Health Articles

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Understanding calories

Calories are the measurement used for the amount of energy in the food and drink.

When we consume food and drink, we put energy into our bodies. This energy will then be used for our everyday activities from breathing, sleeping, to running.

 

In order to maintain a stable weight, the energy that we put into our bodies must be balanced with the energy that we use through normal body functions and our daily activities. In a simpler words, the more calories put in the body the more activities you needed to burn it and vice versa.

 

General calories intake

 

Men on average need about 2500kcal per day while women need about 2000kcal per day. However, as mentioned above, the amount of recommended nutrient intake vary from person to person based on their daily activities, occupation, frequency of exercise, lifestyle habits and also body metabolism.

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The more vigorously you do an activity, the more calories you’ll use. For example, fast walking will burn more calories than walking at a moderate pace. If you’re gaining weight, it could mean you have been regularly eating and drinking more calories than you have been using. To lose weight, you need to use more energy than you consume, this can be achieved via consuming lesser food or exercise more vigorously. Continuously doing this over a period of time will lead you to your desired weight.

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However, when people try to loss weight, they tend to curb their food intake and often times do not enjoy their diet modification. A healthy diet should also be a sustainable diet, thus, cut down on unhealthy food consumption slowly but consistently, consuming more healthier food option and also be mindful about the amount of food consume.

 

Calorie counter

 

 

Nowadays, there are various apps that can be used on mobile phone to track not only your calorie intake but also, your steps, exercise and also energy that you burn. Using all these apps, and gadget are helpful in making sure that you are on track with your diet and exercise.

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One of the apps developed by Ministry of Health Malaysia that is tally with Malaysian variety of foods is my nutri diary 2.0 aps. The app is helpful in monitoring your calorie intake and your weight progress. Often times, when we use calorie tracking app, it frustrates users that the app does not know how much calorie does a nasi lemak have  (any local food), but with my nutri diary it covers variety of Malaysian foods option which can be helpful for our daily food consumption.

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Gap between unhealthy diet and body needs

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While trying to loss, putting on or maintaining weight, imbalance consumption of foods may lead to losing some essential nutrients. Hence, to bridge the gap between lack of nutrient from food and body needs, consumption of multivitamin and multimineral are helpful.

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Other conditions includes denture problem, loss of appetite, hectic lifestyle, and many more.

How to improve your blood circulation ?

Individuals with poor blood circulation typically experience numbness and coldness in their extremities, particularly their hands and feet. It is often the result of an underlying condition to a more serious condition, such as uncontrolled diabetes or low blood pressure, but it can also be the result of poor posture, among other things.

 

Here are some tips on how to improve your blood circulation:

 

1. Go on regular walks 

 

Walking can improve blood circulation. Contraction of the calf muscle causes venous blood to be pushed back up to the heart. The arteries dilate when patients walk and improve blood flow throughout the body. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of walking three times per week.

 

2. Reduce your weight

 

Being obese or overweight poses a greater health risk to your circulatory system because it increases your risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which lead to blood circulatory problems.

  

Consumption of food in moderation, balance and exercise regularly can help to prevent being obese and overweight.

 

3. Take more breaks at work

 

Taking more work breaks allows you to develop the habit of alternately sitting, standing, and walking. This reduces the demand on the circulatory system because sitting causes blood flow to slow and pool in your legs, resulting in muscle pain and fatigue. Thus, taking more breaks while working in an office is beneficial for improving blood flow and keeping your stress level in check.

Try to stretch every 15 to 20 minutes and get up and move every hour—even if it's just a power walk around your house.

 

4. Stay hydrated 


When your body is dehydrated, it affects the amount of blood that circulates through it. It also causes your blood to retain more sodium, causing it to thicken and making it much more difficult for your circulatory system to function properly.

Checking your pee is the simplest way to ensure that you are getting enough fluid. A yellow light or clear urine indicates that you are drinking enough water; anything darker indicates that you need to up your water intake game!

 

5. Manage your blood pressure


High blood pressure causes your blood circulation to go haywire, putting more strain on your heart and blood vessels. If you do not manage your blood pressure properly, the heart and circulatory system will have to work harder to supply blood flow throughout the body.

High blood sugar levels can harm the lining of small blood vessels, causing blood circulation issues. This condition will also encourage the formation of plaque in your blood vessels, further complicating matters.


Exercise, limiting sodium intake, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and making changes to your lifestyle can all help to lower your blood pressure and improve your circulation. Ideally, your blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg.

 

6. Elevate your legs


Elevating your legs relieves pressure on your veins because the blood does not have to work against gravity to return to the heart.

When you are watching TV or taking a nap, the most convenient time to elevate your legs is when you are lying down and prop your legs above your heart level for 15 minutes or more at a time. This will greatly improve overall blood circulation.

 

How can exercise improve blood circulation?

Many experts recommend doing exercise or at least moving around to improve blood circulation. This is because exercise leads muscles to require more oxygen, which improves blood circulation.

 

Current medical science proves the old adage that "a man is as old as his arteries (blood vessels)," because we now know that blood vessels transport vital oxygen-rich blood to all body tissue. Maintaining artery health (blood vessel health) is thus analogous to maintaining overall health.

 

Endothelial cells line the inside of blood vessels and perform a variety of functions, the most important of which is the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is essential for keeping the lining of blood vessels smooth and slippery, preventing white blood cells and platelets from adhering and causing inflammation or blood clots. Aside from that, it relaxed the muscle cells in blood vessels to prevent spasms and keep arteries open.

 

A study of four groups of healthy people: young exercisers, young non-exercisers, elderly exercisers, and elderly non-exercisers discovered that while age had a significant impact on endothelial function and nitric oxide production, it had a smaller and more gradual impact on people who exercised regularly. This demonstrates that exercise does, in fact, keep blood vessels young!

 

 

Regular exercise benefits blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide production in endothelial cells, thereby maintaining oxygen supply throughout the body and heart health!

 

When you have a poor blood supply, your extremities, such as your hands and legs, are often affected.

 

Here are some exercises to improve blood circulation in your extremities;

 

  1. Ankle rotation
  2. Walking
  3. Heel and toe raises
  4. Knee flexions
  5. Squat
  6. Using exercise ball
  7. Yoga movement that requires movement of hands and legs

In conclusion, because exercise is essential for maintaining healthy blood vessels, body movement will help in some ways to maintain healthy blood vessels. So get moving and don't be a couch potato!

Do you think slimming pills work?

There are millions of slimming pills product on the market with various marketing strategy, not only in pills, but there are also, drinks or beverages, functional, ointment, lotion, and many other products which claimed that it can be used for weight loss. But is it really works?

 

In this article we are going to focus solely on slimming products that people consume like functional foods, pills, beverages, not for external use like ointment, lotion, or other types of slimming products since different kind of product has different method on how they give effect to the body.

 

 

Slimming pills on the market is either from drug, or drug combination or from herbal supplement. As for drugs at the moment, in Malaysia we only use two types of drugs which is anti-obesity medicine (AOM) that act on gastrointestinal tracts (GIT) or better known as orlistat (brand name Xenical) and drugs which is used to suppress appetite or better known as Sibutramine or phentermine. The consumption of all these drugs must be prescribed and monitored by doctors.

 

There are certain criteria for doctors to consider in order to prescribed slimming pills such as when individual has BMI more than 30, but most importantly is when the individual have tried to loss weight like eat healthily and exercise. Once individual have achieved certain weight loss then the doctor can no longer prescribed the medication, which is why, the consumption of such drugs needs to be monitored by doctors only. Also, to note that there have been cases previously where the prescription of slimming drugs which harm individual health, the drug is called Fen-Phen, it was phenomenal back then, it was a combination from Phentermine and Fenfluramine, but Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) already take it back from the market as it can harm human health specifically heart valve. When prescribing slimming drugs doctors will usually conduct full body examination and blood test from time to time thus whatever things that is not suitable for body may be detected early, unlike consuming slimming pills without prescription.


 

As for herbal supplement slimming pills, the ingredients can be from various ingredients, either plant-based ingredients or animal-based ingredient. Since it does not consider as drugs thus it is not put under the strict and effectiveness requirement that drugs are in.

 

In Malaysia, all these supplement products need to be notified to Ministry of Health (MOH) under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for its safety. Once it is being notified, NPRA will provide the supplement products with notification number. Many product founders use this as their marketing strategy as to promote that their product is approved by MOH. However, products with notification number does not means that they are safe. It means that they are confident that their product is safe so that MOH can come and spot check anytime to make sure that their products is safe. Of course, before NPRA provide the product with the notification number they already go through the product ingredients and all that, but different batches of supplement are produce over the time, which can be different from the one sent for checking initially.

 

Among common ingredients that are in slimming pills supplement are chitosan (from shrimp shell), caffeine, bitter orange, green tea, beta gluten, carnitine, raspberry ketone, white kidney bean, yohimbe, guar gum, garcinia cambogia, fucoxanthin and many more. All these ingredients usually do not have conclusive study findings but rather mixing or promising study findings.


 

 

Which is why when it comes to supplement consumption it is very much suggested to go through below guideline from MOH:

 

  1. Check the products that you are going to buy whether it is registered with the regulatory authority.
  2. Some of the products (including herbal) may also cause adverse effects. Make sure your medical condition is not affected by it if you would like to try these products. Seek advice from healthcare practitioner before consuming it.
  3. Read label carefully and do not take more than the listed dose.
  4. These products are licensed as either over the counter (OTC), traditional, or functional food, therefore it is not ethical for the founder to make claim such as ‘stops from being fat’ or ‘speeds up metabolism’.
  5. Avoid slimming products which promote rapid weight loss, promise quick result, suggest that you do not need to exercise or diet, fail to recommend dietary advice or worse encourage that you can still consume anything you want.

 

In conclusion, whether slimming pills work or not it is still depending on type of slimming pills itself whether it is considered as drugs (need doctor prescription) or herbal one which is over the counter pills. All in all, health experts agree that making lifestyle changes including following a healthy eating pattern, reducing calorie intake, and engage in physical activity is the basis for achieving long term weight loss. But since making lifestyle changes can be difficult to some people, even more nowadays that there are many temptations for unhealthy food around us, not to mention the processed food which is marketed as ready to eat or ready to cook food (microwaved) but contain high trans-fat. Thus, it is really suggested that if you are to consume any slimming pills, get advice from healthcare professionals and accompanied it with healthy eating habit and exercise.

 

References


  1. Ministry of Health (MOH). MyHealth Portal. Slimming Pills. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/slimming-pills-2/
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH). Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/
  3. Lasting damage from Fen Phen. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20081105/lasting-heart-damage-from-fen-phen#1

 


Facts on Fiber!

“Eat more vegetables and fruits to get your fiber!” You may have heard these words. But what is fiber ? How it works to improve health? Let us take a closer look on it!
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our body cannot digest undigested. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules but fiber cannot be broken down into sugar and thus it will pass through our body. These carbohydrates often considered beneficial in which mostly come from fruits, vegetables and legumes (1, 3, 6).

 

Fiber comes in two varieties, both beneficial to health (3):

 

Soluble fiber

 

Dissolves in water; absorb water to form a gel like substance that slow the digestion and cause you to feel full. They have been shown to decrease cholesterol and lower blood glucose. Common source of soluble fiber includes beans, oat bran, fruits and vegetables. It is also found in pysllium, a common fiber supplement.

 

Insoluble fiber

 

Does not dissolve in water; Increase fecal bulk and appear to help food pass more quickly through the digestive tract so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation and irregular stools.

 

 

 Facts About Fiber (3,4)


 

1. Fiber aids in achieving healthy weight.

 

2. Fiber fight diseases. It appears to reduce risk of developing various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, constipation and breast cancer.

 

3. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol.

 

4. Fiber helps to regulate blood glucose.

 

5.  Recommended dietary fiber intake per day for all age group is 20-30g/day. However, if a person is not currently eating enough of fiber, he or she should increase his or her fiber intake slowly  to avoid gas and bloating.

 

 

6. More fiber needs more water. When eating a high fiber diet, be sure to drink at least eight or more glasses of water every day.

 

7.  Fiber aids in improving digestion by increasing stool bulk and regularity. A high-fiber diet may help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.

 

8.  Too much fiber is a bad thing. You may experience abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and even diarrhea.

 

9. Fruit and vegetable peels are rich in several nutrients including fiber. Eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables keep you feel full longer due to its high fiber content. However, certain fruit and vegetable peels may be hard to consume or simply inedible. These peels are best removed and not eaten.

 

10. Fruits and vegetable juice has less fiber than whole fruits and vegetable. This is because the skin is removed and thus it is more healthful to eat whole fruit and vegetable.

 

11. Fiber cannot be cooked out.

 

Tips to Increase fiber intake (5,7)

 

1. Consume products that have whole grain listed as the first ingredients, high fiber content and low fat and sugar content.

 

2. Replace white rice, bread and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products.

 

 

3. Include legumes in your diet (beans, dried peas and lentils)

 

 

4. Eat unpeeled whole fruit and vegetables not juice.

 

5. Snack on fruits and vegetables

 

6. Take a fiber supplement (e.g psyllium)

 

In conclusion,

 

Fiber is an important dietary substance to your diet. This is because high fiber foods are also good sources of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants which offer many health benefits. Therefore, as one of the key ingredients to healthy eating, fiber is something you cannot skip.

 

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Improving Your Health With Fiber. Available from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14400-improving-your-health-with-fiber [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  2. Danielle, D. 2018. How much fiber is too much. Medical New Today. Available from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321286#treatment [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  3. Harvard University School of Public Health. (n.d.). Fiber. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/ [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  4. Karin, L. 2016. 45 Interesting Facts about FIber. Fact Retriever. Available from https://www.factretriever.com/fiber-facts [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  5. Kerri, A., J. 2016. 16 Easy Ways to Eat More Fiber. Healthline. Available from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-to-eat-more-fiber [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  6. Mayo Clinic. 2018. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983 [Accessed on 23 April 2020].
  7. My Health Ministry of Health. 2012. SERAT DAN KAWALAN DIABETES. Available from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/serat-dan-kawalan-diabetes/ [Accessed on 23 April 2020].

What happen to your stomach when you fast?

Fasting has long been a part of many religious traditions, including the Jewish and Muslim holidays of Yom Kippur and Ramadan, respectively. As you read this, billions of Muslims around the world are participating in this act of faith, which involves fasting from dawn to dusk. While fasting for Ramadan is based on spiritual beliefs, many of us fast because we believe it benefits our health. However, what happens to our bodies when we fast? 

The primary source of energy for a person is glucose, which is obtained from carbohydrates such as grains, dairy products, fruits, certain vegetables, beans, and even sweets.

 

The glucose is stored in the liver and muscles and released into the bloodstream when the body requires it. This process, however, changes during fasting. The liver will deplete its glucose reserves after about 8 hours of fasting. At this point, the body enters a state known as glucogenesis, which marks the transition into fasting mode.

 

Glucogenesis has been shown in studies to increase the number of calories burned by the body. Without carbohydrates, the body burns its own calories. When there is no carbohydrate available, the body produces its own glucose, primarily from fat.

 

The body eventually runs out of these energy sources as well. Fasting mode then transitions into the more serious starvation mode. A person's metabolism slows down at this point, and their body begins to burn muscle tissue for energy. Although it is a well-known term in the dieting world, true starvation mode occurs only after several days or even weeks without food. So, unless other health conditions exist, it is generally safe to go without eating for a day after breaking their fast after 24 hours. (1)

 

“A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” he adds, noting that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins – “feel-good hormones” are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being. As mentioned previously, the study by Dr.Longo and colleagues suggests prolonged fasting may also be effective for regenerating immune cells. “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Dr.Longo explains. In their study, publish in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the team found that repeated cycles of 2 – 4 days without food over a 6-month period destroyed the old and damaged immune cells in mice and generate new ones.

 

 

Furthermore, the team discovered that cancer patients who fasted for three days prior to chemotherapy were protected against immune system damage caused by the treatment, which they attribute to immune cell regeneration. "The good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting," says Dr. Longo. "Now, if you start with a system that has been heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can literally generate a new immune system." (2)

 

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is associated with numerous health risks, according to the UK's National Health Service (NHS).

 

People who fast frequently become dehydrated, owing to their bodies' inability to obtain fluid from food. As a result, it is advised that Muslims consume plenty of water prior to fasting periods during Ramadan. Other people who follow fasting diets should stay hydrated during their fasting periods.

 

On the other hand, according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), there are numerous health risks associated with intermittent fasting.

 

 

Fasting can also cause heartburn; lack of food leads to a reduction in stomach acid, which digests food and destroys bacteria. But smelling food or even thinking about it during fasting periods can trigger the brain into telling the stomach to produce more acid, leading to heartburn.(2)

 

Finally, to sum up, moderation is the key. Know the precaution step to avoid the potential risk. A person must understand his or her current health condition before proceeding to any sort of diet plan.

 

Fasting can also cause heartburn because a lack of food reduces stomach acid, which digests food and destroys bacteria. However, smelling food or even thinking about it during a fast can cause the brain to tell the stomach to produce more acid, resulting in heartburn. (2)

 

To summarize, moderation is essential. Understand the precautionary measure to avoid the potential risk. Before beginning any diet plan, a person must first understand his or her current health situation. 

 

References

 

Medical News Today (n.d). What Happens If You Don’t Eat For A Day? Timeline And Effects. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322065#can-fasting-promote-weight-loss [Accessed 29 April 2020].


Medical News Today (n.d). Fasting: Health Benefits And Risks. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295914  [Accessed 29 April 2020].

 

Diarrhea in children and what need to be worried about?

Diarrhea is characterized by frequent soft or loose bowel movements (poop). Most children experience diarrhea from time to time. It usually does not last long and usually resolves on its own, but in children, the period when they have diarrhea is critical because they may be losing too much water, which can lead to other health problems.

 

Among the dehydration symptoms that parents and/or caregivers should look for in children who have diarrhea are:  

  • Seems drowsy
  • Breathes quickly
  • Has few or no tears when they cry
  • Has a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards (sunken fontanelle)
  • Has a dry mouth
  • Has dark yellow pee or has not had a pee in the last 6 hours (for baby) and 12 hours (for child)
  • Hands and feet that appear cold and blotchy 

 

Diarrhea is usually caused by an infection, such as rotavirus, bacteria like salmonella, or a parasite like giardia. Aside from dehydration symptoms, it also includes vomiting, stomachache, headache, and fever.

 

It is also critical to seek medical attention right away if your child or baby exhibits any of the following symptoms:


  •         A fever of 38°C or higher.
  •         Diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours.
  •         Has more than four diarrhea stools in eight hours and isn't drinking enough.
  •         Bloody or pustular stools

 It is best to prevent fluid loss when treating diarrhea in children or adults, whether in a clinical setting or at home.


 

Here are some tips that parents and/or caregivers can use to prevent fluid loss at home:

 

  • Provide more fluids and encourage your child to drink more. Infants and children should be given extra breast milk or oral rehydration solution (ORS). Plain water lacks minerals like sodium and potassium, both of which can help with diarrhea. Fruit juice and carbonated drinks are not recommended because they cause stomach ache/ cramps and increase fluid loss (the later). Children with severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration may require intravenous fluids (via a vein in the arm) in the hospital.

 

  • It is also critical to begin providing a consistent diet for the children. Encourage them to eat small amounts of food frequently, even if they don't have an appetite. Breastfed babies can continue to nurse normally, and formula-fed babies can eat normally as well. Smaller, more frequent meals are once again encouraged. Water-rich foods, such as watermelon, are also encouraged.

 

In conclusion, diarrhea in children can be very serious and is quite common; some of the practices that parents may employ when dealing with children who frequently experience diarrhea include ensuring that their children's and caregiver's hygiene is always maintained. Ensure that food is stored at the proper temperature, particularly dairy and raw food products; that food is fully cooked; and that the home environment is clean, especially if there is a pet in the same household. Aside from these, taking probiotic supplements is beneficial to their gut health.

 

References.


  1. American College of Gastroenterology. Diarrhea in children. https://gi.org/topics/diarrhea-in-children/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  2. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK). Diarrhoea and Vomiting Caused by Gastroenteritis: Diagnosis, Assessment and Management in Children Younger than 5 Years. London: RCOG Press; 2009 Apr. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 84.) 5, Fluid management.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63837/
  3. National Institute of Health (NIH). National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). Symptoms and causes of chronic diarrhea in children. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/chronic-diarrhea-children/symptoms-causes (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  4. National Health Service (NHS) U. Dehydration. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/ (Accessed on April 1, 2021).
  5. Diarrhea in Children. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/diarrhea-treatment (Accessed on April 1, 2021).

 

Is Acid Reflux in Children the Same as in adults?

Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs not only in adults but in children as well. Reflux in adults is a condition when there is a backup of stomach content, including stomach acid, from the stomach to the esophagus. This condition will cause individuals to experience heartburn, regurgitation, and a bitter taste in the stomach. This uncomfortable condition occurs in children and even babies. Symptoms of GER in children and babies vary according to their age since when babies are born, their digestive system is not as mature as an adult's, thus the symptoms throughout childhood are different, but in general, they do experience it as well.

Babies with spit are common, especially after they have consumed milk and burped. This little spit is called GER. But if your baby experiences frequent vomiting associated with discomfort, difficulty feeding, or weight loss, it may be something more serious than GER. But the condition of GER in babies, children, and adults is almost the same.

For babies, it is usually because of their poorly coordinated gastrointestinal tract (immature GI system), while for children it might be caused by obesity, overeating, eating spicy and/or oily foods, drinking caffeinated and/or carbonated beverages, and certain types of medication. But all in all, the cause of GER to occur in children is the same as in adults: it is when anything causes the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus (LES) to relax, or it can occur due to anything that increases the pressure below the LES.

Symptoms in children

 

The most common GER symptoms in infants and children are:

 

  • Frequent or recurrent vomiting
  • A frequent or persistent cough or wheezing
  • Refusal to eat or difficulty eating (choking or gauging while feeding).
  • Heartburn, gas, abdominal pain, and colic.
  • Regurgitation and reswallowing
  • Complaining of a sour taste in their mouth, especially in the morning.  


Tips to identify and help children experiencing GER.

 

When it comes to children, it is best to pay closer attention to their complaints or observe them, as children frequently do not know what is wrong with their bodies and lack the vocabulary to describe the pain that they are experiencing. Apart from this, you may also suggest the child sit upright for two hours after eating, especially if they eat something that commonly triggers their GER (e.g., oily, spicy foods, carbonated, caffeinated drinks). You may also try to give your child several small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Make sure that your child is not overeating, and encourage your child to do regular exercise. You can help babies by elevating the baby crib or bassinet, or by holding the baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding and assisting him/her in burping. 

 

 In conclusion, the acid reflux condition that occurs in adults occurs in children too. It is just that sometimes children do not know how to describe it and do not understand what happens to themselves when such things happen. The key is to pay attention to their complaint and help them with the tips above!

 

The importance of Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our body is unable to digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps to regulate sugars in the body and helps to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.

Children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health. It can be obtained through consuming diet rich with whole grains food, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fruits.

 

There are two types of fiber, which are soluble fiber and insoluble fibre.

 

  • Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that dissolves in water, it can help to lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels. Foods with soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
  • Insoluble fiber is a type of fiber that does not dissolve in water, it can help food to move through the digestive system, promoting regularity and help to prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers are wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

 

There are various studies confirming that consumption of diet high in fiber helps to make overall body function healthier.

 

Heart Health.

 

In a Harvard study with over 40, 000 male health professionals, researcher found out that consumption of high fiber diet reduce 40% risk of getting coronary heart disease. Another study conducted by Harvard among females nurses also found the similar findings, high fiber diet lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome (a combination factor of getting heart disease and diabetes). These factors are high blood pressure, high insulin levels, excess weight, high triglycerides level, and low HDL level (good cholesterol level).

 

 

Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.

 

Diet low in fiber and high in carbohydrates and fat can cause sudden spike in blood sugar, this can lead to increasing risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Both Harvard studies with female nurse and male health professionals, found that this type of diet increase more than doubled risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

Other studies such as Black Women’s Health Study and the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition have shown similar results.

 

 

Constipation.

 

The fiber in wheat bran and oat bran is considered more effective than fiber from fruits and vegetables. Experts recommend increasing fiber intake gradually rather than suddenly, and because fiber absorbs water, beverage intake should be increased as well as fiber intake increases.

 

 

Cancer.

 

Fiber is shown to decreases risk of breast cancer through a large-scale study in 2016, where findings of the study indicates that higher fiber intake reduces breast cancer risk, suggesting that fiber intake during adolescents and early adulthood may be particularly important.

 

In another word, women who consume higher fiber foods during adolescents and young adulthood, including vegetables and fruits, may have significantly lower breast cancer risk than those who eat less dietary fiber when young.

 

In conclusion, consumption of sufficient fiber can gives various benefits to human body, according to Malaysia Food Pyramid 2020, it is recommended to consume 3 servings of vegetables and fruits daily.  However, according to National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) about 95% of Malaysian do not consume enough vegetables and fruits daily, which is why sometimes consumption of fiber supplement can help to  bridge the gap of poor dietary intake.

 

Reference


1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Fiber. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/
2. National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) (2019). Chapter 09, Of fruits, veggies, and plain water.  http://iptk.moh.gov.my/images/technical_report/2020/4_Infographic_Booklet_NHMS_2019_-_English.pdf 
3. Malaysia Food Pyramid 2020. Ministry of Health Malaysia. Nutrition Division. 

Probiotics 101

World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits on the host. It can be found in fermented food (E.g.: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi), dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

Probiotics may contain variety of microorganisms. The most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are also other bacteria being used as probiotics (e.g.: Saccharomyces boulardii.)

 

According to studies, different types of bacteria exert different effect to human body. Therefore, choosing the right strains and types of probiotics is essential for it to works on the said health concern.

 

 

 

Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics.

 

Prebiotics are non- digestible food components that selectively stimulate growth of desirable microorganisms. It is not the same with probiotics. Probiotics usually feed on prebiotics which can stimulate their growth and activity. Whilst synbiotics usually refers to products that combine probiotics and prebiotics. This combination allows bacteria (probiotics) to feed on prebiotics, all in one supplement product.

 

 

 Why probiotics are important?

 

Recently many studies have emerged on the benefits of consuming probiotics. According to National Health Institute (NIH), probiotics might help your body to maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your body’s community of microorganisms to return to a healthy condition after being disturbed. It can also help with influencing your body’s immune response.

 

 

 Take away message

 

Currently, there is no guideline on how much probiotics we should consume in our daily life, but since it has many benefits many people has started to consume probiotics daily. If you rarely consume foods high with probiotics such mentioned above, probiotics supplements can be used as an alternative.

 

References

 

  1. National Institute of Health (NIH). National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Probiotics: What You Need to Know? https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
  2. National Health Service (NHS). UK. Probiotics. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/probiotics

How do probiotics aid in health maintenance?

Probiotics can help to maintain health in a variety of ways. The first is by maintaining a healthy microorganism community. Second, by assisting the body's community microorganisms in returning to a healthy state after being disturbed.

Other than bacteria, the body contains fungi, parasites, and viruses. All of these "bugs" coexist peacefully and naturally in a healthy person, with the greatest number found in the intestines. Scientists refer to all these coexisting "bugs" in our bodies as the microbiome. 


The microbiome plays a key role in promoting the smooth daily operation of the human body. It consists of both helpful and potentially harmful microbes. The disturbance in the balance between the helpful and harmful microbes may arise due to infectious illnesses, certain diets, prolonged use of antibiotics or other bacteria-destroying medications, which can lead to the body becoming more susceptible to diseases. 

Scientists believe that probiotics are most effective at both ends of the age spectrum, that is, children and the elderly, during stress, after antibiotic consumption, and so on. Probiotics influence the bacteria colonization process, which can lead to a faster restoration of a healthy microbiome and a lower risk of illness. 

 

Probiotics also help to maintain health by influencing the body's immune response. Microbiota aid in the stimulation of the immune system in the body; for example, a healthy microbiota will protect the body from pathogenic organisms that enter the body, such as through the consumption of contaminated food and beverages.

A variety of bacteria families are found in the human gut, including Prevotella, Ruminoccoides, Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Clostridium, and Firmicutes. These microbes in the gut prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria by competing for nutrients and attachment sites on the mucous membrane of the gut, which in turn provides immune activity to the body. 

In a nutshell, while there are numerous additional benefits to consuming probiotics, such as improved skin health, scientists are still trying to figure out how probiotics can help with other health conditions. However, large-scale studies, such as the Human Genome Project, show promising results on the health benefits of probiotics.

References

1.    Harvard T.H. Chan. School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/

2.    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Bugs in the system. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/bugs-in-the-system/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Chan-Facebook-General

 

Probiotics & COVID-19

World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits on the host. It can be found in fermented food (E.g.: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi), dietary supplements, and cosmetics.

 

Probiotics may contain variety of microorganisms. The most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are also other bacteria being used as probiotics (e.g.: Saccharomyces boulardii.)

 

According to studies, different types of bacteria exert different effect to human body. Therefore, choosing the right strains and types of probiotics is essential for it to works on the said health concern.

 

How does probiotics help to maintain health?

 

There are variety of ‘bugs’ that coexist naturally in the body such as bacteria, fungi, parasite and viruses, these are what scientists refer to as microbiome. In the body of a healthy person, all these bugs coexist peacefully. The role of the microbiome is to promote smooth daily operation of human body. However, conditions such as infectious illness, certain diet, prolonged use of antibiotics and/or other bacteria-destroying medications, can lead to body becoming more susceptible to diseases.

 

Due to this, scientists believe that consumption of probiotics influence bacteria colonization process, which can lead to speedy restoration of healthy microbiome and lower risk of being sick.

 

Probiotics and COVID-19?

 

Probiotic is link with COVID19 due to its ability to boost the immune system. Currently, most extensive researched on probiotics include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Escherichia Coli, Enterococcus, etc. Although probiotics mechanism profoundly focuses on the gastrointestinal tract, the effect of probiotics is not confined to the digestive system only. Probiotics can act on the entire body via immune modulation. Not only that, it also facilitate the immune system development and maturation and regulate the interaction between host and pathogen by killing the pathogen and regulate the immune responses towards it.

 

One might argue that, but COVID-19 is a viral infection unlike others. A systematic review described probiotics’ efficacy against viral diseases where more than 20 strains of probiotics showed the anti-inflammatory effects on the body and antibody production against viruses.

 

Moreover, study found out that viral loads were lowered upon probiotics supplementation, it is postulated due to immune modulation by microbiota that fights against COVID-19 directly and decrease the risk of secondary infections due to prolonged antibiotics exposure from multiple experimental COVID19 treatment.

 

China’s National Health Commission recommended probiotics for severe COVID-19 patients to restore the intestinal balance and protect from secondary infections. Moreover, gut microbiota’s role in modulating lung diseases has been demonstrated.

 

In conclusion, scientists in this study suggest that many more studies should be established on the effectiveness of using probiotics as prevention and especially treatment of COVID-19. As of now, apart from practicing social distancing, wearing mask, adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP), individuals may also benefits from probiotics rich foods and supplementation for its boosting immunity properties and fight against COVID-19.

 

Reference

  1. Kurian, S. J., Unnikrishnan, M. K., Miraj, S. S., Bagchi, D., Banerjee, M., Reddy, B. S., Rodrigues, G. S., Manu, M. K., Saravu, K., Mukhopadhyay, C., & Rao, M. (2021). Probiotics in Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19: Current Perspective and Future Prospects. Archives of medical research52(6), 582–594. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arcmed.2021.03.002

Diet Suku – Suku Separuh ?

Suku – suku separuh diet adalah saranan diet oleh Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM) untuk cara pemakanan sihat. Pelbagai langkah dan inisiatif telah dilakukan bagi mempromosikan amalan pemakanan sihat kepada rakyat Malaysia. MegaLive menyambut baik saranan ini dengan turut sama mempromosikan amalan pemakanan sihat ini kepada semua.
Suku – suku separuh adalah diet yang merangkumi suku jumlah karbohidrat seperti nasi, mee, bihun, capati, roti dll, suku jumlah protein seperti ayam, ikan, sotong dll dan separuh jumlah sayur – sayuran dan buah – buahan. Pinggan yang dirujuk dalam saranan diet ini adalah pinggan berukuran 10 inci/ 25sm.

Contoh hidangan suku – suku separuh:

 

Capati dengan kuah dhal.
Nasi beras perang dengan ayam tanpa kulit dan sayur.
Nasi putih dengan ikan bakar dan sayur.
Nasi lemak
Roti dengan telur dan salad.

 

Terdapat 5 mesej utama dalam amalan diet suku – suku separuh.

 

Mesej Utama 1: Makan 3 Hidangan Utama yang sihat dalam sehari.


Makan sarapan, makan tengah hari, dan makan malam dengan sihat dengan mengikut konsep suku – suku separuh.

Makan pada waktu yang tetap juga membantu pengawalan porsi/ saiz hidangan makanan. Berikut adalah contoh waktu makan seharian.

 

Mesej Utama 2: Makan 1-2 Snek yang Sihat di antara Waktu Makan Jika Perlu

 

Bagi menggalakan pemakanan secara sihat secara holistik atau sebagai gaya hidup, anda juga digalakkan untuk mengambil snek sihat 1-2 kali dari sumber buah – buahan, kekacang, dan sayur – sayuran.

 

Contoh snek sihat yang boleh di ambil 1-2 sajian ialah:

 

 

Mesej Utama 3: Makan Sekurang-kurangnya Separuh Daripada Bijirin Anda Sebagai Bijirin Penuh

 

Malaysia adalah negara di mana, makanan rujinya adalah nasi, oleh itu tidak hairanlah jika kebanyakkan rakyat Malaysia masih berasa tidak kenyang selagi tidak makan nasi. Oleh yang demikian, Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM) menggariskan pengambilan karbohidrat hendaklah diambil kebanyakkannya dari sumber bijirin penuh, seperti dari sumber nasi beras perang, roti bijirin mil penuh, jagung, barli dll.

 

Contoh makanan berkarbohidrat yang tinggi serat:

 

 

Mesej Utama 4: Makan Hidangan Tidak Bergoreng dan Tanpa Santan Setiap Hari

 

Seterusnya, lauk -pauk di Malaysia begitu sinonim sekali dengan jenis lauk -pauk yang bergoreng menggunakan minyak yang sangat banyak iaitu menggunakan kaedah ‘deep -frying’. Makanan bergoreng dengan minyak banyak yang digunakan secara berulang – ulang dan makanan yang mengandungi jumlah santan yang tinggi  boleh meningkatkan masalah kesihatan seperti masalah jantung, darah tinggi, kolesterol dan kanser.

 

Justeru, pengambilan makanan dengan cara masakan dan kandungan santan yang tinggi seperti masak lemak, kari, gulai, dan masakkan bergoreng hendaklah dihadkan.

 

Cara mengantikan pengambilan minyak dan santan dalam masakan dan makanan:

 

 

Mesej Utama 5: Makan Makanan yang dimasak di Rumah Lebih Kerap

 

Makanan yang dibeli di luar secara amnya mempunyai kandungan gula, garam, sos, kicap, perasa, dan monosodium glutamate (MSG) yang tinggi, ia juga kebanyakannya menggunakan kaedah memasak yang kurang sihat iaitu dengan cara menggoreng dengan minyak yang banyak dan berulang- ulang.

 

Kandungan makanan yang tinggi garam, gula, sos, kicap, perasa dan MSG boleh menyebabkan tinggi risiko kepada masalah kesihatan seperti diabetes, dan juga darah tinggi.

 

Selain daripada itu, pengambilan makanan dari luar juga seringkali mempunyai jumlah porsi yang tidak mengikut spesifikasi suku – suku separuh, hal ini menyebabkan individu lebih cenderung untuk makaan secara berlebihan dan mendapat lebih risiko untuk menjadi obes.

 

Cadangan hidangan harian di rumah:

 

 

Rujukan:

  1. Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM). Bahagian Pemakanan. Panduan Pinggan Sihat Malaysia. https://bit.ly/3HHHdU6

Liver Health 101

The liver is the organ located in the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm. It is the largest internal organ of the human body. The main roles of liver include removing toxins from the body, processing food nutrients, and helping to regulate body metabolism.


However, there are certain conditions that prevent liver from performing its vital functions including, accumulation of fat in the liver, misuse of alcohol, viral infection, iron or copper accumulation, toxic damage, and cancer.


Signs and symptoms of liver diseases


Certain types of liver disease such as non- alcohol fatty liver disease have no symptoms at all. For other liver conditions, the most common symptom is jaundice. Jaundice develops when the liver cannot clear a substance called bilirubin in the body hence making skin and the white eyes area appear yellowish.


Other symptoms include abdominal (belly) pain, bruising easily, changes in the color of the urine and stool, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting, swelling in the arms or legs (edema).


Once notice any of these symptoms it is best to seek immediate medical attention.


Causes of liver diseases


There are many causes of liver disease such as hepatitis virus infections, alcohol related liver disease, toxic effect from medication or/ and herbal medications, autoimmune disease, and congenital abnormalities such as accumulation of iron and copper in the body, or some rare enzyme disorders.


Diagnosis of liver diseases


Liver disease is diagnosed using several tests, including physical examination, medical history such as diet, consumption of alcohol, exposure to hepatitis infection, previous blood transfusions, tattoos, and family history of liver disease.


Other than these, blood test will also be conducted to test the levels of liver enzymes, jaundice, and the protein production capability of the liver.


Ultrasound scan of the abdomen (belly) will be conducted to check liver for abnormal lumps and assess fluid accumulation. Other scan including CT scan, MRI, and biopsy, a small piece of liver tissue is removed and examined under microscope in a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis will all be conducted in giving the precise diagnosis.


Treatment of liver diseases


Treatment depends on the cause of liver diseases, but among usual would be to avoid alcohol and any drugs that might damage the liver, consumption of well balance diet, consumption of prescribed medication to manage the disease and periodic removal of blood to bring iron levels down to normal in patient with haemochromatosis.


As for liver cancer, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, or liver transplantation are the usual treatment given. In the case where liver is failing, liver transplantation are the usual treatments for liver cancer.

 

References


  1. Victoria. Better Health Channel. Liver. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/liver (Retrieved on November 9, 2022).
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Liver Disease.  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17179-liver-disease (Retrieved on Novemeber 9, 2022).
  3. Mayo Clinic. Liver Disease. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502 (Retrieved on November 9, 2022). 


 

 

NAFLD, what is that?

Fatty liver disease is a condition that affects obese and overweight people. Fatty liver disease means that you have fat inside your liver, which can affect liver functions and cause liver injury over time.

Fatty liver disease can be divided into two types. Individuals with just fat but no damage to the liver is referred to as Non – Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), whereas individuals with fat in the liver and signs of inflammation and liver cell damage, is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

NAFLD is a silent disease with few or no symptoms at all, however you are at risk of having NAFLD if you are:

1. Obese or overweight individuals. 

2. Have type 2 diabetes. 

3. Have high blood pressure. 

4. Have metabolic syndrome (combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity). 

5. Over the age of 50. 

6. Smoker. 

Symptoms of NAFLD includes: 

1. A dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right sides of the ribs). 

2. Excessive tiredness. 

3. Unusual weight loss. 

4. Weakness.

Doctors use blood test, imaging test, and liver biopsy to diagnose NAFLD and NASH and to differentiate these two.

NAFLD, on the other hand, usually does not cause any harm in the early stages, but as it progresses, it can cause serious liver damage, including cirrhosis, if it worsens.

Currently, there is no specific medication that can be used to treat NAFLD, but recommended treatments are usually associated with managing current risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.


Among lifestyle modifications that are highly suggested for NAFLD are losing weight by consuming a healthy diet, limiting processed, sugary and salty foods, exercise regularly, stop smoking, and cut down on drinking alcohol, though NAFLD is not caused by alcohol consumption but, it is advisable to cut down or stop drinking alcohol to not make it worse.

References

  1.       National Health Service (NHS). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/#:~:text=Non%2Dalcoholic%20fatty%20liver%20disease%20(NAFLD)%20is%20the%20term,cirrhosis%2C%20if%20it%20gets%20worse. (Retrieved on Nov 2, 2022).
  2.       John Hopkins Medicine. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease (Info retrieved on Nov 2, 2022). 
  3.       National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/nafld-nash (Info retrieved on Nov 2, 2022).

 

How to take care of liver health

The liver is the body's largest organ. It is located in the upper right abdomen, just below the diaphragm

Among the most essential functions of the liver are:

  •     Produces important substances such as turning fats into energy and creating albumin that helps to carry hormones and drugs.
  •     Get rid of bilirubin in bile, in which the accumulation of bilirubin can lead to jaundice.
  •     Removing waste products from the, such as alcohol and medicine.
  •     Regulating immune response.
  •     Helps in regulating the glucose level in the body. 

With all these functions mentioned, it is extremely important to take care of the liver as it carries various functions in the body.


Here are some tips to take care of your liver’s health:

  • Be careful of alcohol intake. Consumption of alcohol can lead to liver scarring in which in the long run can lead to cirrhosis. 
  •       Wash your produce and steer clear of toxins. Pesticides and other toxins can damage your liver. Always thoroughly wash your produce using salt, vinegar, or simply soak it in water to remove the external pesticides.
  •      Prevent hepatitis A, B, and C

For hepatitis A and B, it is best to get vaccination.

For hepatitis B and C, which can be transmitted by blood and other bodily fluids, practice safe sex to prevent it.

For hepatitis A that is spread through contact with contaminated foods or water, frequent hand washing and non-sharing of cutlery is vital.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight and obese may increase your chances of developing non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • Exercise frequently. 

 

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