Just think about last week when you skipped breakfast, drank until you passed out, gobbled down a burger between classes, and more. As a university student, is there anyone who can truly say yes to the question “Are you really healthy?” You may not be as healthy as you think. The Granite Tower (GT) thus wants to give suggestions for healthier life to its readers!
A male student who studies Sociology at Korea University (KU) looked down at the ground after he was told by his doctor to quit drinking. We will conveniently call him Kuk, his family name. Last month, he felt inexplicable fatigue and stomach pain. After consulting with his doctor, he was advised to wean himself off of smoking and drinking, as well as make more time for exercising.
He promised himself to distance from drinking and smoking afterwards, but how could he resist the pleasure of a booze party and nicotine? Here we shall explore an ordinary day for Kuk with some useful advice from health experts.
Health Threat: Drinking and Smoking
The tale of freshman Kuk begins at 9 A.M. when he wakes up feeling half-awake. Oh Lord, I am late again. He puts on whatever clothes around him and storms out of the room, skipping breakfast. Amid faint memories about the previous night’s party, he remains nearly unconscious up until lectures due to a combination of hunger and hangover. It has been about three times this week alone that he had stayed alive at night and become a zombie in the daytime, largely due to nightly parties and piling homework. Here comes June and it has only been a semester as a freshman, but he feels fatigued in the morning. What is the problem?
For many freshmen that have just gone through the first fast-paced semester, the story of Kuk probably sounds familiar. As for some avid partygoers, it might have lasted for the whole semester, seven days a week. Their happy times go on and on, until one day they wake up feeling unbearably fatigued
Such frenetic partying does not pertain to freshmen alone. Upperclassmen who are pressured by bleak prospects for the future also resort to alcohol. It has been reported by the Korea Alcohol Research Foundation (KARF) that 55 percent of male university students resort to drinking when stressed out. Most of them drink a lot, and they also drink fast. It appears to be a part of the distinctive drinking culture among university students, but it is certainly far from the healthy drinking habit suggested by experts.
Health experts at the Korea Neurological Association (KNA) suggest a different drinking habit that can alleviate hangovers and the subsequent liver damage: slow drinking. A human liver can process supposedly 10 grams of alcohol per hour, and it is assumed that one bottle of soju contains 54.72 grams of alcohol. This means that one should drink only one bottle of soju in a six-hour period or longer to prevent liver damage. If you drink one bottle of soju or more within two hours, then you are technically classified as a “heavy drinker.” Think about your latest drinking experience. Are you a heavy drinker?
Along with drinking, smoking comes as another grave threat to students’ health—particularly to male students. It has been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) that Korea boasts the highest smoking rate across the globe, and last year this amounted to 64 percent for male university students and 21.5 percent for female university students. Most of them are considered chippers, people who keep smoking but are not yet addicted. Kuk is also a chipper and he smokes roughly half a pack per day. He is aware of the consequences that smoking possibly accompanies, but quitting smoking takes more effort than he thought.
As most cigarette lovers do, he also enjoys the “sweetness” of post-meal smoking. It probably appears odd to most non-smokers that a cigarette could taste “sweet” like candy, but smokers have their point. Among more than 4000 types of chemicals that comprise a cigarette, chemical named “perillartin” has been identified as the sweetness factor. This delectable chemical attaches to sugar-accepting receptors clustered on the tongue tip, which becomes particularly sensitive right after a meal. All the while, the remaining part of the tongue, which detects bitterness, does not function properly, being covered by oils and food alike. Thus, the bitterness of cigarettes is effectively eclipsed by its sweetness, making post-meal smoking most irresistible to cigarette lovers.
That partly explains post-meal smoking predilection of on-campus smokers. As lunch time draws near, so do smokers at several smoking “spots” on campus—near the back-gate, the International Studies Hall, next to the entrance of Hana Square. On your way going out for lunch you can see them savoring their fleeting ecstasy, and you may probably bump into Kuk if you are lucky. Despite his efforts to cut back on smoking, you will see that he still becomes itchy when he is short of nicotine. He thinks he will be able to stop smoking once he makes up his mind, but it does not work out as he thinks.
Anti-smoking therapists, however, mostly agree that a short-term smoking cessation program could backfire. This is because of the nicotine-derived withdrawal symptoms that painfully linger for six months on average. During this to-quit-or-not-to-quit period, smokers experience psychological uneasiness and physical lethargythat often leads to headaches and even irregular heartbeat. Bombarded by this blitz of withdrawal symptoms, most smokers quit on their anti-smoking pilgrimage and end up relapsing. The long-term approach, however, has proved more effective than this. There are free anti-smoking experts at local health centers who provide both customized long-term smoking cessation programs and regular health checkups. For those who are prone to the temptation of cigarettes, it can be a first step toward Adieu Cigare.
▲ Chemical structure of Perillartin, which has been identified as the sweetness factor incigarettes. Provided by Wikipedia
Health Threat: Nutritional Imbalance and Lack of Excercise
Students who live off campus on their own are to some extent exposed to the potential threat of nutritional imbalance, compared with townies and those living in a dormitory. This is because they do not have nutritional experts—or mothers—nearby to check up on their eating habits. Kuk is also a student who lives off campus. He tries to keep his dietary life regular, but his resolve quickly disappeared once he started school life. Late night drinking and homework tempted him to skip meals in the morning and rely on restaurant food instead. Moreover, it is certainly not an easy job for a freshman that lives alone to make himself a nutritious meal every morning. Because of these practical constraints, his dietary life ran off the rail of a nutritionally balanced one long ago. He feels his dietary life has gone wrong, but does not know how to fix it.
A primary threat to his healthy diet is salt overconsumption. Nearly all the dishes he loves are rich in sodium—kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice), budae jjigae(spicy sausage stew), samgyeopsal(roasted pork belly) and ramen. Among these aforementioned, ramen is his favorite—particularly late at night when he stays awake for homework or computer games. It is certainly not Kuk alone who enjoys high-salt dishes. According to a paper published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2011, university students’ salt consumption is three times greater than the recommended consumption. This statistical evidence mirrors the uncomfortable reality—many university students hardly care about potential dangers of salt overconsumption. It is assumed that salt overconsumption triggers health problems such as hypertension, but university students are relatively underestimating the threat.
Nutritional imbalance is perhaps unavoidable, but there is something to preserve our health that we all know about but rarely put into action: exercising. It is commonly recommended to work out at least three times a week to stay healthy. That sounds easy enough, but it appears that it is not. It is reported that 73 percent of total workers in Korea exercise less than the amount recommended. The Ministry of Culture and Sports suggests it is desirable to participate in 30-minute aerobic exercise five times a week and 20-minute anaerobic exercise three times a week. Sadly, however, most Korean workers are way too busy to follow this advice—more than 40 percent of them rarely exercise. This unhealthy trend also pertains to university students and here we have Kuk who also belongs to this unhealthy 40 percent.
All he does is walk, breathe, and sporadically play table tennis. He aims to exercise on a regular basis, but it is simply hard to keep on exercising. Surging assignments keep him glued to his seat. His friends lure him out of the gym and spoil his resolve. His firm resolution quickly dissolves and this scenario repeats itself over and over again. Then how can he keep on exercising?
Byung Youn Park, Vice Captain of the Korea University Weightlifting Club (’13, English Language and Literature), however, suggests a different approach to exercising. “There is no need to set aside a major chunk of time for working out,” he advises Korea University (KU) students, despite stereotypes that adrenaline-busting weightlifting is the sole way to a healthy body. He reassuringly adds that two minutes are enough time to do some brisk push-ups or sit-ups that anyone can do without special equipment. He advises doing some brief stretching before bedtime to those complaining of time constraints.
Here comes the conclusion to Kim’s confession about his unhealthy life. The health problems listed above are not just limited to him; they are pertinent to nearly all university students who are just too busy to think about their own health. There can be many things that seem to matter more than your own health at this moment, such as high a GPA, a good résumé, an upcoming party, and a delicious greasy hamburger. However, it is always worth listening to an old saying: A sound mind in a sound body.
▲ Korean’s mineral intake is below recommended(below 100 percent), especially calcium, potassium, and vitamin B2. Provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare
A female student who studies Business at Korea University (KU) looked up at the sky in despair after a binge eating session. We will conveniently call her Kang, her family name. Last month Kang decided to lose weight as fast as possible by starving herself. However, she could not handle the hunger pangs and before she knew it, Kang was stuffing herself with junk food. The result of this terrible diet was not weight loss but muscle loss.
Kang decided to put an end to her unhealthy lifestyle and to strive to be truly healthy. However, she does not know how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Can she achieve her dream of a beautiful body and a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy life for many young women is centered on a beautiful body. Even though interest toward health has risen overall for Korean women, there has not been an actual move toward healthy exercise. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the exercise rate for Korean females has dropped from 13.4 percent in 2013 to 10.9 percent in 2014. What can be the threats to and friends of women’s health?
Health Threat: the Allure of easy dieting
Kang was especially motivated to diet much faster and better than her other friend who recently succeeded in dieting. “I thought that I had no time to spare. All I could think about was what I can do to quickly lose weight."
She quickly searched the Internet with key words “fast easy diet.” Kang considered countless easy dieting methods such as the Denmark Diet, Lemon Detox Diet, and Herbal Life diet. Kang skimmed through all the dieting methods and then decided to drastically reduce the amount of food she was eating.
After three days of eating one boiled egg, two sweet potatoes and one pack of chicken breast each day, Kang felt like the world was spinning. She had no power throughout the day. She eventually broke down on the fourth day and ordered a large Big Mac set from McDonald’s.
Indeed, the Internet is full of unhealthy dieting methods targeted at those unknowledgeable about health. For instance, there is a famous diet plan on the social media, Kakaostory, that gained the spotlight for numerous young girls. The dieting plan is comprised of a three-week plan. In the first week, no food is allowed after 6 P.M. The second week, lunch is the last meal of the day. In the third week, one can eat dinner, but only a small amount. This dieting is alluring because it supposedly guarantees a seven-kilogram loss.
Looking at the popularity of this dieting method, the allure of fast and easy dieting does exist for young women. Simply starving might reduce overall weight, but there is something these dangerous dieters are neglecting. KU Weight Lifting Club’s Park commented on this by saying, “Losing weight by not eating will bring on the yo-yo syndrome, which happens when the human body tries to regain more weight through lessened metabolism and increased appetite after follwing incorrect dieting methods.” He added that women usually attempt to starve themselves to lose weight because they are not well informed of the importance of exercising.
The yo-yo syndrome is every dieter’s nightmare. To this Park comments that, “starving naturally leads to the yo-yo syndrome because the body loses muscle and moisture through starving.” He repeatedly emphasized the danger of eating ridiculously small amounts or skipping meals. “It is better to eat little amounts three times a day than eating fully once a day. Those who manage to lose weight through starving will ruin their health,” he said.
Even though some people might think exercise is arduous and time-consuming, it is not as hard as it sounds. Going to the gym is not the only way to exercise. “Just taking a walk for 30 minutes around the school is an easy and effective way to exercise for one day,” says Park. “Also, you can always walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator and such. Exercise is not something grand. It starts with the little things,” he concluded
Additionally, mineral deficiency is observed in the diets of university students. It is believed that due to starving, seven out of ten university students subsist on diets that are short in minerals and fibrous proteins. A dietary life of Kang succinctly exemplifies. She often goes to restaurants around the school, and her lunch menus are mostly rich in carbohydrates but practically lacking in minerals. However, she tells that she feels no need to buy fruit for extra vitamin consumption, nor does she not take any vitamin supplements either.
Minerals comprise three percent of the human body, and they appear negligible compared with other components like proteins and carbohydrates. However, mineral consumption matters a lot for our bodies. Magnesium deficiency could lead to emotional disorders such as anxiety disorder or depression. Zinc and copper deficiencies are known to increase the risk of chronic fatigue and allergic symptoms.
Those who are accustomed to Western diets are more prone to magnesium deficiency. This is because western dishes mainly consist of carbohydrates, protein-rich ingredients such as wheat flour, and red meat. On the other hand, magnesium abounds in vegetables and seafood, such as spinach, beans, squid, and oysters. The problem is that magnesium-rich dishes are practically absent around campus and thus inaccessible to most students who rely on restaurant food around campus. Beans and spinach are not popular among young students, and seafood is just prohibitive to many university students who do not earn own livings.
Kang is a complete novice at health and dieting. “I am afraid to start all of this alone. I have never done this before,” she murmured when asked about her future health plans. She is probably not the only girl with this problem.
Modern technology allows people to freely access vast amounts of information and communicate with each other easily. Using this tool, numerous dieting communities have emerged. One of the most popular and active Korean diet communities is Diet Note, also known as DaNo. The community encourages healthy long-term dieting and does not permit advertisements. Organizers regularly upload exercise tips and healthy, low-calorie recipes. Also, users can upload their worries and receive comfort or advice from other users. Healthy dieting is good for both aesthetical and health reasons. Before, personal trainers in gyms were the main way for regular people to earn knowledge about health. However, with these new communities, dieting methods have changed dramatically from the past.
Gone is the spring semester, and the summer is just around the corner. All of us have gone through busy days of never-ending partying, all-night cramming, and club activities. Probably all of us have changed a lot compared with six months ago—hopefully in positive ways. What about our health, then? Did we care enough about our health during the last semester? Throughout this article, GT delved into several health issues that current university students face day by day, as well as health-threatening temptations which most of us succumb to. Depending on students, issues and temptations vary a lot—some suffer from hangovers, others are stressed out by their chubby legs. However, one thing has never changed and never will—health is wealth.
▲ Ingredients of Lemon Detox diet. Provided by charliekim.tistory