When I was first invited to the above health event, I had expected to find the three “D”s: Depressing (medical) data; Dreary (clinical) sessions and Dull (serious) speeches. Instead, I was soon pleasantly proved wrong!
The inaugural seminar organized by the Malaysian Wellness Society turned out to be essentially “E”s: Enlightening; Entertaining and even Exhilarating! There was a constant flow of interaction between the multi-racial capacity crowd and the panel of distinguished health specialists. During the two-day assembly (9-10 September 2006), the excitement from the tight schedule of back-to-back programs was enough to keep us warm against the cold air-conditioning in the ballroom of Crystal Crown Hotel.
The President of the Malaysian Wellness, Dr Sujatha Narayanan opened the congregation with an overview on wellness and highlighted that ‘prevention is better than cure’. She also hit home the irony that we tend to maintain our cars more regularly than our own bodies.
The next speaker was Dr Rajbans, consultant physician and gerontologist who dwelled on the four ‘silent killers’ – Diabetes, Heart Diseases, Hypertension, Stroke. He stressed on “living long and living well” and believes in “evidence by observation” rather than statistics, pointing out that the Okinawan Diet is a key to good health and longevity. In his hour-long speech, Dr Rajbans also proposed that stem cells could be harvested and utilized in treatment on cancer patients.
Following that was a 15-minute tea break during which we took the opportunity to visit the exhibitors’ booths displaying health-related products. Then it was back to the hall for an insightful discourse on “Cellular Management from inside out to prevent Cancer” by Assistant Professor Haresh Kantilal of UNITAR. He revealed that, in addition to the fact that we need daily dosages of antioxidants and vitamins, it is also advisable to eat fruits before a meal (a habit that I have to acquire!) to ensure better absorption of nutrients.
My favourite speaker came next in the form of the venerable and very witty Dr S Raman, gynaecologist & obstetrician, with his humour-laced talk on cervical cancer. He had us in splits with such gems as “Ma’am, I am at your cervix (service)”; “My department lies between the waterworks (urinary tract) and the sewerage (anus)” and referred to pap smear as “rape with a speculum”. We were so engrossed with his anecdotes that we (especially myself!) barely felt our hunger pangs signaling lunchtime.
The afternoon sitting was equally enthralling and helped ease the discomfort of full stomachs.
Mr Jagdev Singh, Managing Director of Total Health Concept enlightened us on the various types of fats (saturated, mono/poly/unsaturated) plus the importance of taking more Omega 3 (found in fishes/plants) and less Omega 6 (cooking oils).
A 30-minute ‘breakout session’ ensued during which participants were divided into four groups for analytical samplings (of blood pressure/ sugar/ fat scales/ Free Radical Tests). Then, stress management took center stage with the founder of Malaysian Yoga Society, Mr Manisekaran, leading us through some simple exercises on relaxing techniques.
Finally, “Financial Wellness” by Mr Paul Chan rounded up the day. The CEO of S & P Network Advisors Sdn Bhd emphasized that one’s success is not just measured by wealth but also includes health and humanity (read: love).
“Chronological Aging vs Biological Aging” was the interesting topic which kicked off our Sunday’s session. Dr Rajbans informed us that our registered (chronological) age tells us how long we have lived while our biological age refers to how ‘old’ our body is. He emphasized that with a healthy lifestyle and advances in biotechnology (stem cells, cloning et al), we can live up to 100 and beyond!
The morning proceeded with an intriguing poser by Dr S S Tan: “GERD, ACID, ASSAM LAKSA, are they synonymous?” The consultant gastroenterologist revealed that Gastro Esophageal Reflux Diseases (GERD) caused by the weak valve between our gullet and stomach are quite different from the common ‘heartburn’ which is due to food indigestion (acid regurgitation). To our delight, he assured chilli-lovers (like yours truly) that spicy food does not contribute to GERD.
After tea break, the Managing Director of Active Prevention Sdn Bhd came on to present “Professional Opportunities in Wellness” and promote membership of the exclusive health-oriented Active 100 Club.
This was followed by a symposium titled “The Confused Consumer – What’s the verdict?” by the main sponsor, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad. Conducted by Corporate Nutrition Advisor, Dr Zawiah Hashim, it was literally food for thought as we were treated to kaleidoscopic visuals (of food galore) and comic relief courtesy of three short but significant videos. The presentation aptly ended just before lunchtime.
Then, it was back to the hall with “10 Steps to prevent Blindness” by Dr Kewaljit Singh. The affable ophthalmologist took us through the whole process on eye education (eyecare, diseases et al). For most of us, it was certainly an eye-opening experience!
A repeat (of the previous day) breakout (group) session followed with members switching venues to facilitate dissemination of the test procedures. Another round of tea break and booth visits brought us to the last session. The closing presentation, themed “Functional Performance for the Professional Sitter” comprised lessons on spinal exercises and live demonstrations on the use of a stability ball and an inflatable roller. Led by a lithe and articulate Ms Irene Nazira Lee from FITPRO, three members of the audience took their turns on the apparatus. It was a fitting finale to two days of wellness!
Living Life The Wellness Way