NUTRITION IN A PILL:WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

 

 

If you were in your pre-teens in the 1990’s and are reading this,your parents may have made the very wise decision to send you to  boarding school and among the many items that were on your back to school shopping list was either a bottle of Scott’s Emulsion or Seven Seas Cod Live oil.

Unlike today where Scott’s Emulsion is available in Strawberry flavor and you can get it in chew-able Pastilles or Gummies then we had to deal with the arduous task of taking a teaspoonful of this fish oil as it was.

That was our first introduction to nutrition in a bottle and then because we did not know better,we took it whenever we felt like it and consequently by the end of the term you would end up with more than 2 unfinished bottles of cod liver oil which when you went home you could not  satisfactorily explain to your mother why you had not been taking .

The contents of the bottle of Cod liver oil were meant to strengthen our immune system as    the boarding school we went to  tucked somewhere in the scenic location of Kyeni   could get really cold especially in the second term , the longest term of the year  when temperatures were very low.

On a clear morning,you might probably see the tip of Mount Kenya the air was crisp and fresh,no other place could boast such fresh air,but wait till  winter set in during the months of May-July,that is when we saw our breath turn into mist when we walked  outside of the dorm for some of the quickest   showers I have had. Later we would cover ourselves in scarves and what we then called leg warmers which were knitted socks but without a heel  and which we put on over our white socks.Second term was the period in school when you made the most visits to the school matron who  also doubled up as the school nurse .For anything she could not treat she sent you to Kyeni Hospital which was tucked into these cul de sac that included a primary school,high school and church complete with a nunnery and a hospital. That’s is when you got to spend a few hours out of school ,sitted on a hospital bench waiting your turn to see a doctor.

The purpose of the cod liver oil was meant to keep these visits to the hospitals to a minimum but  we adhered to our own rules and with no one to  ensure we took the fish oil  daily,well we ended up at the sanatorium more often than our mothers would have liked.

There are various stages in our lives where our dietary intake of the required nutrients,especially vitamins and minerals may not be adequate or maybe needed in extra amounts .Ideally we should get all our nutrients from our diets but changing dietary patterns  or conditions necessitate intake of supplements.

Thanks to scientists who found a way  to package some of the 13 essential vitamins we need as humans   in a pill format a  in  the 1930’s and 40’s and nowadays there are a  wide range of nutrition supplements you can buy over the counter.

However,before  you go buy that bottle or box of supplements,a key question to ask yourself would be ,do I really need it?

And how do you determine if you really need that supplement.

If you are eating healthy and at every meal y are able to eat your recommended amounts of energy giving food(carbohydrates),protein,vegetables and fruits  then supplements will not be the first thing you reach out for every morning.A balanced diet should be able to cater for all your nutritional needs.

It becomes an issue when your diet consists of mostly highly processed foods that are high in fat  which puts you at  risk of suffering from a deficiency of  vitamins and minerals.Our bodies need 13 vitamins to thrive,Vitamins A,C,D,E,K and 8 from the B group of vitamins.The Global Micro nutrient deficiency crisis has only become of major concern in areas where there is over nutrition and people especially in urban areas have increased their intake of calories,animal protein and are taking too little of the plant proteins, fresh fruits ,vegetables and in areas where we have humanitarian crisis and there is under nutrition.

In vulnerable groups such as in young children,pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly ,doctors may recommend taking of supplements to safe guard against potential risk of running into deficincies.Mircronutirents are especially important in the stages in life like childhood and pregnancy because these are periods where  a lot of  physical changes are taking place and micro nutrients play a very vital role in these bodily changes .(You may want to refer to the previous post to learn about the very important role of micronutirents).They are  key ingredients of  growth and a deficiency may result in a lasting physical impairment.

In the elderly their intake of nutritional supplements may be necessary as they may not be able to absorb it very well from what they eat daily. Due to a decreased appetite  we tend to   consume less as we grow older which affects the consumption of certain foods that provide  essential nutrients. Of special importance is the intake of calcium in the elderly which is highly affected as we get older and research has shown that we consume less calcium as we age.Calcium is essential for healthy bones and no wonder there is an increase in bone related injuries as we age as bones due to a decreased intake of both Calcium and Vitamin D which are essential for healthy bones results in weak and brittle bones .

For post menopausal  women  the risk of injuries is higher as the levels of estrogen in the body decrease,among the many functions of oestrogen is that it protects our bones and ensures they are strong and healthy .The drop in oestrogen levels after menopause leaves women prone to  bone loss and increases the risk of osteoporosis which is a condition where the bones become thinner and may easily fracture.

For women a  diet of 3-4 servings of dairy is recommended as well as physical exercise but more on that in the next article.

If you are eating well already,you might not need to use nutrition supplements as a nutirient rich diet should be able to cater for all the nutrients your body needs .However if your diet is poor and you are prone to infections   seek your  doctors advice before you get on the path of  taking  nutrition supplements.

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL CRISIS:THE MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY

As African countries transition from low income economies into middle income ones there has been a rise in the number  of health challenges these economies are facing. Increasingly we are seeing a rising number of individuals with non communicable lifestyle conditions like heart attacks,cancer,diabetes and other respiratory diseases like asthma on the rise.

Individuals living in urban and peri urban areas are at risk as we have seen the mushrooming of convenience fast food stores that are selling energy dense foods high in trans fats,sugar ,salt and low density lipoproteins which contribute to high cholesterol levels .

These change in eating habits is not just an African problem but it is a global epidemic and health analysts are warning of an epidemic if we do not change our eating habits.The rise in the consumption of energy rich,protein dense foods in lieu of nutrient rich foods has affected about 2 Billion people globally who are affected by micronutrient deficiency.

WHO defines micronutrients as the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes,hormones and other substances that are essential for proper growth and development.

While emphasis has been placed on overnutrition and issues like obesity and the dangers of being  overweight have been discussed extensively ,deficiencies in micronutrients have not because very few people understand them.This lack of information on the health risks associated with micronutrients has fuelled a narrative where we have focused more on maintaining healthy weight while losing focus on emphasising the need for a more informed approach to the health challenges we are facing.

The lack of micronutrients especially among growing children,pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly has been associated with risks such as lack of resistance to infectious diseases,blindness,lethargy,reduced learning abilities,death during childbirth,and impaired physical and mental development in children.

The WHO classifies Vitamin A ,,Iodine and iron as the most important in term sof global public health  and their deficiencies can cripple the affected populations.

Let us try to go through what the lack of these micronutrients results in and in our next article we will tackle how to ensure elimination of these deficiencies.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a starring role in vision,bone growth,reproduction,cell division and differentiation and in growing children and pregnant women these processes are essential for proper growth and development in children and healthy pregnancy outcomes in childbearing women.

Vitamin A also plays a very important role in the promotion of a healthy mucous lining of the respiratory,urinary and intestinal tracts which make it hard for bacteria to enter the body and cause infections.

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and due to a weakened immune system as the body is more prone to infection individuals are more at risk of disease and even death from severe infections.

 

Iodine

Iodine is needed by the human body for the production of the thyroid hormone ,the body needs the hormone to aid it in metabolism.

Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers has been associated with miscarriages,preterm deliveries and congenital abnormalities in babies.

In children iodine deficiencies is associated with cretinism which is exhibited by children having stunted physical and mental growth .

The most common symptom of iodine deficiency in the body is a swelling at the front of the neck which we know as goitre that results from the overexertion of the thyroid gland.

 

Iron

Your whole body contains about 4 g of iron .Iron is an important micronutrient and its role is in the body processes that involve energy release .Iron is a component of the oxygen carrying blood compounds like haemoglobin which is found in the red blood cells and myoglobin which is found in muscle tissue.

In a World Health Organization report titled The Global Prevalence of Anaemia 2011,it was found lack of dietary iron which results in anemia was prevalent across all sectors of the global economy from low to middle to high income countries.

 

“Anemia, defined as a low blood hemoglobin concentration, has been shown to be a public health problem that affects low-, middle- and high-income countries and has significant and adverse health consequences”

Iron deficiency  had adverse effects on the development of cognitive and motor functions and the result is  fatigue,low productivity,in pregnancy it was seen in children born with a low birth weight and was also associated with maternal and perinatal deaths.

 

Zinc

Zinc is involved in over 100 metabolic enzymes and specifically those that are needed for metabolism,cellular division and DNA and RNA synthesis and structure.

Zinc deficiencies are exhibited in a lack of appetite,retarded growth in children,poor bone growth,problems with  male and female reproduction,poor skin,hair ,nails and a poor sense of smell and taste.

 

Micronutrient deficiency has become such a global public health issue that the World Health Organization has endorsed a policy plan which sees to address this issue by 2025.The plan focuses on maternal,infant and young children and it aims to :

 

1.achieve a 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted;

2.achieve a 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age;

3.achieve a 30% reduction in low birth weight;

4.ensure that there is no increase in childhood overweight;

5.increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%;

6.reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.

Individuals raising children or those that want to take active charge of  their health as well as those of their families,staff members need not wait for governments to implement policies that will tackle these micronutrient deficiecnes.By seeking information healthy lifestyle choices and making more well informed food choices  s we can help reduce the risks associated with micronutrient deficiencies.

By tackling micronutrient deficiencies we also help reduce the crippling cost of public health as well as private health insurance costs that have been on the rise annually.

In our next post we will tackle how you can do this through making better and well informed lifestyle choices.

WHY I STARTED DOING YOGA

 

Have you ever lived in denial like I have been doing for the last couple of months?

We all do .At least I know there might be at least one person reading this that will identify with living in denial about some aspect of their life.

For me it is the fact that I need to be taking better care of myself.

Am a fastidious eater and I exercise,though not much  .When I started having stiffness in my joints especially when the cold season started I knew it was time to get out a yoga mat and engage in some exercise that would do my joints some good.

Yoga would also give me some me time,Nairobi is such a fast paced city and one can easily forget to take time out for themselves,which might explain why we are seeing a rise in the number of people having to deal with stress related conditions getting younger by the day.

I have tried yoga before  and I like the fact that it is a low impact work out program that will be easy on my joints because I cannot run !

Yoga  is a great option for me because as I said I cannot run and I did not want a work out program that would hurt my joints .

In the short time I have done the yoga workouts which take me about one and a quarter hour every morning,I have righted my posture,learned to listen to the cues my body is sending me and not push it too much.My knee joints feel much better already and I thought to myself why not organize a fun work out for a Saturday morning then follow it with lunch at a swanky upmarket in Nairobi ?

In the hope that some one else out there might be interested,I have space for just 20 people who would like to enjoy a low impact fun work out with some amazing people.

If you feel some time out for yourself on a Saturday morning feels like fun,then by all means sign up for the event.

Use this Yoga Brunch Sign Up Link.

The details of the cost,venue and date will be communicated.

We hope to have our first class on the 26th of this month at a great outdoor venue.

Sign up and invite a friend.

TURN UP THE HEAT ON YOUR METABOLISM

Metabolism

“What do you do when you metabolism is slow and you want to increase it ?”

One of the surest way to increase your metabolism is through exercise.

Burn more calories by burning  (pun intended) the soles off your gym shoes is a sure fire way to lose weight.

A slow metabolism may be due to lack of physical activity,genes or hyperthyroidism  which is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone and your metabolism slows down.

The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck and produces the thyroid hormone which helps regulate your metabolism which is the way your body uses energy.

Th thyroid gland uses iodine from your diet to produce its two main hormones that are important for some very important bodily functions like;

  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Breathing
  • Body temperature
  • Body weight
  • Menstrual cycle …

The two hormones produced by the thyroid are T3 (Triiodothyronineand) T4 (Thyroxine).

The levels of these two hormones in your body should neither be too high nor too low as they regulate how fast or slow your metabolism is.

These two hormones also work together with insulin which is the hormone that tells the body cells to take up the glucose to be used as energy fuel.

See how a slow metabolism affects your weight ?

If you have no underlying medical conditions, becoming more physically active is a great way to boost your metabolism and now thanks to science there are foods that together with regular physical exercise can help increase your metabolism.

Increasing your metabolism means that you burn more calories as you turn your food into energy that keeps your heart beating, your breathing constant ,your body temperature just right   as well as making sure your body functions as it should.All these things are using up energy which comes from the food you eat.

Thanks to one of the blog’s readers Susan,  who asked about how she could increase her metabolism.I thought about all the other readers who without any underlying medical reason may be having the same question and are wondering how to speed up their metabolism.then I should mention and here.

Exercise should be the first point of callas a means to increasing your metabolism but mother nature does provide means and ways with which we can help her along .

It is worth repeating that while our metabolism is affected by our genes and gender , exercising and eating right will go some way in helping us burn some extra more and who would not want that.

1.Do eat Breakfast

Sounds like a no brainer but you will be surprised by the number of people who do not take breakfast because they do not think it is important or even necessary.

By not eating breakfast you set your body into starvation mode and your metabolism slows and starts crawling at a snails pace to conserve energy.

(Yes,your body is that intelligent)

For breakfast try having foods that are slower to digest and leave you feeling fuller for longer so that you are not craving sugary things.

Try whole wheat bread with a vegetable omelette and a cup of tea or coffee with a fruit as a mid morning snack.

2.Do eat iron rich foods

Every month women  lose some amount of blood through their periods and blood contains the red blood cells that are  responsible for carrying oxygen into your body cells.

Remember the class 6 science lessons on the components of blood?

The red blood cells in your body contain Hemoglobin which  carry 70% of the iron in your body and hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs to your tissues.n.

If the levels of iron in your body are low,your muscles do not have enough oxygen,you start feeling lethargic and your  body activity slows down.

What to do ?

Eat foods that will  boost the level of iron in your body and aid in its functions.

Great sources of iron are of course  dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli , spinach,kales,peas and beans as well as lean cuts of meat and poultry.

3.Do take dairy

Dairy products like milk and yoghurt are great sources of calcium ,an adult needs about 1000mgs of calcium daily,pregnant and lactating women as well as those over 50 will need more .You can meet your daily requirement of calcium with your breakfast,having a serving of yoghurt and with your tea or coffee.

A glass of milk is equal to 300 mgs of calcium.

Calcium helps metabolize your fat more efficiently and if you are wary of dairy because of the fat it contains there are now brands of milk with a skim version that will give you the calcium without the fat.

4.Do cut back on alcohol

If you drink at least two glasses of wine in a sitting or 2 beers you slow down the process of fat burning by your body as much as 70 %.Instead of having the liver ,the organ in your body at the center of metabolism  turning  the food you take into nutrients that the body can use it instead turns to the  acetate in alcohol as a fuel source.

5.Do take more protein

When paired with exercise  intake of  protein as part of your daily meals will help increase your muscles and muscles burn more calories than fat.

Having protein in your meals will help curb hunger as well as help you maintain a healthy weight and your body does burn more calories by digesting it.

Great sources of protein are beans,eggs,milk,chicken,fish and peanut butter.

6.Do sleep for at least 8 hours

Sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism and makes your body more sluggish which means you are less likely to engage in any physical activity.A sluggish body equals a slowed metabolism.

Make sure you get at least 7- hours sleep daily and you will wake up hale and hearty ready to tackle the challenges of the day .You will see and find that you are more active after a good nights sleep than otherwise.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to the hunger hormone ghrelin which stimulates appetite,an increased food intake and fat storage.

 

Was  this helpful ? we would love to hear back from you.

We love feedback.

See you in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKING YOUR DAY AT THE SPA COUNT

skin care

“One of the secrets to a happy life is giving yourself continuous small treats.”

The other day my  girlfriends  took me out for a treat,a day at some swanky spa at an address in Upperhill. To be honest I have never gone to a spa ,never thought it was necessary but hey there is always a first time for everything and I and my body loved every minute of it.

Getting myself a heady and aromatic coffee scrub , followed by a dead sea wrap that took me back ,way back to what babies must feel like when they are tucked into their mothers wombs had my skin pores absorbing the moisturizing cream and oil that was  used thereafter.A  massage followed  and my skin and body loved every minute of it as my tense muscles responded to the massage therapist  gentle coaxing by relaxing under her touch.

As we sat at the terrace of the restaurant enjoying a view of the garden I thought of the millions   of women who all want glowing skin .How could I be able to talk to them about incorporating nutrition as part of maintaining the glow that followed spa treatments.How would I make it easier for them as well as for myself to maintain the  smooth glowing skin that followed a spa treatment as part of living a healthier lifestyle?

What you eat ,you wear in public and your skin being the largest organ is the first point of call when you want to gauge how healthy your lifestyle is.Making some small changes in your diet can improve the look and feel of your skin and it starts with  what you put on your plate.

1.Eating  5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily

Ensure your fruits and vegetables  come in a variety of colors,make you plate a rainbow of colors .Fruits and vegetables are essential as part of a daily skin care regimen because they help protect your skin from  damage that is caused by free radicals .The vitamins present in abundance  in  fruits and vegetables help boost your immune system making it easy for your skin to heal from blemishes and support growth of collagen which provides your skin with the elasticity needed to prevent formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

2.Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamins and especially Vitamin E that is good for your skin and helps support healthy skin growth as well as gives protection from the damage caused as we age.An intake of nuts and seed,you just a need a handful daily will help provide much needed nourishment to your skin.

3.Stop with the  crash diets

Crash diets play havoc on your skin,constantly losing then regaining your weight  will show on your skin with the presence of wrinkled and sagging skin.That is why it is really important to maintain a healthy weight by making healthy eating a lifestyle decision that is not reliant on a diet that you cannot sustain in the long term.

4.Cut out the junk food

We know that junk is bad for your body ,and it is bad on your skin as well.A diet high in carbohydrates and sugar may result in breakouts on your skin .Make sure your plate is filled with the right kinds of foods at every meal.

5.Drink water.

Your skin needs water to stay supple ,drinking your 6-8 glasses of water will help flush out the toxins from your body and aids in nourishing your skin cells and improving circulation .This  will help prevent premature aging and wrinkles.

In addition avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and taking moderate amounts of tea and coffee which all dehydrate your body will help your skin maintain its glow.

If you really do have to take alcohol and love your morning cup of coffee, then make sure you take a glass of water with each serving of alcohol or cup of coffee that you take.

6.Exercise

Surprised exercise is on the list?It had to be.

Exercise is great for your whole body and our skin which covers that body  will benefit greatly when you take up a regular exercise schedule.When your exercise you improve the circulation of blood in your body and your blood carries oxygen,nutrients to the cells in your body.By exercising you are increasing blood flow through out  your body and helping your liver flush out the toxins from your system which can mean nothing but good news to your body and your skin as well.

7.Wearing sunscreen

We live in the tropics and for those that enjoy a day out in the sun  wearing sunscreen  to protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun is necessary.Yes ,even for us who live in the tropics and think our darker skins can withstand the heat, we do need sun screen.

Making a few changes in your life  can greatly  improve the condition of your skin which when done together with your  spa treatments  can work towards giving you a better and healthier  looking skin for longer.

SKIN CARE:FOODS TO TAKE IN MODERATION

In case of any skin conditions that require treatment be sure to see a qualified dermatologist or medical provider  for treatment.

Does this help?Please let us know in the comments section,see you there.

 

A NUTRITION DISRUPTION

nutritionist poster

Eating healthy is a form of self love,only you can give it to yourself.

When you make up your mind to start eating healthy,the most difficult hurdle you will have to get over everyday is the hurdle of staying motivated to eat healthy.

Eating healthy is a lifestyle decision that will not be solved by going on a diet.It has to be a conscious decision every day to be mindful about what ends up on your plate.

When I started writing and talking about nutrition I was excited to share my knowledge and experience in the kitchen with my readers and I had a lot of fun.But the very same reason I started writing ,started to wane off because somehow I got demotivated.

Suddenly everywhere I looked,everyone was dishing out nutrition advice based on nothing but what was trending in social media groups.Everyone was selling slimming teas,juicing,keeping off carbohydrates,eating only proteins and making a mess of the beautiful science of why and  how food is used by our bodies.

Everyone was lapping up the myths as gospel truths and my interest in writing started to wane off.My only involvement in nutrition came when I took part in the medical camps organized by our church and I would give nutritional advice and counsel to the people i Met during those medical camps

It was  interesting to see people quickly becoming health experts of sorts from reading just a few articles and without any formal training on what nutrition is, how various conditions would influence how food was absorbed in the body,they would start giving out nutritional advice.

More interesting was to find myself dishing out nutrition advice even without thinking about it and bursting a few myths that were being bandied around as means to weight loss and health .So why did I stop writing again…..

And so I found myself back where I started writing about nutrition because the information  being being bandied about was that staying healthy was a 15 or 21 day affair of eating certain kinds of foods and avoiding others.

But is it …..really?

Staying healthy is a lifestyle choice,a reason most diets do not work is that they promise you  quick results that do not last because somehow you fall off the diet wagon.And so you will find yourself trying every diet that promises to give you quick results when instead you should be using your energy to make healthier lifestyle choices.

And that is the reason I am back to nutrition ,I  got tired of looking at food as if it was an enemy to be fought  instead of something to be enjoyed.

It was time to  burst some myths that I had come across on what living  and eating healthy was all about.You may want to read Why you are not losing weight and why you may not be gluten intolerant.

Here is what I would like to do for you ,as a nutritionist I would like to disrupt the way you see and think about healthy eating.How can you make food your partner in living a healthier life and not see it as something you should be afraid of?

There are many places,people ,pills and teas that promise you quick results but do they really work at keeping you there..at making healthy eating a lifestyle choice?

I have spent years reading about what eating healthy is all about and how we can use food to manage as well as maybe avoid certain conditions.Those same years have been spent seeing how blessed we are as a country because we have such a wide variety of foods and fresh foods to choose from.

Is there a way I can help you live healthier,make wiser food choices,maybe a   topic you would really like me to talk about or maybe write about that you think you need clarity on?

Write it in the comments section and let us see how we can start you on eating more healthy as well as keep you there.

THE 6 THINGS YOU NEED IN YOUR THIRTIES

Socrates got it right!
Socrates got it right!

Once you turn 30 your metabolism rate reduces by 1-2% with each decade after that.

Your body will produce more fat and less muscle.

It is important to know what you should eat more of and what to avoid.

Your choice will also be determined a lot by your activity level.

In my thirties now i am raising 3 very active children and juggling a lot of other things.

This is a very busy decade for most women in this age group.

And the 5 things you will need more of are:

1.Whole grain cereals

Brown rice,whole wheat flour,whole wheat pasta  and any other whole grain cereal are essential .

Whole grain cereals have a lower GI(glycemic index).

They help you feel fuller for longer.

Whole grain cereals also contain vital nutrients for energy,fertility and your immunity.

2.Nuts and Seeds

Any unsalted nuts like peanuts,cashew nuts,macadamia nuts,hazel nuts are loaded with vitamins E and B.

Nuts contain unsaturated fats or good fats that help with lowering bad cholesterol.

Omega 3  is especially good  for both your heart and brain.

A handful a day is good enough.

3.Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the real deal.

They are better than popping pills.

Intake of fruits and vegetables will prevent many illnesses including cardiovascular diseases,stroke and type 2 diabetes.

They will also help you maintain your weight as they are low in calories but packed with vitamins and minerals and fiber that helps you feel fuller for longer.

4.Probiotics

Pro biotic combines two Greek words,pro meaning multiply and biotic meaning life.

The live and friendly bacteria  present in fermented foods is good for your skin,digestive tract and vagina.

Probiotics help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome by alleviating abdominal pain.

For people who suffer from urinary tract infections,when combined with antibiotics,foods containing probiotics will help keep bad bacteria away from your urinary tract.

5.Water

Intake of water as you get older are great for your skin and overall good health.

Keep it up in the next decades of your life.

6.Sunscreen

A lot has been said about sunscreen and as you get older,it needs to be emphasized that sunscreen and a good moisturizer are your skins best friend.

Maridadi Living!

xoxo,

Ina