Monday, November 06, 2006

She Stole My Bananas!

Well, a week has passed and things have gone reasonably well. I taught 19 hours last week (my max is 26) and classes themselves were fine. My students were all very curious about my injury and I received a few cards and many well wishes.

Getting to and from school has been a bit of a gong show. I had to blow dry my cast when I got home one day, as it has been raining all week. I've been wrapping it in plastic food wrap (a little more attractive than a garbage bag), but so far the schools have ramps/elevators so I don't have to climb up any stairs. Being pushed in a wheelchair can be a harrowing experience at times. The wheelchair my coworker borrowed for me has an interesting feature. On the bottom of the handles are what look like bicycle hand breaks, but don't be fooled - their function is to move the top of the seat back so the person in the wheelchair is in a reclining position. I discovered that if I forget to warn each new pusher, I'll get a sudden jolt when they try to use the breaks...

Anyways, to explain the title of this post, I must say something about Chinese medicine. There are lots of traditions and customs in Chinese medicine that are followed religiously by many Taiwanese people, especially older people. These include things like not eating anything cold in the winter (or any time if you can help it), not eating certain fruits if you have a cold, and not washing one's hair at certain times (most notably for the first month after childbirth).
As a foreigner, I don't really understand the whys of these customs and I seemed to get along ok for the previous 24 years that I didn't follow them, so I can take or leave them...

Most recently learned rule: You should not eat bananas when you have a wound, or especially a broken bone. There are varying opinions as to why and for how long one should abstain. Someone had brought me bananas in the hospital, and one lady insisted I shouldn't eat them. Later a nurse assured me it was fine. So on Friday night, when one of my helpers from the church said she wanted to buy me some bananas, I jokingly said to her, "Don't you believe in Chinese medicine?" She said she'd never heard of not being allowed to eat bananas because you're hurt, so bought me a bunch of 6.

On Saturday the lady who works in our apartment building was helping me with a few things, and freaked out when she saw the bananas. She insisted I shouldn't eat them and offered to take the accursed things away from me. I told her it was ok, since I'm a foreigner and don't believe in Chinese medicine, but she just said, no, everyone knows bananas are bad for your bones. When I asked her why, she couldn't say, she just knew. Throughout this whole discussion, she was holding the bunch protectively in her hands. I told her that a Taiwanese young person had bought them for me, and she said "oh young people don't know anything" and assured me that she would "help me" take them away. What could I do? She'd just brought me lunch and helped me do a load of laundry. I let her go with my bananas. After she left I couldn't help but laugh as I thought to myself, "She just stole my bananas!"

I'll be sure to look up any connection when I get my computer back (hopefully in the next day or so). Until then here is the quote of the week, which probably isn't amusing if you don't understand Chinese: "Man man zou, bu shi, man man tiao" (慢慢走,不是,慢慢跳) which means "Walk slowly, I mean, Jump slowly." In Chinese when they put 'man man' before a verb, it means "take your time" so if they finish eating before you, they might say "man man chi" (eat slowly). The quote occured when my friend called me to open the downstairs door for her, and was telling me to take my time crutching across the room.

4 comments:

  1. i tried doing a little research, and came across this amusing story. I have no idea what this site is, but I did notice that if you click on Next after this story, the next one is in Chinese.
    http://www.roboo.com/engclub/joks/h008.htm

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  2. Ok, I actually did find a site addressing this. Here's an excerpt on how bananas pertain to bones, but its got a lot of other health benefits listed as well:
    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=7

    Build better bones by eating bananas? Yes, enjoying bananas frequently as part of your healthy way of eating can help improve your body's ability to absorb calcium via several mechanisms.

    Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound called a prebiotic because it nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon. These beneficial bacteria produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve our ability to absorb nutrients, plus compounds that protect us against unfriendly microorganisms. When fructooligosaccharides are fermented by these friendly bacteria, not only do numbers of probiotic bacteria increase, but so does the body's ability to absorb calcium. In addition, gastrointestinal transit time is lessened, decreasing the risk of colon cancer.

    Green bananas contain indigestible (to humans) short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are a favorite food of the cells that make up the lining of the intestines. When these cells are well-nourished and healthy, the body's ability to absorb nutrients such as calcium can increase dramatically.

    Research published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences underscores just how much bananas can improve nutrient absorption. In this study, 57 male babies (5-12 months) with persistent diarrhea of at least 14 days duration were given a week's treatment with a rice-based diet containing either green banana, apple pectin or the rice diet alone. Treatment with both green banana and apple pectin resulted in a 50% reduction in stool weights, indicating that the babies were absorbing significantly more nutrients.

    Also, to check how well their intestines were able to absorb nutrients, the babies were given a drink containing lactulose and mannitol. Lactulose is a compound that should be absorbed, while mannitol is one that should not be. When the intestines are too permeable, a condition clinicians call "leaky gut," too little lactulose and too much mannitol are absorbed. After just one week of being given the green banana-rice diet, the babies' were absorbing much more lactulose and little mannitol, showing that their intestines were now functioning properly. Some banana cultivars are also rich in provitamin A carotenoids, which have been shown to protect against chronic disease, including certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. How to identify which bananas contain the most carotenoids? Check the color of their edible flesh. Bananas whose flesh is more golden contain the most carotenoids.

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  3. hmm . . .

    I too googled "chinese medicine broken bones bananas," but I found VERY little.

    I did find this: "Potassium decreases the loss of calcium from the body and increases the rate of bone building. Oranges, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits, vegetables, and beans are all rich sources of potassium." (same article on several sites--nothing about chinese medicine--only "chinese cabbage" and "medicine"--google isn't fool proof).

    but could find nothing else worthwile . . .
    let us know what you discover!!!

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  4. This is all VERY intreguing. I assure you Char, that I would not have given you bananas (since it's such a hot topic), but rather a nice boquet of flowers instead. Love ya hun!

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