When I traveled to Ankor Wat, Ta Prom (see Tomb Raider), Bayon and many other ruin temples it gave me an opportunity to speak to several Monks and learn about their diet and philosophies.

With an entirely vegetarian diet, these men had often the frailest of all bodies.

They lived mostly on cheap food, donated by the community, their bodies possessed only the slightest margin of muscle tissue despite an often high percentage of body fat due to eatting only white rice, beans and white floured breads. Sitting long hours in meditation, walking slowly, eating high starch low protein foods wreaks the body.
The general population, mainly due to the absence of Western type fast food chains, looked fairly healthy, lean and active. Nourishing themselves on a fairly balanced diet, vegetables, fruits, white rice and breads and small portions of protein ranging from fish, cow, goat and pig. Infectious disease being the main contributor to a medium to low life expectancy rate.

But I predict the fast food chains will one day find its way into Cambodia within the next 5 years and the body types will change and we will see higher rates of obesity, coronary and cancer rates. The mysterious and quiet temple remains of Angkor Wat will forever remain intact but hopefully the kind hearts of the people won’t change when money and big hotels arrive.


Conclusion: A low caloric, low protein diet mainly consisting of cooked, starchy items, despite an overall low body weight, combined with little physical activity, is detrimental to the maintenance of muscle tissue leading to physical weakness, low immune resistance, fatigue and possibly even diabetes.

Catherine Sanson

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