KEYS TO FITNESS: Optimizing Environmental Conditions


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on November 18, 2010.)

In my house, there is one spot where orchid plants seem to grow best. According to a book on growing orchids and advice from experts, these flowers prefer certain types of light, moisture, temperature, water and nutrients. If you provide the right conditions, they thrive.

I have one orchid plant which has been blooming continuously for almost 20 months. I think that’s a spectacular record, particularly since the average blossom has lasted 2-4 months. I can’t make any claims about being a great gardener because I don’t do much except admire them.   My husband or housekeeper waters them regularly. I do practice qigong in the room sometimes, and this can provide great energy for healing and general health, so maybe it helps the orchids as well.

Jared Diamond wrote a book entitled “Guns, Germs and Steel” for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. In his book, he talks about what contributes to making a highly advanced civilization. He feels geography such as the environment, makes a huge contribution. The spread of ideas, culture, trade, and languages are highly dependent on geography, as well as health, food production and development of complex civilizations.

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, it stated babies’ intestinal tracts are colonized by various bacteria after birth, and these colonies of bacteria depend upon the foods given to them. That’s why many people get intestinal illnesses when traveling; bacteria are different in different parts of the world. Again, geography makes a difference.

Acidic environments in the body are associated more with illness and disease. Foods producing higher acidity, inflammation and a more toxic environment include processed sugar, beef, simple carbohydrates and trans fats.

Higher levels of E. coli are found in the digestive tracts of cattle fed a corn-based diet, whereas their natural diet consists of grass. Most cattle production in the US is based on a corn diet. E. coli is a harmful bacterium which causes serious food poisoning.

There have been studies showing children with autism having high levels of E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria in their digestive tracts. When put on probiotics, i.e. good, normal bacteria, the levels of bad bacteria go down and the children’s behaviors improve.

An emerging field, nutrigenomics—the study of nutrition on the expression of genes, shows diet can have a profound influence on the expression of good genes and suppression of bad ones. An example is with the Agouti mouse, a laboratory mouse bred for studies on heart disease and diabetes, which has white to golden fur and a fatty body. When pregnant Agouti mice were given a highly nutritious diet, the babies born were brown furred and lean, and lived longer than their parents.

The key is to find, define or create the right environmental conditions to produce extraordinary life in ourselves which defies the norm.

Classes in qigong, healthy lifestyles/weight management and wellness are available at YPTS.


Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave, Suite 100, Alhambra, CA  91801. Call 626 576 0591 for a FREE Consultation, or visit for more information.


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