A Tale of Two Hybrids

By Grace Chen

WHAT makes the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid a favourite examination in contrast?

For one, both come with the promise of a cleaner drive, though one would carry a weightier AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) status while the other is comfortable enough with a ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) rating.

Then, there is the fuel consumption rate, a head locking factor which sees a very close fight between the two hybrids with the Prius at 38km per litre and the Civic Hybrid, which is not too far behind at 31km per litre. Fuel consumption for both cars here are rated using the 10-15 test cycle in Japan.

To be fair, it was the Prius which made its debut first in 1997, five years before Honda would introduce the Civic Hybrid, which would incidentally become the second commercially produced petrol-electric car in the market.

In terms of performance, the Prius 16-valve 1.8-litre 2ZR-FXE engine has a superior power output of 98hp.

In comparison, the Civic Hybrid's 8-valve 1.3 SOHC logs in at 94hp but with the help of the electric motor output, it is given an additional boost of 20hp, giving it a total horsepower of 114hp.

Osteoporosis in Women and Men

Osteoporosis Stages
BONES in the skeleton are the firm supportive structure of the body. Our bones are constantly being renewed. However, the renewal slows down as we age and bones may become porous and brittle. One of the most common bone conditions is osteoporosis. As people become older, their bones become fragile because of osteoporosis, leading to fractures. It has become a common disease among the elderly and women, as we all know, are more prone to the disease.

While osteoporosis has been associated with the elderly, there are cases where younger people have suffered from it under certain medical conditions. Some may be physically smaller than average or have osteoporosis as a result of their arthritis or on treatment with steroids. If they take steroids, they will suffer from steroid-induced osteoporosis. Also those who are anorexic, their bones will have low density and they are also prone to this disease.

What do you know about osteoporosis? 

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced. As the bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs "silently" and progressively and is often called the "silent disease" due to lack of physical symptoms at early stages and can only be detected when fractures happen.

Changes in a Woman's Life

WOMAN is the epitome of everything that is magnificent and beautiful. Unfortunately, this persona is only skin deep. A woman goes through several physical and mental changes in her life.

Her body goes through changes that can affect her family life, her social life, her feelings about herself and how she functions at work. Complicated? Not really...

The beginning: For the first 15 years - from birth to childhood to adolescence - she is careless, free and wide-eyed with what the world has to offer her. She discovers womanhood when she comes of age. She will be more self-conscious and curious with the changes happening to her body. Life will be a voyage of exciting adventures. Every experience is new and fresh.

Pre-Menopause: Pre-menopause refers to the entirety of her reproductive life, from menstruation to menopause. Physical changes begin to accelerate in this stage which is immediately prior to menopause. She is most likely to experience visible physical changes due to the descent in hormone production.

Perimenopause: Perimenopause means "about the time of menopause". It concerns the two to eight years when hormone levels are changing. The most common indications of perimenopause are irregular menstrual cycles, anxiety and lack of energy or irritability caused by hormonal fluctuations. Women usually start perimenopause between the ages of 39 and 51 but this differs with every woman.

Yoghurt Drink - Yakult

OVER the years, scientists and nutritionists in Japan have diligently researched and developed all kinds of 'health' foods for the increasingly health-conscious Japanese people.

But a problem arose - how are the Japanese people to distinguish the real McCoy, the genuine health food, from the so many food products in the market which are not.

The Japanese government had established in 1991 a regulatory framework called Foods for Specified Health Uses (Foshu).

No longer can any food product make unsubstantiated health claims.

The regulatory framework acts as a health food labelling system and only products certified by it can claim certain health benefits.

Any food product carrying the Foshu label defines it as food that carries "active constituents which affect the physiological function and biological activities of the body".

More importantly, a certified product has to be that if consumed as part of one's daily diet, can provide the specified health benefit that it claims.

The Role of Probiotics

WHAT are probiotics and how can they help you? The definition of probiotics has been deliberated by experts from around the world.

A generally used classification, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (UN), is that probiotics are "live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."

Do not equate probiotics to prebiotics - food ingredients that are non-digestible, and selectively stimulate the growth or action of beneficial microorganisms already in people's colons. When probiotics and prebiotics are mixed together, they form a symbiotic.

Probiotics are now readily available in various foods and dietary supplements such as capsules, tablets and in powder form.

Some common foods containing probiotics are yogurt, milk, miso, and certain soya beverages. In probiotic foods and supplements, the bacteria may have been present originally or added during preparation.

A majority of probiotics consists of friendly bacteria that are similar to those naturally found in our intestines.

We have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

WHY are we afraid? Why do we dwell on worst-case scenarios and react to minor mishaps as though they are a matter of life and death?

Fear is an instinctive response when our survival is threatened or our belief systems challenged. Healthy fear is an important part of our defence mechanism which keeps us on our toes and alert to danger. But fear, if left unchecked, can grow into a neurotic anxiety that can be paralysing as it leaves us in a state of worry, panic and non-specific tension.

Constant fear undermines relationships, increases stress levels and causes unfavourable physical signs such as insomnia, exhaustion, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness.

We are routinely altered by fear during the course of a normal day - from simply feeling nervous about a new experience to repeatedly rethinking a critical comment. Like a chameleon, fear takes on disguises in the form of jealousy, anger, sadness, irritation and doubt.

How to Overcome Obesity

OBESITY rate is up all over the world. It is a condition brought about by excess body weight in the form of fat. There are various categories of obesity.

A morbidly obese person is at least 45Kg overweight and has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or above.

Obesity is found as the cause of several ailments and is responsible for lowering life expectancy. Studies have shown that obesity brings many health risks, including high blood pressure, heart disease, Type II diabetes, liver disease, stroke, sleep disorders, and even cancers.

It can also affect one physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Several factors are responsible for obesity. Decrease in exercise is one of the reason for this. Due to a fast-paced lifestyle and busy schedule, it has become difficult for most people to take time out for extra activities and exercise.

Only in rare cases, is obesity caused by medical conditions such as hormonal problems. Basically obesity begins at home. It doesn't happen overnight and it usually starts with what you eat.

Prevention is the key to any health-related issues. Below are some steps on how to overcome obesity.

Controlling Diabetes

PEOPLE with Type 2 diabetes have a treatment option - a drug called Sitagliptin.

Sitagliptin belongs to the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 group of drugs (DPP-4) which is used to enhance the body's own ability to lower blood sugar (glucose) when it is elevated.

It comes in the form of tablets and is taken once a day, alone or in combination with other drugs. "Type 2 diabetes is a highly prevalent and serious chronic condition, a growing epidemic with clear un-met medical needs," said senior consultant endocrinologist Prof Datuk Dr Mafauzy Mohamed. "It is one of the most significant diseases affecting the modern age, and is the fifth leading cause of death globally."

Reports show that more than 98 per cent of the nearly 1.2 million Malaysians with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, more than half are unaware that they have the disease. Patients with diabetes can develop heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, vascular or neurological problems that can lead to amputations, and they can suffer increased mortality.

"People with Type 2 diabetes need to be proactive in taking measures to control the disease because it can lead to other health complications," said Dr Mafauzy.


ITS more than a year now since Google has unveiled Google+, that rivals Facebook. The service that began rolling out on June 28, 2011, which has set record as the fastest-growing social network in history, with 20 million users just within a month. The project is the culmination of a year-long project led by Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of social to make Google competitive by combining all its social services in one place.

Google+ is very easy to use has many interesting features. Among the new terms introduced in Google+ are: Circles, Hangouts, Huddles and Sparks. The notification system is similar to how Facebook handles notifications, complete with a red number that increases with each additional notice.

Circles seems to redefine the way we "friend" on social networking sites.

It allows you to filter your friends, co-workers, neighbours and family into different categories or circles.

With the Circles feature, your boss and co-workers are not in the same friend pile as your college frat buddies. You are able to easily share content with certain people and not others, and it does this almost automatically. Circles also give you the ability to choose what content you share with which friends.

In the near future, Google+ will also be launched as a Desktop and mobile application for different operating systems such as Android and iOS to attract new users by providing them eases of accessibility and connectivity.

Although Google+ has many aspects similar to Facebook, there are also a number of novel features. Here are a few tips to help you start networking with Google+.

Creative Ways to Better Living

THE term `sustainable living' is all the buzz these days. While we all know how sustainable living can benefit us tremendously, it is not always the cheapest way to go. Organic food can cost more than inorganic food and energy-saving appliances cost a lot more than regular ones. It is therefore, very easy to see why people oftentimes choose to take the cheaper route.

With a little bit of creativity, we can find ways and means of living a greener life just by changing our daily habits. As the cliché `a little bit goes a long way' goes, our little bit will certainly benefit the planet in the long run making it a more livable place the future generation.

Top 5 Tips for Green Agriculture

1. Use unmodified seeds. Genetically modified seeds will cause a change in the soil and make it lose its fertility. Consuming food from modified seeds can also potentially cause harm to our bodies.

2. Avoid chemical pesticides. Using natural pesticides will keep insects away but not kill them.

3. Use rainwater. Collect rainwater in large buckets and tubs and use it to water plants in the dry season.

4. Dig deep. Dig twice as deep when planting seeds as this will allow the root to penetrate deeper into the soil to get more oxygen.

5. Use compost. Compost is made from animal manure, leaves, grass and fruit peels. To make good compost, make sure it is aerated and watered adequately. This compost will help increase the fertility of the soil, save water and reduce plant diseases.

Corridors of Development

TO facilitate the even development of Malaysia, the country has been divided up into separate economic regions or development corridors. Each has its own agency that plans and initiates its growth.

The separate regions were conceptualised with the objectives of narrowing the gap between the socioeconomic levels in the nation as well as the disparities in the development between states.

There is vast potential for investment in these regions, and their development will contribute to the economic development of the nation.

Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) - Towards a Green, Sustainable Environment

HISTORICALLY, the development of sewerage services in Malaysia was mainly driven by local authorities to meet the basic sanitation needs of the public.

With the federalisation of sewerage services in 1994, Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) together with the governing agencies had overseen the realization of modern and efficient sewerage treatment system in Malaysia for the past 16 years.

With almost 100 per cent sanitation coverage nationwide to date, Malaysia is considered by our regional counterparts as a success model.

Modern mechanised treatment technologies predominates most of our urban landscape, which ensures that sewage is treated before the effluent is released back into our receiving water bodies.

These systems not only safeguard public health but also provide a green and healthy environment. The modern systems we enjoy today have evolved through scientific research and technological development.

The continual improvement and modernisation of municipal sanitation services have led to the present day sewerage network and mechanised as well as automated treatment systems.

Your Natural Vitamin Supplements

WHEN most people think of vitamins they think of a pill, or several pills, as their source. If you ask about the "natural" source of specific vitamins you would probably hear that you can find vitamin C in an orange or vitamin D from the sun.

To refresh our memories, or perhaps to learn this for the first time, let's take a look at the basic vitamins, what they do for us and where, they can be found in nature.

Please note that this is provided as information only, and is in no way meant to help with any self-diagnosis.

As with everything health related, if you believe you may have a deficiency or wish to know how much of a vitamin you should be taking, see your physician.

Piles - Painful and Embarrassing, but Treatable

NOBODY really likes to discuss their piles, but seeking early treatment is relatively simple and can save you from years of pain and suffering.

ONE in three adults suffer from piles, yet it's not commonly discussed. So what are piles and why do patients prefer to suffer in silence?

What are haemorrhoids?

Piles or haemorrhoids are swellings that appear around the anus. Consultant colorectal surgeon of Hospital Pantai Putri Tambun, Dr M. Sarkunnathas, explains that we all have a circle of stretchable tissue just inside the anus that expands when we pass motion and contracts to keep the anus shut.

"We call them vascular anal cushions because these tissues are rich in blood vessels and line the anus like cushions which play a role in controlling the outflow of faeces," says Dr Sarkunnathas.

Hybrid Technology - A Good Thing?

DUE to high fuel pump prices, there has been a surge of interest in petrol-electric hybrid vehicles.

For instance, hybrid car sales all over the world, dominated by the Toyota Prius, saw a marked increase in the last four year despite a declining new passenger car market.

It has been reported that waiting lists to buy the Prius was stretched to as long as six months in the United States, due to limited supply of batteries for the hybrid car.

Presently, it seems that combining electric drive with the internal combustion engine is the best choice for reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Hybrid vehicle technology is easily available and it does not require too much engineering.

Copyright Infringement

HAVE you ever uploaded an image or a video to a website, only for it to be deleted because of copyright issues? While some areas of copyright law can be complicated enough to cause copyright lawyers sleepless nights, the basics are very simple. Armed with some simple principles, you can save yourself from running afoul of copyright law.


1. Understand the scope of copyright law. It does protect literary works, paintings, photographs, drawings, films, music (and its lyrics), choreography, sculptures and many other things. It generally doesn't protect the underlying ideas, and it does not protect facts. For example, copyright doesn't prevent you from expressing in your own words ideas and facts found in a book or journal you read (but you should always give appropriate credit to the sources in which you found them; it is common courtesy to do so, and not doing so could be plagiarism).

Dyslexia and Your Child

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a disability that hampers a person's ability to learn, write and sometimes even speak. The word `dyslexia' derives from the Greek meaning `difficulty with words'. It is a common learning disability among children in Malaysia as there are approximately 500,000 children who suffer from it.

There are three main types of dyslexia - trauma dyslexia, primary dyslexia and developmental dyslexia. Trauma dyslexia develops when a trauma or injury occurs to the part of the brain that controls writing and reading while primary dyslexia occurs when the cerebral cortex or the left side of the brain does not mature as the child does. Developmental dyslexia occurs when there is hormonal development during fetal growth.

If your child is unable to read, write or spell as well as his peers, don't be quick to call him dumb or stupid. The problem may be much deeper. Children with dyslexia have often been called dumb or lazy even though they are actually children with above average intelligence. These children may be able to answer questions that a teacher poses to them correctly but when the same questions are asked in a written method, they may not be able to do as well.

Where to look for help

There are organisations and associations in Malaysia that can help your children cope with dyslexia. Among them are the Kiwanis Disability Information and SupportCentre (KDISC) and the Persatuan Dyslexia Wilayah Persekutuan.

Sime Darby - Biodiversity First

Sime Darby Bhd. (SDB), one of the world’s top plantation companies, is embarking on various conservation projects to preserve Malaysia’s biodiversity.

The country’s oldest conglomerate with a rich heritage that dates back more than 100 years said growing its business in a sustainable manner is dependent upon ensuring the sustainability of the environment that surrounds its operations.

As sustainability is the core foundation for its growth, Sime Darby stressed that the corporate sector can have a significant impact on conservation efforts of the country’s rich natural resources.

The Grim Side of the Internet

FACEBOOK, Twitter, Angry Birds, Wordpress - throw these words around and chances are most children will be able to explain it better than the average adult.  

Children today live in a world very different from what a lot of us knew growing up. The Internet has become such an integral part of a child's growing up process.

It has revolutionised the way children learn and access information. Children are able to carry out research faster and gain information in a more effective manner from the numerous websites available.

Choosing a Right Soap

CONSIDERING the fact that soap is over 5,000 years old, it is perhaps the oldest beauty product most of us would come to know. The regular household would not be able to operate without this cleansing bar. We use it to wash our hands, for bathing and sometimes, to cleanse our faces with gentler but just as effective versions. Many of our childhood memories when it comes to bathing, revolve around using a bar of soap, playing and making suds out of it.

With its many functions, it is no wonder why when it comes to buying a bar of soap that is suitable for you, there are so many different choices to pick from. Because it is often called so many different names - cleansing bar, moisture bar, medicated soaps, antibacterial soaps - it can get quite confusing picking out something as basic as soap. While one bar may resemble the next, there are many things to look out for when picking a soap that works for you. 

Managing Your Debt

DEBT plays an important role in our lives. As most of us cannot afford to purchase everything in cash, we use debt to buy things such as a house and car to fulfill our desired goals.

If used wisely, debt is a useful tool to help you achieve your financial goals. As such, debt by itself is not a bad thing as it helps you get the things you want faster with more convenience.

However, if you take on excessive debts, you may face diffculties meeting repayments which would ultimately get you into financial problems. This is why it is important to manage debt wisely and live with manageable debts.

Having manageable debts simply means living within your means and never overcommitting yourself financially. Keep in mind that good debt management helps you reach your financial goals faster while poor debt management negatively impacts your life.

Important Facts about Impotence

THE term "Erectile Dysfunction" (ED) or impotence is usually defined as the persistent (lasting at least six months) inability to achieve or sustain an erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or the ability to keep an erection firm enough to permit satisfactory sexual performance. 

Medical professionals often use the term "Erectile Dysfunction" to describe this disorder and to differentiate it from other problems that interfere with sexual intercourse, such as lack of sexual desire and problems with ejaculation and orgasm.

Most men experience this at some point in their lives, usually by age 40, and are not psychologically affected by it.

Although it's a common disorder affecting at least 10 per cent of men, and may appear to be a male problem, it's something we all have to take seriously.

ED can be caused by physical and psychological reasons. The physical causes includes underlying life threatening conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, clogged blood vessels, diabetes, obesity, and/or dyslipidemia (a disorder of lipoprotein metabolism). It could also be caused by certain prescription medications, heavy smoking, alcoholism, Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, hormonal disorders and surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.

ED can be your body's way of signaling that more serious health problems such as heart or kidney disease are present - and could in fact save later complications if the warning signs are heeded.

Many studies have shown that 80 per cent of chronic ED cases are related to the physical vascular system and only 20 per cent to psychological problems like stress, anxiety or depression.

Men with diabetes have a higher risk of developing ED. In addition, men treated for diabetes are up to three times as likely to develop serious ED. The causes of ED in men with diabetes involve impairment in nerves, blood vessels and muscle function. Chronic elevated blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erection. Therefore, you may not be able to achieve a firm erection although you have normal amounts of hormone and have sexual desires.

The medications include hypertensive medicines such as beta blockers, diuretics (hydrochlorothiaside and spironolactone), tranquilisers, antidepressants and digoxin may affect sexual function in many ways, not just induced impotence, but also causing diminished libido, inorgasmia, priaprism, premature ejaculation, gynaecomastia and decreased vaginal lubrication.

Most men with ED tend to suffer from a drop in self-esteem, embarrassment, and social stigma and believe they will become the subject of jokes and often seek unorthodox, off-label and over-the-counter methods of treatment. Self-medication for ED is dangerous because of the strong association between ED and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). On average, ED can present itself two to three years before the symptoms of coronary artery disease occur. So, if a man has trouble having or keeping an erection more than 25 per cent of the time, he should seek medical advice.

A herbal formula containing seven herbs such as Horny Goat Weed, Ginseng, Puncture Vine, Muira Puama, Withania, Damiana and Ginkgo will prove beneficial. They help to enhance sexual performance by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the genital areas. They improve the release of nitric oxide in men, thus relaxing the spongy tissues in the penis and promoting blood flow.

Ginseng is traditionally used for male impotence. It is highly respected and prized as a herb which promotes male or yang energy, improving circulation, boosting vitality and acting as an overall systemic invigorator.

Withania is a traditional remedy for impotence due to fatigue, a tonic to fight stress and for debility and nervous exhaustion.

Ginkgo enhances the effects of nitric oxide, which helps relax the artery walls, allowing more blood flow into the penis. This herb increases the body's ability to achieve and maintain an erection during sexual stimulation. Therefore, a unique combination of herbs formulated to address the causes of low libido and male sexual dysfunction is advisable.

Good nutrition may help improve ED. Eat whole, fresh, unrefined and unprocessed foods. Include in your diet fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, soybeans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and coldwater fish. Specific nutrients the body needs to boost energy levels, to alleviate fatigue or for healing the reproductive organs are vitamin E, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, vitamin B-complex, calcium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, selenium or organic spirulina. These nutrients are best assimilated when taken in food or supplement form. Everyone should consume more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Not only do these foods clear the arteries and prevent diseases, they will ensure that the male pump is functioning at its best! Avoid excessive sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, and caffeine.

Maintaining blood sugar levels near to the normal is just as important. Other nutrients like alpha lipoic acid may help reduce nerve damage due to chronic elevated blood sugar. It may be helpful in improving ED, too

The treatment options for ED include oral medications, vacuum constriction devices, self-injection therapy with alprostadil, papaverine, intra-urethral alprostadil suppository, penile prosthesis and vascular surgery.

All current available treatments are suitable for a cardiovascular patient and, if used according to the instructions, do not increase the cardiovascular risk.

Oral medications from the phosphodiesterase type 5 enzyme inhibitors (PDE-5) family, such as sildenafil (Viagra, Pfizer), tadalafil (Cialis, Eli Lilly) and vardenafil (Levitra, Bayer) have revolutionised the treatment of ED since 1998.

Despite the lack of head-to-head comparative studies, all three PDE5 inhibitors appear to have equivalent efficacy in the treatment of ED.

Sildenafil has additional efficacy data in the management of ED associated with spinal cord injury and antidepressant medications.

Tadalafil has the longest duration of action (up to 36 hours); this feature can be both beneficial (greater sexual spontaneity) and possibly detrimental (delayed adverse events).

However, the concomitant use of nitrates with PDE5 inhibitors may be hazardous and life threatening. They must be avoided as they can produce significant hypotension and are potentially fatal. No nitrates should be used within 24 hours of PDE5 use.

Patients who have taken PDE5 inhibitors and then taken to the Accident and Emergency section of a hospital with chest pain must inform the physician because the first line treatment for angina pain is nitrates.

Fast Facts on the Serious Diseases

* Coronary disease/heart attack. A long-running study of over 2,000 men found that erectile dysfunction is associated with a more than threefold higher risk of heart attack.

* Damage from smoking - Men with high blood pressure who smoke are 26 times more likely to be impotent than non-smokers. Even former smokers with high blood pressure are 11 times more likely to be impotent than non-smokers.

* Prostate cancer - A cancerous prostate gland may interfere with blood flow and nerve impulses to the penis. That can cause ED; impotence can be one of the first signs of prostate cancer.