Flexitarian diet

Coined by dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner in her 2009 book, Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life, Flexitarian Diet is a one that encourages mostly plant-based dishes while allowing some meat and other animal products in moderation. This is more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets. While it is healthy, it also reduces its negative environmental impact of unrestricted meat diets, as agriculture is responsible for about ¼ of all greenhouse gas emissions. Sample guideline for flexitarian diet: For beginners: 6-8 meatless meals in 21 total meals each week; Advanced: 9-14 meatless meals in 21 total meals per week; and, Expert: 15 or more meatless meals in 21 total meals per week.

In a large 10-year study presented at the American Heart Association convention in 2015, flexitarian diet was found to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke in more than 250,000 Europeans. Those who ate at least 70 percent of plant-based foods had a 20-percent lower risk from cardiac disease. Since eating vegetables also reduces the risk for cancers, especially of the colon and rectum, flexitarian diet is certainly a delightful option for those who could not stay away from red meat.

Surreptitious gadgets

It is scary to know that thieves can easily “steal” the electronic signal that opens your car door and garage doors. This is a situation where wonderful advances in science is used in a criminal way to victimize fellow human beings. A “gadget” could be purchased today which capture, copy, and save the “sound signal” when you press your car or garage door opener, while the thief lurks around nearby, unbeknownst to you. When you leave your car or garage, the perpetrator uses the gadget and breaks in to your car or home and steal all he/she wants. For years now, my wife, Farida, and I, never used our remote car door opener. We have been unlocking  and locking our door the old fashion way, manually. It is now a habit. For the garage door, we turn off the electrical switch at night, or when we leave for a vacation, exiting through the front door. Of course, cellular home security alarm system, including wireless Ring Doorbell system and/or CCTV help secure homes.

Another surreptitious “gadget,” a Radio-frequency ID Reader (RFID Reader) could reportedly enable a thief to steal your credit card data by merely coming very close to you. The data are instantaneously loaded to a computer or a cellphone. The “reader” is similar to the bar code reader at stores’ checkout counters or the scanners at the airport when boarding a flight.

Criminals no longer have to steal your wallet or runaway with ladies’ purses. The thieves are now high tech and sophisticated. They now steal by electronic pick-pocketing. The victims only discover what happened when they receive their credit card statement from their bank, or a notice from the government that someone tried to use their passport.

ATM skimming is popular fraud. There was a time when thieves simply attached a small camera by the ATM units to videotape credit card data, including the PIN. Today, they want a much larger loot, so they get data from dozens of credit cards and consolidate them to be able to make much larger withdrawals.

What I have done to protect my credit cards, driver’s license, and passport was to improvise. It is easy to do. Get two business cards, or cut two pieces of cardboard no thicker than your credit card. Put the two pieces end to end, with ¼ of an inch space between them, on top of a foot of aluminum foil. Roll-wrap them “as one” in 3 layers of aluminum foil all around them, providing six layers of protection on either side. The credit cards and driver’s license, will be sandwiched between these two when they are put back in the wallet or purse. Do the same for the passport. Simple, practically free, and effective.

There are now vendors selling RFID protector sleeves or wallets on the internet. Some of them use aluminum foil, others, thin metals, like stainless steel sheets.                                                                                                                                        The government and banks are now well aware of electronic fraud and are finding ways to foil crooks.           Hackers and scammers can also gain access to your personal data in your laptop when you connect to the internet in public places. The gravest tragedy is identity theft, which could ruin one’s life.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. If you have RFID credit cards, driver’s license, passport, etc., buy RFID shields or improvise RFID blockers using aluminum foil;
  2. Each family member using the same credit card account must inform the others as to their purchases, amount and date;
  3. Thoroughly check your monthly credit card statements and ATM account; or, call the customer service number printed at the back of the credit card to obtain purchases and balance updates;
  4. When you get a call from “your bank,” get the name and position of the caller and say you would call back later. Dial the customer service number at the back of the credit card to confirm.
  5. Power off the garage door opener, especially at night or before going out of town. With the electrical switch off, the remote opener will not work;
  6. It is more secure not to use remote control to unlock or lock the car;
  7. Do not open and immediately trash all emails sent by people you do not recognize, no matter how tempting the subject might be;
  8. When you receive an email from a familiar name telling you a sob story of being robbed of his wallet, stranded overseas peniless, and requesting you to send money, call and talk to your friend or relative to confirm. Chances are this is a fraudulent email, using a familiar email address to victimize you;
  9. Never give out your username or PIN or password, or key code to anyone, even if the call is from “your bank.” Bank personnel and online vendor clerks are prohibited from asking for such confidential data.
  10. When you receive an email which states you won in a lottery, or millions of dollars are awaiting transfer to your bank account, trash it right away. Do not even send a reply, otherwise you will only be giving them, and confirming, your email address.
  11. When emailing, it is more secure for everyone concerned to use the BCC, instead of the Send or CC when typing down the email address(es) of your contact(s).
  12. Facebook, Tweeter, and other social network sites are dangerous sites to post private matters and personal data. They are not secure sites.

Constant awareness, vigilance, carefulness, and common sense are the most effective anti-fraud, anti-theft “tools” we have at our disposal. A bit of “healthy paranoia” might also keep us more on our toes.


Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com   Email: [email protected]