Culture Change causes Health Problem

Measuring blood pressure at home with en elect...
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As everyone knows living in China has put me thru a lot of changes and adjustments.  One of the largest changes that have occurred is the diet.   I always mention the things I miss eating from the states, from cheese to good ice cream.  However, I seldom mention the things that I now eat that I really never ate before.

Due to the lack of things available that I am use to eating I have had to take to eating like the locals.   Although, most of you will think that my diet should be better and healthier.  For somethings my diet is better.  I drink more water than every before, and I eat more regularly since the Chinese are very strict about three meals a day at the same time everyday.  However, somethings I didn’t consider have now caused me to have a health problem that I did not have before.

China’s many different regions have various types of food.  Colder parts of China usually eat spicier foods, some places have the food more sweet like Beijing and Shanghai.  However, where I am located the food is very salty.  Due to the tradition of curing meats and veggies to keep them for an extensive amount of time due to the climate and the lack of refrigerators in the past.   Almost, every food in Zhejiang province is very, very salty. Add that to the large amount of rice that is eaten, it can be hell on an African-American person’s body.

After 3 years of eating rice or noodles at every meal, and a nearly 300%  higher intake of salt that my body is use to, my genetics, my age and my weight; I have found myself with stage two high blood pressure.  The silent killer they call it.   This pretty much scared the hell out of me.  I never had any kind of problems with my blood pressure or any other serious health issue.  I was actually the perfect subject for experimental testing at my university and proudly volunteered to help Ph.D post doctorate scientist to test their theories.

But now I am a high risk, high blood pressure patient.   It sucks.. but I am one of those people who when life throws  lemons… I catch them and throw them back making sure to pop someone in the head with them.

So begins my Chinese diet change to beat this problem naturally.  I want to try to avoid using western medicines as long as I can.  In my research to find out how to deal with this issue.. I have found that many Chinese in this area have the same problem.  (you think they would have figured out the salt thing.. but hey.. whatever) .. I have also found out that garlic is a large fighter of high blood pressure…(however, it does not help to eat it pickled.. like they do here)

My husband has hopped on board to helping me avoid salt in my diet and lower my rice intake so I do not get a blood sugar problem in addition to my current issue.

In America if you have this problem.. there are foods clearly marked that have low or no salt inside them.  However, in China it is not so easy.  First I had to learn how to say “no salt” in Chinese… so I could tell every restaurant, street vender, and tea house to leave the salt out of the food.  I have realized that this usually gets a crazy look, and the question of “Am I sure.”   Just about everything here is loaded with salt… probably explains why they drink so much water… I have also started adding garlic and ginger to almost all foods.

It is a big hassle and a bit irritating but you have to do what you have to do.  I have increased my Tai Chi practice and decided to try to add in a little yoga to try to get this weight down a little… The age thing… .I can’t change.. but I figure if I can regulate everything else… it should help.

My husband has purchased me an electronic blood pressure machine so I can check it regularly.. and is always checking all the food to make sure it has no salt.   With him leading the way.. I am sure I can beat this.

I want everyone to understand and realize that when you move to China or another culture you have to not only adjust to the people, the cities, the climate. habits and the traditions; you also have to adjust to the genetic differences between yourself and the local people here.   Not only do I look different, I am built different on the inside.  Because I am much larger they do not even have a blood pressure cup in the hospital that will fit my arm.  They are not really sure how to treat me for most things because they have never had to treat a foreigner before.   But I have no worries, wish me luck and .. watch your head…. the lemons are now flying.

until next time…

15 thoughts on “Culture Change causes Health Problem

  1. katzmeow

    Hi Im really sorry you are having this problem you sound very determine to get it under control, you’re husband seems quite supportive. Besides the exercise you part take in now ever thought about jogging taking your pressure before an after you eat an really try to elimate stress if any, meaning what you would ordinarily face. Take care an good luck.

    1. @Katzmeow… thanks for the advice… however, I do not think you have seen my photo…hehe… if I start jogging right now at my age, I will end up with a heart attack…heheh… I didnt even jog in high school when I was a size five. Also in china.. if you jog.. you could get side swiped by a car, bike, taxi rickshaw, or electric bike driver.. it is not safe… But i will try to lower stress… however.. china is kind of a stress free life…

  2. Lily

    Green tea can help regulate blood pressure, but you’d have to drink more than 20 oz a day and it’s not a quick fix, that’s for sure. Still, green tea is really healthy for a lot of different problems, and since it’s native to China you shouldn’t have a big problem finding good quality green tea where you live. Just make sure to pour away the first infusion, which has a lot of caffeine in it. Just google how to prepare green tea if you want to add it to your healthy life style.

    Also, I’d recommend you to try TCM before using Western medicine. I’m not a doctor but I have experienced myself how the chemical medicine we often use to take can be really bad for our health.

    Hope this helps to give you some more ideas.

  3. Henry Yeh

    Actually, MSG is not nearly as harmful as we previously thought. The “MSG menace” was largely invented as another tool to toot the “Yellow Perile”.

  4. jackie

    Yeah, that really stinks because everything is salty here. Not only do they use a lot of salt, there is also soy sauce (high in sodium) and of course all that MSG! Maybe you already do this, but I would definitely start asking for no MSG if you go out (不要味精 bu2yao4 wei4jing1). Especially the small restaurants and street vendors pour that stuff in.

    My husband hates to eat out so I started cooking Chinese food (we take turns with the cooking). It’s kind of a pain but definitely much healthier: you can control the salt content and I eat more veggies now than I ever have in my entire life. Although if you use any pre-made sauces in your cooking you also have to be careful because they are very high in sodium, and usually have MSG. Anyhow cooking at home helped me to lose about 11 pounds after we got married, and I’ve kept it off. Sometimes I do worry about the blood pressure thing, though, because my husband still loves cooking with MSG!

    Anyhow, stay healthy and wish you the best.

    1. it is amazing how much salt they use… makes me wonder why more of them dont have blood pressue issues. Yes.. my husband also lives on MSG and salt… but I am doing the best I can with it… more fruit helps…

  5. I’m sorry to hear that you have high blood pressure. Sadly I have it as well.

    I’m glad to hear you are making a change and you have someone there to encourage you and help you. Keep it up.

  6. I love this @ “when life throws lemons… I catch them and throw them back making sure to pop someone in the head with them.”

    I definitely think once you make the chances you mentioned in the posts, you will most likely not need Western medicines. It’s also great that your husband is on board, because having a great support system is key to getting better. Wishing you good health and good luck!

  7. Sounds like you need to move to Hainan! They use tons of fresh veggies in the food here, and garlic is in pretty much every dish! Sometimes you even get some raw garlic cloves on the side to munch on. The food is less salty than what I was used to in the US (now when I go back and eat the restaurant food in the US I often find it tastes too salty to me). The only problem is they use a ton of oil, and that’s not so great for you either!

    Good health to you!

    1. they have a lot of fresh veggies here too… but.. i just have to cook them myself… I am thinking about that garlic thing.. but i am also thinking i better keep some mouth wash handy..heheheh

  8. John

    Hi Jo
    You caught it just in time, I wish you luck and I will pray for your well being. You are right about the China Culture, you have to adjust by the way they live, I’m glad your husband helping you out.

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