With the approach of the Lunar New Year, medical experts warned the public to avoid excessive eating and drinking, saying that it can lead to a number of medical conditions.
The Lunar New year is a period of much feasting and celebrating. With the holiday lasting up to 15 days, families traditionally take turns wining and dining at each other's houses, resulting in a binge of overeating and little exercise.
Many of the traditional New Year delicacies, such as pig trotters and hotpots, are rich in oil, fat and artificial flavoring, which medical professionals said could exacerbate conditions such as gout, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes and digestive disorders.
A former gastroentrologist at Veterans General Hospital, Lin Wen-Chieh (林文傑), said: "Excessive intake of meat and fish, and foods which are too stimulating may cause digestive problems. This includes oily and fatty foods, and foods which are too spicy or too sweet. Barbequed meat in particular can cause gastrointestinal infections."
During winter, highly spicy hotpots are very popular among the young, and the Liberty Times quoted Wang Chong-guei (王鐘貴), chief of Internal Medicine at Taipei City Hospital, as saying that these dishes are responsible for the increased numbers of gastrointestinal disorders recorded during this time of the year.
Lin also warned about the effects of excessive alcohol intake during the New Year period, saying that alcohol is well known for its harmful effects on the stomach. Lin said that in addition to intestinal infections, pancreatic infections could also result.
Chief of Nephrology at Tzuchi hospital in Hualien, Fang Te-chao (方德昭), said that at this time people should keep in mind the importance of a balanced diet.
To protect against intestinal infections, Lin said that people should eat rice, vegetables, bread and other "gentler foods" before embarking on the more adventurous dishes. Wang suggested that for each portion of stimulating food taken, a certain amount of vegetables should be eaten, and that a high water intake would help to dilute the effects of alcohol.
Lin advised the public to have digestive medications at hand for the New Year period, saying that an overflow of patients at the emergency rooms of hospitals around the country was often a problem at this time of year, when many doctors are also on holiday.