Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Why do statues of Buddha have long earlobes? What's the difference between fat Buddha and regular Buddha?

Dear Cecil:
In Chinese restaurants I always see statues of Buddha with long earlobes. I sometimes ask the folks who work there what significance this has. So far, even the Buddhists (three now) have no idea. Do you? -- Eric Bottos, via e-mail What's the difference between the fat Buddha and the regular Buddha? One report I've heard is that Buddha was so good-looking that he asked to be made less attractive so he could study more and fend off women less.
— Cori, Boston

The earlobes are elongated, partly to indicate the Buddha is all-hearing and partly as a reminder of the heavy earrings that weighed them down before Siddhartha renounced material things to seek enlightenment.

The fat, laughing guy isn't the capital-B Buddha but a lesser buddha called Hotei (or Miroku or Miluo or Budai or Putai, depending on language). The model for Hotei was (probably) a cheerful, overweight Chinese zen monk or healer who wandered the countryside helping people circa 950 AD. In Asia the belly is one's spiritual center and source of power, so rubbing the laughing buddha's belly brings good luck, and is as close to achieving buddha nature as most of us will get.
— Cecil Adams

Atherosclerosis is a degenerative condition in which arteries build up deposits called plaques (atheromas) which consist of lipids (mainly cholesterol), connective tissue and smooth muscle cells originating from the arterial wall. Another term used to describe atherosclerosis is "hardening of the arteries"

Significant symptoms of atherosclerosis only appear at the end stage of the disease process when blood flow to a particular body part has been greatly reduced. An early warning sign of atherosclerosis is a crease in the ear lobe. This is because a decrease in blood flow over a period of time results in a collapse of the vascular bed of the ear lobe. This leads to a diagonal ear lobe crease which has been recognized as a sign of atherosclerosis since 1973. Studies show that the ear lobe crease is a better predictor of heart disease than any of the other known risk factors including high blood cholesterol, smoking history, sedentary lifestyle and others. Its presence does not prove that the person having it has coronary artery disease but it strongly suggests it. This correlation, unfortunately, does not work with Orientals and American Indians, but seems to hold true for all other races.

Common sugar promotes higher blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and uric acid. It also increases platelet stickiness and should be limited in any preventive diet for atherosclerosis as much as possible. An increase in dietary fiber (especially psyllium seed husks, legumes and oat bran) lowers cholesterol as well as improves bowel elimination.

"There is no magic bullet, diet plan, specific food, or type of exercise that specifically targets belly fat. But the good news is belly fat is the first kind of fat you tend to lose when you lose weight," says Michael Jensen, MD, a Mayo Clinic endocrinology specialist and obesity researcher.

And why is that? "Visceral fat, the kind tucked deep inside your waistline, is more metabolically active and easier to lose than subcutaneous fat under the skin, especially if you have plenty of it," explains Penn State researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD.

And the more weight you have to lose, the more quickly you're likely to start losing your belly fat, experts say.

"People who are significantly overweight may see quicker results in their belly than someone who has less to lose in that area, such as a postmenopausal pouch," says Georgia State University nutrition professor, Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD.

"Visceral fat is more metabolically active and easier to lose than subcutaneous fat, especially if you have plenty of it and the right conditions are met...."

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