Monday, January 21, 2008

KiTcHeN PlAnNiNg BaSiCs

Kitchen Planning Basics

Image courtesy of Premier Kitchens, East Anglia - Example of a fitted kitchenThe most important part of buying a new kitchen is the planning. What shape will the kitchen have, how big is the family that will use the kitchen and how often will the kitchen be used? In this part of the site we will take you through all the steps of planning your kitchen so that you can make the best decisions in buying your new kitchen.

First it is important to choose whether you want a fitted kitchen or a freestanding kitchen. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you choose for a fitted kitchen, you will make the most of your space, as all the difficult corners can be hidden and used for storage. You can choose for flat pack, rigid or custom built to suit your needs and budget. A fitted kitchen will also add value to your home, but you can't take it with you when you move.

Image courtesy of Aimlight Kitchens, South Wales - An elegant dresser is only one of the storage options in a non-fitted kitchen A freestanding or non-fitted kitchen however, gives that individual and informal look you maybe want to give to your kitchen. You can use all kinds of furniture to create the ambiance you prefer. When you move, you can take your furniture with you without a problem and use it again. You have to choose your furniture well though to create as much storage space as in a fitted kitchen.

On this website, we will mostly take the fitted kitchen as a starting point, but a lot of our storage and design tips will be equally as useful for a freestanding kitchen. And the planning of your new kitchen is of course important whichever style you prefer!

Who will use your kitchen?

Image courtesy of Aimlight Kitchens, South Wales - A breakfast bar is a great idea in a small kitchen Different people have different lifestyles and since the kitchen is the centre in the house in which the food to live will be prepared, lifestyle is the key to planning a kitchen that works for you. It is obvious that a single person or a couple will have different expectations from their kitchen than families with growing up children. For example, if you're a single person that eats out a lot, your kitchen will look completely different from a family that takes their evening meals together. Assess your kitchen area accordingly. Plan how much storage space you need for your groceries, cutlery and crockery, which equipment you will use (oven, grill, hob and time saving electrical appliances) and how much seating area you need.

In a small kitchen it is obvious that a large seating area is out of the question, but a small breakfast table might just fit in. In a big kitchen, the seating area will take a big part of the space. Decide which part of the kitchen area you want to commit to seating and work your kitchen around it. There are a lot of handy storage solutions to maximize your space in the Storage Section.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


1) Fluoride is not an essential nutrient (NRC 1993 and IOM 1997). No disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoride.

2) Fluoridation is not necessary. Most Western European countries are not fluoridated and have experienced the same decline in dental decay as the US (See data from World Health Organization in Appendix 1, and the time trends presented graphically at ). The reasons given by countries for not fluoridating are presented in Appendix 2.)

3) Fluoridation's role in the decline of tooth decay is in serious doubt. The largest survey ever conducted in the US (over 39,000 children from 84 communities) by the National Institute of Dental Research showed little difference in tooth decay among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities (Hileman 1989). According to NIDR researchers, the study found an average difference of only 0.6 DMFS (Decayed Missing and Filled Surfaces) in the permanent teeth of children aged 5-17 residing in either fluoridated or unfluoridated areas (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990). This difference is less than one tooth surface! There are 128 tooth surfaces in a child's mouth. This result was not shown to be statistically significant. In a review commissioned by the Ontario government, Dr. David Locker concluded:

"The magnitude of [fluoridation's] effect is not large in absolute terms, is often not statistically significant and may not be of clinical significance" (Locker 1999).

4) Where fluoridation has been discontinued in communities from Canada, the former East Germany, Cuba and Finland, dental decay has not increased but has actually decreased (Maupome 2001; Kunzel and Fischer,1997,2000; Kunzel 2000 and Seppa 2000).

5) There have been numerous recent reports of dental crises in US cities (e.g. Boston, Cincinnati, New York City) which have been fluoridated for over 20 years. There appears to be a far greater (inverse) relationship between tooth decay and income level than with water fluoride levels.

6) Modern research (e.g. Diesendorf 1986; Colquhoun 1997, and De Liefde, 1998) shows that decay rates were coming down before fluoridation was introduced and have continued to decline even after its benefits would have been maximized. Many other factors influence tooth decay. Some recent studies have found that tooth decay actually increases as the fluoride concentration in the water increases (Olsson 1979; Retief 1979; Mann 1987, 1990; Steelink 1992; Teotia 1994; Grobleri 2001; Awadia 2002 and Ekanayake 2002).

7) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 1999, 2001) has now acknowledged the findings of many leading dental researchers, that the mechanism of fluoride's benefits are mainly TOPICAL not SYSTEMIC. Thus, you don't have to swallow fluoride to protect teeth. As the benefits of fluoride (if any exist) are topical, and the risks are systemic, it makes more sense, for those who want to take the risks, to deliver the fluoride directly to the tooth in the form of toothpaste. Since swallowing fluoride is unnecessary, there is no reason to force people (against their will) to drink fluoride in their water supply. This position was recently shared by Dr. Douglas Carnall, the associate editor of the British Medical Journal. His editorial appears in Appendix 3.

8) Despite being prescribed by doctors for over 50 years, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved any fluoride product designed for ingestion as safe or effective. Fluoride supplements are designed to deliver the same amount of fluoride as ingested daily from fluoridated water (Kelly 2000).

9) The US fluoridation program has massively failed to achieve one of its key objectives, i.e. to lower dental decay rates while holding down dental fluorosis (mottled and discolored enamel), a condition known to be caused by fluoride. The goal of the early promoters of fluoridation was to limit dental fluorosis (in its mildest form) to 10% of children (NRC 1993, pp. 6-7). A major US survey has found 30% of children in optimally fluoridated areas had dental fluorosis on at least two teeth (Heller 1997), while smaller studies have found up to 80% of children impacted (Williams 1990; Lalumandier 1995 and Morgan 1998). The York Review estimates that up to 48% of children in optimally fluoridated areas worldwide have dental fluorosis in all forms and 12.5% with symptoms of aesthetic concern (McDonagh, 2000).

10) Dental fluorosis means that a child has been overdosed on fluoride. While the mechanism by which the enamel is damaged is not definitively known, it appears fluorosis may be a result of either inhibited enzymes in the growing teeth (Dan Besten 1999), or through fluoride's interference with G-protein signaling mechanisms (Matsuo 1996). In a study in Mexico, Alarcon-Herrera (2001) has shown a linear correlation between the severity of dental fluorosis and the frequency of bone fractures in children.

11) The level of fluoride put into water (1 ppm) is up to 200 times higher than normally found in mothers' milk (0.005 – 0.01 ppm) (Ekstrand 1981; Institute of Medicine 1997). There are no benefits, only risks, for infants ingesting this heightened level of fluoride at such an early age (this is an age where susceptibility to environmental toxins is particularly high).

12) Fluoride is a cumulative poison. On average, only 50% of the fluoride we ingest each day is excreted through the kidneys. The remainder accumulates in our bones, pineal gland, and other tissues. If the kidney is damaged, fluoride accumulation will increase, and with it, the likelihood of harm.

13) Fluoride is very biologically active even at low concentrations. It interferes with hydrogen bonding (Emsley 1981) and inhibits numerous enzymes (Waldbott 1978).

14) When complexed with aluminum, fluoride interferes with G-proteins (Bigay 1985, 1987). Such interactions give aluminum-fluoride complexes the potential to interfere with many hormonal and some neurochemical signals (Strunecka & Patocka 1999, Li 2003).

15) Fluoride has been shown to be mutagenic, cause chromosome damage and interfere with the enzymes involved with DNA repair in a variety of cell and tissue studies (Tsutsui 1984; Caspary 1987; Kishi 1993 and Mihashi 1996). Recent studies have also found a correlation between fluoride exposure and chromosome damage in humans (Sheth 1994; Wu 1995; Meng 1997 and Joseph 2000).

16) Fluoride forms complexes with a large number of metal ions, which include metals which are needed in the body (like calcium and magnesium) and metals (like lead and aluminum) which are toxic to the body. This can cause a variety of problems. For example, fluoride interferes with enzymes where magnesium is an important co-factor, and it can help facilitate the uptake of aluminum and lead into tissues where these metals wouldn't otherwise go (Mahaffey 1976; Allain 1996; Varner 1998).

17) Rats fed for one year with 1 ppm fluoride in their water, using either sodium fluoride or aluminum fluoride, had morphological changes to their kidneys and brains, an increased uptake of aluminum in the brain, and the formation of beta amyloid deposits which are characteristic of Alzheimers disease (Varner 1998).

18) Aluminum fluoride was recently nominated by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for testing by the National Toxicology Program. According to EPA and NIEHS, aluminum fluoride currently has a "high health research priority" due to its "known neurotoxicity" (BNA, 2000). If fluoride is added to water which contains aluminum, than aluminum fluoride complexes will form.

19) Animal experiments show that fluoride accumulates in the brain and exposure alters mental behavior in a manner consistent with a neurotoxic agent (Mullenix 1995). Rats dosed prenatally demonstrated hyperactive behavior. Those dosed postnatally demonstrated hypoactivity (i.e. under activity or "couch potato" syndrome). More recent animal experiments have reported that fluoride can damage the brain (Wang 1997; Guan 1998; Varner 1998; Zhao 1998; Zhang 1999; Lu 2000; Shao 2000; Sun 2000; Bhatnagar 2002; Chen 2002, 2003; Long 2002; Shivarajashankara 2002a, b; Shashi 2003 and Zhai 2003) and impact learning and behavior (Paul 1998; Zhang 1999, 2001; Sun 2000; Ekambaram 2001; Bhatnagar 2002).

20) Five studies from China show a lowering of IQ in children associated with fluoride exposure (Lin Fa-Fu 1991; Li 1995; Zhao 1996; Lu 2000; and Xiang 2003a, b). One of these studies (Lin Fa-Fu 1991) indicates that even just moderate levels of fluoride exposure (e.g. 0.9 ppm in the water) can exacerbate the neurological defects of iodine deficiency.

21) Studies by Jennifer Luke (2001) showed that fluoride accumulates in the human pineal gland to very high levels. In her Ph.D. thesis Luke has also shown in animal studies that fluoride reduces melatonin production and leads to an earlier onset of puberty (Luke 1997).

22) In the first half of the 20th century, fluoride was prescribed by a number of European doctors to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland for those suffering from hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid) (Stecher 1960; Waldbott 1978). With water fluoridation, we are forcing people to drink a thyroid-depressing medication which could, in turn, serve to promote higher levels of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) in the population, and all the subsequent problems related to this disorder. Such problems include depression, fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pains, increased cholesterol levels, and heart disease.

It bears noting that according to the Department of Health and Human Services (1991) fluoride exposure in fluoridated communities is estimated to range from 1.6 to 6.6 mg/day, which is a range that actually overlaps the dose (2.3 - 4.5 mg/day) shown to decrease the functioning of the human thyroid (Galletti & Joyet 1958). This is a remarkable fact, particularly considering the rampant and increasing problem of hypothyroidism in the United States (in 1999, the second most prescribed drug of the year was Synthroid, which is a hormone replacement drug used to treat an underactive thyroid). In Russia, Bachinskii (1985) found a lowering of thyroid function, among otherwise healthy people, at 2.3 ppm fluoride in water.

23) Some of the early symptoms of skeletal fluorosis, a fluoride-induced bone and joint disease that impacts millions of people in India, China, and Africa , mimic the symptoms of arthritis (Singh 1963; Franke 1975; Teotia 1976; Carnow 1981; Czerwinski 1988; DHHS 1991). According to a review on fluoridation by Chemical & Engineering News, "Because some of the clinical symptoms mimic arthritis, the first two clinical phases of skeletal fluorosis could be easily misdiagnosed" (Hileman 1988). Few if any studies have been done to determine the extent of this misdiagnosis, and whether the high prevalence of arthritis in America (1 in 3 Americans have some form of arthritis - CDC, 2002) is related to our growing fluoride exposure, which is highly plausible. The causes of most forms of arthritis (e.g. osteoarthritis) are unknown.

24) In some studies, when high doses of fluoride (average 26 mg per day) were used in trials to treat patients with osteoporosis in an effort to harden their bones and reduce fracture rates, it actually led to a HIGHER number of fractures, particularly hip fractures (Inkovaara 1975; Gerster 1983; Dambacher 1986; O’Duffy 1986; Hedlund 1989; Bayley 1990; Gutteridge 1990. 2002; Orcel 1990; Riggs 1990 and Schnitzler 1990). The cumulative doses used in these trials are exceeded by the lifetime cumulative doses being experienced by many people living in fluoridated communities.

25) Nineteen studies (three unpublished, including one abstract) since 1990 have examined the possible relationship of fluoride in water and hip fracture among the elderly. Eleven of these studies found an association, eight did not. One study found a dose-related increase in hip fracture as the concentration of fluoride rose from 1 ppm to 8 ppm (Li 2001). Hip fracture is a very serious issue for the elderly, as a quarter of those who have a hip fracture die within a year of the operation, while 50 percent never regain an independent existence (All 19 of these studies are referenced as a group in the reference section).

26) The only government-sanctioned animal study to investigate if fluoride causes cancer, found a dose-dependent increase in cancer in the target organ (bone) of the fluoride-treated (male) rats (NTP 1990). The initial review of this study also reported an increase in liver and oral cancers, however, all non-bone cancers were later downgraded – with a questionable rationale - by a government-review panel (Marcus 1990). In light of the importance of this study, EPA Professional Headquarters Union has requested that Congress establish an independent review to examine the study's results (Hirzy 2000).

27) A review of national cancer data in the US by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) revealed a significantly higher rate of bone cancer in young men in fluoridated versus unfluoridated areas (Hoover 1991). While the NCI concluded that fluoridation was not the cause, no explanation was provided to explain the higher rates in the fluoridated areas. A smaller study from New Jersey (Cohn 1992) found bone cancer rates to be up to 6 times higher in young men living in fluoridated versus unfluoridated areas. Other epidemiological studies have failed to find this relationship (Mahoney 1991; Freni 1992).

28) Fluoride administered to animals at high doses wreaks havoc on the male reproductive system - it damages sperm and increases the rate of infertility in a number of different species (Kour 1980; Chinoy 1989; Chinoy 1991; Susheela 1991; Chinoy 1994; Kumar 1994; Narayana 1994a, b; Zhao 1995; Elbetieha 2000; Ghosh 2002 and Zakrzewska 2002). While studies conducted at the FDA have failed to find reproductive effects in rats (Sprando 1996, 1997, 1998), an epidemiological study from the US has found increased rates of infertility among couples living in areas with 3 or more ppm fluoride in the water (Freni 1994), and 2 studies have found a reduced level of circulating testosterone in males living in high fluoride areas (Susheela 1996 and Barot 1998).

29) The fluoridation program has been very poorly monitored. There has never been a comprehensive analysis of the fluoride levels in the bones, blood, or urine of the American people or the citizens of other fluoridated countries. Based on the sparse data that has become available, however, it is increasingly evident that some people in the population – particularly people with kidney disease - are accumulating fluoride levels that have been associated with harm to both animals and humans, particularly harm to bone (see Connett 2004).

30) Once fluoride is put in the water it is impossible to control the dose each individual receives. This is because 1) some people (e.g. manual laborers, athletes, diabetics, and people with kidney disease) drink more water than others, and 2) we receive fluoride from sources other than the water supply. Other sources of fluoride include food and beverages processed with fluoridated water (Kiritsy 1996 and Heilman 1999), fluoridated dental products (Bentley 1999 and Levy 1999), mechanically deboned meat (Fein 2001), teas (Levy 1999), and pesticide residues on food (Stannard 1991 and Burgstahler 1997).

31) Fluoridation is unethical because individuals are not being asked for their informed consent prior to medication. This is standard practice for all medication, and one of the key reasons why most of western Europe has ruled against fluoridation (see appendix 2).

As one doctor aptly stated, "No physician in his right senses would prescribe for a person he has never met, whose medical history he does not know, a substance which is intended to create bodily change, with the advice: 'Take as much as you like, but you will take it for the rest of your life because some children suffer from tooth decay.’ It is a preposterous notion."

32) While referenda are preferential to imposed policies from central government, it still leaves the problem of individual rights versus majority rule. Put another way -- does a voter have the right to require that their neighbor ingest a certain medication (even if it's against that neighbor's will)?

33) Some individuals appear to be highly sensitive to fluoride as shown by case studies and double blind studies (Shea 1967, Waldbott 1978 and Moolenburg 1987). In one study, which lasted 13 years, Feltman and Kosel (1961) showed that about 1% of patients given 1 mg of fluoride each day developed negative reactions. Can we as a society force these people to ingest fluoride?

34) According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR 1993), and other researchers (Juncos & Donadio 1972; Marier & Rose 1977 and Johnson 1979), certain subsets of the population may be particularly vulnerable to fluoride's toxic effects; these include: the elderly, diabetics and people with poor kidney function. Again, can we in good conscience force these people to ingest fluoride on a daily basis for their entire lives?

35) Also vulnerable are those who suffer from malnutrition (e.g. calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and iodide deficiencies and protein poor diets) (Massler & Schour 1952; Marier & Rose 1977; Lin Fa-Fu 1991; Chen 1997; Teotia 1998). Those most likely to suffer from poor nutrition are the poor, who are precisely the people being targeted by new fluoridation programs. While being at heightened risk, poor families are less able to afford avoidance measures (e.g. bottled water or removal equipment).

36) Since dental decay is most concentrated in poor communities, we should be spending our efforts trying to increase the access to dental care for poor families. The real "Oral Health Crisis" that exists today in the United States, is not a lack of fluoride but poverty and lack of dental insurance. The Surgeon General has estimated that 80% of dentists in the US do not treat children on Medicaid.

37) Fluoridation has been found to be ineffective at preventing one of the most serious oral health problems facing poor children, namely, baby bottle tooth decay, otherwise known as early childhood caries (Barnes 1992 and Shiboski 2003).

38) The early studies conducted in 1945 -1955 in the US, which helped to launch fluoridation, have been heavily criticized for their poor methodology and poor choice of control communities (De Stefano 1954; Sutton 1959, 1960 and 1996; Ziegelbecker 1970). According to Dr. Hubert Arnold, a statistician from the University of California at Davis, the early fluoridation trials "are especially rich in fallacies, improper design, invalid use of statistical methods, omissions of contrary data, and just plain muddleheadedness and hebetude." In 2000, the British Government’s “York Review” could give no fluoridation trial a grade A classification – despite 50 years of research (McDonagh 2000, see Appendix 3 for commentary).

39) The US Public Health Service first endorsed fluoridation in 1950, before one single trial had been completed (McClure 1970)!

40) Since 1950, it has been found that fluorides do little to prevent pit and fissure tooth decay, a fact that even the dental community has acknowledged (Seholle 1984; Gray 1987; PHS 1993; and Pinkham 1999). This is significant because pit and fissure tooth decay represents up to 85% of the tooth decay experienced by children today (Seholle 1984 and Gray 1987).

41) Despite the fact that we are exposed to far more fluoride today than we were in 1945 (when fluoridation began), the "optimal" fluoridation level is still 1 part per million, the same level deemed optimal in 1945! (Marier & Rose 1977; Levy 1999; Rozier 1999 and Fomon 2000).

42) The chemicals used to fluoridate water in the US are not pharmaceutical grade. Instead, they come from the wet scrubbing systems of the superphosphate fertilizer industry. These chemicals (90% of which are sodium fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid), are classified hazardous wastes contaminated with various impurities. Recent testing by the National Sanitation Foundation suggest that the levels of arsenic in these chemicals are relatively high (up to 1.6 ppb after dilution into public water) and of potential concern (NSF 2000 and Wang 2000).

43) These hazardous wastes have not been tested comprehensively. The chemical usually tested in animal studies is pharmaceutical grade sodium fluoride, not industrial grade fluorosilicic acid. The assumption being made is that by the time this waste product has been diluted, all the fluorosilicic acid will have been converted into free fluoride ion, and the other toxics and radioactive isotopes will be so dilute that they will not cause any harm, even with lifetime exposure. These assumptions have not been examined carefully by scientists, independent of the fluoridation program.

44) Studies by Masters and Coplan (1999, 2000) show an association between the use of fluorosilicic acid (and its sodium salt) to fluoridate water and an increased uptake of lead into children's blood. Because of lead’s acknowledged ability to damage the child’s developing brain, this is a very serious finding yet it is being largely ignored by fluoridating countries.

45) Sodium fluoride is an extremely toxic substance -- just 200 mg of fluoride ion is enough to kill a young child, and just 3-5 grams (e.g. a teaspoon) is enough to kill an adult. Both children (swallowing tablets/gels) and adults (accidents involving fluoridation equipment and filters on dialysis machines) have died from excess exposure.

46) Some of the earliest opponents of fluoridation were biochemists and at least 14 Nobel Prize winners are among numerous scientists who have expressed their reservations about the practice of fluoridation (see appendix 4).

47) The recent Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology, Dr. Arvid Carlsson (2000), was one of the leading opponents of fluoridation in Sweden, and part of the panel that recommended that the Swedish government reject the practice, which they did in 1971. According to Carlsson:

"I am quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be consigned to medical history...Water fluoridation goes against leading principles of pharmacotherapy, which is progressing from a stereotyped medication - of the type 1 tablet 3 times a day - to a much more individualized therapy as regards both dosage and selection of drugs. The addition of drugs to the drinking water means exactly the opposite of an individualized therapy" (Carlsson 1978).

48) While pro-fluoridation officials continue to promote fluoridation with undiminished fervor, they cannot defend the practice in open public debate – even when challenged to do so by organizations such as the Association for Science in the Public Interest, the American College of Toxicology, or the US Environmental Protection Agency (Bryson 2004). According to Dr. Michael Easley, a prominent lobbyist for fluoridation in the US, "Debates give the illusion that a scientific controversy exists when no credible people support the fluorophobics' view" (See appendix 5).

In light of proponents’ refusal to debate this issue, Dr. Edward Groth, a Senior Scientist at Consumers Union, observed that "the political profluoridation stance has evolved into a dogmatic, authoritarian, essentially antiscientific posture, one that discourages open debate of scientific issues" (Martin 1991).

49) Many scientists, doctors and dentists who have spoken out publicly on this issue have been subjected to censorship and intimidation (Martin 1991). Most recently, Dr. Phyllis Mullenix was fired from her position as Chair of Toxicology at Forsythe Dental Center for publishing her findings on fluoride and the brain; and Dr. William Marcus was fired from the EPA for questioning the government’s handling of the NTP’s fluoride-cancer study (Bryson 2004). Tactics like this would not be necessary if those promoting fluoridation were on secure scientific ground.

50) The Union representing the scientists at US EPA headquarters in Washington DC is now on record as opposing water fluoridation (Hirzy 1999). According to the Union’s Senior Vice President, Dr. William Hirzy:

"In summary, we hold that fluoridation is an unreasonable risk. That is, the toxicity of fluoride is so great and the purported benefits associated with it are so small - if there are any at all - that requiring every man, woman and child in America to ingest it borders on criminal behavior on the part of governments."


When it comes to controversies surrounding toxic chemicals, invested interests traditionally do their very best to discount animal studies and quibble with epidemiological findings. In the past, political pressures have led government agencies to drag their feet on regulating asbestos, benzene, DDT, PCBs, tetraethyl lead, tobacco and dioxins. With fluoridation we have had a fifty year delay. Unfortunately, because government officials have put so much of their credibility on the line defending fluoridation, and because of the huge liabilities waiting in the wings if they admit that fluoridation has caused an increase in hip fracture, arthritis, bone cancer, brain disorders or thyroid problems, it will be very difficult for them to speak honestly and openly about the issue. But they must, not only to protect millions of people from unnecessary harm, but to protect the notion that, at its core, public health policy must be based on sound science not political expediency. They have a tool with which to do this: it's called the Precautionary Principle. Simply put, this says: if in doubt leave it out. This is what most European countries have done and their children's teeth have not suffered, while their public's trust has been strengthened.

It is like a question from a Kafka play. Just how much doubt is needed on just one of the health concerns identified above, to override a benefit, which when quantified in the largest survey ever conducted in the US, amounts to less than one tooth surface (out of 128) in a child's mouth?

For those who would call for further studies, I say fine. Take the fluoride out of the water first and then conduct all the studies you want. This folly must end without further delay.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ThE NuTrIeNtS In ReNdAnG

Nutritious coconut

THE unique beauty of coconut trees is its long slender trunk and the graceful crown that sways in the gentle breeze. However, the uniqueness does not stop there as the rich flavour and the creamy santan made from the flesh of the nut and the long thin waxy coconut leaves have caught the imagination of cooks in the preparation of many of our local traditional cuisines.

Unique heritage

Young coconut leaves add an interesting feature to foods prepared for the festivals. In the month of Ramadan, family members gather around weaving ketupat casings using young coconut leaves.

This skilful art of making ketupat, which is the unique culture and heritage of the Malay, has impressed many cooks from other cultures.

Plants provide food and the leaves of plants often double as wrappers for food traditionally. The flavour and characteristics of the leaves enhance the presentation of the food served. All these features are found in ketupats.

The ketupat casing needs no string to tie to prevent the fillings from spilling out while cooking. Only one or two young leaves are used to weave a delicate casing into which rice grains are stuffed for cooking. The loose ends of the casings are knotted together and made into “packages” for easy handling.

These “rice packages” come in different shapes and sizes . The common ketupat takes the shape of a square box which is easier to make whereas cone-shaped ketupat jantung needs some special twists and turns .

Ketupat palas is made from the leaves of the palas palm.The ketupat palas casing is even more difficult to weave. When opening up the triangular casing you will find only a long thin strip of leave.

Other than coconut leaves ketupat palas is made from the leaves of the palas palm (Licuala acutifida) which has an obscure and unique common name, the “Penang lawyer”. The leaves have bands of green and yellow streaks that make the appearance of the casing pleasing.

The ketupat palas casing is even more difficult to weave. When opening up the triangular casing you will find only a long thin strip of leave.

Ketupats are filled with either glutinous or ordinary rice with or without coconut milk. They are cooked in water till the rice grains are soft.

In traditional methods, it can take as long as three to four hours to cook.

Cut open the cooked ketupats with a knife, peel off the casing and the finger-licking good and fragrant ketupat is ready to be eaten.

Ketupat and rendang are the traditional welcome dishes prepared in every family during Hari Raya Adilfitri.

Moderation is the key

In recent years, red meat such as beef has been linked to an increase in risk of heart disease and cancer.

Beef rendang contains both saturated fats and cholesterol. The fat in 50g of rendang is more than that in two eggs. It supplies 127kcal, while a cup of rice has 167kcal and a thin slice of white bread has 48kcal.

However, a small portion of lean beef supplies nutrients that are required to maintain good health.

Beef is a good source of protein and vitamins especially vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins are important nutrients to prevent osteoporosis.

The other nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc are minerals that have roles of their own for improvement of immune system and various bodily functions.

One of the ingredients that contributes to the good taste in rendang is santan, without which rendang would taste just as any other beef dish. Amino acids predominant in santan are similar to that in beef. They are leucine, arginine, aspartic and glutamic acids.

The leucine is required in energy and blood-sugar regulations as well as growth and repair of muscle tissue. Arginine stimulates growth hormones and the immune system.

Our body can produce aspartic acid but a lack of aspartic acid makes us feel fatigued and depressed. Glutamic acid imparts taste to food and aids in various brain functions including transport of potassium to the brain.

Santan contains phytosterols and has no cholesterol. A quarter of the fat in santan is saturated fat, which is unhealthy especially to our heart.

Then again, santan has high lauric and capric acids, which have antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Coconut trees (Cocos nucifera) are grown commercially for their oil and the kernel cake for animal feed production. It is commonly grown in home compounds in the kampung for use in home cooking.

Santan or coconut milk is extracted from the coconut flesh or endosperm. The lingering flavour of santan reminds us of the delicious rendang.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It is a globally recognized and foremost part of dietary guidelines that eating a variety of food using principles of moderation and balance. This is particularly true during the Islamic month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. To be healthy, one must consume food from the major food groups: bread and cereal, milk and dairy product, meat and bean, vegetable and fruit. During the month long fast of Ramadan the metabolic rate of a fasting person slows down and other regulatory mechanisms start functioning. Body and dietary fat is efficiently utilized. Consuming total food intake that is less than the total food intake during normal days is sufficient to maintain a person's health. Intake of fruits after a meal is strongly suggested. A balanced diet improves blood cholesterol profile, reduces gastric acidity, prevents constipation and other digestive problems, and contributes to an active and healthy life style. (Int. J. Ramadan Fasting Research, 3:1-6, 1999)


Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan can be good for one's health and personal development. Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to restrain from eating food and drinking water from predawn until sunset. The eyes, the ears, the tongue, and even the private parts are equally obligated to be restrained if a Muslim wants to gain the total rewards of fasting. Ramadan is also about restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person during and after Ramadan.

This is why the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him, Pbuh) has been attributed, by Hazrat Abu Hurairah in hadith, to say: "He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he didn't eat or drink." (Bukhari, Muslim). In another hadith by Hazrat Abu Harairah, the Prophet (Pbuh) said: "Fasting is not only from food and drink, fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly toward you, say (to them) 'I am fasting; I am fasting." (Ibn Khuzaoinah).

Restraint from food, water, and undesirable behavior makes a person more mentally disciplined and less prone to unhealthy behavior. In an investigation in Jordan (1), a significant reduction of parasuicidal cases was noted during the month of Ramadan. In the United Kingdom, the Ramadan model has been used by various health departments and organizations to reduce cigarette smoking among the masses, especially among Africans and Asians (2).

Ramadan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits; however, man-made problems may occur, if fasting is not properly practiced. First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner or sahur ( the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat, El Ati et al. (3) . Basal metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting, Husain et al. (4). A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.

Health problems can emerge as a result of excess food intake, foods that make the diet unbalanced, and insufficient sleep (5, 6). Ultimately also, such a lifestyle contradicts the essential requirements and spirit of Ramadan.


According to Sunna (the practices of Prophet Muhammad, Pbuh) and research findings referred in this report, a dietary plan is given:

1. Bread/Cereal/Rice, Pasta, Biscuits and Cracker Group: 6-11 servings/day;
2. Meat/Beans/ Nut Group: 2-3 servings/day.
3. Milk and Milk Product Group: 2-3 servings/day.
4. Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings/day;
5. Fruit Group: 2-4 servings/day.
6. Added sugar (table sugar, sucrose): sparingly.
7. Added fat, polyunsaturated oil 4-7 table spoons.

Breakfast, iftar:
Dates, three
Juice, 1 serving (4 oz.)
Vegetable soup with some pasta or graham crackers, 1 cup

The body's immediate need at the time of iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. Dates and juice in the above quantity are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body. An unbalanced diet and too many servings of sherbets and sweets with added sugar have been found to be unhealthy, Gumma et al. (7).

Consume foods from all the following food groups:

Meat/Bean Group: Chicken, beef, lamb, goat, fish, 1-2 servings (serving size = a slice =1 oz); green pea, chickpea (garbanzo, chana, humus), green gram, black gram, lentil, lima bean and other beans, 1 serving (half cup). Meat and beans are a good source of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, as well.

Bread/Cereal Group: Whole wheat bread, 2 servings (serving size = 1 oz) or cooked rice, one cup or combination. This group is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are a good source of energy and provide some protein, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Milk Group: milk or butter-milk (lassi without sugar), yogurt or cottage cheese (one cup). Those who can not tolerate whole milk must try fermented products such as butter-milk and yogurt. Milk and dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium, which are essential for body tissue maintenance and several physiological functions.

Vegetable Group: Mixed vegetable salad, 1 serving (one cup), (lettuce, carrot, parsley, cucumber, broccoli, coriander leaves, cauliflower or other vegetables as desired.) Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil or any polyunsaturated oil and 2 spoons of vinegar. Polyunsaturated fat provides the body with essential fatty acids and keto acids. Cooked vegetables such as guar beans, French beans, okra (bhindi), eggplant (baigan), bottle gourd (loki), cabbage, spinach, 1 serving (4 oz). Vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, carotene, lycopenes, and other phytochemicals, which are antioxidants. These are helpful in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health problems.

Fruits Group: 1-2 servings of citrus and/or other fruits. Eat fruits as the last item of the dinner or soon after dinner, to facilitate digestion and prevent many gastrointestinal problems. Citrus fruits provide vitamin C. Fruits are a good source of dietary fiber.

Fruits and mixed nuts may be eaten as a snack after dinner or tarawiaha or before sleep.

Pre-dawn Meal (Sahur):

Consume a light sahur. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread, 1-2 serving with a cup of milk. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil or any other monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in a salad or the cereal. Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item.


Blood cholesterol and uric acid levels are sometimes elevated during the month of Ramadan (8). Contrary to popular thinking, it was found that intake of a moderately high-fat diet, around 36% of the total energy (calories), improved blood cholesterol profile, Nomani, et al. (9) and Nomani (10). It also prevents the elevation of blood uric acid level (8-10). The normal recommended guideline for fat is 30% or less energy. On weight basis, suggested fat intake during Ramadan is almost the same as at normal days. Fat is required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and carotenoids. Essential fatty acids are an important component of the cell membrane. They also are required for the synthesis of the hormone prostaglandin. Keto-acids from fat are especially beneficial during Ramadan to meet the energy requirement of brain and nerve cells. Keto-acids also are useful in the synthesis of glucose through the metabolic pathway of gluconeogenesis. This reduces the breakdown of body proteins for glucose synthesis. Therefore, the energy equivalent of 1-2 bread/cereal servings may be replaced with polyunsaturated fat.

During Ramadan increased gastric acidity is often noticed, Iraki, et al. (5), exhibiting itself with symptoms such as a burning feeling in the stomach, a heaviness in the stomach, and a sour mouth. Whole wheat bread, vegetables, humus, beans, and fruits -- excellent sources of dietary fiber -- trigger muscular action, churning and mixing food, breaking food into small particles, binding bile acids, opening the area between the stomach and the deudenum-jejunum and moving digesta in the small intestine, Kay (11). Thus, dietary fiber helps reduce gastric acidity and excess bile acids, Rydning et al. (12). In view of dietary fiber's role in moving digesta, it prevents constipation. It's strongly suggested that peptic ulcer patients avoid spicy foods and consult a doctor for appropriate medicine and diet. Diabetic subjects, particularly severe type I (insulin dependent) or type II (non-insulin dependent), must consult their doctor for the type and dosage of medicine, and diet and precautions to be taken during the month. Generally diabetes mellitus, type II, is manageable through proper diet during Ramadan, Azizi and Siahkolah (13).

Pregnant and lactating women's needs for energy and nutrients are more critical than the needs of men (14). There is a possibility of health complications to the pregnant woman and the fetus or the lactating mother and the breastfed child, if energy and nutrient requirements are not met during the month of Ramadan (15-19). Governments, communities, and heads of the family must give highest priority to meet women's dietary needs. In African countries, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and many other places malnutrition is a major problem, especially among women from low-income groups. Further more, it is common among these women to perform strenuous work on farms or in factories, and other places. Malnutrition and strenuous conditions may lead to medical problems and danger to life. Under these conditions one must consult a medical doctor for treatment and maulana or shiekh for postponement or other suggestions regarding fasting. Quran Al-Hakeem and Hadith allow pregnant women and lactating mothers flexibility during the month of Ramadan.

For practical purposes and estimation of nutrients a diet was formulated, given below:

3 dates, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of vegetable soup, 2 plain graham crackers;

1 cup of vegetable salad with two teaspoons of corn oil and two teaspoon of vinegar, 2 oz. of chicken, 1/2 cup of okra, 4 oz. of cooked whole chana (garbanzo), 3 tea spoon of oil while cooking main dishes, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of cooked rice, 3/4 cup of plain yogurt, one orange, 1/2 cup grapes, 1 oz of nuts-mixed roasted-without salt;

2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of vegetable salad with two teaspoons of corn oil and two teaspoons of vinegar, 1 skinned apple, 2 teaspoons of sugar with tea or coffee.

Nutritionist IV (20) was used to estimate energy and nutrient content in the above diet, which was as follows: energy, 2136 kilocalories; protein, 70g; carbohydrate , 286g; fat, 87g, 35 % of energy of the total intake, (saturated fat 16.9g; mono saturated, 28.4g; poly unsaturated, 34g; other 7.3g; - oleic, 25.6g; linoleic, 29.5; linolenic, 0.6g; EPA-Omega-3, 0.006g; DHA-omega-3, 0.023g; dietary fiber 34g; calcium, 1013mg; sodium, 3252 mg; potassium, 2963mg; iron 13.3mg; zinc, 10mg. When the nutrients were compared with the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), for an adult non-pregnant and non-lactating female (14), the diet met 100% or more of the RDA for protein, calcium, sodium, potassium, and vitamin A, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, and C. The energy was close to the RDA, (97%). The dietary fiber level also was met as per the recommendation (11). Consuming food in the above amount by pregnant or lactating female may not meet the RDA for all of the nutrients. They may need supplementation of some minerals and vitamins such as, iron vitamin D, and more energy through bread or rice.

Further suggestions:

  • Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration.
  • Consume sufficient vegetables at meal s. Eat fruits at the end of the meal.
  • Avoid intake of high sugar (table sugar, sucrose) foods through sweets or other forms.
  • Avoid spicy foods.
  • Avoid caffeine drinks such as coke, coffee or tea. Caffeine is a diuretic. Three days to five days before Ramadan gradually reduce the intake of these drinks. A sudden decrease in caffeine prompts headaches, mood swings and irritability.
  • Smoking is a health risk factor. Avoid smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking negatively affects utilization of various vitamins, metabolites and enzyme systems in the body.

Do not forget to brush or Miswak (tender neem tree branch, Azhardicta indica or other appropriate plant in a country, about 1/4-1/2 inch diameter and 6-8 inches length, tip partially chewed and made brush like). Brush your teeth before sleep and after sahur. Brush more than two times or as many times as practical.

Normal or overweight people should not gain weight. For overweight people Ramadan is

an excellent opportunity to lose weight. Underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight. Analyzing a diet's energy and nutritional component, using food composition tables or computer software, will be useful in planning an appropriate diet.

It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. It's important to follow good time management practices for Ibada (prayer and other religious activities), sleep, studies, job, and physical activities or exercise.

In summary, intake of a balanced diet is critical to maintain good health, sustain an active lifestyle and attain the full benefits of Ramadan.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The World's Healthiest Foods

130 foods that can serve as the basis of your Healthiest Way of Eating. Links to the articles about these foods can be found below.

Of course, there are many other nutritious foods other than those that we have included on our list that we feel are wonderful, health-promoting foods; if there are other whole foods - such as fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, etc - that you like, by all means enjoy them. Just because a food is not on our list doesn't mean that we don't think that it can be included in a diet geared towards the Healthiest Way of Eating as long as it is a whole, natural, nutrient-rich food.

To find out why some of your favorite nutritious foods are not included in our list, read The Criteria Used to Select the World's Healthiest Foods.

10 Ways to Raise Food-Smart Kids

Want your children to eat healthy foods? Create a nutritional home. Begin here.

Creating a nutritional home is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child. To start, make smart food choices, and help your child develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn their food smarts from your example.

Here are the top 10 tips for getting children to eat healthy food.

  1. Do not restrict food. Restricting food increases the risk your child may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in life. It can also have a negative effect on growth and development.
  2. Keep healthy food at hand. Children will eat what's readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the crisper section of your fridge. And have an apple for your own snack. "Your actions scream louder than anything you will ever tell them," says Sothern. Remember, your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house.
  3. Don't label foods as "good" or "bad." Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports or appearance. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give strength to their sports performance. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair.
  4. Praise healthy choices. Give your children a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods.
  5. Don't nag about unhealthy choices. When children choose unhealthy food, ignore it. Or if your child always wants fatty, fried food, redirect the choice. You might try roasting potato sticks in the oven (tossed in just a bit of oil) instead of buying french fries. Or, if your child wants candy, you might make fresh strawberries dipped in a little chocolate sauce. Too busy? Then keep naturally sweet dried fruit at home for quick snacks.
  6. Never use food as a reward. This could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun -- perhaps a trip to the park or a quick game of catch.
  7. Sit down to family dinners at night. If this isn't a tradition in your home, it should be. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Start with one night a week, and then work up to three or four, to gradually build the habit.
  8. Prepare plates in the kitchen. There you can put healthy portions of each item on everyone's dinner plate. Your children will learn to recognize correct portion sizes. And you may find your slacks fit better as well!
  9. Give the kids some control. Ask your children to take three bites of all the foods on their plate and give it a grade, such as A, B, C, D, or F. When healthy foods - especially certain vegetables -- get high marks, serve them more often. Offer the items your children don't like less frequently. This lets your children participate in decision making. After all, dining is a family affair.
  10. Consult your pediatrician. Always talk with your child's doctor before putting your child on a diet, trying to help your child gain weight, or making any significant changes in the type of foods your child eats. Never diagnose your child as too heavy, or too thin, by yourself.

"It's all about gradual changes, it's not overnight, and it's an uphill battle for parents.""Everything outside of the home is trying to make kids overweight. The minute they walk out of the home, there are people trying to make them eat too much and serving them too much."

But the food smarts your children will learn from you can protect them for a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

HaVe U MaDe YoUr ChIlD ClEaNlInEsS-CoNScIoUs?

Cleanliness is a state of mind. Give it to your child in the early years.

Cleanliness is a good habit, most of us agree. None of us would like to go in unflushed toilets. None of us would tolerate a neighbour spitting from the balcony. There can be no two opinions about the regular visits of the garbage van near our residences. While most of us want our surroundings to be clean, how many of us teach our children the importance of cleanliness. We might teach them to brush their teeth, wash their face and bathe everyday. But do we extend the concept of cleanliness to every aspect of their daily life. Here are tips for inculcating the value of cleanliness in children.

Be it the dining table or kitchen or the balcony, children should be tutored not to mess up the belongings. In order to maintain cleanliness, never allow your children to eat in any place of the house. Teach your children, irrespective of their sex (be it a boy or girl) to lay the table neatly. Make sure that both your son and daughter pick up their own used plates and carry them to the kitchen sink. They should also offer to carry those of the aged members of the family. Washing their hands and gargling after meals is also a very good habit, as it will help them fight bad odour throughout life.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I'M BACK!!!!!!!!!'

HaI EvErOnE!!!I'm BaCk....HaRlOw...SoFeA'S KiTcHeN Is SpIcK AnD SpAn NoW..HuRrAy!!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

TeMpOrArY ClOsEd

WaYs To ClEaN KiTcHeN

A clean kitchen promotes a healthy and hygienic living environment for the entire family. Cleaning is considered an integral part of the cooking process. It is not just limited to the ingredients such as washing fresh produce but also maintaining equipment and gadgets, cleaning countertops, stove and other nooks and crannies of the kitchen. Follow these steps to ensure a clean kitchen:


Difficulty: Moderate


Step One

Collect things that do not belong in the kitchen such as newspapers, magazines, toys, etc. and put it in a laundry bag or basket and put it out of the kitchen.

Step Two

Grab all the cleaning supplies such as cleansers, gloves, washcloths, sponges, scrubbers, dish soap, broom, mop, vacuum, basket and trashcan.

Step Three

Fill up your kitchen sink with water and mix a little dishwashing liquid in it. Put the dishes that are greasy and need cleaning to soak in warm, soapy water.

Step Four

Start organizing everything while the dishes are soaking. Put things where they belong. The moment you cut down on clutter, you will notice that your kitchen look significantly cleaner. Ideally, make it a habit to put things in their original place right after using them to avoid wasting time organizing them later on.

Step Five

Load the dishwasher. If you do not own a dishwasher, begin the dish-cleaning process by hand. If the dishes are too many, ask your family to help. Organize a wash, rinse, dry and store assembly line so that work can be shared.

Step Six

Wipe the countertop, kitchen sink and stovetop. Use household de-greasing cleanser to clean the oil and grease stuck on stove. Form a habit to wipe sink and stovetop after every use to prevent grime buildup.

Step Seven

Wipe the cabinets and appliances. Use a cleanser to wipe fridge doors, microwave and other appliances that are in need of a little shine.

Step Eight

Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor. Mix required amount of liquid disinfectant with water and use it to mop the floor.

Step Nine

Take out the trash and wipe the trashcan.