Health Articles

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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 Probiotics Help to Maintain Health ?

There are few ways which probiotics can help to maintain health. First, is through maintaining a healthy community of microorganisms or help body’s community microorganism to return to a healthy condition after being disturbed.

In our body, there is not only bacteria, but also fungi, parasites, and viruses. In a healthy person all of these ‘bugs’ coexist peacefully and naturally with the largest numbers found in the intestines. All these coexisting bugs in our body is what scientists refer to as microbiome. The microbiome is a key role to promote smooth daily operation of 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 illness, certain diets, prolonged use of antibiotics or other bacteria-destroying medications, which can lead to body becoming more susceptible to diseases.

 

Due to this function of probiotics, scientist believes that probiotics are most effective at both ends of the age spectrum, that is children and elderly, during stress, after consumption of antibiotics etc. Consumption of probiotics influence bacteria colonization process, which can lead to speedy restoration of healthy microbiome and lower risk of being sick.

 

Secondly, is by influencing body’s immune response. Microbiota help to stimulate the immune system in the body, as an example the healthy microbiota will provide protection from pathogenic organisms that enter body such as through consumption of contaminated food and beverages.

 

 

Variety of bacteria families are found in the human gut, including prevotella, ruminoccous, bacteroides, lactobaccilus, clostridium, and firmicutes. These microbes in the gut prevent the overgrowth pf harmful bacteria by competing for nutrients and attachment sites on the mucus membrane of the gut, this in other way provide immune activity to the body.

 

In a nutshell,

 

Although there are many more benefits such from consuming probiotics such as for skin health etc., but currently scientist is still finding the mechanism of action on how probiotics can help with the other health condition. But large-scale study such as Human Genome Project shows promising result on benefits of probiotics on human health.

 

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
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