your system. Less strain on your digestive system, better it is for your overall health!

Digestive disorders are extremely common, not only in the United States, but also in any parts of the world where modern Western way of living dominates. Unless you have your own farm (by the way, that’s one of my dreams), grow your own vegetables and fruits, raise your own livestock, our access to high quality 100% organic foods are very limited. If you are lucky enough, you may have a resource to acquire high quality food on the daily basis without worrying about your bank account. But your busy lifestyle may prevent you from preparing and eating the kind of food you should be eating. This is why many people end up dining out more than they should, or eating store-bought processed foods. It has become normal part of daily life to eat the food on the run or consuming food while you are working. And not surprisingly, a stressful lifestyle causes you to crave for richer, saltier and sweeter unhealthy foods. I must admit, I am certainly guilty of this problem.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the way or the spirit in which food is eaten is very important. While eating, you must focus on the activity of eating without any distraction. Worrying and stressing will cause the harm to your body. You should also take your time and really enjoy your meal. Too much talking can disrupt digestion. For example, my kids tend to talk too much, asking me so many question while I am trying to eat. I found myself very stressed and not enjoying the food at all. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I believe eating alone slowly in silence is so much better for your digestion than busy talking or being distracted by others. So, I trained my kids not to even bother me while I eat after long day of work. I usually get bombarded with their stories and questions afterwards, but that’s okay.

Taifu Plus for digestive aid.

Taifu Plus for digestive aid.

Returning right back to stressful work or physical activities will greatly inhibit the digestive process. Again, I am very much guilty of this crime. I’ve struggled so many years. And I’ve definitely noticed my digestion has become very weak over the years because of eating while at work or stressing right after eating (or maybe I am just getting old.) My solution is to skip a lunch. No eating at work. Period. But, to be honest that’s not working out quite well either. It seems that “Stress” somehow gives you permission to do whatever is harmful to your digestive system – like eating junk snacks while working, or drinking alcohol after work (to release stress). I guess you already know what I am talking about here. We all know it’s bad for you, but can’t seem to control or break this habitual pattern.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the chronic digestive disorder as the result of food stagnation. The word ‘Dampness’ is often used to describe the food stagnation. Feeling of fullness in the stomach, bad breath, acid reflux, belching are the symptom of this Dampness in the digestive system. One of many causes of Dampness (food stagnation) is the diet mainly consists of Cold foods. Eating raw foods like salad or fruits is a typical example. Many patients here at Hen Sen Herbs claims that they eat very healthy because they eat nothing but salads and other raw foods. They believe that raw food contains much more live enzymes to aid digestion, which true, and no argument there. However, what they do not understand is that our digestive system is like ‘Fire’ that cooks the food to break down into small bits our body can convert into energy. Just imagine a pot full of cold foods (inside of your tummy) being cooked by Fire (energy to breakdown foods). It will take a lot longer and a lot more energy to breakdown foods into small digestible pieces. So, consuming Cold foods is like a pouring water into Fire. It immediately puts strain on your digestive system and causes food stagnation. If your body is young and strong – full of Fire, or living in the very warm climate, your body can handle Cold foods without a problem. But, if your health is less than ideal, or living in the cold climate, you should definitely avoid Cold foods altogether. Watermelon is the typical example. It should be consumed when your body is overheated during very hot weather. Cooling property of the watermelon effectively cool off your body. However, if you do this when the weather is cold, the Fire (digestive system)will be put out immediately. It will result in harming your digestive system, and you will be more susceptible to the common illness. Worrying about eating more enzyme rich foods is understandable. But if you are harming your digestive system with Cold foods (not to mention drinking Cold beverages), your body’s ability to produce enzymes is greatly compromised. So, your focus should be first to protect and reduce the strain on your digestive system with warm easily digestible foods so that it can function at an optimal level. In order to compensate for the loss of enzyme from cooking, fermented food should be always be added to your regular diet. Look at any traditional diet of countries with highest longevity. Fermented foods are always a staple of their diet. Even a hamburger come with tiny slice of fermented food tucked in between the buns: the Pickle. Unfortunately, the amount of fermented foods that average Americans consume is way too low, and typical American foods are too acidic or hard to digest.

There are so many other factors you should consider when it comes to maintaining a healthy strong digestive system. With so much information is available online, and it can be very confusing. And, many of them are misleading. So, be very careful. If you really want to learn about your health and digestion., go find someone who is 100 years old or older, and study how he eats, sleeps, exercises and everything about his lifestyle. I bet you will learn so much more about digestion and health overall than just reading research papers. If you can’t find such a person, next closest person you can depend on is experienced Chinese herbalist who have acquired wealth of historical knowledge complied by past great herbalists over many centuries. You need someone who understand the truth about human health. The truth that withstand the test of time. In other words, what was good for human health centuries ago should still be true today, and will be true centuries from now. So, stop chasing current fad diet or reading scientific researches that deals with only small aspect of human health. Good luck.

P.S. If you are too lazy to cook healthy meals or actually dread eating healthy food. Make sure to take Taifu Plus regularly. It will help break down nasty hard to digest junk out of your system. Less strain on your digestive system, better it is for your overall health!

Digestive disorders are extremely common, not only in the United States, but also in any parts of the world where modern Western way of living dominates. Unless you have your own farm (by the way, that’s one of my dreams), grow your own vegetables and fruits, raise your own livestock, our access to high quality 100% organic foods are very limited. If you are lucky enough, you may have a resource to acquire high quality food on the daily basis without worrying about your bank account. But your busy lifestyle may prevent you from preparing and eating the kind of food you should be eating. This is why many people end up dining out more than they should, or eating store-bought processed foods. It has become normal part of daily life to eat the food on the run or consuming food while you are working. And not surprisingly, a stressful lifestyle causes you to crave for richer, saltier and sweeter unhealthy foods. I must admit, I am certainly guilty of this problem.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the way or the spirit in which food is eaten is very important. While eating, you must focus on the activity of eating without any distraction. Worrying and stressing will cause the harm to your body. You should also take your time and really enjoy your meal. Too much talking can disrupt digestion. For example, my kids tend to talk too much, asking me so many question while I am trying to eat. I found myself very stressed and not enjoying the food at all. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I believe eating alone slowly in silence is so much better for your digestion than busy talking or being distracted by others. So, I trained my kids not to even bother me while I eat after long day of work. I usually get bombarded with their stories and questions afterwards, but that’s okay.

Returning right back to stressful work or physical activities will greatly inhibit the digestive process. Again, I am very much guilty of this crime. I’ve struggled so many years. And I’ve definitely noticed my digestion has become very weak over the years because of eating while at work or stressing right after eating (or maybe I am just getting old.) My solution is to skip a lunch. No eating at work. Period. But, to be honest that’s not working out quite well either. It seems that “Stress” somehow gives you permission to do whatever is harmful to your digestive system – like eating junk snacks while working, or drinking alcohol after work (to release stress). I guess you already know what I am talking about here. We all know it’s bad for you, but can’t seem to control or break this habitual pattern.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the chronic digestive disorder as the result of food stagnation. The word ‘Dampness’ is often used to describe the food stagnation. Feeling of fullness in the stomach, bad breath, acid reflux, belching are the symptom of this Dampness in the digestive system. One of many causes of Dampness (food stagnation) is the diet mainly consists of Cold foods. Eating raw foods like salad or fruits is a typical example. Many patients here at Hen Sen Herbs claims that they eat very healthy because they eat nothing but salads and other raw foods. They believe that raw food contains much more live enzymes to aid digestion, which true, and no argument there. However, what they do not understand is that our digestive system is like ‘Fire’ that cooks the food to break down into small bits our body can convert into energy. Just imagine a pot full of cold foods (inside of your tummy) being cooked by Fire (energy to breakdown foods). It will take a lot longer and a lot more energy to breakdown foods into small digestible pieces. So, consuming Cold foods is like a pouring water into Fire. It immediately puts strain on your digestive system and causes food stagnation. If your body is young and strong – full of Fire, or living in the very warm climate, your body can handle Cold foods without a problem. But, if your health is less than ideal, or living in the cold climate, you should definitely avoid Cold foods altogether. Watermelon is the typical example. It should be consumed when your body is overheated during very hot weather. Cooling property of the watermelon effectively cool off your body. However, if you do this when the weather is cold, the Fire (digestive system)will be put out immediately. It will result in harming your digestive system, and you will be more susceptible to the common illness. Worrying about eating more enzyme rich foods is understandable. But if you are harming your digestive system with Cold foods (not to mention drinking Cold beverages), your body’s ability to produce enzymes is greatly compromised. So, your focus should be first to protect and reduce the strain on your digestive system with warm easily digestible foods so that it can function at an optimal level. In order to compensate for the loss of enzyme from cooking, fermented food should be always be added to your regular diet. Look at any traditional diet of countries with highest longevity. Fermented foods are always a staple of their diet. Even a hamburger come with tiny slice of fermented food tucked in between the buns: the Pickle. Unfortunately, the amount of fermented foods that average Americans consume is way too low, and typical American foods are too acidic or hard to digest.

There are so many other factors you should consider when it comes to maintaining a healthy strong digestive system. With so much information is available online, and it can be very confusing. And, many of them are misleading. So, be very careful. If you really want to learn about your health and digestion., go find someone who is 100 years old or older, and study how he eats, sleeps, exercises and everything about his lifestyle. I bet you will learn so much more about digestion and health overall than just reading research papers. If you can’t find such a person, next closest person you can depend on is experienced Chinese herbalist who have acquired wealth of historical knowledge complied by past great herbalists over many centuries. You need someone who understand the truth about human health. The truth that withstand the test of time. In other words, what was good for human health centuries ago should still be true today, and will be true centuries from now. So, stop chasing current fad diet or reading scientific researches that deals with only small aspect of human health. Good luck.

P.S. If you are too lazy to cook healthy meals or actually dread eating healthy food. Make sure to take Taifu Plus regularly. It will help break down nasty hard to digest junk out of your system. Less strain on your digestive system, better it is for your overall health!

– Kaz Isogai

What Inspires You?

What inspires you? Life inspires me!!!

Life is a journey, with its ups and down, it’s challenges and triumphs, it’s makes me so much stronger and smarter.

In my teenage years, I was quite an handful. There was one time when I snuck out to a party thinking that my parents wouldn’t find out. But, my dad sat on the sofa waiting for me for hours. He was very disappointed, I only wished that he would of yelled or punish me. I went on my knees in front of Guan Yin for a few hours until dad woke up for work the next day. What he has taught me was to be responsible for my own actions and show respect to yourself and others. My dad’s three life lessons are: remember to respect, second is to respect “louder tone” and third that is most important is RESPECT.

Whether in terms of your diet, fitness, work ethic or relationships, self discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately, to be happy. I can guarantee that the road to happiness is quite bumpy and tough at times. All we need to do is take an moment to meditate and breathe deeply. If all that fails, Take CE pills (calm the liver fire) or DL Pills and a bunch of Taifu Plus to clean the bad food out (don’t stress eat). Remember this: a little of anything is good, too much is poison. Stress is a silent killer, so snap out of it and show some respect to yourself. As you can imagine, I have a pretty tough life, 4 beautiful kids, a very busy practice, a great husband and not enough time in a day. I was taught to create balance in life, welcome people to help out, lots of massage (Cupping and Gua Sha) and of course lots of herbs. Do you have a life plan or what inspires you? Start making one, life only moves forward, not backward.

My mission in life was to create a village of people to educate them with the knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, for the art of healing to be continued for generations to come.

With great respect to all,
Love,
Juli