Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Merrie Monarch 2014

Merrie Monarch week in Hilo, Hawaii started on Easter Sunday with the Ho'olaule'a (music festival) held in Hilo's Civic Auditorium.  Presentations of dance and music were made by local hula haluas, Hawaii Community College, and local Charter schools.  The Ho'olaule'a is always a delight and we look forward to seeing the kupuna and keiki dance accompanied by great musicians every year.  This year hundreds of visitors from Japan filled the auditorium and participated with the local halaus.  Here are Videos of the Ho'olaule'a presentations on April 20

Easter Hula in Hilo Hawaii
Free music performances and hula demonstrations are held daily during the week at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and the Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort.  A Hawaiian Crafts fair takes place from Wednesday through Saturday in the Civic Auditorium.   ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center has events during the week, as well as the Prince Kuhio Plaza Mall which is hosting hula and music performances in their center court every afternoon.  This year a lei competition is taking place with the winners displayed at the Wailoa Arts and Cultural Center.

The Ho’ike on Wednesday night is free for those willing to stand in line to get seats in the Edith Kanaka'ole stadium.  The Ho’ike has local halaus performing, with two groups from Japan, and a dance company from New Zealand.  
Edith Kanaka'ole stadium in Hilo

If you don’t have tickets for the main events, the Miss Aloha Hula competition, Thursday night, and the two group hula competitions, Friday and Saturday night, you can still watch live on K5 TV or over the internet.

On Saturday morning, a royal parade winds through downtown Hilo at 10:30 AM.  The last event of the week is Saturday evening, the group ‘Auana Hula.

Here is a Merrie Monarch performance and TV schedule.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bread-free in Hawaii

Hawaii Fast Food
We always enjoy talking to people in Hawaii who look and feel better after living on the island just a few months.  The sun and activity makes  a difference, but they all tell us they eat differently than they do at home on the mainland.  Two popular books about severe health problems from eating wheat: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers and Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health made us wonder if part of the benefit of living in Hawaii is the lack of bread.  

Hawaii residents eat the most rice in the U.S.; people in Hawaii eat an average of 100 pounds of rice a year as compared to Americans on the mainland who eat only 26 pounds a year.  Rice is a substantially cheaper than bread and widely available in Hawaii.   Rice is offered with eggs for breakfast and next to kimchee on plate-lunches.  Loco Moco (rice topped with a hamburger patty, egg, and gravy) was invented in Hilo and is available at drive-ins and fast-food joints throughout the state.  Hilo’s CafĂ© 100 sells over 9000 Loco Moco’s a month.   Hawaii’s Musubi (rice wrapped in seaweed (nori) often with spam) is a snack or entire meal on the run and is as convenient as a sandwich.  

Bread and flour are extremely expensive in Hawaii because they have to be shipped long distances; bread is old and often stale by the time it reaches island local grocery store shelves. The few bakeries in Hawaii are challenged by the cost of shipping flour from the mainland and the high cost of electricity for baking.  Though rice is a carbohydrate with a high glycemic index, the grain is less processed than wheat flour with no extra chemicals added.   Rice is easy to store for long periods of time, a perfect food to have around in case of an emergency, like a tsunami or earthquake.  In Hawaii, giving up bread is easy with the abundance of Asian rice dishes, local cuisine,  and the low-cost bulk supplies in island grocery stores.   

For nine months now, we have been on a wheat free diet.  We stopped eating bread after reading studies that showed health issues associated with wheat, in particular inflammation and restricted nutrition absorption.  We were very motivated to reduce inflammation to control gout.  The results have been fantastic with no gout episodes, even after adding foods that we thought were the problem (chicken and pork) back into our diet. 

If all the claims about the negative health effects of wheat are true, Hawaii’s highest life expectancy ranking in the US may be in part due to eating less bread.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hawaii and the Sunshine Nutrient

Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D, called the Sunshine Nutrient, is a key factor in protecting health and longevity.  On the mainland US and Europe, it is estimated that over 75% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D.  Even with plenty of sunshine in Hawaii over 50% of the residents have a Vitamin D deficiency.  

You can be deficient in Vitamin D if you do not get enough exposure to sunlight.  But sunlight alone is not enough, because processes in the liver and the kidneys are needed to convert the inert Vitamin D created by sunlight to the active form of the vitamin.  Then the digestive tract has to absorb the active Vitamin D.   

Wearing sunscreen, clothing, and having darker skin slows the process of absorbing Vitamin D from the sun.  As people age, their skin absorbs less vitamin D from sunlight and many older people stay indoors all day.  People who are overweight are often short of Vitamin D from sunlight because it is stored in their fat tissue and therefore not available in their blood to be used.   Vitamin D is also available in some foods such as fatty fish, fresh eggs, and foods like milk where Vitamin D is added. 

But even with enough sunlight, Vitamin D may not be converted to its active state if a person has liver or kidney problems.   Cholesterol is needed to create Vitamin D, so medicines that block the creation of cholesterol in the liver may interfere with Vitamin D production.  Some people can’t absorb the Vitamin D in their intestines because of the inability to absorb dietary fat, inflammation from gluten, or other digestive issues.

Research has shown people deficient in Vitamin D are more likely to die of cancer and heart disease and have other illnesses.  Other research has shown Vitamin D helps  prevent diabetes, hypertension, sugar intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.  Dr. Oscar H. Franco at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands recently published a study that calculated roughly 13% of all deaths in the United States and 9% in Europe could be attributed to low vitamin D levels.     

People who live in Hawaii have lower BMIs and longer life spans when compared to people living on the mainland.  Hawaiian fish such as ahi (tuna), aku (skipjack) ono (king mackerel), and opakapaka (pink snapper) are rich in Vitamin D.  One of the major differences may be the year-round sunlight and fresh fish in Hawaii that triggers vitamin D synthesis.