A Healthy Lifestyle in the New Normal Bali

I cannot make a medical diagnosis for anyone, but I can make some suggestions to enhance anybody’s lifestyle, longevity, and quality of life. If we’re going to ever get back to sitting in movie theatres premiering cutting edge cinema, if we’re going to attend art openings, in-gallery performances, and wild group happenings, if we’re ever going to bring a visitor to a big temple ceremony, if we’ll ever get to crowd together and enjoy a wayang show, we’d better put some actual effort into public health.

This is not just about Bali. It’s international. If the virus is going to become endemic, if the rate of vaccination does not create herd immunity, and if communities are to survive, we will have to rely upon the most basic health protections we have. And every one of these starts with the individual. You. Me.

It’s not new knowledge that excellent hygiene, quarantine, and mask wearing are highly effective against the spread of all kinds of germs, viruses, and contagious disease. Anyone who has lived in big east Asian cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei, knows that a person wearing a mask is fighting infection: yours, theirs, and others’. This simple practice is done to ensure good health in a crowded community. The mask could well be the hallmark of the new normal, whether or not mask wearing is officially mandated.

Hand washing for 20 seconds is another win-win proposition. Ret Where you have everyone do it, many germs are held in check. What’s to lose by being a little more mindful about soap and water? I have always loved the Warung Muslim fixture of the wash basin right there for all to use. It says, “we care about your health.” You may know where your hands have been, and I’m not going to say another word about. Just wash, ya?

A key factor which few governments are willing to address in terms of the immune system, is diet and exercise. It’s no secret that many foreigners who moved to Bali actually became less physically healthy in this environment.And the Balinese themselves, ever more affluent in recent decades, fall into similar traps.

Scooters get chosen over walking short distances, restaurant foods like fried potatoes and fried rice are a convenient go-to, and every event invites us to overconsume alcohol. You’ve heard it from doctors and websites and your loved ones when they work up the nerve: that excess flabby weight is a big drain on internal organs and it will make it harder to recover after illnesses.

Visitors to Bali in the 70’s often report that the Balinese of that era were by and large very lean and fit. If they weren’t walking along the lanes, they were strolling out to the main roads to catch a bemo. Economic growth ushered in processed or fried fast foods, more red meat, and increased alcohol and sugar consumption. The culture of Bali was being eroded by processed food, the convenience of starches, and private, motorized transportation. Stressed livers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are now commonplace.

We are bombarded with the statistics and headlines about CoVid19 deaths, but it takes only a little more in-depth news reading to see that those most at-risk of death and severity of symptoms are people with a large number of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, smoking and hypertension. Bodies with these factors in place are already being taxed; battling a powerful virus may just be too much to ask. Could this be the time to evaluate your care of your body’s immune system?

If feeling tired often, feeling stressed and worrisome, having wounds take a long time to heal, if it’s easy to catch common colds, or if tummy troubles persist, suspect a weak immune system. The invasion of a strange new virus or bacteria can be overwhelming for an immune system already coping with other factors.

Get your bloodwork checked by a General Practitioner physician or Internist. You can be tested for your cholesterol levels (and there are online calculators for determining the ratio of good to bad cholesterol or HDL/LDL, such as www.omnicalculator.com/health/cholesterol-ratio). Make sure your blood screening includes the test forserum albumin, a basic liver health indicator.

It’s not that you can’tever eat a donut for the rest of your life, but if you’re ready to make a personal decision to change a trend in your lifestyle, it makes sense to steer away from such low nutrient foodsin favor of the latest dietary trends.

Start web searching for anti-inflammatory foods (or, if you can take the bad news, searching for foods to avoid). It won’t take long to get references that will identify fried foods, sugar and high fructose corn syrup, processed meats, excessive alcohol, and refined carbs as the top culprits.

And then treat yourself to the good news: you can boost your immune system by enjoying more vegetables in the Brassicaceae genus of plants: broccoli and cabbage are two; regular consumption of pickled foods for gut health, and eating some freshly grated turmeric (kunyithere) every day. There are whole lists of these anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing foods; a web search will bring up endless sites.

These dietarychanges are not merely touted in fringe practices and alternative healing philosophies. Even the Mayo Clinic has a site about anti inflammatory foods and diets. Choosing from either a Mediterranean, Paleo, or gluten-free diet is their suggested strategy to ending inflammation.

Get your friends to back you up on your chosen diet. Take a dawn or sunset walk to enhance your muscle tone and circulation. Buddy up with a favorite local villager to help them incorporate anti inflammatory eating habits within a Balinese lifestyle. And when you see the jamu lady with her bottles of beautiful turmeric tonics, find out how she can mix you some on a regular basis.

And you’ll be a trendsetter in the new and healthy normal.

On the schedule for upcoming arts and culture:

Balinale International Film Festival: 16 – 19 Septemberwww.balinale.com

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival: 8 – 17 Octoberwww.ubudwritersfestival.com

Karangasem Cultural Movement Carnival: 28 – 30 Octoberwatch social media

Mulat Sarira, theme of Ubud Writers Festival 18, fittingly suggests self reflection.



By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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