Positive thinker

Positive thinker

Dr Chung Sook Yin, 61, a public health doctor who focuses on preventive and holistic medicine at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, says she believes in the healing power of the mind.

I decided to specialise in preventive and holistic medicine because...

I've always been interested in food. Growing up, I began to see more and more processed food on supermarket shelves, which made me wonder how they affect our health.

Also, I used to run marathons and triathlons and I'd fall ill after running hard. So, it was also in my own interest to pursue this field.

Hippocrates once said: "Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food." Similarly, I wanted to share with my patients the benefits of eating wisely.

The human body is fascinating because...

Of the link between mind and body. For instance, a study on positive emotions showed that the incidence of diseases, such as heart problems, is 22 times higher in people with pessimistic personalities than those who are optimistic. It shows the importance of positive thinking on our health.

If I were to give an analogy for what I do, I'd be a...

Teacher, guide and friend. I don't just dispense medicine to patients. Rather, I lay down guidelines, not just on what they should be eating, but also on their lifestyle in general.

I do think there's a place for using medicine, but I won't use it as the first line of defence. I believe that healing comes from within.

I have come across all types of cases...

I don't see patients who are seriously ill - but my patients may not necessarily be in optimal health either. Most want to find out what they can do to improve their current health.

There was this middle-aged man who wanted to lower his cholesterol levels, but he wasn't keen on pills as he was already taking medicine for high blood pressure. I advised him to alter his diet and to exercise.

The next time I met him, his cholesterol levels were down. But he took it easy after that, and his levels went right up again. In a way, I'm glad it happened as it made him realise he really needed to revamp his lifestyle.

A typical day for me would be...

I work out at the gym before I head to work, where I see patients at my clinic for the entire day. After work, I have an hour-long yoga class. If the class starts late, I'll catch up with paperwork, or practise yoga at home instead.

Then, I head back home to have dinner with my husband, a retired doctor. He retired because of a major stroke five years ago. I end the day with about an hour of meditation.

I have been practising holodynamic vibrational entrainment technology (HVET) for the past nine years. It uses sound to synchronise the brain hemispheres.

I have two sons. One is a doctor in England, and the other is studying naturopathy in the United States.

I love patients who are...

I don't have any preferences; I treat everyone the same way.

Patients who get my goat are...

None do. Because of my philosophy. I accept them as they are.

One little known fact about vitamins and minerals is...

Zinc influences the function of over 100 enzymes. And while it can be found in plant foods, it can never equal the amount found in animal foods.

Weight-for-weight, oysters contain 20 times more zinc than vegetables; beef has four times more. So, strict vegetarians may wish to consider taking supplements. It also goes hand-in-hand with vitamin D, another important nutrient that is found to affect the expression of more than 200 genes.

Things that put a smile on my face are...

When I feel that the patient realises he can do something about his health and manages to do it.

It breaks my heart when...

This hasn't happened, but I may feel disappointed at times with patients. However, I will later realise that it is because I am imposing my expectations on them.

I wouldn't trade places for the world because...

I believe in accepting whatever situation life brings, rather than bemoan or rail about one's misfortune. For example, my husband's stroke changed my life. I had to do everything - work, take care of my sons and husband, who was left handicapped. But I just do what I can. We cannot control life.

My best tip...

Learn to be content with your life. Ask yourself: "Is my cup half-empty or half-full?" Accept whatever situation you are in and do something to make it better.

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.

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