Beetroot is scientifically known as Beta vulgaris and Shamandar in middle eastern countries. (1)
Its domestication dates back to Neolithic times and is probably among the first green leafy plants to be consumed by mankind.
Did you know?
The ancient Greeks held beetroot in high esteem and included in the offerings to the sun god Apollo in his temple at
Delphi, reckoning it worth its own weight in silver. (2)
They come in different varieties which are distinguished by their colour: red, white, golden or striped. (3)
Beetroot in its raw form contains approximately 87.6% water, 9.6% carbs, 1.6% protein, 0.2% fats and 2.8% fiber. (4)
You will be glad to know that a 100g of cooked beetroot has only 44 calories. (5)
The table below will show you the nutritional breakdown of beetroot:
Beetroot consists of 8 to 10% carbohydrates of which 70% are simple sugars like glucose and fructose.
It is a source of fructans which may cause digestive issues in some folks.
A glycemic index (GI) of 64 and load of 4 means that it will not have a major effect on your blood sugar. (38)
It is a rich source of fiber which aids in the protection of your body from many diseases and chronic issues. (39)
Beetroots are rich sources of several vitamins and minerals like folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C
which are essential for the optimal functioning of your body.
It also contains other beneficial plant compounds like betanin, inorganic nitrate and vulgaxanthin. (31)
Beetroot has been well researched to provide many health benefits like the ones described below: -
The consumption of beetroot has been shown to strengthen endogenous antioxidant defences which protects your cells from oxidative damage with its rich source of antioxidant compounds.
They include betalain pigments, highly bioactive phenolics like rutin, epicatechin and caffeic acid.
It contains nitrite compounds which are known to provide similar benefits.
Consuming beetroot in juice form protects your body from oxidative damage to your DNA, lipid and protein structures. (6)
Inflammation is considered a normal biological response to infection, trauma and other pathogens.
Beetroot has emerged as potent anti-inflammatory agents which has led to its potential use in immune cell function related diseases. (6)
NO plays a key role in maintaining your endothelial function by regulating the activities of your inner blood vessel lining.
The depletion of No has been identified as a leading cause of endothelial dysfunction as we age. (6)
Drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice has been shown to preserve endothelial function. (14)
Lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) was observed in a study involving 15 men and 15 women who consumed 500 g of beetroot and apple juice after 6 hours.
A significant reduction of 4 – 5 mmHg in SBP was observed in men.
This suggests that healthy men could supplement their regular diet with beetroot juice to lower their blood pressure. (15)
This evidence is backed up by more clinical trials conducted between 2006 and 2012 which involved a total of 254 participants. (16)
One of the main triggers for this phenomenon is impaired Nitric Oxide (NO) activity.
This could lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. (20)
Therefore, the addition of a NO generator like beetroot in your diet could potentially improve your cerebral blood flow and cognitive function. (6)
The consumption of whole beetroot (200 g) as opposed to other nitrate sources has been shown to boost a person’s running capacity on a treadmill by 5%. (21)
A single dose of beetroot juice (70 ml) has been researched to enhance cycling performance in time-trials and at high altitudes. (22)
Besides enhancing cycling and running performance, consumption of beetroot juice boosts cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes by increasing the time-to-exhaustion. (23)
Beetroot juice may be consumed as a post-workout beverage to recover certain aspects of your dynamic muscle function in team sports which involve a lot of short sprints. (24)
It may enhance the performance of individuals who participate in intermittent exercises. (25)
Beetroot is one of the most reliable vegetables to grow from seed, and the young leaves (eat raw, in salads) are a bonus crop.
“Boltardy” is probably the most widely available and reliable variety, and produces the classic red colour.
“Detroit Dark Red” and “Sanguina” are the sweeter and less earthy options.
Sow seeds in early spring, and at intervals until early summer, direct into a drill or pot in an open, sunny site.
Thin once the baby beets have reached an edible size and leave the rest to grow a little bigger.
Aim for 5 - 10 cm / 2 - 4 in between each plant.
Rows should be 20 cm / 8 in apart.
Weed and water as necessary.
Keep an eye out for slugs and snails.
Use the thinnings first, but do not let the remaining roots get too big, as they lose both sweetness and tenderness the larger they grow.
Harvest when the beets are bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. (36)
The best ones are dark in colour with a smooth surface.
Small ones are more flavourful while bigger ones will become soft, fibrous or wrinkled.
Eat them fresh to receive the most nutrients. (34)
Beetroots generally last for a few weeks unless they are stored in a cool place such as a root cellar in sand or sawdust. (34)
I personally store them in the fridge.
Looking for some creative ways on how to incorporate beetroot into your diet? Here are some great ones to try:
Preparation: 5 mins
1 raw beetroot, peeled and grated
1 heaped tbsp. chopped mint
1 tbsp agave syrup
a small handful of blueberries (frozen ones are fine)
250 ml almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz until they are fully combined.
Pour into a glass and enjoy! (26)
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
100g puy lentils
500ml of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 cooked beetroot, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large field mushrooms
a little gem lettuce
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C / 350 deg. F / gas 4.
Place the lentils in the stock and simmer until soft.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion gently in the olive oil until translucent, stirring frequently.
Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further minute.
Once the lentils are soft, place in a food processor and blend with the onion mix, grated beetroot, egg, lentils, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices and season to taste.
Shape the mix into burgers on a flour-covered board, and dust the burgers lightly with flour.
Place on a greased baking tray.
Drizzle the field mushrooms with olive oil and place on a baking tray in the oven at the same time.
Cook for half an hour until the burgers are crispy and hot and the mushrooms soft.
Turn the burgers half way through cooking.
Place each burger in a bun, put a mushroom on each and top with Stilton.
Serve with little gem lettuce. (27)
600 g medium beetroot
2 large carrots
1 medium onion
2 sticks celery
1 small fennel bulb
100 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic
½ red chilli (optional)
Peel and juice of 1 orange
1 small bunch dill, picked into leaves and stalks
1 medium-sweet apple – Braeburn, Jonagold or similar, for the garnish
Juice of ½ lemon
1 large Bramley apple, cored and diced
Approximately 500 ml vegetable stock or water
A little extra orange juice or lemon juice (optional)
150 ml soured cream
Wash and scrub the beetroot very well, removing the leaf end and any root tendrils still remaining.
If they have very rough skins, you may like to peel them.
Cut roughly into pieces approximately the size of walnuts.
Peel and cut the carrots and onion in the same way.
Wash and roughly chop the celery and fennel.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C
In a shallow heavy-based saucepan (which will also serve as a roasting dish), heat the olive oil, garlic, chilli if using, and orange peel for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook together over a high heat until they start to colour around the edges (approximately 5 – 7 minutes).
Add the orange juice, dill stalks, salt and enough water to half cover the vegetables, and bring to the boil.
Place in the oven, uncovered, to roast for up to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarter, peel and core the garnish apple and cut into very small dice.
Place in a bowl with the lemon juice and salt.
Pick a few dill springs for the garnish to be used later, and chop the rest, and add this to the diced apple.
Test the beetroot with a skewer and, when almost tender, remove the pan from the oven.
Taking care, as the pan will be searing hot, add the Bramley apple pieces and enough cold water or stock to just cover the vegetables.
Stir well together, bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then little by little, place the contents of the pan into a food processor or liquidiser and puree until smooth.
Pass through a medium-gauge sieve into a clean pan.
Taste and adjust consistency if necessary.
We sometimes add a touch of orange or lemon juice to the finished soup if it needs a little “kick”.
Heat or chill the soup and garnish with a dollop of soured cream, dill sprigs and a little pile of the diced apple in the middle of each bowl. (28)
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, finely sliced
A small bunch of thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g puff pastry
200g cooked beetroot, sliced
100g goat’s cheese, sliced
Rocket leaves and balsamic vinegar to serve
Preheat oven to 200 deg. C / 400 deg. F / gas 6.
Heat the olive oil and gently cook the onions with most of the thyme until soft and translucent.
Season to taste. Reserve the remaining thyme to scatter on top.
Roll out the puff pastry, prick all over with a fork and bake for ten minutes.
Gently push the middle down if it has risen in the oven, or you can use ceramic baking beans to prevent it rising.
Spread the onion mixture over the puff pastry base and arrange the slices of beetroot and goat’s cheese (feta) on top.
Scatter over the remaining thyme leaves.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown.
Serve with the rocket and balsamic vinegar salad.
Alkaline solutions will turn beetroot juice yellow while Acidic solutions will make it pink. (29)
1 tbsp coconut oil
300g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), roughly chopped
200g canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
100g canned sweetcorn kernels, drained and rinsed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
400g cooked short-grain brown rice
50g roasted cashew nuts
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the beetroot, kidney beans, sweetcorn and most of the spring onions and fry for 3-4 minutes, until warmed through.
Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds until aromatic.
Add the tamari or soy sauce and the cooked rice, and mix together until thoroughly combined.
Serve in bowls scattered with the remaining spring onions and cashew nuts. (35)
Prep 10 mins
Cook 45 mins
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
10 curry leaves
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beetroot (beet), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
75 ml (2 ½ fl oz / 5 tbsp) coconut milk
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat until very hot.
Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.
As soon as they begin to pop and splutter, add the curry leaves, chilli and onion.
Stir-fry for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Add the chilli powder and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the beetroot.
Stir, pour in 400 ml (13 ½ fl oz / 1 2/3 cups) boiling water, add the salt, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beetroot is completely soft.
Stir through the coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes.
Taste and season with more salt as needed, then serve. (37)
How many calories in beetroot?
Depending on how your beetroot is prepared, it may range anywhere from 31 to 65 calories for every 100 grams consumed. (30)
Is beetroot a fruit or vegetable?
It is considered a root vegetable and not a fruit. (31)
Does consuming beetroot causes my urine to turn red?
This condition is known as beeturia and is commonly seen in 10 – 14% of the population who has iron deficiency and malabsorption. (32)
Where can I buy beetroot juice?
Amazon is a great place to shop for beetroot juice for an affordable price of $0.17 / fl oz.
Can you eat raw beetroot?
Absolutely! You can add them to salads with a little dressing to consume them raw. (33)
What is beetroot good for?
Beetroot good for blood?
Since regular consumption of beetroot lowers your systolic blood pressure, it is good for your blood health. (6)
Where can I find beetroot?
You can easily find them in your local grocery stores or even supermarkets.
Things to do with beetroot
You can refer to our recipes section.
How to consume beetroot?
Beetroot can be consumed in many ways. You can add them to dishes, consume them raw, use them in your pastries, in juice, powder, capsule or raw forms.
What is beetroot in Spanish?
What is beetroot in Arabic?
What is beetroot in Tagalog?
What is beetroot in Italian?
What is beetroot in Hindi?
What is beetroot in Mandarin?
Published on 4 Sep 2017
Last Updated on 10 Apr 2018
Have you ever wondered what are superfoods?
In simple terms, they refer to nutritionally-dense food items that are mainly plant-based like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, herbs and spices.
These items are called super foods because they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are good for our overall health and well-being. (1)
Therefore, including some of them in our juicing routine would greatly boost the nutrient value of our juices.
Here is a list of superfoods that can be added to your juices or even your dishes for various purposes.
I will discuss about the diverse benefits of having these food items as part of your juices.
Besides adding them to your juices, you can also consume them as part of your diet.
P:S – I have grouped them into various categories so that you can refer to them more easily.
It contains a chemical, called betaines, which are designed to help your liver function better.
In addition, it has nitrates which can be converted into nitric oxide in your body to improve blood flow and lower your blood pressure.
Lastly, it is commonly used to improve athletic performance.
This cruciferous vegetable is rich in vitamin K and C.
It also contains cancer fighting substances known as indoles which are useful in the prevention of prostate, bladder and colon cancers.
Besides aiding in the prevention of cancers, it has cholesterol lowering properties for people who suffer from hypertension. (3)
For folks who suffer from peptic ulcers, regular consumption of fresh cabbage juice can be used to heal it. (4)
The red variety of this vegetable is packed with plant pigments called anthocyanins which are useful in promoting heart health, cancer prevention and inflammation. (5)
The bright orange colour of carrots is a sure-sign that this vegetable is rich in antioxidants which help to fight diseases and protects your body from free radicals.
Just 1 cup of chopped carrots (128 g) provides 428% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A based on a 2000 calories diet. (6)
They are rich in carotenoids, natural fat-soluble pigments which can be converted to vitamin A when needed by the body.
These carotenoids improves night vision, blood sugar regulation and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. (7)
Celery acts as a diuretic by regulating the fluid balance in your body due to its rich content of potassium and sodium.
The natural sodium also promotes good cell chemistry in your body. (8)
Due to its alkalinity nature, it is very soothing to your digestive system. (9)
Additional benefits include lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, eliminating uric acid for people with bladder issues, promoting healthy joints, preventing cancer, improving your immune system and many others. (10)
These greens contain large amounts of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C, fiber, calcium along with many other powerful detoxifying agents, making them a true nutritional powerhouse. (11)
Due to its large amounts of vitamin K, it is a powerful player in promoting good bone health.
Adequate consumption of vitamin K reduces the risk of bone fracture, improves calcium absorption and reduces calcium loss.
It lowers the risk of many cancers due to the presence of glucosinolates, a phytochemical which plays a key role in detoxification.
Its high fiber content helps to lower blood glucose levels in type 1 Diabetes and improves blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels in type 2 Diabetes.
Since it is high in fiber and water, it relieves constipation by maintaining a healthy digestive tract.
Other benefits include better sleep, muscle movement, healthy hair and skin due to its high vitamin A and C content. (12)
Cucumbers are packed with loads of hydration and restorative plant nutrients.
It has a rich source of phytonutrients, cucurbitacins, which are currently being researched for its anti-cancer properties.
Other list of phytonutrients which are abundant in this vegetable include flavonoids and lignans.
The combination of these 3 plant nutrients offer valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. (13)
Kale is probably one of the most nutrient dense vegetables available on this planet due its high content of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and many other beneficial nutrients for your body.
It is a powerful food for your bone health because of its high vitamin K content, calcium and manganese. (14)
Due to its high antioxidant content, it helps to fight free radical damage effectively which is the leading cause of aging and many diseases such as cancer. (15)
Arame, dulse, kombu, agar agar, nori, sea palm are some examples of sea vegetables that can be purchased easily from the natural food and Asian markets. (16)
It contains an abundant amount of iodine which is lacking in our diets. (17)
Iodine is important for the normal functioning of our thyroid glands which helps to regulate the production of hormones responsible for controlling our body’s basal metabolic rate.
This is important for many of our bodily functions. (18)
Loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron and many other beneficial nutrients, this vegetable is respected for its impressive nutritional profile.
In fact, it contains nutrients that benefit almost every part of your body.
Besides playing an important role in promoting bone health, it contains zeaxanthin and lutein which are phytonutrients to fight against blindness.
Research has shown its capabilities in preventing cancers of prostate and inflammation. (19)
Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium and amino acid. (20)
Its high chlorophyll content helps to fight against free radicals and could serve as a potential cancer therapy. (21)
Its combination of vitamin A, C, E and amino acids supports a strong immune system. (22)
Research has also shown that it may be effective against ulcerative colitis. (23)
Besides using a wheatgrass press to juice your wheatgrass, a masticating juicer like the Omega J8006 may also be used.
The presence of quercetin in apples helps to reduce cellular death and inflammation which will lead to improved neurological health. (24)
It contains a lot of insoluble fiber which provides bulk to your intestinal tract to improve your digestive health. (25)
Remember to include the skin of your apples while you are juicing them.
They are rich in polyphenols which provide strong antioxidant benefits, responsible for lowering your risk of lung cancer, asthma and cardiovascular diseases. (26)
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, copper and biotin.
Besides having a solid fiber content, it is filled with pectins which absorb fluid in your digestive tract to normalize the rate of carbohydrate digestion.
Most importantly, it contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which helps to maintain the balance of friendly bacteria in your lower intestine to promote better digestive health.
This helps in calcium absorption and protects your digestive system from harmful bacteria which might contribute to gut related diseases. (27)
It may help to reduce the occurrence of cramps as well. (28)
Blueberries are rich in vitamin C which is needed for the formation of collagen, maintenance of healthy gums and immune system. (29)
They are rich in flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins, which enhances the effects of vitamin C to promote good cardiovascular and brain health.
This is also the phyto-nutrient responsible for the blue-red pigment. (30)
High vitamin C content, soluble fibers like pectin and other beneficial nutrients can be found in this fruit. (31)
Studies have shown that the consumption of grapefruit as part of a healthy diet promotes weight loss. (32)
Pectin helps to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
It also contains lycopene which has been researched to fight oxidative stress and cancer.
One notable phytonutrient that is almost exclusive to grapefruits is limonoids.
Research shows that it prevents cancerous cells from proliferating. (33)
You will be surprised to know that these bright green fruits contain more vitamin C than a regular orange and a host of other powerful antioxidants which include carotenoids and flavonoids. (34)
Studies have shown that the consumption of kiwis may protect your heart by lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of blood clots. (35)
Kiwis may help to relieve constipation due to its natural laxative effects. (36)
Lastly, kiwi seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps to combat oxidative stress. (37)
Lemons contain large amounts of vitamin C and citric acid which are useful in promoting heart health, reducing the effects of arthritis and fighting cancer by boosting your immunity. (38)
The citric acid in lemons increases urine flow which helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. (39)
Lemon helps to regulate your blood pH level due to its alkaline forming nature when consumed.
This is important in the prevention and treatment of various illnesses. (40)
Be sure to juice the rind as well since it is rich in enzymes, minerals like potassium, magnesium and copper, and chlorophyll. (42)
A medium-sized orange contains only 80 calories. It is packed full of vitamin C with reasonable amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamin A and calcium. (43)
According to the American Heart Association, eating high amounts of citrus fruits like oranges can reduce the risk of stroke. (44)
Oranges contain hesperidin which is noted for its powerful antioxidant properties. (45)
The deep orange hue in papayas is an indication of its high carotenoids concentration.
These antioxidants are useful for fighting inflammation and other health conditions like macular degeneration.
Besides its high carotenoids concentration, it provides an abundant supply of vitamin C, vitamin Bs (folate and pantothenic acid), magnesium, potassium, fiber and copper.
These nutrients actually work synergistically to protect your cardiovascular system and protect you from colon cancer. (48)
Pineapples are rich in vitamin C, manganese, copper, several B vitamins and fiber. (49)
It has high amounts of bromelain, a plant compound which provides many health benefits in the form of better immunity, wound healing, improved digestion, prevention of cardiovascular disorders, osteoarthritis and diarrhea. (50)
Filled with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and an amazing combination of phytonutrients like anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpeniods, and phenolic acids.
These are good reasons why this fruit should be included in your juicing regime. (51)
The consumption of berry fruits like strawberries reduces your risk of chronic diseases which include cardiovascular, diabetes and inflammation. (52)
It also prevents the spread of cancer due to its rich antioxidant content. (53)
Besides their rich protein content, it has a lot of other health-enriching nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. (54)
You can add them to your smoothie in the form of almond butter.
This is a simple and easy way to consume these beneficial nutrients.
A higher intake of vitamin E has been shown in several studies to reduce the rate of heart disease and cancer. (55)
A sufficient intake of magnesium has also been linked to lower blood pressure. (56)
This legume is consumed in the form of a powder, made from an evergreen flowering shrub found in the Mediterranean region. (57)
It is rich in tannins, a powerful antioxidant which protects your cells from oxidative stress, boosts your immune system and protects your body against infections. (58)
Due to its natural sweetness, it is commonly used as an alternative to chocolate for food flavourings. (59)
These nuts contain large amounts of monounsaturated fats which support your heart health. (60)
Its high copper content promotes better iron utilization in your body, fight free radicals, aids in the development of bone and connective tissues, and promotes the production of melanin.
Besides copper, it also contains other essential minerals like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and zinc. (61)
Add some cashew butter to your smoothie to enjoy the health benefits of these nuts.
Flaxseeds are well-known for its high dietary fiber and omega 3 fatty acids content. (62)
They should be grinded or consumed in oil form to enhance its nutritional benefits. (65)
These nuts are filled with many vitamins and minerals which are needed for the normal functioning of your body. (66)
It helps to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation due to its high omega 3 fatty acids content. (67)
Its rich fiber content supports digestive health and reduces your hunger. (68)
Peanuts belong to the legume family even though it is commonly classified with seeds and nuts. (69)
Just 1 cup of chopped peanuts provides an astounding amount of protein, 40 g to be exact.
Besides its high protein content, it is filled with vast amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and other beneficial minerals. (70)
You can simply add a scoop of peanut butter to your smoothie or bread to receive the full benefits of this legume without taking too much of it. Be sure to look for those organic varieties though.
These seeds provide a nutty crunch and are commonly added to many Asian dishes.
It is an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, vitamin B1 and fiber. (73)
They are readily available in paste form called tahini, which is made by grinding hulled, unroasted sesame seeds. (74)
It is a very nutritious food that is consumed in the form of tofu, bean curd, miso, soy flour, soy sauce or soy milk.
It is commonly eaten whole in Asian countries but in high processed form in Western countries. (75)
In fact, 1 cup of boiled soy beans contains a whooping 29g of protein along with high concentrations of molybdenum, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, omega 3 fats, fiber and many other essential minerals. (76, 77)
Soybeans are well-known for their extremely high molybdenum content which contributes to the enzymatic activities for carbohydrates, fats and protein metabolism. (78)
They also make good replacements for meat since they are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and iron.
Kale is probably one of the most nutrient dense vegetables available on this planet due its high content of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and many other beneficial nutrients for your body.
It is a powerful food for your bone health because of its high vitamin K content, calcium and manganese. (14)
Due to its high antioxidant content, it helps to fight free radical damage effectively which is the leading cause of aging and many diseases such as cancer. (15)
Sunflower seeds provide an excellent health promoting snack due to its high nutritional content.
In fact, it provides an excellent source of vitamin E, essential minerals like copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and several B vitamins. (79)
Health benefits from these seeds include a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, thyroid support, improved bone density, blood sugar regulation and better skin health. (80)
It is widely used as a topical treatment for sunburns and wound healing. (81)
Aloe also promotes the production of collagen and improves skin elasticity to fight wrinkles. (82)
It contains powerful antioxidants belonging to the family of polyphenols which help to fight infections. (83)
Besides all these medicinal benefits, it supplies the body with more than 15 amino acids, vitamins and numerous essential minerals for the normal functioning of our body.
Finally, it contains live enzymes like amylase, lipase, oxidas and alinase. (86)
This is a popular herb used as a nervine tonic in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine to treat several ailments associated with the nervous system.
Studies have shown that it is possibly effective for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.
Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agents, it is useful in the treatment of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Finally, it improves energy levels. (87)
This herb has been used for thousands of years in TCM.
It is often combined with other herbs to improve the body’s resistance against diseases.
It possesses antioxidants which protects your cells from free radical damage.
This aids in the protection of your major organs like liver, prevents colds and upper respiratory infections. It may be helpful in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and so on. (88)
Cayenne have generous amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which helps to strengthen your body’s immune system to fight against free radical damages.
It contains capsaicin which is found to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of this cayenne pepper to turn your juice into a heart-healthy drink. (89)
In addition, it acts as a temporary pain reliever by inhibiting the transmission of pain signals to the nervous system. (90)
This delicious spice has powerful effects on your health and metabolism. (91)
In fact, consuming 1 g of cinnamon everyday can improve your blood markers in terms of lower total cholesterol and triglycerides levels. (92)
It also works as a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent due to its high antioxidant content.
Finally, it improves the health of the colon and aids in preventing colon cancer. (93)
This oil is extracted from the seed of evening primrose plant. (94)
It is full of omega 6 fatty acids which is used in the treatment of atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis caused by chronic inflammation. (95)
Studies have shown that this oil may provide significant benefits for eczema, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, nerve pain, osteoporosis and many other health conditions. (96)
Garlic has been used for many health conditions based on ancient medical texts. (97)
It is very rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and trace amounts of other nutrients. (98)
It contains powerful sulfur containing compounds, in particular allicin, which is well known for its therapeutic effects as noted in ancient medical literature. (99)
Garlic enhances your immune system to reduce the severity of colds and flus. (100)
To ensure that your garlic is as fresh as possible, you can grow it on your own. (103)
In fact, garlic in its raw form is the best for antibacterial purposes.
You can add a teaspoon or 2 of chopped garlic to your juices to increase their health benefits.
Several studies have shown that regular consumption of this root reduces the risk of many diseases.
It has a unique group of antioxidants known as gingerols which provides anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidation benefits. (104)
For people who are active in sports, ginger helps to relieve muscle pain. (107)
Lastly, it improves fasting blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. (108)
To receive the full health benefits of this root, you can add 1 ounce of it to your juice.
Gingko is one of our planet’s oldest living tree species. It has a long history of treating blood disorders and improving your mental health.
Lab studies have revealed that it improves blood circulation by widening your vessel and making your blood less sticky. (109)
Other benefits include the treatment of dementia, anxiety disorder, poor memory, schizophrenia and other health issues. (110)
This herb has been used for its rejuvenating powers for over 5000 years of China. (111)
There are 2 main types: American or Asian/Korean ginseng.
Studies have shown that ginseng boosts the immune system and lower blood sugar levels.
Additional benefits include improved concentration, learning, mood and endurance.
It may also be useful in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, fatigue, high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms and other health conditions. (112)
It is well-known for its high concentrations of polyphenols like catechins, which serve as very powerful antioxidants. (113)
Catechins improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
This helps to maintain a stable blood sugar level in diabetics.
Green tea also helps to reduce the formation of plagues which is commonly linked to Alzheimer’s disease. (114)
Maca is an oily root vegetable that is grown exclusively in Peru.
It is commonly available in powder form and you can add a 1/2 teaspoon to your juice to increase its nutritional value.
It has rich amounts of protein, vitamin C, vitamin B and minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.
It is used to promote sexual function in both men and women.
Maca plays a key role in women health by relieving menstrual and menopause symptoms.
Additional benefits include higher energy levels, improved general health, skin and mood balance. (115)
Shiitake, enoki, reishi, maitake and oyster mushrooms are some examples of medicinal mushrooms. (116)
Shiitake mushrooms contain a mix of glucan and non-glucan polysaccharides to lower cholesterol levels and boost immune system. (117)
Studies have shown that reishi mushroom boosts your immune system, fights cancer, prevents heart disease, calm your nerves, relieve both allergies and inflammation. (118)
Maitake mushroom is commonly found in the northeastern part of Japan, US and Europe.
It is widely used for its antiviral action to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cholesterol. (119)
This herb supports liver health and helps with blood sugar regulation in diabetics.
Milk thistle contains silymarin, which improves blood and urine markers in kidney disease, and may prove to be helpful for people with cancer, diabetes and heart disease. (120)
Rhodiola is an adaptogen herb used to boost energy levels, fat burning capabilities and brain health.
This herb contains rosavin, an active compound which triggers the enzymatic activity of lipase to breakdown fat in your belly area.
It has anti-inflammatory benefits which promotes faster recovery of muscles and improves your endurance.
Rhodiola also balances your cortisol levels to slow down the body’s aging process.
Finally, it fights depression and improves brain function. (121)
This is a common spice that is found in curry and used in India for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. (122)
It contains curcumin, a well-known anti-oxidant known for its anti-inflammatory effects to fight ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
It also plays a role in cancer prevention by inhibiting cancer cell growth and metastases. (123)
Published on 17 July 2017
At the centre of a healthy digestive system is a well-kept gastrointestinal (GI) tract or the gut, a tube that runs from our mouth to our anus.
The gut, or intestine, allows us to absorb nutrients for the body and remove harmful toxins and waste materials.
But the benefits of a healthy digestive system go far and beyond merely contributing to the balance of nutrient retention and disposable of toxins.
It also tantamount to maintaining overall body health. (1)
A common symptom of a body under stress is diarrhoea.
A body under stress will experience a weakening of the immune system, which is closely linked to digestive health.
This may result in poor functionality of certain bodily organs, leading to or compounding on other health problems.
Hence, a healthy digestive system will help to ward off stress-related ailments. (2)
Under optimal conditions, the body uses 80% of your energy to digest foods.
This figure increases in times of stress or illness, leaving less energy for the body’s other important functions. (3)
One of the ways to maintain this necessary energy level, is to supplement our diet with an intake of probiotics. (4)
Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria that cause infection but they also eliminate friendly bacteria from the
digestive tract at the same time. (5)
A probiotic supplement helps bring back the balance of good bacteria, which will help to restore the health of our digestive system. (6)
Our gut contains both good and bad bacteria.
It is important to note that a balance of good and bad bacteria is essential for optimal health.
Once the balance between good and bad bacteria is affected, our bodies become less efficient in absorbing the nutrients they need, resulting in further digestive and health problems. (7)
Essential good bacteria in our bodies include:
- Produces lactic acid which alters the intestinal environment, making it not conducive for pathogenic bacteria to grow. (8)
- Studies show that Lactobacillus improves lactose digestion, which suggests that it may help those who are lactose intolerant. (9)
- Reduces incidence of diarrhoea due to changes in eating habits or stress. (10)
- The first line of defense against bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E-Coli.
- Produces lactic acid which discourages the growth of harmful bacteria to protect intestinal cell integrity and maintain good intestinal health.
- Supports digestion of dairy products.
- Reduces lactose intolerance and incidences of diarrhoea. (13)
Live organisms that helps improve the environment of the intestinal tract
Help maintain microbial balance in the intestines
Help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus are probiotics. (14)
Food sources that stimulate the growth or activity of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Not digested by the human digestive enzymes, hence they pass through the intestine unchanged, enabling probiotics to utilize these prebiotics as food sources.
Help stimulate growth of friendly bacteria.
Can be derived from non-digestive fiber, eg. inulin, raffinose, galactooligosaccharides or fructooligosaccharides. (15)
Probiotics (e.g. Kefir, Cultured Vegetable, Kombucha, Yogurt) + Prebiotics (e.g. Raw Garlic, Raw or Cooked Onions, Under-ripe Bananas) + Amount of Organisms (Gut Flora) and Dual Coating (Technology to improve survival of probiotics) => Beneficial to digestive and immune system
1. Patient/Dr Roger Henderson. 2015. The Gut | Health | Patient. [ONLINE] Available at: http://patient.info/health/the-gut. [Accessed 26 December 2016].
2. Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ, 2011. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options.. Journal of physiology and pharmacology, [Online]. 62(6), 591-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314561 [Accessed 3 February 2017].
3. Better Health Channel. 2014. Metabolism – Better Health Channel. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/metabolism. [Accessed 24 March 2017].
4. Peera Hemarajata and James Versalovic, 2013. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, [Online]. 6(1), 39–51. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539293/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
5. Amy Langdon, Nathan Crook, and Gautam Dantas, 2016. The effects of antibiotics on the microbiome throughout development and alternative approaches for therapeutic modulation. Genome Medicine, [Online]. 8, 39. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4831151/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
6. Maria Kechagia, Dimitrios Basoulis, Stavroula Konstantopoulou, Dimitra Dimitriadi, Konstantina Gyftopoulou, Nikoletta Skarmoutsou, and Eleni Maria Fakiri, 2013. Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review. ISRN Nutrition, [Online]. 2013, 481651. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
7. Caitriona M. Guinane and Paul D. Cotter, 2013. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, [Online]. 6(4), 295–308. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
8. Sook Jong Rhee, Jang-Eun Lee, and Cherl-Ho Lee, 2011. Importance of lactic acid bacteria in Asian fermented foods. Microbial Cell Factories, [Online]. 10(Suppl 1), S5. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3231931/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
9. Gregor Reid, 1999. The Scientific Basis for Probiotic Strains of Lactobacillus. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, [Online]. 65(9), 3763–3766. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC99697/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
10. Pace F, Pace M, Quartarone G., 2015. Probiotics in digestive diseases: focus on Lactobacillus GG.. Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica, [Online]. 61(4), 273-92. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26657927 [Accessed 27 March 2017].
11. Nobuhiko Kamada, Grace Y. Chen, Naohiro Inohara, and Gabriel Núñez, 2013. Control of Pathogens and Pathobionts by the Gut Microbiota. Nature Immunology, [Online]. 14(7), 685-690. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083503/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
12. Picard C, Fioramonti J, Francois A, Robinson T, Neant F, Matuchansky C, 2005. Review article: bifidobacteria as probiotic agents — physiological effects and clinical benefits.. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, [Online]. 22(6), 495-512. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16167966 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
13. NCBI / Maria Jevitz Patterson. 1996. Streptococcus – Medical Microbiology – NCBI Bookshelf. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7611/. [Accessed 31 March 2017].
14. Gupta V, Garg R, 2009. Probiotics. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, [Online]. 27(3), 202-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
15. Slavin J, 2013. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.. Nutrients, [Online]. 5(4), 1417-35. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23609775 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
Published on 4 May 2017
How well do you know your liver?
The liver is the second largest organ in the body after the skin. (1)
In addition to its role in digestion, the liver is responsible for a number of other vital functions.
In fact, everything that enters the blood from the digestive tract passes through the liver and is filtered using active phagocytes to remove bacteria and other foreign materials before it is carried to other regions of the body.
It also acts as a dump site for toxic waste.
Toxins such as insecticides and preservatives may build up and damage the liver.
The liver produces important blood proteins and other molecules, stores iron and various vitamins, eliminates old haemoglobin, detoxifies many drugs and toxins.
It is also the major site for the metabolism of products resulting from the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. (2)
The liver produces bile, which is essential in the digestion of fats, and the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
Bile acids are reabsorbed by the intestine after digestion and recycled in the liver as bile once again. (3)
The liver’s role in maintaining optimal health is undeniable.
Not only does it serve as the body’s internal chemical power plant, it also filters out alcohol and toxic substances from the blood by converting them into substances from the blood by converting them into substances that can be excreted from the body to prevent certain diseases.
In short, the liver is vital for its following functions:
1. Filtering of everyday toxins from the bloodstream.
2. Activation and breaking down of hormones that influence both our physical and emotional well-being.
3. Activation of many vitamins, including some in the B complex family.
4. Metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. (4)
People who need to watch the health of their livers include those who:
- eat fatty foods or have poor health in general
- have poor digestive function
- need to lower their cholesterol levels
- use oral contraceptives, Hormone Replacement Therapy or other hormonal drugs.
- drink alcohol on a regular basis or consume drugs.
- are exposed to pesticides, solvents or other environmental pollutants.
- are trying to reduce body fat. (5)
When watching for signs of a poorly functioning liver, take note of the following:
- Hepatitis A, B and C – swelling of liver
- Cirrhosis or scarring of the liver
- Skin pigmentation
- Dark circles under eyes
- Poor gall bladder function
- Fat intolerance
- Itchy skin
- Feeling nauseous (6)
Milk thistle is a plant native to Europe (7) and is commonly used as a complementary treatment for liver problems, in particular, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, and inflammation of the bile ducts.
Research suggests that it may prevent inflammation of the liver, and that the herb is an antioxidant, which keeps the body protected from cell-destroying substances called free radicals.
Additionally, it may reduce inflammation and block the effects of toxins that harm the liver.
Also known as swine snout, endive, lion’s tooth, the roots and leaves of Dandelion are often used to treat liver conditions such as jaundice and hepatitis.
While taking supplements may assist in maintaining a healthy liver, lifestyle and dietary habits are equally important.
Some practices which may keep your liver health in check include:
- Increasing your consumption of high potassium foods, e.g. almonds, bananas, raisins, prunes, wheat bran and seeds.
- Drinking plenty of clean water.
- Avoiding constipating foods to prevent the liver from work overload.
- Avoiding smoking and reducing consumption of alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks, spicy or fried foods. (12)
- Avoiding the consumption of more than 10,000 I.U. of vitamin A daily. (13)
Need more ideas on what to eat to improve your liver health?
1. InnerBody/Tim Taylor. Liver – Anatomy and Function of the Human Liver. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.innerbody.com/image_digeov/card10-new2.html. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
2. National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. 2016. How does the liver work?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
3. National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health/Anniek Werner, Folkert Kuipers, and Henkjan J. Verkade.. 2013. Fat Absorption and Lipid Metabolism in Cholestasis. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6420/. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
4. WebMD/Matthew Hoffman. 2014. The Liver (Human AnatomyLiver Picture, Definition, Function, Conditions, Tests, and Treatments. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-liver#1. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
5. WebMD/Suz Redfearn. 2013. How Not to Wreck Your Liver. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/features/healthy-liver#2. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
6. Liver Doctor. Symptoms Of Liver Damage. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.liverdoctor.com/liver/symptoms-of-liver-damage/. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
7. WebMD. 2015. Milk Thistle: Benefits and Side Effects. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/milk-thistle-benefits-and-side-effects#1. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
8. Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F, 2010. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy Research, [Online]. 24(10), 1423-32. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20564545 [Accessed 1 December 2016].
9. Milić N, Milosević N, Suvajdzić L, Zarkov M, Abenavoli L, 2013. New therapeutic potentials of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Natural Product Communications, [Online]. 8(12), 1801-10. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24555302 [Accessed 1 December 2016].
10. WebMD. 2009. DANDELION: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-706-dandelion.aspx?activeingredientid=706&. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
11. Botanical.com. 2009. Dandelion. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dandel08.html. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
12. Care2.com/Michelle Schoffro Cook. 15 Ways to Boost Your Liver for Great Health. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-ways-to-boost-your-liver-for-great-health.html. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
13. National Institute of Health. 2016. Vitamin A — Health Professional Fact Sheet. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/. [Accessed 1 December 2016].
Published on 1 Dec 2016
The body’s circulatory system is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the body.
The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood and blood vessels in our body.
The heart is a muscular organ which pumps blood carrying oxygen and nutrients needed by the body through our blood vessels.
A strong heart therefore ensures the constant supply of these much needed nutrients and oxygen to the body. (1)
A person’s blood pressure is a good indicator of heart health.
Blood pressure is measured in two readings:
Systolic - The blood pressure against artery walls when the heart is pumping blood.
Diastolic - The blood pressure against artery walls between heartbeats when the heart is relaxed.
Those with pre-hypertension should make heart-healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of complications relating to blood pressure. (2)
American Heart Association Recommended Blood Pressure Levels
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|Normal||Less than 120||And||Less than 80|
|High (Stage 1)||140-159||Or||90-99|
|High (Stage 2)||160 or higher||Or||100 or higher|
One major heart disease risk factor is cholesterol, and cholesterol levels are considered abnormal when:
Total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher
HDL or “good” cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL
LDL or “bad” cholesterol is more than 160 mg/dL (3)
As the heart is the organ that works hard at pumping blood through the body everyday, aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen the heart.
Try biking, hiking, jogging or swimming to maintain a healthy and strong heart. (4)
Follow a diet with these nutrients in check to maintain a healthy heart:
Antioxidants help prevent the clotting of bad cholesterol in our blood arteries which could result in blockage or cardiovascular diseases. (5)
Flavonoids help support the blood capillaries, increase intracellular vitamin C levels and protect the storage of vitamin C in our bodies from oxidation and destruction. (6)
Garlic is known to inhibit the tendency of blood clots, the lowering of cholesterol and the normalization of blood pressure. (7)
Essential Fatty Acids such as omega-3 fatty acids are key nutrients needed for efficient metabolism of cholesterol.
People consuming foods high in these nutrients regularly register a lower rate of heart disease. (8)
Minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium in suitable amounts can normalize blood pressure.
Working as electrolytes, these minerals keep our muscles beating. (9)
Katsuobushi Oligopeptide is Bonito fish peptide powder derived from dried Bonito fish.
It is discovered to moderately inhibit ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) activity and maintain good circulatory health.
Angiotensins are peptides that act as vasoconstricting agents, which cause the narrowing of blood vessels, hence increasing blood pressure. (12)
The Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, promotes a healthy heart, and supports energy production in cells.
Since CoQ10 us crucial for energy production, the heart, which demands high levels of energy, has the highest concentration of CoQ10.
CoQ10 creates as much as 95% of cellular energy used by the body.
Without this nutrient, we will not be able to transport or produce energy needed by our bodies.
Researchers have also concluded that 10 milligrams of CoQ10 given daily to heart patients strengthens the heart, allowing it to reach higher levels of energy before pain or oxygen deprivation occurs.
Fighting off illness requires many of our immune cells to be active.
As this activity needs a great deal of energy on the cellular level, CoQ10 stimulates the energy production for this function, hence playing a crucial support role in boosting immune defenses.
Apart from being an energy nutrient, it is also a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger.
CoQ10 helps protect against free radical damage by supporting cell regeneration and healthy blood vessels, and preventing oxidation.
CoQ10, like vitamin E, slows down tissue damage by decreasing the effect of free radical molecules.
Research has shown that treatment implementing co-enzyme has reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and shown to reduce age spots. (13)
1. National Library of Medicine. Heart. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0015637/. [Accessed 19 November 2016].
2. American Heart Association. 2016. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WC27Dvl97IU. [Accessed 19 November 2016].
3. WebMD. 2016. Heart Disease and Lowering Cholesterol. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-lower-cholesterol-risk#2. [Accessed 19 November 2016].
4. Soares-Miranda L, Siscovick DS, Psaty BM, Longstreth WT Jr, Mozaffarian D, 2016. Physical Activity and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study. Circulation Research, [Online]. 133(2), 147-55. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26538582 [Accessed 19 November 2016].
5. Ye Z, Song H, 2008. Antioxidant vitamins intake and the risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of cohort studies. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, [Online]. 15(1), 26-34. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18277182 [Accessed 19 November 2016].
6. Julia J. Peterson, Johanna T. Dwyer, Paul F. Jacques, and Marjorie L. McCullough, 2012. Do Flavonoids Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Incidence or Mortality in US and European Populations?. Nutrition Reviews, [Online]. 70(9), 491–508. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4130174/ [Accessed 19 November 2016].
7. Varshney R, Budoff MJ, 2016. Garlic and Heart Disease. Journal of Nutrition, [Online]. 146(2), 416S-421S. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26764327 [Accessed 19 November 2016].
8. J. Chris Bradberry and Daniel E. Hilleman, 2013. Overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Therapies. Pharmacy & Therapeutic, [Online]. 38(11), 681–691. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875260/ [Accessed 19 November 2016].
9. Houston MC, Harper KJ, 2008. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, [Online]. 10(7 Suppl 2), 3-11. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18607145 [Accessed 20 November 2016].
10. Friso S, Lotto V, Corrocher R, Choi SW, 2012. Vitamin B6 and cardiovascular disease. Subcellular Biochemistry, [Online]. 56, 265-90. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22116704 [Accessed 20 November 2016].
11. Pawlak R, 2015. Is vitamin B12 deficiency a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in vegetarians?. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, [Online]. 48(6), e11-26. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25998928 [Accessed 20 November 2016].
12. Youko Umeki, Hitomi Hayabuchi, Manami Hisano, Motonaka Kuroda, Masashi Honda, Bunei Ando, Masanori Ohta and Masaharu Ikeda, 2008. The Effect of the Dried-Bonito Broth on Blood Pressure, 8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), an Oxidative Stress Marker, and Emotional States in Elderly Subjects. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, [Online]. 43(3), 175–184. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2581762/ [Accessed 20 November 2016].
13. Juan Garrido-Maraver, Mario D. Cordero, Manuel Oropesa-Ávila, Alejandro Fernández Vega, Mario de la Mata, Ana Delgado Pavón, Manuel de Miguel, Carmen Pérez Calero, Marina Villanueva Paz, David Cotán, and José A. Sánchez-Alcázar, 2014. Coenzyme Q10 Therapy. Molecular Syndromology, [Online]. 5(3-4), 187–197. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112525/ [Accessed 20 November 2016].
Published on 21 Nov 2016
The human immune system is a natural defense system that protects the body from attacks.
Without it, humans would prove helpless to even the simplest of infections.
The skin and mucosal membranes
The skin produces sebum which keeps its pH slightly acidic to control growth of organisms on the skin, while mucosal membranes release fluids such as saliva and mucus that protect against pathogenic micro-organisms.
Secreted soluble proteins
Our bodies secrete proteins and enzymes which attack microorganisms.
Our bodies contain white blood cells that destroy invasive organisms or “antigens” and rid the body of abnormal cells.
Adaptive Immune System
Our immune system recognizes different antigens and stores them into memory for faster fighting responses the next time the antigens invade. (1)
A weaken immune system may increase our susceptibility to infections due to a lack in ability to recognize and neutralize invading organisms.
Therefore, lifestyle changes along with a proper diet with the right nutrients are essential for developing a strong immune system to enhance our overall quality of life.
And at the front of nutrition research today is the application of micronutrients which include minerals, vitamins and related co-factors in immune system support.
Studies indicate that the administration of vitamin A in malnourished children helps protect against and reduce the death rate associated with measles. (2)
Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to reduced white blood cell response and shrinkage of the critical immune system organ.
Vitamin B12 manages cell division and growth.
A lack of this vitamin may obstruct the growth of white blood cells. (3)
This vitamin works with other antioxidants to enhance the activity of our white blood cells to neutralize free radicals without being harmed.
Supplementing your diet with this vitamin will generally improve an individual’s immune response. (4)
Supplemental zinc can help restore declining immunity.
The positive effects of zinc in adults however, have not been proven in children. (5)
Studies show that vitamin C helps to increase the immune system cells’ response to cold and flu.
One study suggests that taking vitamin C supplement at the first sign of a cold can help to ward off the cold. (6)
A widely known immune-support herb, Echinacea exerts some direct antimicrobial action and primarily boosts immune cell activity as well as prevents bacterial enzymes from breaking down the body’s tissues.
Traditionally, herbalists viewed it as a source of blood purifier and an aid to fighting infections.
There are nine different species of Echinacea, though only Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea are widely used for medicinal purposes. (7)
Echinacea was the most widely used medicinal herb in America in 1895 for the treatment of various illnesses until it is replaced by antibiotics in the late 1920s.
Echinacea increases the “non-specific” activity of the immune system.
This means it is capable of enhancing your body immune cells’ ability to fight against viruses, abnormal cells and bacteria.
Echinacea supports wound healing, reduces symptoms from virus attacks and speeds up your recovery.
Since it has anti-inflammatory properties, it may be used externally to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
It may also improve your resistance against infectious conditions.
This herb can be used for the treatment of colds, flu, coughs, sore throat and other upper respiratory conditions.
Other uses include enlarged lymph glands, urinary tract infections and other minor infections. (8)
Here is a wonderful video that will show you how it can be done. 🙂
1. NCBI. 2013. What are the organs of the immune system?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072579/. [Accessed 14 November 2016].
2. Eduardo Villamor and Wafaie W. Fawzi, 2005. Effects of Vitamin A Supplementation on Immune Responses and Correlation with Clinical Outcomes. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, [Online]. 18(3), 446–464. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1195969/ [Accessed 14 November 2016].
3. University of Maryland Medical Center/Steven D. Ehrlich. 2015. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). [ONLINE] Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b6-pyridoxine. [Accessed 14 November 2016].
4. Pekmezci D, 2011. Vitamin E and immunity. Vitamins & Hormones Journal, [Online]. 86, 179-215. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21419272 [Accessed 14 November 2016].
5. Prasad AS, 2008. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Molecular Medicine, [Online]. 14(5-6), 353-7. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18385818 [Accessed 14 November 2016].
6. Douglas RM, Hemila H, D’Souza R, Chalker EB, Treacy B, 2004. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, [Online]. (4), CD000980. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15495002 [Accessed 14 November 2016].
7. Zili Zhai, Yi Liu, Lankun Wu, David S. Senchina, Eve S. Wurtele, Patricia A. Murphy, Marian L. Kohut and Joan E. Cunnick, 2007. Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species. Journal of Medicinal Food, [Online]. 10(3), 423–434. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2362099/ [Accessed 14 November 2016].
8. RM Barry Publications. 2007. Natural Alternative Medicine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.rmbarry.com/research/natural_medicine.html. [Accessed 14 November 2016].
Published on 15 Nov 2016
A fast-growing infant needs plenty of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, which are provided solely by breast milk or special infant formulas for the first few months. (1)
In fact, it has been recommended by WHO for infants to be breastfed exclusively for optimal growth, development and health for the first 6 months. (2)
Breast milk has many advantages over formulas, and most infant formulas are made to imitate breast milk.
The vitamins and minerals in breast milk are absorbed easily and disease-fighting substances are transferred to the infant from the mother through breast milk. (3)
About 50% of the calories from breast milk and infant formula comes from fat.
This high fat level may surprise some people, but infants need plenty of fat for proper growth.
The baby is developing its central nervous system, brain and eyes, and fats should not be restricted before age two. (4)
From about 4 to 6 months of age, infants would have used up most of the iron stored from birth. (5)
Thus, they need to obtain iron from food.
Usually, iron-fortified rice cereal is started at this time. (6)
Next comes the slow introduction of semi-solid foods, working up to “table foods” towards the end of the first year.
This progression of foods helps babies develop oral and fine motor (coordination) skills. (7)
After the first year of rapid growth, the growth rate in the childhood years (age 1 to 3) is relatively slow.
Brain growth is 75% complete by age 2 and almost 100% complete by the age of 5. (8)
Muscle and bone mass continues to increase throughout this time.
There are no outstanding nutritional needs for any one year because body size, body composition, activity level and rate of growth differs from child to child.
Hence, you can make use of growth charts provided by WHO to measure their child’s growth rate at different age. (9)
Inadequate calories, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients will be reflected in slow growth rates, inadequate bone formation, insufficient iron stores and anaemia.
The proper growth pattern for each child should be monitored by a doctor.
Toddlers and preschoolers can eat the same food as the rest of the family, but in small amounts. They can always ask for more.
Toddlers and small children need about 2 cups of milk or yogurt each day, which can be provided in smaller servings. (10)
1. European Food Information Council. 2006. Child and adolescent nutrition. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.eufic.org/article/en/page/barchive/expid/basics-child-adolescent-nutrition/. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
2. WHO. 2002. The World Health Organization’s infant feeding recommendation. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding_recommendation/en/. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
3. WebMD/Nivin Todd, MD. 2014. Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/baby/breastfeeding-vs-formula-feeding#1. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
4. Camilia R. Martin, Pei-Ra Ling, and George L. Blackburn, 2016. Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula. Human Nutrition Journal from MDPI, [Online]. 8(5), 279. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882692/ [Accessed 9 November 2016].
5. CDC. 2001. Recommendations to Prevent and Control Iron Deficiency in the United States. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00051880.htm. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
6. Canadian Paediatric Society, 2007. Iron needs of babies and children. Paediatrics and Child Health, [Online]. 12(4), 333–334. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528681/ [Accessed 9 November 2016].
7. Food and Nutrition Service/USDA. A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/feeding_infants.pdf. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
8. BabyCenter. Your Child’s Growing Brain (ages 5 to 8). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-childs-growing-brain-ages-5-to-8_3659070.bc. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
9. CDC. 2010. Growth Charts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/who_charts.htm. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
10. KidsHealth/Mary L. Gavin, MD. 2015. Growth And Your 2-3 Year Old. [ONLINE] Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/growth-2-to-3.html. [Accessed 9 November 2016].
Published on 9 Nov 2016
Living in a clean environment with clean air and water, followed by adequate sun exposure is an important consideration for optimal health.
In this section, we will explore how all these factors can be accomplished in greater detail.
Did you know that a person can only live without air for up to 3 minutes? (1)
This explains why clean air is such an important component for our overall well-being.
In fact, you will be shocked to learn that an average adult breathes about 11,000 litres of air every day. (2)
That’s a huge amount if you do your math.
It’s almost a thousand times the amount of water that we need on a daily basis.
However, is the air we are breathing in really clean?
According to U.S. EPA, the air inside your home is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside.
It could contain pollutants that are harmful to your health.
What's really scary is most of these pollutants are colourless, odourless and not visible to the naked eye.
There's a saying that what you can't see, kills you the most.
This is particularly true in this case.
Some common pollutants and contaminants found in home interior air include:
• mould spores
• dust mites
• radon decay products
• other seen and unseen particles and impurities
In Singapore, we have to cope with the annual haze too. (3)
Poor air quality can lead to a host of health issues which range from headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue and dizziness.
It could bring on the symptoms of some diseases like asthma, humidifier fever and many others.
According to WHO, indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7% of the global burden for disease which includes pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer and others. (6)
The use of an air purifier is recommended as part of environmental control measures for people who suffer from allergic respiratory disease. (7)
Based on a small study from China, exposure to purified air reduced the risk factors for heart disease in many young and healthy adults. (8)
Therefore, it should be beneficial for everyone since the health of your lungs is dependent on the quality of air that you breathe in.
The elderly, children and women spend the most time at home.
Hence, they are most vulnerable to indoor air pollution.
In fact, the use of air purifiers has successfully reduced the presence of particulate matter and allergens in homes.
This will provide significant health benefits for folks who have cardiovascular or asthma related issues and the general public. (9)
Since there are several types of air purifier available in the marketplace, my primary focus would be on picking those that are portable for your home.
Follow these guidelines from the U.S. EPA to get the right unit:
What Type Of Pollutants Can It Remove?
Since household pollutants can be classified into 2 categories: Particulate Matter and Gaseous, the air purifier that you select should be able to remove both forms of pollutants.
You should ask for the contaminants list before getting the unit.
What Is The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR)?
This will determine the effectiveness of the air purifier in removing air particles.
It is developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
Therefore, it is important for you to pick an air purifier that is AHAM certified to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth.
Is The Unit Easy To Install?
If the unit is easy to install, it should be easy to maintain as well.
What Are The Major Costs Involved?
You should take into consideration the initial cost, maintenance, filter replacements and operating cost (in terms of electricity consumption).
Does It Remove Odours?
Since air purifiers designed for particle removal are not capable of removing gaseous pollutants, they will still remain together with the odour that they produce. For example, cigarette smoke.
Does It Soil The Surfaces In Your Home?
Since ion generators produce charged particles which they are incapable of removing from the air, they may end up dirtying your walls and other surfaces.
Is The Noise Bearable?
Portable air purifiers that come with fans may produce a lot of noise.
However, they are needed for a more effective clean. (10)
I own a portable air purifer unit known as Atmosphere.
Here's a great intro video on the technology behind Atmosphere:
Here are a couple of reasons why I love this unit:
1. Capable of removing up to 99.99% of airborne contaminants and is AHAM certified. (11)
2. Does an excellent job of cleaning up the air in my home in 30 minutes on Turbo mode.
3. Very easy to install and maintain.
4. It is capable of removing both particulate matter with its Pre-Filter and HEPA filter and gaseous pollutants with the activated carbon filter.
5. LED indicators are provided to notify me of when to change the filters.
6. The Intelli-Sense technology does an excellent job of picking up odours in the air and remove them even before I start to notice it.
7. I like the fact that it is Energy Star certified and consumes very little energy. (12)
8. It is very easy to operate and provides both Auto and Manual mode.
I normally set it on Auto mode since it will adjust its operating speed (between 1 to 5) to clean the air according to the current state.
In most cases, it will be operating at speed 1 unless there's huge change in the air quality in my home.
Did you know that 45-75% of our body weight is water?
In fact, a loss of 1 to 2% of water in our body can impair our cognitive function. (13)
Therefore, your mum is right for reminding you to drink water regularly to replenish the loss water from your body. 🙂
Clean water is needed for the following purposes:
Major sources of drinking water come from streams, lakes and rivers.
When you have clean water sources, your utility companies will be able to provide cleaner drinking water with less treatment required.
Reliable and clean water sources are needed for the growth of many industries like farming, tourism, manufacturing, energy production and recreation.
Many people enjoy water sports like kayaking, canoeing, swimming and fishing.
These activities are only possible when the water is clean and free of pollution.
Promotes a healthy ecosystem for the sustenance of wildlife. (14)
According to WHO, 2 million people die from diarrhea annually due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.
You will be saddened to know that majority of them belong to children under 5 years old.
Therefore, don’t take your clean water for granted. 🙂
In fact, the use of water treatment systems is recommended for improving the quality of drinking water to reduce diarrheal diseases.
This will make a huge difference in the lives of many folks who rely on polluted water sources, unsafe piped supplies and wells. (15)
While the WHO supports boiling water as an effective way to remove pathogens in your drinking water, it does not remove other waterborne contaminates like lead, which is commonly found in water during the transportation process through pipe lines and fixtures to your homes. (16, 17, 18, 19)
First of all, lead is not usable by your body.
However, it is absorbed and stored in various tissues, especially our bones and teeth.
It circulates in our blood stream as well.
While a certain amount of lead can be excreted by your body, the efficiency depends on your age.
An average adult may absorb 3 to 10% of lead from the water that they drink while kids may absorb up to 50% which is quite a lot.
Lead does not only enter our body through drinking water, it enters your body through the air that you breathe and food that you eat too.
It affects the health of every organ and system in your body regardless of how it enters it.
Your nervous system is the main target for lead toxicity.
An increase in blood pressure, reduction in nervous system functions, brain and kidney damages, and even death are possible consequences of excessive lead exposure.
This explains why it is important for you to have some form of treatment available for your drinking water. (20)
Picking the best water treatment system for your home needs is as simple as asking the right questions.
Determine The Cleanliness Of Your Water
This can be achieved by getting a water quality report from your local utility/authority.
If this is not possible, you can have your water independently tested.
Decide On Which Contaminants You Want To Reduce
Once you are aware of the contaminants that are found in your water, you will be able to decide on the water treatment solution that is designed to meet your concerns.
Water filters are not designed equally.
Some may be able to remove more contaminants than the others.
You can use the NSF water contaminant selection guide to locate the best solution to meet your needs.
Compare Your Options
There are generally 2 types of system: Point of Use and Whole House/Point of Entry
Some of them remove 1 contaminant while others remove many contaminants.
Therefore, it all boils down to your needs.
Point of Use systems treat the water that you drink directly or use for cooking and other purposes.
They include faucet filters, water pitchers and reverse osmosis systems.
Whole House/Point of Entry systems treat the water that enters your home.
They are installed near your water meter or pressurized storage tank.
Some examples include water softeners, UV microbiological and whole-house filters. (21)
Personally, I am using a Point of Use system known as eSpring for the following reasons:
It not only improves the taste and clarity of the drinking water; it destroys more than 99.99% of waterborne disease causing bacteria with its unique UV light technology.
The system has patented Activated Carbon Block Filters which reduce more than 140 contaminants which may pose a threat to your health.
I love the fact that it gets rid of the contaminants while retaining the beneficial minerals like magnesium, calcium and fluorine which are naturally present in water.
It has a LED display that shows whether the unit is functioning properly and gives off signals when the cartridge needs to be replaced or if there’s any issues with the unit.
eSpring has been awarded the following certifications, 42 (Aesthetic Effects), 53 (Health Effects) and 55 (UV Technology) by NSF International, a renowned testing agency. (22)
Besides being certified by NSF, it is awarded the WQA Gold Seal, which is given to water treatment systems that meet or exceed industry standards for structural integrity, material safety and contaminant reduction. (23)
With these accolades in mind, there is no wonder why the eSpring is also the world’s no. 1 best-selling water treatment systems based on Verify Markets study in 2014. (24)
Are you someone who dislikes the sun for the wrong reasons?
Did you know that the sun plays an integral part in the development of our health besides helping plants to acquire energy through photosynthesis? (25)
Perhaps you have heard about the dangers of excessive sunlight exposure can pose to your body and you should avoid it like the plague?
Well, I used to have similar thoughts since I am not supposed to be under the sun due to my challenge with discoid lupus.
If you are someone who is struggling with the same issue as me, you may want to consult your doctor before going under the sun for the right reasons.
In fact, exposure to UV radiation has its own pros and cons.
It all boils down to sensible sun exposure at the right timings.
The sun is considered dangerous because of the UV radiation that it contains.
UV radiation can be classified into 3 categories: UVA, UVB and UVC
They are classified according to their wavelength.
This means UVA has the longest wavelength while UVC has the shortest.
UVB is somewhere in the middle.
UVC is considered the most harmful form of radiation since it has the shortest wavelength.
The good news is; it is completely filtered by the earth’s atmosphere.
Therefore, you shouldn’t get too worried about it.
On the other hand, UVB is responsible for delaying the tanning and burning of the skin that you experience while under the sun.
It is known to contribute to rapid skin aging and development of skin cancer.
Fortunately, most UVB is filtered by our atmosphere.
95% of the UV radiation that enters Mother Earth belongs to the UVA category.
Unlike UVB which cannot penetrate beyond our superficial skin layer, UVA is capable of penetrating the deeper layers of our skin.
Hence, it is responsible for the immediate tanning of our skin, which also contributes to skin aging and wrinkles.
Many people think that exposure to UVA will not pose any long-term damage to the body.
Recent studies suggest otherwise.
Now that you are aware of the various dangers that sunlight can pose to your body, let’s explore why it is good for you too.
In fact, the sun plays an important role in the following areas: -
Vitamin D Production
UVB helps in the synthesis of vitamin D by our skin.
The production of vitamin D is dependent upon the efficiency of UVB from the sun that enters our skin which can be affected by our clothing, sunscreen, skin pigments and body fat.
For instance, people with very fair skin will trigger the release of 50,000 IU of vitamin D, circulating in their body within 24 hours from a 30-minute exposure to the summer sun in a bathing suit.
While people with tanned skin may get 20,000 – 30,000 IU, and those with darker skin may get between 8,000 to 10,000 IU.
The initial photosynthesis process at our skin will produce vitamin D3 which is mainly converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) by our liver.
This major form of vitamin D is circulated in our body.
The vitamin D3 also undergoes another transformation in our kidneys and cells to form 1,25(OH)D.
1,25(OH)D is a hormone that accumulates in our intestines to enhance the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
It regulates bone-calcium metabolism by controlling the flow of calcium in and out of our bones.
In fact, low vitamin D levels have been associated with increased risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases like osteomalacia in both men and women.
While excessive UVR exposure has been linked to the development of skin cancer, inadequate amounts may result in the prevalence of other cancers that involve the breast, colon, prostate and many others.
Therefore, it all boils down to sensible exposure to the sun in order to receive beneficial effects against other cancers which are not related to the skin.
Other Health Links
Getting high amounts of vitamin D in the body has been shown to reduce the incidence of multiple sclerosis.
Besides multiple sclerosis, having adequate amounts of vitamin D at an early age will reduce your tendency to develop type 1 diabetes by up to 80%.
Lower levels of Vitamin D in people who lived at higher altitudes have been linked to higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular issues.
Exposure to the sun and higher (25[OH]D) in our body may offer protection against illnesses like asthma, infectious diseases and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Adequate amounts of 1,25(OH)D may help to inhibit induction of diseases in collagen-induced arthritis, autoimmune encephalomyelitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and many others.
However, the actual amount needed is still lacking for most autoimmune conditions.
Since exposure to sunlight or bright artificial lighting will trigger the production of melatonin sooner, you will find it easier to fall asleep at night. (28)
Between 10 am to 2 pm when it is close to the solar noon. (29)
Since your skin pigmentation can influence the rate of UVB absorption to produce vitamin D, it can be quite difficult to quantify the actual amount that you need.
Other factors that can influence the amount of sun exposure that you require include the time of the day, weather conditions along with how much skin is exposed.
For instance, it may only take a few minutes for a person with very fair skin to get sufficient sun exposure for vitamin D production while putting on a bathing suit at noon.
Prolonged sun exposure has been known to lead to both chronic and acute health issues.
Sunburn is the most common form of acute effect that stems from excessive sun exposure.
Long term effects include premature skin aging, photo dermatoses, eye cataracts, actinic keratosis and skin cancer.
Did you know?
Between 2 – 3 million folks suffer from non-melanoma skin cancers.
Approximately 130,000 cases of malignant melanomas occur globally every year.
12 – 15 million people become blind due to cataracts worldwide, 20% of these cases were caused or enhanced due to sun exposure. (31)
Here are some ways to achieve this objective:
Stay out of the midday sun.
10 am to 4 pm is the time period when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.
Therefore, it will be better for you to limit exposure to the sun at this timing.
Leverage on the UV Index
Avoid excessive sun exposure by using this resource to plan your outdoor activities.
The UV index offers recommended sun protective measures according to the intensity of the sun rays based on the different timings. (32)
A trick to know when to use shades to minimize your exposure to the sun is to look at your shadow.
When your shadow is short, it means that the sun is very intense.
Therefore, it will be a good time for you to use shades like umbrellas, trees and canopies.
Since shades do not offer complete protection from the sun rays, it is vital for you to use other protective measures as well.
Put on protective clothing
These clothing include wide brim hats, sunglasses and loose tightly woven clothes.
Use sunscreens that offer broad spectrum UV protection
The sunscreen that you choose should offer both UVA and UVB protection.
It should be at least SPF 15+ and reapplied every 2 hours or after working, swimming and playing/exercising outdoors.
Make sure the sunscreen offers at least 4-star UVA protection to be on the safe side. (33)
The idea of using sunscreens is to limit your exposure to the sun and not as a means to prolong your exposure. 🙂
They are commonly found in sunlamps and tanning parlours.
They can damage your skin and unprotected eyes.
I am sure most of us are aware of the benefits that a clean living environment provides.
Perhaps your mum or a helper is the one that does most of the cleaning in your home.
In this section, I will share with you some insights that I have gotten from my own experiences in helping my mum to keep my living environment clean.
A cluttered living space leads to confusion in your mind, may result in injuries from falls, loss of important documents and medications. (36)
Hence, making sure your living environment is clean and clutter-free helps to improve your overall quality of life.
In fact, getting your family involved to clear up the clutter in your home is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety in your life. (37)
If you can’t find time as a family to do it, you can lead by example, starting with your own room or personal space.
Eventually, your family members will follow your footsteps if they see you doing it on a regular basis.
That’s what happened in my case.
I am sharing a bedroom with my elder brother and he is starting to see the benefits of clearing up his space.
Vacuuming the floor daily and mopping it on a weekly basis is what I have done to keep my home clean.
We used to mop it at least 2 to 3 times a week in the past when there was constriction going on in our neighbourhood.
Changing bedsheets, pillow case, bolster case and mattress protector at least once every 2 weeks to get rid of dust that may have accumulated on the bed.
When your living space is clean, you will be not less likely to fall sick due to allergens.
This is especially true for our friends who have pets at home.
Removing the animal dander is so important especially for folks who are allergic to them. (10)
Using cleaning agents which are made from naturally derived ingredients which are dermatologist tested also helps in the process of keeping your living environment clean and safe for everyone.
Products which have been given the U.S. EPA, Design For The Environment award would be preferred since they are safer chemistry. (38)
Set aside 15 to 30 minutes every week to declutter and clean up a certain area of your home.
Clean your home regularly with products which are certified by U.S. EPA for a safer clean.
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9. Vannan Kandi Vijayan, Haralappa Paramesh, Sundeep Santosh Salvi and Alpa Anil Kumar Dalal, 2015. Enhancing indoor air quality –The air filter advantage. Lung India, [Online]. 32(5), 473–479. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/ [Accessed 21 September 2016].
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11. AHAM. The AHAM Verification Program for Portable Electric Room Air Cleaners. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ahamdir.com/aham_cm/site/pages/index.html?code=r.rac.AboutThisProgram. [Accessed 22 September 2016].
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Published on 23 Sep 2016
I am sure all of us understand the importance of regular exercise since there are so many campaigns going on around the world to promote its importance.
This is especially true for countries with an aging population like Singapore, where I live. 🙂
In fact, I was trained since young to understand the importance of it in school.
I remember attending three 30-minute sessions of physical education (PE) classes during my primary and secondary school days.
I wonder if the same applies to my readers from other parts of the world? I would love to hear from you!
But, the question here is - how many of us continue to stick to this routine of regular exercise once we enter the work force?
I believed that most of us did not follow through on this routine since we did not see our parents doing it.
The same applies to me too.
My objective for writing this article would be to help you change your perspective about exercise and hopefully, give you some great pointers and ideas on how to get started on your fitness journey.
Regular exercise has been shown to provide the following health benefits:
Increased interest in sex
Improvement in mood
Increased energy and stamina
Reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness
Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness (1)
Reduces your risk of several chronic issues involving the heart, bones, joints, diabetes and depression.
In fact, it has been shown that people with increased physical activity lowered their risk of death from chronic issues by 20-35%. (2)
If you haven’t been exercising for ages, I would encourage you to consult your physician to see whether you are physically fit to engage in some form of exercise.
This is critical especially if you are struggling with other chronic health issues.
Do you have any existing injuries that is preventing you from exercising?
Your priority should be to rehab those injuries with the help of a sports doctor or therapist.
You shouldn’t put your health at risk by exercising even when you are injured. (5)
I think it will be more helpful for me to share with you what I did during my recover from stroke for this section.
1. The key is to start gently then gradually build up the pace.
This helps to avoid unnecessary injury, especially for those who have not been exercising regularly.
2. If you’re going to be doing it regularly i.e. half an hour for at least 3 times a week, it better be something you will enjoy doing.
You will accomplish more by doing a little exercise regularly than to make a big effort just once in a while.
3. Fitness needs differ from one person to another.
So choose an activity that best meets your needs.
Example, try swimming to increase endurance or weight training for strength.
4. Having a partner will help keep you more motivated than exercising alone.
Pair up with a friend or join a team game.
5. Variety is the spice of life.
Choosing more than one type of exercise will keep your program more interesting and your enthusiasm from sizzling out.
Variety will also allow you to work on different parts of your body. (5)
I remember when I was discharged from the hospital, I couldn’t walk well.
Therefore, I started out with some basic stretching and balancing exercises that focus on loosening my tight leg muscles due to a month of lying on the hospital bed.
After about a week or so, I started to walk short distances of about 1 to 1.5 km on a daily basis for at least a month or so while sticking to the stretching and balancing routine.
Then I continued this routine of walking for another month while increasing the distance to 3 km.
It took me about 30 to 45 minutes to complete this distance.
After walking for close to 2 months, I started to include light jogging as part of my routine.
So, I will switch between walking and slow jogging on alternate days while keeping the distance for another 2 months.
Presently, I am still alternating between jogging and walking but the distance has increased.
My weekly mileage for jogging is 10 km a week while my walking is 12 km a week.
On top of that, I have included strength training as part of my daily routine in the form of 20-minute kettlebell or Theraband workouts and bodyweight exercises like different variations of push-ups, burpees, planking and others.
On a weekly basis, I go for a yoga class.
aYou want to have a holistic approach to fitness.
That means your weekly exercise regime should cover the 5 key elements of fitness: Cardio/Aerobic, Strength, Endurance, Flexibility and Balance. (6)
Cardio/Aerobic – I did slow jogging and chi walking at least 6 times a week.
Strength – Daily 20 minute sessions of different strength training exercises.
Endurance – 5 km runs on Sundays
Flexibility – Yoga class
Balance – Yoga class
While this may sound overwhelming to people who are new to fitness, it is actually minimum wage for folks who are serious fitness enthusiasts. 🙂
I am not training to become a body builder or athlete.
Therefore, this is a schedule that I can stick to.
It may or may not be the same for you.
Hence, I urge you to choose activities that you really enjoy doing for a start.
Even a simple walk to make up for 10,000 steps a day can make a huge difference to your overall health.
|Activities||Calories Burned Per Hour||Calories Burned Per Hour|
|Circuit training, free weights||410||330|
|Circuit training, Nautilus||440||350|
|Climbing hills, with no load||580||460|
|Climbing hills, with 11 pounds load||620||490|
|Climbing hills, with 22 pounds load||670||540|
|Cycling, leisure (5.5 miles per hour)||300||240|
|Cycling, leisure (9.4 miles per hour)||480||380|
|Dancing, modern (moderate intensity)||490||390|
|Horseback riding, galloping||650||520|
|Horseback riding, trotting||520||420|
|Horseback riding, walking||200||160|
|Jumping rope, 70 per minute||770||620|
|Jumping rope, 80 per minute||780||630|
|Jumping rope, 125 per minute||840||680|
|Jumping rope, 145 per minute||940||750|
|Running, 5.5 miles per hour||640||520|
|Running, 7 miles per hour||920||740|
|Running, 8.5 miles per hour||1,090||870|
|Running, 10 miles per hour||1,200||960|
|Running, 12 miles per hour||1,380||1,100|
|Swimming, back stroke||810||640|
|Swimming, breast stroke||770||620|
|Swimming, crawl (fast)||740||600|
|Swimming, crawl (slow)||610||490|
|Swimming, side stroke||580||470|
|Swimming, treading (fast)||810||650|
|Swimming, treading (slow)||300||240|
|Table tennis (ping pong)||320||260|
|Typing, electric or computer||130||100|
|Walking, 4 miles per hour||380||300|
*Healthy man, 175 pounds (80 kg); healthy women, 140 pounds (64 kg).
Metric conversions: 1 pound = 0.45 kg; 1 mile = 1.6 km.
Adapted from: McArdle WD, Katch VL. "Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance". 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lea & Febiger; 1991.
Pick an activity that you really enjoy doing from the list that I have provided above.
Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to work on it.
If you really don’t know what exercises to do, I would encourage you to go for walking.
It is the most accessible form of exercise that anyone can do.
Since we have been taught since we are babies to learn how to walk, it is something that comes naturally to us. 🙂
All you need is a pair of good quality shoes to get started.
The style of walking that has impacted me the most is chi walking.
You can get a gist of the walking technique in the following videos:
Benefits and Intro To Chi Walking
Chi walking is a system of movement that keeps your body aligned and relaxed while you are walking.
It is a mindful way to pay attention to how you move by utilizing the concepts in Tai Chi.
More importantly, it is a safer and more efficient way to walk.
This program involves more than just going out for a stroll, clocking miles or counting your steps with a pedometer.
In fact, you will learn to move your body in a mindful way.
Key benefits of chi walking include: -
1. Loosens your joints such as your shoulders, spine and hips.
2. Strengthens your core muscles
3. Walk at a consistent pace for a longer period of time to increase aerobic fitness
4. Increases heart rate and strengthens your heart
5. Develops mental focus since you are paying attention to your movement
6. Have better body awareness
7. Form of practice that makes you fit through mindful movement
8. Tones your whole body
9. Reduces stress and impact on joints while moving
Lesson 1 – Posture
Hold yourself vertical by following these steps while walking:
0:34 - Feet must be pointing in the direction of your head.
1:13 - Lengthen your neck to keep your body upright while walking.
2:11 - Engage your core muscles by leveling your pelvis.
3:27 - Putting it all together.
Lesson 2 – Upper body
Follow these steps for a full body workout:
0:25 -Have a good arm swing.
1:11 – Putting it all together.
Lesson 3 – Lower body
0:11 – How most people walk?
1:01 – The difference with Chi Walking: Lean your body forward and ensure that your knees remain bent.
Lesson 4 – Cadence
0:08 - Using a metronome to control your pace to build aerobic capacity.
1:36 – Planning your cadence for weight loss, longer and slower is better for burning fat.
1:58 – For cardiovascular health, you can put up the beats to 70 or anything above 65.
2:35 – Summing it all up, transforming your program into a real fitness program, anything more than 30 minutes, paying attention to your movement.
Lesson 5 - Warming up for your walk
0:14 - Shaking out your ankles
0:32 - Ankle rolls
1:21 - Knee circles
2:03 - Hip loosening
3:15 - Pelvic circles
3:55 - Spine rolls
5:14 - Shoulders and upper back loosening
6:21 - Pelvic rotations
7:07 - Spinal twist
For more information, you can visit their official website at http://www.chiwalking.com/
Want to join me for a walk in Singapore? Feel free to email me here. I normally go for walks in the morning at Bishan Park.
In this section, I will discuss about the various forms of exercise and what benefits they provide.
Any exercise that makes your heart and lungs work harder.
Some examples would be running, swimming, biking and many more. (12)
These exercises are known to improve heart related diseases, play an important role in weight loss programs, lower anxiety, depression and stress levels.
Lastly, it plays an important role in the management of issues like diabetes, aging and pregnancy. (13)
Exercises that are used to build muscle mass.
They can be done at home or at the gym with the help of equipment like resistance tubing, machine weights, free weights and body weight. (14)
Regular strength training has been shown to provide better movement control, improve the functionality of your body, enable a person to walk faster and enhance overall physical performance.
Other benefits include better bone density, management of type 2 diabetes and arthritis, stronger cardiovascular health and fewer lower back discomfort. (15)
They refer to exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate over an extended period of time.
Some great examples would be jogging, swimming, dancing, raking and sports like tennis. (16)
Various studies have concluded that the combination of strength training and endurance exercises will improve the maximum oxygen intake of your body, improve muscle movement among the elderly, and enhance your respiratory health. (17)
In addition, it also improves your visual memory as noted in a study involving young adults. (18)
These exercises are meant to warm up your muscles to prevent injury and make your body more flexible.
They are commonly known as stretching exercises and can be classified into 7 categories.
Some examples of flexibility exercises would be yoga, Pilates, side lunges, forward bend and many others. (20)
All forms of stretching exercises are effective in improving your range of motion.
PNF-type of stretching will provide immediate gains compared to others.
You should focus on dynamic stretching exercises before any activity to avoid the loss of strength and performance.
It is recommended for folks over the age of 65 to incorporate static stretching exercises in their fitness regime. (21)
As the name suggests, they are exercises that aim at improving your balance.
Some examples include standing on one leg, placing your heel in front of your toe, doing Yoga and Tai Chi and many more.
It is one of the best ways to strengthen your core muscles and reduce your lower back pain.
Besides improving your back, it can be used to improve other joint related health issues like arthritis too. (22)
Finally, it lowers the risk of falls among the elderly. (23)
The best time is the time that you can commit to.
I mean there is no point scheduling for a workout in the morning if you know that you are an evening person.
Personally, I choose to exercise in the morning because it allows me to get some sun exposure which will help me to sleep better at night.
In fact, research has shown that your body adapts better to the timing at which your exercise is regularly performed. (24)
Pain and sore muscles are common symptoms associated with frequent exercise. To speed up the recovery process, I started practicing Myofascial Release.
This is a safe sports therapy technique that you can do on your own to release tightness in your muscles and joints by applying gentle pressure on the connective tissues that hold your muscles together. (25, 26)
All you need are 2 tennis balls to get started. You can refer to the video below for specific positions to put the tennis ball to treat your body.
Set aside 30 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week for some moderate form of exercise that you love doing today. (27)
1. Ashish Sharma, M.D., Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Frederick D. Petty, M.D., Ph.D., 2006. Exercise for Mental Health. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, [Online]. 8(2), 106. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/ [Accessed 5 September 2016].
2. Darren E.R. Warburton,Crystal Whitney Nicol, andShannon S.D. Bredin, 2006. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal, [Online]. 174(6), 801–809. Available at:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402378/ [Accessed 5 September 2016].
3. Wannamethee, SG,Shaper, AG,Walker, M., 2000. Physical activity and mortality in older men with diagnosed coronary heart disease. Circulation, [Online]. 102(12), 1358-63. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10993852/ [Accessed 5 September 2016].
4. Jolliffe JA1, Rees K, Taylor RS, Thompson D, Oldridge N, Ebrahim S, 2001. Exercise-based rehabilitation for coronary heart disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, [Online]. (1), CD001800. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11279730/ [Accessed 5 September 2016].
5. BodyBuilding.com/Bill Geiger. 2016. 61 Fitness Tips to Make 2016 Your Year Of Change. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/61-fitness-tips-to-make-2016-your-year-of-change.html. [Accessed 10 September 2016].
6. Mayo Clinic Staff. 2014. Fitness training: Elements of a well-rounded routine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness-training/art-20044792. [Accessed 5 September 2016].
7. Tudor-Locke, Bassett DR Jr, 2004. How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, [Online]. 34(1), 1-8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14715035 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
8. Mercola.com/Dr. Mercola. 2015. Will 10,000 Steps a Day Make You Fit?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/07/03/walking-10000-steps-daily.aspx. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
9. Lee, IM andBuchner, DM, 2008. The importance of walking to public health. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, [Online]. 40(7 Suppl), S512-8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18562968 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
10. Paula, Diehr, and Calvin, Hirsch, 2010. Health Benefits of Increased Walking for Sedentary, Generally Healthy Older Adults: Using Longitudinal Data to Approximate an Intervention Trial. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, [Online]. 65A(9), 982–989. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920578/ [Accessed 12 September 2016].
11. Zhao W, Ukawa S, Kawamura T, Wakai K, Ando M, Tsushita K, Tamakoshi A, 2015. Health Benefits of Daily Walking on Mortality Among Younger-Elderly Men With or Without Major Critical Diseases in the New Integrated Suburban Seniority Investigation Project: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology, [Online]. 25(10), 609-16. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26155815 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
12. WebMD/Heather Hatfield. 2004. Kick It Up With Cardio Exercise. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/kick-up-with-cardio-exercise#1. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
13. Mersy, DJ, 1991. Health benefits of aerobic exercise. Postgraduate Medical Journal, [Online]. 90(1), 103-7, 110-2. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2062750 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
14. Mayo Clinic Staff. 2016. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
15. Westcott, WL, 2012. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports, [Online]. 11(4), 209-16. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22777332 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
16. NIH Senior Health. 2016. Exercise: Exercises to Try. [ONLINE] Available at: https://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseandphysicalactivityexercisestotry/enduranceexercises/01.html. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
17. Eduardo Lusa Cadore, Ronei Silveira Pinto, Martim Bottaro, and Mikel Izquierdo, 2014. Strength and Endurance Training Prescription in Healthy and Frail Elderly. Aging and Disease, [Online]. 5(3), 183–195. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4037310/ [Accessed 12 September 2016].
18. Stroth S, Hille K, Spitzer M, Reinhardt R, 2009. Aerobic endurance exercise benefits memory and affect in young adults. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, [Online]. 19(2), 223-43. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18609015 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
19. BodyBuilding.com. 2015. WHAT IS THE BEST WORKOUT FOR INCREASING FLEXIBILITY?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wotw80.htm. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
20. American Heart Association. 2015. Flexibility Exercise (Stretching). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Flexibility-Exercise-Stretching_UCM_464002_Article.jsp#.V9alG5h97IU. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
21. Phil, Page, 2012. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, [Online]. 7(1), 109–119. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/ [Accessed 12 September 2016].
22. WebMD/Stephanie Watson. 2014. Balance Training. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/balance-training. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
23. Shubert, TE, 2011. Evidence-based exercise prescription for balance and falls prevention: a current review of the literature. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, [Online]. 34(3), 100-8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22267151 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
24. Chtourou H, Souissi N, 2012. The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, [Online]. 26(7), 1984-2005. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22531613 [Accessed 12 September 2016].
25. Myofascial Release – John F. Barnes, PT. What is Myofascial Release?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.myofascialrelease.com/about/definition.aspx. [Accessed 13 February 2017].
26. Beardsley C, Škarabot J, 2015. Effects of self-myofascial release: A systematic review.. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, [Online]. 19(4), 747-58. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26592233 [Accessed 13 February 2017].
27. World Health Organization. Physical Activity and Adults. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/. [Accessed 12 September 2016].
Published on 14 Sep 2016
Last Updated on 13 Feb 2017
Have you ever wondered what exactly constitutes a healthy diet?
Messages about healthy eating have been around for decades.
Dietitians and health professionals have been promoting a consistent message about the types of food we should consume more of, or not in.
Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Choose lots of fruits, vegetables and grains.
Choose a diet low in fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol.
Use sugars only in moderation.
If you smoke, do so as infrequently as possible, and eventually quit.
It is one that consists of proteins, carbohydrates (sugar and starches), fats, vitamins and minerals in the right proportions.
Your body needs a regular supply of these nutrients to grow, replace worn-out tissues and provide energy.
Balance, variety, moderation and adequacy are key to maintaining good health.
Balance means eating the recommended number of servings from each food group on most days.
Variety within each food group (for example, eating different fruits from the fruit group instead of only eating apples) ensures that you get all the nutrients you need, since no single food provides all nutrients.
Eating a wide variety of foods will also help you avoid eating too much of any substance that may be harmful.
Moderation means eating a little of everything but nothing in excess.
Adequacy means are you having enough of a specific nutrient in your diet.
There is no such thing as good or bad food.
There are only good and bad diets.
All types of food can fit in a healthy diet if you eat everything in moderation. (3)
By keeping a healthy diet, we can maintain a healthy body weight and reduce our risk of developing diet-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. (4)
However, maintaining a healthy diet is not as straightforward as it may seem.
There is much confusion among the general public about what constitutes a healthy diet, as well as a belief by many that they are already keeping a healthy diet.
71% of people agree with the statement “I do not need to make changes to the food I eat, it is already healthy enough”. (5)
A healthy diet and lifestyle in adulthood aims to:
Ensure that you are fit, healthy and full of vitality in the short term.
Minimize the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis in the long term. (6)
It refers to the role that food plays in relation to the well-being of the human body.
The food we eat can have a huge impact on our health and well-being. (7)
Hence, a balanced, nutritional diet is one that provides all the essential nutrients in the right quantities for health.
In fact, it is important to understand that the science of nutrition is still in its infancy.
Centuries ago, scientists were busy discovering new stars and galaxies while the first vitamins were only discovered decades ago! (8)
Nutritional knowledge changes constantly.
If you follow the news, you will notice that certain types of food come into and go out of favour with nutritionists and doctors alike.
It is fair to say that nutrition is an evolving science and those who study nutrition are pioneers of a new frontier.
From what science has shown us to date, we know that everyone needs about 45 different nutrients to stay healthy. (9)
Since no single food supplies all the nutrients needed for an adequate diet, consumption of a variety of food is necessary.
An adequate diet is one that supplies us with enough food to sustain life while promoting growth and good health.
The quality and quantity of food that we give ourselves will determine whether we have a balanced diet.
For sufficient nutrient intake, a balanced diet should contain no fewer than 1200 calories per day for adult women and no fewer than 1800 calories for adult men. (10)
What Are Calories?
A calorie is a measurement of the energy that food supplies to the body. Each type of energy-providing nutrient provides a different amount of calories.
Protein – 4 calories / gram
Carbohydrates – 4 calories / gram
Fats – 9 calories / gram (11)
3 of the major macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
A healthy diet that provides our body with the best macronutrient balance can be found below:
Carbohydrates - 45% - 65%
Proteins - 10% - 35%
Fats - 20% - 35% (12)
Carbohydrates is the primary source of fuel for energy and heat in the body.
They are the body’s most efficient energy source, ensuring that our brain, muscles, and other organs run smoothly.
They consist of simple carbohydrates like sugar and fruits, and complex carbohydrates like starches and fiber (e.g. pasta, rice, bread, and vegetables).
It is suggested that you get most of your carbohydrate from complex sources.
What Are Simple Carbohydrates?
Simple carbohydrates are sugars such as glucose, fructose, lactose and sucrose.
Sources include corn syrup, maple syrup, table sugar, candy, cake and sweetened cereals.
They contribute “empty calories” that provide energy but no nutrients.
What Are Complex Carbs?
The main source of complex carbs are wholegrains and wholegrain products such as wholewheat bread, brown rice, pasta, vegetables and beans.
Complex carbohydrates usually supply a healthy bonus of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Each type of carbohydrate will eventually end up as glucose (a form of sugar that is carried in the blood and transferred to cells for energy).
But, they differ at the rate in which they enter the blood stream and in their nutritional value.
Simple carbohydrates are usually low in nutritional value and enter the blood stream quickly, providing short-lived energy.
Complex carbohydrates enter the blood stream in a slower, more consistent rate and are more nutritious, with dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. (13, 14)
What Counts As A Serving?
(rice, bread and noodles)
½ cup of rice/mee/mee-hoon/kuay-teow
1 slice of wholemeal bread
½ piece of chappati
1 cup of porridge
½ cup of breakfast cereal
½ cup of green leafy vegetables (cooked)
½ cup of tubers
1 slice of papaya/water-melon/pineapple
½ cup of fruit juice
Milk and dairy products
1 glass of milk
1 cup of yogurt
1 slice of cheese
Eggs, meat, fish and nuts
1 medium-sized chicken drumstick
1 mackerel (ikan kembong)
2 matchbox-sized lean meat
1 cup of nuts
2 pieces of beancurd
2 pieces of tempeh (fermented beans) (15)
Protein is a part of every cell in your body.
Tissue building is the primary function of protein.
It is an important structural component that’s needed for the formation of cells in your bones, nails, hair and skin.
An important raw material needed for your body to make enzymes which are essential for its proper functioning, digestion and reproduction.
It is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which influences your mood and mind.
Protein is also one of the base materials needed in the immune system. (16)
Life is not possible without protein in your body.
The human body is a superb package of more than 100,000 different proteins. (17)
Since our body is not capable of manufacturing protein, it has to be consumed from our diet on a daily basis to replace the loss ones.
Did you know?
Protein is considered the substance of life?
The word “protein” originates from a Greek word meaning “first place”. (18)
Water is the most plentiful substance in the body.
Second is protein.
It makes up about 15% to 20% of our body weight. (19)
In fact, 50% of the body’s dry weight (not including water) is protein, and there are 100,000 of different proteins, each with special functions. (20)
Why Do You Need Protein?
You need protein for a number of reasons:
Defense and Immunity
Protein is a major component of leucocytes, or white blood cells, which act against bacteria.
Therefore, protein is essential to help fight infection and illnesses.
It is also needed in the formation of antibodies, which increase our immunity to foreign bodies.
Healthy Skin and Hair
90% of our hair and skin tissue is protein.
Lack of protein will show up in brittle, fragile hair strands and wrinkled skin.
Enzymes, which are responsible for converting food into energy, are constructed from protein.
They are also catalysts for chemical reactions.
Protein, therefore, has a direct influence on the amount of energy you have.
It is also the basic material in hormones, which, among other things, impacts our blood sugar levels and metabolic rates.
Growth and Maintenance
Protein is vital to the development of new and replacement tissues.
For example, for wounds to heal after a burn or injury, or hair to grow after a trim at the salon, cells and tissues cannot be replaced without protein.
Protein is responsible for regulating the level of certain substances within the body, namely water.
As it attracts water, protein helps maintain fluid balance in cells.
It also helps transport materials such as salt, potassium and electrolytes, in and out of cells.
A Blood Component
Protein is an important part of red blood cells and plasma, which are essential blood components.
It is also necessary for the formation of new red blood cells (which have a lifespan of approximately 3 to 4 months).
In order to perform all these tasks, proteins that are eaten must first be digested or broken down into the smaller units called amino acids. (16)
The Building Blocks of Protein
Although they perform many diverse functions, proteins in all living tissue regardless of their source (animal or plant) are made of 20 different kinds of amino acids, which serves as biochemical building blocks. (21)
The only difference between different proteins is the number, type and sequence of the amino acids present in the protein chains, as well as the structural configurations.
Amino acids have the same relationship to proteins as alphabets have to words.
Just as alphabets combine to form thousands of words, amino acids combine to make thousands of combinations of cell materials, tissues, enzymes, hormones or other active components.
Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids
The body absorbs protein from food, breaks it down, and reconstructs many of the amino acids.
Of the 20 known amino acids, 9 are called “essential amino acids” because they cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities in the body.
Essential amino acids must be obtained from the food that we eat.
The nine essential amino acids are histidine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, valine and phenylalanine.
It is not necessary for you to memorize this entire list of amino acids. 🙂
If you eat “complete” proteins, you will have all the essential amino acids you need.
Histidine and arginine are also essential for infants growth.
Since essential amino acids are not stored in the body, sources of protein containing them must be included in your daily diets.
To build the proteins needed for maintenance and growth, all the essential amino acids must be present at the same time.
If even one is absent or present in too small an amount, this deficiency will limit the utilization of the other amino acids.
The amino acid which is deficient is known as the “limiting” amino acid, and the principal limiting amino acids are methionine, tryptophan and lysine.
It is also possible that an excess of one amino acid may reduce the utilization of another amino acid.
Thus, a deficiency occurs.
Amino acids cannot be stored for use later on.
Instead, they are oxidized and the nitrogen portion is excreted, chiefly as urea.
The carbon, hydrogen and oxygen fragments that are left are used to provide energy or are converted into fat.
The body does not utilize the energy available in protein unless the other sources of energy (carbohydrates and fats) have already depleted. (22)
“Complete” and “Incomplete” Proteins
Food containing all nine of the essential amino acids and many of the non-essential ones are called “complete” proteins.
Those that have essential amino acids in the right proportions are considered to have high biological value.
“Incomplete” proteins, called low biological value food, on the other hand, usually lack one or more of the key amino acids.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are examples of complete protein sources.
Plant food such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are examples of incomplete protein sources.
Preferred complete protein sources include lean meat, poultry, seafood, skim milk, egg whites, legumes, wholegrain and soy products.
Liver, whole eggs, whole milk, and most cheeses are also good protein sources, but they should be eaten less frequently, because of their saturated fat and cholesterol content.
A healthy diet requires that we get an adequate amount of “complete” protein without extra fat and cholesterol.
In most cases, poultry and fish have lower fat and cholesterol content than fatty red meat like beef and mutton.
So, a healthy diet demands a balanced combination of animal protein sources such as lean meat and poultry, mixed with plant protein sources such as beans, rice or cereals.
Protein from plants such as vegetables, grains, beans, peas and lentils, lack one or more essential amino acids, and are considered incomplete proteins.
However, by combining plant protein from different sources, such as rice with beans or seeds, you can ensure that all the essential amino acids are consumed. (23)
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Protein should account for about 15% of our daily calories and ideally from protein sources that are low in fat.
Protein requirements vary from person to person depending on individual lean body mass, physical activity, life-stage and age.
Recommended protein intake:
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 10th ed., 1989, National Academy. Press: Washington, DC.
Examples of food and their relative value:
Protein content per 100 g
|Food||Protein Content (g)||Kcal||Energy from Protein (Kcal)|
Source: Nutrition Facts Desk Reference by Dr. Art Ulene.
At first glance, it may seem that animal sources of protein would be superior because of the higher concentration of protein.
However, the body cannot distinguish the source of protein nor the concentration – only the total amount.
Meat may be a good protein source but during production, other substances are added to it.
For example, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and herbicides have been found in cattle and pig feed.
Milk is also said to be a good source of protein, but the problems often associated with pasteurization and milk products make it a less than desirable source.
As it turns out, soy protein has gained much reputation as a good protein source and has proven to have health benefits.
Furthermore, soy protein comes without the heavy load of fat that is present in meat, eggs and milk.
Soy protein can also be the alternative for those who are allergic to milk and milk products (lactose intolerant), and to those who prefer protein from non-animal sources (vegetarians).
Soy contains phytochemicals known as isoflavones, which may play a role in lowering risks for diseases. (24)
Is Your Protein of Good Quality?
It is easy to measure the amount of protein present in food, but measuring the quality of protein – the types and quality of essential amino acids present can be rather complicated.
One way to estimate the quality of protein is to analyze the essential amino acids and then compare the result to a standard amino acid profile developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This standardized profile is recognized throughout the world.
The most common biological method of protein comparison is the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER).
The test protein is compared to milk protein (casein) which has a PER of 2.5.
So, any protein with a PER of 2.5 or above is considered a high-quality protein.
Another method, the Biological Value (BV) is more accurate than the PER, but is more tedious to perform.
One other factor that is important in determining protein quality is the digestibility of the protein – called Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).
Source: World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) now uses this new evaluation method to rate the amino acid of the protein, plus a rating of its digestibility by humans. (22)
Although we hear a lot of negative comments about “fat”, the truth is that the body NEEDS a certain amount of fat to work properly.
Fat is part of every cell.
Excess energy is stored in the form of fats.
Fats are also necessary for transportation and storage of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
It supplies the body with essential fatty acids necessary for proper growth and healthy skin.
Fats are a more concentrated fuel than carbohydrates and supply 9 kilocalories (38 kJ) of energy per gram.
Types of Fats
They are divided into 2 groups: saturated and unsaturated
The body obtains fat from both animal and plant sources.
Although we need a certain amount of fat to be healthy, it is important to understand the kinds of fat that are most beneficial.
Unsaturated fats is a healthier alternative to saturated fat and can be found in vegetable oils such as sesame, sunflower, soy and olive; and in oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon.
Unsaturated means that the fat is usually liquid at room temperature and generally comes from vegetable sources.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both included in this group.
Saturated fats should be your last choice.
Limit your intake of these fats because high intakes may be associated with increased risk of heart disease.
Saturated means that the fat is generally solid at room temperature and is usually from animal sources.
Found in lard, butter, hard margarine, cheese and full cream milk.
It is also the white fat you see on red meat and underneath poultry skin.
Did you know?
In reality, many foods contain both saturated and unsaturated fats, but they are described as one or the other depending on what they contain the most of.
So, even olive oil contains saturated fat too.
Trans fatty acids are found in various types of food, especially packaged and fried food from fast food chains as well as vegetable shortening and even some margarine.
They are formed when liquid oils such as vegetable oils are hydrogenated.
Like saturated fats, trans fatty acids also increase the bad cholesterol known as LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL or good cholesterol.
This may lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease.
Trans fatty acids are also linked to a greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Check food labels to minimize the intake of saturated fats and trans fats.
Some labels do not list the amount of trans fats present, so to find out, just add the values for saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
If the number is less than the “total fats” indicated on the label, the unaccounted is trans-fat.
The other method is to reduce consumption of fat.
Less total fat intake generally means less trans and saturated fats.
It transports fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K through your body.
It contains the essential fatty acids (EFAs), which have a positive effect on the health of your heart and immune system.
It adds flavor and helps food taste good.
It is a concentrated source of energy.
It keeps us from feeling hungry since fats stay in the stomach longer than other foods and are digested more slowly. (25)
How Much Fat Do You Need?
Only 15-30% of the total body energy requirement should be provided by fats.
Excess fat in the daily diet can cause obesity, coronary heart disease and even increase the risk of certain cancers like colon and breast cancer.
At least 50% of fat intake should consist of vegetable oils rich in essential fatty acids.
What do you think of when you hear the word cholesterol?
Many people have a negative perception of cholesterol.
They have heard that cholesterol can be bad for them and that they must avoid it.
In fact, it is found in every cell of our body.
This soft and waxy substance is produced by the liver and intestine.
Cholesterol is essential for human life and plays many important roles in the body.
It is used to form vitamin D, with help from sunlight.
It is found in large amounts in the brain and spinal cord, insulating nerve tissues.
It is used in the manufacturing of adrenal and sex hormones, like oestrogen and testosterone.
It is converted to bile acid, the substance that helps digest fats.
It also helps to “waterproof” body cells.
The liver produces enough cholesterol to satisfy these functions.
Concerns associated with cholesterol start when food intake from meat, particularly from organs such as liver and kidney, eggs, dairy and other “animal” food sources, exceeds recommended levels.
Cholesterol is not present in plant foods like fruits, vegetables or vegetable oils.
It cannot just flow loose in our water-based bloodstream.
Instead, cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream in special protein packages called lipoproteins (i.e. fat and protein complexes).
There are many types of cholesterol, but the 2 major ones that we need to pay attention to would be LDL and HDL. (26)
What’s LDL Cholesterol?
Also known as low-density lipoprotein, it is a major cholesterol carrier in our blood stream.
If there’s an excess amount of LDL circulating in our blood, it can slowly accumulate in the walls of our arteries.
It will combine with other substances and lead to the formation of plaque, which can clog up the arteries feeding the heart and brain.
This will inhibit flow of blood to our vital organs as the artery walls become less flexible and able to adjust to the flow of blood.
This condition is known as atherosclerosis.
The formation of a clot (thrombus) near the plaque can inhibit flow of blood to part of the heart and result in a heart attack.
Similarly, if the clot is found to be inhibiting blood flow to part of the brain, it can result in a stroke.
A high level of LDL cholesterol (160 mg/dL and above) reflects an increased risk of heart disease.
That’s the reason why LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol.
Therefore, you should keep it at a low level to reduce your risk of heart disease. (27)
What’s HDL Cholesterol?
About 1/3 to 1/4 of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoproteins or HDL.
Medical experts think HDL tends to transport cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, either to be re-used, converted to bile acid, or disposed of in the bile.
Research has shown that HDL slows the growth of plaque by removing excess cholesterol from them.
HDL is known as “good” cholesterol since a high HDL level protects you from heart attack.
The opposite is also true: a low HDL level (less than 40 mg/dL) indicates a greater risk of health issues like stroke.
Avoid smoking since it is known to reduce HDL levels in our body.
Maintaining a healthy body weight through exercise helps to promote better HDL levels. (28)
Steps To Keep Your Cholesterol Under Control
Cholesterol can be obtained in 2 ways.
The first way is from our liver which produces about 1000 mg a day though the amount may vary at times.
Another 400 – 500 mg or more can come directly from food depending on the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol eaten.
Food that is high in cholesterol is not necessarily high in fat or saturated fat, and vice versa.
Vegetable oils, for example, are 100% fat but do not contain cholesterol.
Saturated fats are the chief culprit in raising blood cholesterol levels.
The following foods are high in saturated fats, cholesterol or both: bacon fat, beef fat, pork fat, ham fat, turkey fat, chicken fat, lard, butter, cocoa butter, cream, whole egg or egg yolk, hardened fat or oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening, full cream milk and cheese.
The food you eat can have an effect on your cholesterol level.
However, some people have inherited tendencies towards high blood cholesterol levels.
They may not be able to lower their blood cholesterol, even with a low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
If this is found to be true, their doctor may consider adding a cholesterol-lowering medicine after trying a cholesterol lowering diet.
High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease.
Other risk factors include a family history of heart disease, being a male, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, obesity and diabetes.
Some of these risk factors cannot be changed while some can.
The goal is to have as few risk factors as possible to lower your risk of heart disease.
Fats in the Diet: How Much Fats Is Too Much?
People with high blood cholesterol levels should reduce, but not eliminate, dietary fat.
Fats are necessary for good health, but health professionals have long observed that most diets contain too much fat, especially saturated fats.
If you are trying to reduce blood cholesterol or just want to stay healthy, you should limit your overall fat intake to 20 – 35 % or less of total calories by replacing foods high in fat or cholesterol.
If you have a condition where you are concerned about an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer, or you have difficulty maintaining your weight, you may want to reduce your fat intake towards the lower end of this range.
Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, grains (breads, cereals, pasta, rice) and legumes (dried, cooked beans, peas and lentils), which eating small portions of lean meats, moderate portions of low-fat milk and milk products, and minimal quantities of all types of fats. (29)
Still, everyone should remember that by keeping their dietary intake of saturated fats low, they can significantly lower their dietary cholesterol intake.
A daily cholesterol intake of less than 300 mg is recommended by the American Heart Association.
Folks with heart disease should go lower than 200 mg/day.(30)
Recommended fat intake for optimal health
The type of fat consumed is important.
The following ratio of saturated / unsaturated fats is recommended:
Saturated fats: less than 10% of calories (mainly in animal products such as fatty meats, butter, whole-milk dairy products and egg yolk).
Polyunsaturated fats: not more than 10% of calories (Omega-3 in fish and seafood, and Omega-6 in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower and soy bean).
Monounsaturated fats: about 10% of calories (in olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, avocados).
One of the reasons for these ratio recommendations is that saturated fats seem to stimulate the formation of LDL.
Unsaturated oils appear to be helpful because they decrease total cholesterol and LDL levels.
In addition, recent preliminary studies suggest that monounsaturated fats may actually have a favourable effect on serum cholesterol and ultimately, on coronary heart disease risk.
It lowers cholesterol and LDL without affecting the good HDL.
To help you determine your desired fat intake, have your cholesterol level checked (both total cholesterol and HDL/LDL ratio).
Also, consider other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and a family history of heart disease.
Then discuss diet changes and other preventive steps with your physician.
But whether you choose 30%, 20% or somewhere in between, remember to look at your diet as a whole, over a day’s period, and not just as individual food.
For example, if you eat an ice cream, cut back on the fat somewhere else in your diet to keep your total fat intake within the guidelines. (31)
The Result of Excess Fat Intake
The body can cope with a relative small intake of excess fat.
What constitutes an excess is a debate; however, you can be sure that more than 35% of your calories from fat is an excess.
To get an excess of fat in your diet, you would have to eat junk-food and/or animal source diet.
It is not properly balanced with plant-source food.
The association between excess fat and degenerative diseases, such as vascular disease and arthritis, is definitely established.
Others include obesity, heart disease and even cancers.
Thus, moderate intake of fat (about 15-30% of your caloric intake) will at least address this issue of excess.
Eggs are high in fat.
A single egg yolk contains 186 mg of cholesterol, which is close the maximum daily intake recommended (300 mg). (32)
But, egg whites are a good source of protein.
Thus, the best recommendation on eggs is to use them in moderation and where possible, use an egg white product as an egg substitute.
Fats should make up less than 30% of the total calories in your daily diet.
Based on a 2000 calories a day diet, this is about 70 grams of fat every day.
If you eat fewer than 2000 calories a day, you should eat fewer than 70 grams of fat.
Each gram of fat has 9 calories.
To find the total calories from fat – multiply the number of grams of fat in a serving shown on the label by 9.
1 ounce of potato chips has 10 g of fat
Amount of calories from fat = 90 (10 x 9)
If the potato chips have a total of 150 calories, fat contributes 60% of this total (90 divide by 150).
If more than 30% of the calories are from fat, that food is high in fat.
Although the percentages may be different, all the macronutrients are equally important.
Which nutrient contains no vitamins, no calories, no protein, and no fat, is odourless, colourless, tasteless and yet, is essential to human life?
If you answered “air”, you are half right.
In the human diet, though, the answer is “water”, our fourth macronutrient.
In fact, water makes up about 60% to 70% of the body!
Humans can live for days or even weeks without food, but only a few days without water.
The food we eat and the beverages we drink give us the water our bodies need to function properly.
Why is water important?
It is the body’s most important nutrient, needed in the greatest amount.
Every cell in our body needs water to carry out a variety of essential functions.
Some of these functions include: transportation of nutrients and oxygen to cells and carrying away waste, lubricate joints and cushioning tissues and organs, and particularly in many normal chemical reactions.
Water is also used in the digestion and absorption of our food, and helps keep our stools soft to minimize constipation.
In addition, our body’s internal temperature regulation depends on water.
After we sweat, heat is loss during the evaporation process to keep us cool. (33)
We can be thankful for many complex processes inside our bodies that keep our water levels balanced.
Water does not have calories, so it rarely appears on charts that illustrate basic nutrient requirements.
But as adults, we must drink water daily in order to keep our body’s store of 45-55 litres of water replenished.
Our thirst mechanism usually signals us when we need water.
If we do not drink enough water, we can become dehydrated and our kidneys and other cells will not function properly.
Going without water can even be fatal, in as few as 2-3 days. (34)
Where Can Water Be Obtained?
We get water from fruits and vegetables , and some water from food such as bread and meat.
We also get water from juices, soft drinks and milk, but plain water is best for quenching thirst.
If possible, avoid coffee and tea when you feel thirsty – the caffeine causes the kidneys to eliminate, not conserve, body water.
Needed in small amounts, include:
Fat Soluble Vitamins
|Nutrient||Adult US RDA||Functions||Comments
|Vitamin A (Retinol and Beta-carotene)||5,000 I.U.||Required for growth and bone development; helps maintain healthy skin abd mucous membranes which protect the body's organs; beta-carotene functions as an antioxidant||Large intakes (several times US RDA) may be toxic. During pregnancy, avoid greater than US RDA and seek advice of a physician. Beta-carotene is considered non-toxic.
|Vitamin D||400 I.U.||Promotes normal bone and tooth formation; stimulates calcium absorption.||May be toxic with intakes greater than five times US RDA (2,000 I.U.).
|Vitamin E||30 I.U.||As an antioxidant, protects body cells, vitamin A, and unsaturated fatty acids; maintains normal red blood cells.||Vitamin E needs increase as the intake of polyunsaturated fats increase.
Water Soluble Vitamins
|Nutrient||Adult US RDA||Functions||Comments|
|Thiamine (B1)||1.5 mg||Assist in carbohydrate metabolism and energy production; required for normal nerve function.||No evidence of toxicity.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||1.7 mg||Assist in production of energy from foods and the formation of red blood cells; involved in many metabolic events.||No evidence of toxicity.
|Niacin (B3)||20 mg||Assists in release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins; helps maintain healthy skin.||One form of niacin; nicotinic acid, can cause flushing of the skin and gastrointestinal upset with very high intakes.|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||10 mg||Helps release energy from foods; needed for synthesis of many substances.||Considered non-toxic.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||2 mg||Essential for protein metabolism and nervous system function; involved in synthesis of hormones and red blood cells.||Very large intake (gramme quantities) over a period of months can result in loss of motor coordination
|Cyanocobalamin (B12)||6 mcg||Essential for normal growth and for production of red blood cells; helps maintain a healthy nervous system.||No evidence of toxicity.
|Folic Acid (B9)||0.4 mg||Essential for red blood cell formation and synthesis of proteins in the body.||Adequate folic acid intake is particularly important during pregnancy. Considered non-toxic.
|Biotin||0.3 mg||Involved in metabolism of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins.||No evidence of toxicity.
|Vitamin C||60 mg||Essential for formation of connective tissue, bones, and teeth; assists in utilization of other nutrients; acts as an antioxidant.||Some may experience adverse effects with very large intakes.
|Nutrient||Adult US RDA||Functions||Comments
|Calcium||1 g (1000 mg)||Forms strong bones and teeth; stimulates blood clotting after injury; required for normal muscle and nerve activity.||Intakes of several grams per day can decrease absorption of iron, zinc or other minerals.
|Phosphorus||1 g (1000 mg)||Form bones and teeth with calcium; regulates energy release from foods.||Phosphorus is abundant in the average diet.
|Magnesium||400 mg||Required for normal muscle and nerve activity; involved in metabolism of energy and the genetic material, DNA.||No evidence of toxicity in healthy individuals. Large doses may cause laxative effect.
|Iron||18 mg||Essential part of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood; involved in energy metabolism.||Considered non-toxic for healthy adults in amounts of up to 75 mg per day.
|Zinc||15 mg||Essential for proper growth and development; involved in protein synthesis and digestion, wound healing, and synthesis of genetic material, DNA. ||Large chronic intakes (several times the US RDA) may impair copper status and immune response.
|Iodine||150 mcg||As part of the thyroid hormone, helps regulate growth, development and energy metabolism.||Considered to be of low toxicity.
|Copper||2 mg||Involved in iron metabolism and synthesis of proteins.||Considered to be of low toxicity.
|Manganese||2.5 - 5.0 mg*||Necessary for the normal development of the skeletal and connective tissues; part of enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis, involved in metabolism of carbohydrates.||Considered to be of low toxicity.
|Selenium||0.05 - 0.20 mg*||As a component of an enzyme system, acts as an antioxidant.||Very large intakes (several times US RDA) can be toxic.
|Chromium||0.05 - 0.20 mg*||Essential for normal metabolism of glucose.||Considered to be of low toxicity.
|Molybdenum||0.15 - 0.50 mg*||Essential part of several enzymes in the body.||Evidence of toxicity is rare.
|* RDA not established.|
1. Guthrie, Helen A., Introductory Nutrition, seventh edition, 1989.
2. Whitney, Eleanor Noss, and Hamiliton, Eva May Nunneley, Understanding Nutrition, third edition, 1984.
3. National Academy of Science, National Research Council, Recommended Dietary Allowances, tenth edition, 1989.
Latest RDA readings can be found here.
“Phytochemicals” (also called phytonutrients) is a term used to refer to all compounds found in plants (“phyto” being the Greek word for plant).
Vitamins, minerals, fiber, pigments, oils and flavor compounds are all phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients play a vital role in promoting human health.
Due to their special properties, phytonutrients have become the focus of research efforts around the world.
Plants manufacture phytonutrients to grow, reproduce and protect themselves from insects, bacteria, viruses and ultraviolet sunlight.
What is good for a plant also seems to be good for us.
Research shows that specific phytonutrients that help plants survive and ward off diseases offer the same benefits for humans.
Today, scientists have not only isolated and identified thousands of phytonutrients, but have also tied in the specific phytonutrients with the diseases they may help to prevent.
For example, indoles, phenolics and isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane, are found in vegetables such as broccoli.
Sulforaphane compounds may trigger the body’s defenses that suppress damage to our genetic material, or DNA.
Studies have also shown that flavonoids, specifically flavonoid quercetin, have inhibited the replication of human leukaemia cells in a test tube.
Other flavonoids found in soy have been shown to reduce serum cholesterol level. (37)
There are 2 classes of fiber: Soluble & Insoluble
Soluble fiber is sticky and meshes with water to form gel.
It includes pectins, guar, mucilages, and the fiber in oat bran, barley, dried beans, and other legumes.
Insoluble fiber absorbs large amounts of water, as much as 15 times their weight and hence creates soft bulky stools.
Wholewheat, wheat bran products, and the skin of fruits and vegetables are primary sources of insoluble fiber.
Why Is Fiber Important?
Fiber is known to play an important role in the following areas of health:-
Consistent adequate fiber intake has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease through the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels in your body.
Testing has also shown that it could reduce bio-markers like blood pressure for heart disease.
Water-soluble fibers like guar gum, beta-glucan, psyllium are the most effective at lowering serum LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL levels.
Type II Diabetes and Glycemic Control
Large scale studies involving thousands of people have concluded that people who consumed more than 15 g of fiber on a daily basis had significantly lower risk of diabetes.
People who consumed more than 17 g of insoluble fiber a day or more than 8 g of cereal fiber a day had lower risk of type II diabetes.
Laxation and Regularity
Plays an important role in the natural laxation by increasing stool weight.
This will make the stool larger and softer to be easily released from your body.
It will reduce the risk of constipation.
Some fiber-rich foods provide greater satiation since they take a longer time to chew.
This will make you feel fuller and reduce your intake of food.
Some soluble fibers absorb water and make you feel bloated to reduce your food intake.
Since a higher fiber intake is associated with a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, it plays an important role in promoting healthy weight in individuals.
Many reports in the 1970s have associated an increased risk in colorectal cancer due a lack of fiber in your diet.
However, there is no concrete evidence that this link exists.
Prebiotic Effect and SCFA Production
Some fermentable fibers like inulin, oligofructose and FOS are known as prebiotics.
They alter the composition of your intestine flora by promoting the growth of good bacteria.
Promotes the production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which helps to maintain your colonic health, regulates the absorption of sodium and water, enhances the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
Immune Function and Inflammation
The production of SCFAs also improves your immune function by increasing your resistance to illness and infection.
Soluble, non viscous fiber may help to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. (38)
How Much Fiber Do I Need?
The recommended fiber intake for both children and adults is 14 g/1000 kcal. (39)
Types of Fiber & Their Health Benefits
Start keeping track of your dieting habits.
Work towards having a balanced diet of 45-65% carbohydrates, 10-35% protein and 15-30% fats, 6-8 or more glasses of water, 14 g/1000 kcal of fiber, adequate minerals and vitamins intake and 5 - 9 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Use supplements to fill the gap in your diet if necessary.
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Published on 9 Sep 2016
Last Updated 9 Apr 2018