Eat Well For Good Health

Maintaining good health is becoming challenging with sedentary lifestyles that most of us follow these days. Even if we try it becomes difficult to maintain the energy balance (input vs output)  leading to weight gain / obesity. Inculcating right exercise patterns and good eating habits can help us to achieve the desired goal.

 

People fail to realize ill effects of bad eating regimens and resort to crash dieting to achieve that desired “Size Zero”and end up with disorders like anorexia nervosa , bulimia nervosa etc. Our lifestyle also contributes to some of the health issues right from deficiency of vitamin D (due to low exposure to sunlight) to Diabetes.

 

Eating nutritionally balanced meals as per age, height, weight & gender can not only help us maintain a good health but prevent deficiencies also.

Few functions that nutrients provide to our body can be briefed as:

Energy is life (Energy= Carbohydrates +Proteins +Fat) :

– Food rich in these nutrients must comprise a good percentage of your diet for adequate energy supply

 Fuel for energy-Carbohydrates:

– Carbohydrates rich foods provide fuel to your body in the form of glucose
– Choosing complex carbohydrates over simple ones (refined cereals) would be a better option to add the fiber content to the diet e.g. whole grains, vegetables, fruits

Build your body:

– Proteins are macronutrients which help in body building, proper functioning , growth and provide energy
– Good dietary sources of proteins are pulses, legumes, fish, egg and lean meat

Fats are equally important:

– Fats help in absorption of fat soluble vitamins
– However trans-fat and cholesterol rich foods like red meat, deep fried foods must be avoided to maintain good health

Vital nutrients for health:

– Vitamins play an important role in major body functions like free-radical scavenging (antioxidants), help in cell regulations, tissue growth and differentiation as well.

– Fat soluble vitamins help in supporting healthy eye sight(vitamin A), maintains bone health (vitamin D), act as antioxidants (vitamin E) and help in proper blood clotting (Vitamin K).

– Good sources of fat soluble vitamins are carrots, beetroots, nuts etc.

– Water soluble vitamins help in energy metabolism, act as major components of enzyme activities, supports growth and development, protect cells and aid in formation of DNA.

– Food sources of water soluble vitamins are organ meats, citrus fruits etc.

Minerals for body functioning :
– Minerals play a vital role in maintenance of good health and helps in several bodily functions.

– Major minerals (like Phosphorus, sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sulfur) help in fluid balance in body and help in proper absorption of amino acids whereas trace minerals (like iron, fluoride, zinc, copper,iodine, selenium, manganese, chromium and molybdenum)help in absorption of nutrients and help in proper oxygen flow in blood.
– Dietary Sources to name a few: Milk and dairy products (calcium), tofu, nuts, green leafy vegetables (magnesium), bananas, raisins, prunes (potassium), red meat, poultry, rice flakes, dates (iron), salt (sodium), etc.

 

A Balanced Diet should provide 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates (preferably complex) 10–15% from Proteins and 20-30% from both visible & invisible fat (ICMR/ NIN -2011) In addition, a balanced diet should provide other non-nutrients such as dietary fiber (which help in maintenance of proper body weight and blood parameters), anti-oxidants (which help in free radical scavenging) and phytochemicals (which help in fighting against degenerative diseases) which bestow positive health benefits. Such a balanced food must be eaten well to live well with proper health.

 

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Living with Diabetes

Diagnosis of diabetes may disturb the normal life of person and his whole family. Elevated blood sugar levels must be brought down within the normal range with the help of appropriate medications, proper diet modifications and certain lifestyle modifications. But there are certain things which are to be taken care of, from the minute when the occurrence of diabetes is confirmed.

 

Prognosis of Diabetes:

Diabetes can increase the risk of occurrence of co-morbidities as follows:

* Cardiovascular problems
Neurological problems
Renal problems
Foot ulcerations
Muscle wasting etc.

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Living with diabetes:

Reduction of risk of the above mentioned complications and leading a healthy life would be the primary focus when it comes to the management of diabetes management. The following are few points which should be taken care of to lead a normal life with diabetes.

–> Track your weight:

Even though weight loss and muscle wasting may be noted in certain cases during onset of diabetes, maintenance of appropriate weight is a big deal for diabetics. Obesity is one among the major issues associated with diabetes and so maintain a track record about your BMI (Body Mass Index) to be on safer side and to reduce the risk of complications.

–>Diet modifications:

Reduce the intake of high calorie (like refined cereals), high sugary(like sweets, chocolates) and high fat foods(like deep fried items).
Intake of high fiber foods (like whole grains, vegetables) should be increased.
Meals should be taken in small and frequent intervals (5-6 times/day) in order to avoid fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
Drinking adequate fluid in order to avoid dehydration is mandatory.

–>Routine physical activity and active lifestyle:

Physical activity should be a part of daily routine and staying active throughout day is extremely important.

–>Quit smoking and excessive alcohol intake:

Smoking and excessive alcohol intake would have significant impact on blood glucose levels and may aggravate the severity of condition.

–>Do not miss your appointment with your diabetes-care team:

Meeting endocrinologist to know the required dosages of medicines required in frequent intervals and nutritionist/dietician to monitor dietary practices is very important.

–>Overcome myths about diabetes:

There are certain common myths regarding diet management of diabetes as follows which shouldn’t be believed.

Myth: Diabetics should take special foods on market.

Fact: Normal foods made at home can be eaten by diabetic people with certain restrictions.

Myth: Diabetics should not eat fruits at all.

Fact:Fruits are good source of certain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Low glycemic index fruits (like guava, citrus fruits etc) can be consumed in moderation.

Myth: Dairy products shouldn’t be consumed by diabetic people.

Fact: Dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein and so can be consumed by diabetic people in prescribed limits.

Living a normal life with diabetes is quite easy with proper understanding about the facts and myths related to it.

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), commonly known as polycystic ovary disease (PCOD), ovarian hyperthecosis, functional ovarian hyperandrogenism,  Stein-Leventhal syndrome and sclerocystic ovary syndrome, is one among the most common endocrine disorders associated with hormonal imbalance affecting  women of age group between 12-45 years. PCOS is considered to be complex disorder which may be heterogeneous in terms of symptoms but its etiology usually remains unknown.

Causes and Hormonal changes associated with PCOS:

Although the cause of PCOS is unknown, there are evidence-based results to confirm that it may occur due to genetic cause. Also excess body weight/obesity may act as a triggering factor for the inception of PCOS.

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Polycystic ovary is generally characterized by occurrence of more number of ovarian eggs on the surface which looks like multiple cysts. PCOS causes fluctuations in levels of certain hormones as follows:

Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones responsible for egg release from ovaries. Imbalance of these hormones in PCOS causes hindrance in ovarian egg release.
Androgen is the male hormone which will be found in minimal amounts in women. In PCOS, the ovaries secrete more androgen than usual.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for maintaining proper blood glucose levels. In PCOS, insulin resistance may occur and blood glucose may elevate which may lead to diabetes mellitus.

Signs and symptoms:

PCOS is associated with a diverse range of symptoms with varying degree of severity which may affect reproductive, metabolic and endocrine functions of women. Following are some of the symptoms which may be linked with occurrence of PCOS.

* Menstrual disorders:

1. Oligomenorrhea-  Infrequent or light menstrual periods.
2. Amenorrhea- Absence of menstrual periods.
3. Hypermenorrhea- Heavy/ prolonged menstrual periods.

* Infertility:

This may happen in women with PCOS because of lack of proper ovulation/ release of eggs.

* Weight related issues:

Abnormal weight gain may occur along with occurrence of PCOS. Other way round, in some cases excess weight may be a triggering cause of PCOS.

Acne (skin problem), alopecia (loss of hair) and additional thicker and darker hair growth on the face and body may occur as PCOS occurs.

Psychological disturbances like depression and anxiety.

Nutritional Management of PCOS:

Since PCOS is associated with obesity/ weight gain, the main aim of dietary modification would focus on weight management. Following are some of the points which should be focused in management of PCOS:

* Foods high in carbohydrates like starchy foods (rice, roots and tubers), refined cereals (like maida) contain more calories and so should be restricted since they may lead to weight gain.
Intake of high fat foods like deep-fried items (like french fries), high cholesterol foods (like red-meat) and high sugary foods (like sweets, chocolates) should be avoided since such foods inhibit weight loss.
High fiber foods (like whole grains, green leafy vegetables) should be included in large quantities in order to maintain blood glucose and cholesterol levels under control.
Physical activity must be a part of daily routine and remaining active throughout the day is also very important.

PCOS being a disorder associated mainly with excessive weight gain and hormone fluctuation in women can be managed with a strict diet plan. However, appropriate nutrient rich food intake in required quantities with a proper lifestyle would help in fighting against the severity of PCOS.

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Diabetes And Diet Management

The silent killer, diabetes mellitus or diabetes, in which a person has elevated blood sugar levels, is one among the most prevalent chronic disorders since globally (as of 2012) nearly 346 million people are diabetic. The increase in blood sugar levels may be due to either the inadequacy of insulin production or non-response of body cells to the insulin produced. The classical symptoms of diabetes are polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).

Types of Diabetes Mellitus:

  1. Type 1 diabetes:

In this type of diabetes, the body fails to produce insulin and so the person would be in a position to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This type of diabetes was previously known as ‘Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus’ (IDDM) or ‘juvenile diabetes’.

  1. Type 2 diabetes:

This form of diabetes occurs as a result of, a condition in which the body cells fail to utilize insulin properly (insulin resistance) or there would be insulin deficiency. This type of diabetes was previously known as ‘Non-Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus’ (NIDDM) or ‘adult-onset diabetes’

  1. Gestational diabetes (GDM):

GDM occurs in pregnant women without previous occurrence of diabetes. This type of diabetes usually resolves after delivery.

Other types of diabetes mellitus include congenital diabetes (due genetic defects of insulin secretion), cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid induced diabetes (due to high doses of steroid induced) and several forms of monogenic diabetes.

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Management of diabetes mellitus:

Management of diabetes is focused mainly on keeping blood glucose levels under control or close to normal range without causing either hypo or hyperglycemia. This can be achieved by a combination of appropriate medications, diet and certain lifestyle modifications.


Nutritional management:

Nutritional care and proper dietary practices are often said to be the foundation of diabetes care. According to American Diabetic Association,(ADA, 2012), the following are the recommendations for nutritional management of diabetes.

Carbohydrates:

  • Carbohydrate content of the diet for diabetic people should provide less than 60–70% of energy intake. However, the metabolic profile and need for weight loss also should be considered when determining allowances.

  • Foods containing complex carbohydrate (coarse cereals, millets and whole grains) should be included in a diabetic diet. People with diabetes should be encouraged to choose a variety of fiber-containing foods such as legumes, fiber-rich cereals (>5 g fiber/serving), fruits (like guava, apple etc) and vegetables (like green leafy vegetables, ladies finger etc).

  • Since the glycemic effects of carbohydrates must be taken care of, the total amount of carbohydrate in meals or snacks is more important than the source or type of carbohydrates.

  • Non-nutritive sweeteners can be used within limits as suggested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Individuals who are on intensive insulin therapy should adjust their pre-meal insulin doses based on the carbohydrate content of meals as per the practitioner’s suggestion.

Protein:

  • Protein should constitute around 15-20% of total energy intake of diabetic persons. This can vary depending upon the renal function of the person.

  • High protein foods like legumes, pulses etc should be included in the diet.

Dietary Fat:

  • Less than 10% of energy intake of diabetic person should be derived from saturated fats. For individuals (i.e., persons with LDL cholesterol ≥100 mg/dl) saturated fat intake must be even more lowered to <7% of energy intake.

  • Dietary cholesterol (foods like red meat) intake should be <300 mg/day. For individuals (i.e., persons with LDL cholesterol ≥100 mg/dl) it should be <200 mg/ day.

  • Intake of trans- unsaturated fatty acids (deep-fried foods) should be minimized.

  • Two to three servings of fish (per week) should be recommended for dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fat.

  • Polyunsaturated fat rich foods (like flax seed, walnut etc) intake should be ∼10% of energy intake.

Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals):

  • Routine intake of vitamin or mineral supplements is generally not recommended for people with diabetes except in cases of people with inadequate food consumption or other special needs.

  • Daily vitamin and mineral requirements should be obtained from a nutritionally-balanced diet.

Dietary and life-style modification tips for diabetes management:

  • Small frequent meals must be taken in order to maintain the proper blood glucose levels.

  • Adequate fluid intake is recommended (1.5-2 lit/day) in order to prevent dehydration.

  • Rice or starchy food intake must be restricted to once a day. High sugary foods must be avoided.

  • Whole fruits must be eaten instead of fruit juices.

  • Physical activity must be a part of daily routine and should remain as active as possible.

  • Alcohol intake and smoking must be limited. According to ADA (2012), if individuals choose to drink alcohol, daily intake should be limited to one drink for adult women and two drinks for adult men. One drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits.

Medical nutrition therapy for diabetic people should be individualized, with consideration and preferences given to the individual’s usual food and eating habits, metabolic profile, treatment goals, and desired outcomes. Dietary treatment or practices must be followed under the guidance of a registered dietician (RD). Medication, dietary restrictions and life-style modifications must be strictly followed in order to cope up with the effects of diabetes and to lead a disease-related stress free life.

Food should be fun explains a Dietician

Food is always expected to be healthy hence this topic may sound like an oxymoron. But, food that is capable of giving a feeling of enjoyment and happiness can make one psychologically satiated too.

Although eating healthy remains to be the priority for all of us, there is always a tendency to search for interesting and innovative factors associated with the meal. Preparing same type of food or recipes over and over again makes it monotonous and boring over a period of time. This is where we end up munching unhealthy snacks or tasty junk food items. This phenomenon happens irrespective of age, gender or health condition of the person.

In general, food that is considered to be fun is often associated to be unhealthy or low in nutrition. But there are ways in which recipes or tasty food can be made healthy too. Here are a few tips to fill your food with fun and make it interesting too.

  • Involve your family members in cooking, especially kids
  • Let each recipe of a meal be prepared with interesting new idea inputs from family members
  • Try preparing foods like pizzas, burgers, etc. at home with healthy ingredients.
  • Try healthy cooking methods (like pressure cooking) in order to minimize the nutrient loss from foods
  • Try methods like pan frying, baking, stir frying over deep frying
  • Incorporate cooking practices like placing fried foods on tissue paper (to absorb excess oils), sprouting pulses before cooking (in order to increase the protein content and digestibility of the pulses), cleaning vegetables before chopping (to reduce nutrient loss)
  • Try new nutrient specific recipes like antioxidant rich (spinach gravy, beet and onion salad), iron rich (green collard sandwich, rice flakes), high fiber (veggie salad, whole cereal porridge) and high protein (Sprouts salad, scrambled egg white).
  • Search for new interesting recipes online
  • Make healthy foods more interesting by adding new tasty ingredients like tangy dressing on salads and dry nuts and fruits in porridges
  • Try out new ideas for presentation and serving

Innovativeness is the key to make food interesting and make eating a fun-filled task. A few modifications to regular food can make it healthy and fun-filled. Remember health and nutrition factor shouldn’t be compromised at any cost.

 

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