Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Healthy Snacking During Pregnancy

Pregnancy imposes increased nutritional requirements for both maternal and child wellbeing. While period is your (amazing) excuse to eat extra calories (400-500 more per day by the second and third trimesters) it’s more crucial than ever to use those extra calories to fill your body with key nutrients that support the baby’s development — particularly protein, folate, calcium, vitamin D, DHA (omega-3 fatty acid), iodine and iron. Snacking smart is a sure way of achieving the balance for these nutrient needs either with every meal or over a week period. Snacking healthily often means changing the amounts of different foods you eat, so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites.

Here are some snack foods that will help you get the nutrients you need while avoiding less-healthy cravings:

Craving something cold and rich, try a yogurt smoothie. Yogurt is a good source of calcium, which is necessary for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth, as well as heart, nerve and muscle function. If you don’t consume enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones. Yogurt also provides protein — the building block of tissues — as well as probiotics (good bacteria that help you digest food). Just be sure to watch out for additives in the yogurt you choose. Many flavored varieties are loaded with sugar. Also, if you like the tartness, opt for Greek yogurt because it contains more protein.

  • Need to boost fiber intake? Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Along with drinking enough fluid, getting good sources of fiber from fruits and vegetables is a sure way of keeping constipation at bay. They are loaded with substances (antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals) that protect the health of cells and support immune system, which is slightly lowered during pregnancy.
  • Want something savory? Eggs are a good choice to go to when the feeling of something savory and filling comes. This is because, the yolks are excellent source of choline, a nutrient that’s vital for your baby’s brain development. Ensure the eggs are well cooked to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Want something crunchy? Go for nuts.

Nuts are excellent snacks during pregnancy.  They are nutrient-dense food that provides healthy fat, minerals protein and fiber. They are also leaded with Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids which are important for foetal brain development.

Foods to limit

  • High Fats foods: Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods, or eating them too often, can make you put on weight. Eating too much saturated fat can also increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases one’s chances of developing pregnancy complications |(gestational diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia and preterm delivery). Foods that are high in fat include: all spreading fats (such as butter salad dressings), oils, pastries, cake, cream, chocolate. Try to cut down on saturated fat, and have small amounts of foods rich in unsaturated fat instead, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Foods high in sodium: A staggering 75-80% of our sodium intake is hidden in processed food, ready meals, takeaways and restaurant foods. High sodium intake can have a negative impact on blood pressure. It affects the kidneys, causing the body to retain fluid. Extra fluids result in greater blood volume, which can cause pre-eclampsia. To cut down on sodium intake, check sodium levels on pre-packaged food and aim for less than 600mg per 100g.

  • Foods high sugar: Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to gestational diabetes.

If you're having foods and drinks that are high in sugar and fat, have these less often and in small amounts.




Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Overfed yet Starving


Hunger once seemed like a simple problem which often mean not getting enough calories. Surprising, hunger co-exist with overfeeding within the same individual, household and community.  And the tricky part? Hunger can't be "fixed" by just feeding on empty calories. You've got to nourish with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, so you don't become obese.

 Overfeeding can correlate with being deficient in a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C and D, B12, folate, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, etc. Low intakes of these nutrients can lead to development of chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, iron-deficiency anemia, stunted growth and even scurvy (lack of vitamin C) and rickets (lack of vitamin D and calcium)

Overweight and obesity are currently among the epidemic of public health importance. There effects come across all age groups irrespective of socio-economic conditions of the family. Overweight or obese children if not we'll controlled, grow to become obese adults and the viscous cycle of obesity continues. Overweight or obesity occurs when one frequently feeds on energy-dense rather than nutrients-dense foods leading to increase in weight (attributed to overfeeding) while becoming deficient in some of the micronutrients. According to the World Health Organization estimates that within the next few years noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) will become the most important global cause of morbidity and mortality.

Causes of overfeeding

  • Energy Dense, Nutrient Poor foods: Energy-dense foods are typically high in fat (e.g. butter, oils, fried foods) and includes high levels of refined, processed and sugary foods while low in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The former are typically high in calories (or, empty calories as many call them) and not much else, thus often referred to as ‘energy dense (high in calories) and nutrient poor (low in nutritive value) diet.
  • High consumption of ultra-processed foods: ultra-processed foods are energy-dense and nutrients poor. These foods are usually classified under the ‘‘eat least’’ category in dietary guidelines. They are very high in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, processed proteins and less dietary fibers and micronutrients. The heavy marketing of these foods and beverages together with the sedentary lifestyle are the major causes of obesity. It may surprise you to know that the body is somehow . . . starving after the consumption of these foods. Foods in this category include; carbonated beverages, noodles, and most quick to prepare food items.
  • A high intake of sugars-sweetened beverages: The increasing and high consumption of sugars-sweetened drinks by children and adults is serious health concern. According to the World Health Organization, each additional can or glass of sugars-sweetened drink consumed each day increases the risk of becoming obese by 60%. Most of which relates to soda drinks but fruit drinks which are equally energy-dense and may promote weight gain if taken in large quantities.

General strategies to prevent overfeeding

For infants and young children

  • The promotion of exclusive breastfeeding;
  • Avoiding the use of added sugars when feeding formula
  • Accept your infant’s ability to regulate energy intake rather than feeding until the plate is empty;
  • Feed from diverse family foods, assuring the appropriate micronutrient intake needed to promote optimal linear growth.

For children and adolescents, prevention of obesity implies the need to:

  • Promote an active lifestyle;
  • Limit consumption of fries and carbonated/sweetened beverages
  • limit television viewing;
  • Promote the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fortified cereals;
  • Limit the intake of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods (e.g. packaged snacks);
  • Diversify your diet by various arrays of fiber-rich tubers, nuts and seeds, fish, animals and wild fruits

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Vitamin B12


Vitamin B12, like most nutrients is something that many of us eat daily but don't fully understand. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is known as cobalamin. It plays a vital role in cell metabolism. Some of them include maintaining healthy nerve cells (keeping the normal nervous system) and red blood cell production. It's also good for skin, hair, and nails. Its deficiency is a severe problem as it can alter memory, mood, and heart health and can lead to certain forms of skin diseases. Without adequate amounts of this vitamin, the body’s ability to perform its job deteriorates as one won’t have enough physical, emotional and mental energy to survive through the day.

Benefits of Vitamin B12

May Prevent Birth Defects: vitamin B12 is one of the important micronutrients during pregnancy. A deficiency can also lead to folate deficiency, and this adversely affects pregnancy. A deficiency can cause spontaneous abortion and risk of neural tube defects( in the new born). It may also lead to preterm delivery. The deficiency in the mother may also cause the same in the newborn if sufficient vitamin B12 is not available in breast milk.

Helps in Red Blood Cells Formation: Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells. Low levels of B12 can result in fewer red blood cells forming and also prevent cells from developing fully.  When the blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells, one can become anemic. Signs of anemia can include dizziness, weakness, headaches, and shortness of breath.

Help Maintain Bone Health: Vitamin B12 is linked to bone formation and low levels of this vitamin is associated to lower mineral density.

Boost Brain Health: vitamin B12 has a beneficial effect on mood. It is believed the vitamin produces brain chemicals responsible for a better mood, helps treat stress and certain anxiety disorders.

Support Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails: As vitamin B12 plays an essential role in cell production, it’s crucial for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Low levels can result in a ton of dermatologic symptoms like hyperpigmentation, hair changes, nail discoloration, a loss of skin color in patches, and cracked mouth corners

Deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B-12 deficiency occurs when the body does not receive enough vitamin B-12. Even slightly lower than normal levels of vitamin B-12 may trigger deficiency symptoms, such as depression, confusion, memory problems, and fatigue.  It can result in potentially and irreversible severe damage, especially to the nervous system and brain.

Other deficiency symptoms include constipation, loss of appetite, and weight. Infants who lack vitamin B-12 may demonstrate unusual movements, such as face tremors, as well as reflex problems, feeding difficulties, irritation, and eventual growth problems if the deficiency is left untreated. In adults, once symptoms escalate, they can include neurological changes, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Some people may have difficulty maintaining balance.

Insufficient vitamin B-12 can also lead to anemia. The most common symptoms of anemia are fatigue, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat. People with anemia might also experience: pale or yellowing skin, menstrual problems, diarrhea etc.

Taking adequate vitamin B12 can help you avoid these symptoms.

The Food Sources Of Vitamin

Milk and milk products, fish (sardine, salmon, tuna), beef, chicken liver, egg, Shellfish (Clams or Lobster), fortified Cereals.

Including these foods in your diet can help you meet your regular vitamin B12 requirements.




Saturday, 6 November 2021



Pregnancy is one of the most critical periods in women’s life as they are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies because of the increased metabolic demands imposed by pregnancy, involving a growing placenta, fetus, and maternal tissues, coupled with associated dietary risks. Adequate nutrition is exceptionally important during this period to meet up with the diverse nutritional needs imposed by the physiological condition. The optimal development of the infant depends on the mother’s diet as any deficiency during this period cannot be averted.

Deficiencies do not occur overnight, but if the body is repeatedly deprived of a specific nutrient, or combination of nutrients, it soon becomes prone to illness and decreased physical and cognitive performance. During pregnancy, the elevated demand for micronutrients put pregnant women at even higher risk of micronutrients deficiency. For instance, the requirement for some  micronutrients  such  as  calcium, copper,  iron  and  zinc  are  known  to increase  during  pregnancy  due  to  greater needs  of  the  mother  to  increase  her  body tissue  reserves,  and  to  meet  the  high metabolic  demands  and  development  of the  placenta and  fetus.  Micronutrients  play  an  important role  during  pregnancy  and  reduction  may cause  physical  abnormalities  and  diseases which  increase  the  risk  of  adverse pregnancy  outcomes.

Causes of micronutrients deficiency

Deficiencies in maternal micro nutrient status may  be  a  product  of  poor quality  diets,  high  fertility  rates,  repeated pregnancies, short intervals inter pregnancy and  increased  physiological needs.  All of these factors may  be aggravated  by  inadequate  healthcare systems  with  poor  capacity,  poverty  and inequities,  and  socio-cultural  factors  such as  early  marriage,  adolescent  pregnancies and  traditional  dietary  practices.

Some micronutrient and their importance

Vitamin A is important for lung development and maturation in the foetus and newborn. Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid liver and liver products. Therefore, beta-carotene remains an essential source of vitamin A in this condition.

Vitamin B9 (folate) requirements increase to maintain blood plasma and red cell folate levels. Women are recommended to start folic acid supplementation during periconceptional period to reduce the risk of congenital abnormalities such as neural tube defect (NTD) and congenital heart defects (CHD). Folate deficiency also link to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, fetal growth retardation, and miscarriage, via accumulation of homocysteine.

Vitamin C is needed in extra during pregnancy (as the foetus concentrates the nutrient at the expense of the mother’s stores and circulating vitamin levels) and breast-feeding.

Vitamin D- is a fat-soluble vitamin whose source is either dietary intake or manufacture in the skin with the aid of ultraviolet (UV). during pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency could induce preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm birth. Intake is needed to reduce the risk of low calcium levels and bone diseases in the mother, and to improve the vitamin D status of the fetus throughout the developmental period.

Iron and iodine: Iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells and to reduce the risk of low birth weight while iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormone affecting growth and development and prevention of cretinism. To compensate the increased requirement adequate food intake or supplementation during pregnancy is recommended.

zinc is needed for cell growth and for the production and functioning of DNA – the body's genetic blueprint. Deficiency increases foetal death due to spontaneous abortions or multiple congenital anomalies, intrauterine growth retardation, reduced birth weight, prolonged labour and preterm or post-term deliveries.


Low Calcium intake could cause rapid increase in bone resorption in the maternal body resulting in the increase of future fracture and osteoporosis risks. Low intake also increases the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm birth and may induce impaired fetal bone development.


Sunday, 31 October 2021

Anemia in Adolescence


 Anemia is one of the common health problems across the globe, affecting all age groups particularly the pregnant women and young children of which about 50% is  attributed to iron deficiency. In adolescence, anemia have been neglected. It affects the mental and physical development, as well as health maintenance and work performance. It mostly prevalent among adolescent girls because of the additional loss of blood during menstruation and other gender contributing factors. Anemic adolescent girls are more likely to become anemic mothers. During pregnancy, they have an elevated risk of postpartum hemorrhage and giving birth to low-birthweight, premature or stillborn babies who are likely to grow stunted, perpetuating the vicious cycle of malnutrition.

Causes of anemia

Anemia is an indicator of  both poor nutrition and poor health. Iron deficiency in its most severe form results in anemia – IDA.  Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which anemia occurs due to lack of available iron to support normal red cell production. This may be due to inadequate iron intake, poor iron absorption, increased iron need or chronic blood loss.  Other nutritional deficiencies besides iron, such as vitamin B12, folate and vitamin A can also cause anemia although the magnitude of their contribution is unclear. Infections (such as malaria and intestinal parasitic infection [IPI]), and chronic illness can also result to anemia.

The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia in adolescents may include:

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Slow cognitive and social development
  • Inflammation of the tongue
  • Difficulty maintaining body temperature
  • Increased likelihood of infections
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or pure starch


  • Anemia in adolescence can be prevented through adequate nutrition. Including animal-based protein products provides the body with the heme type of iron. Heme iron is better absorbed by the body.
  • Other source of iron are the non-heme iron gotten from plant based foods e.g. green-leafy vegetables. fortified grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables.

How to improve iron absorption from food

How food is prepare and which foods eaten together, can affect how much iron the body absorbs. For example, including foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, to non-heme iron sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables can help absorb more iron if one eats them at the same time as iron-rich foods.

Coffee, tea and red wine (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), on the other hand, can reduce iron absorption. Calcium-rich foods, calcium supplements and some soybean-based foods can also inhibit iron absorption.

It’s better to have coffee, tea, red wine and dairy foods in between meals.


Thursday, 21 October 2021

Nutrition in the First 1000 days of Life

Every child has a right to optimal cognitive, emotional and social behavioral development. These parts of the brain continue to develop across lifespan. A great deal of brain’s ultimate structure and capacity is shaped between 0-2 years of life.

 The first 1000 days of life, which includes gestation and the first two years of life, are a vulnerable period in human development when poor nutrition can have short- and long-lasting consequences on human health and function. This a window of opportunity because it is when improvements in nutrition can have the greatest impact in individual’s growth and development. Maternal prenatal nutrition and the child's nutrition in the first 2 years of life (1000 days) are crucial factors in a child’s neurodevelopment and lifelong mental health. Child and adult health risks, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, may be programmed by nutritional status during this period. Calories are essential for growth of both fetus and child but are not sufficient for normal brain development. key nutrients that support neurodevelopment include protein; zinc; iron; choline; folate; iodine; vitamins A, D, B6, and B12; and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Failure to provide key nutrients during this critical period of brain development may result in lifelong deficits in brain function despite subsequent nutrient repletion.

The best way to meet the nutritional needs of this crucial stage is to:

  • diversify your diet 
  • take your pre-pregnancy supplements judiciously
  • cut down on the use of junks 
  • minimize/reduce or avoid pica eating
  • exclusively breastfeeding your infant in the first 4-6 months of life
  • introduce adequate complementary feeding after the first 6 months while introducing one food item at a time

These  provide the ideal nutrients for optimum growth and development and protection against illness. Not meeting the nutrients is difficult to reverse any deficiency effect after this stage and it has both financial and social implications.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021


Medications both the prescription and over-the counter can interfere the way body uses nutrients in food. They interact with nutrients in several ways such that, it can increase or decrease appetite, or change the way a nutrient is absorbed, metabolized or even excreted.

Dietary nutrients can also affect medications by altering their absorption or metabolism. The kind of food eaten can make a medication work faster, slower or even prevent it from working. This may result to different responses leading to loss of therapeutic efficacy or disease control, compromised nutritional status, drug toxicity or even a life-threatening condition.

Types of interactions

· Drug-nutrient (effect on nutritional status)

·        Food-drug interactions (effect of efficacy of drugs)

Some drugs and their nutrients interactions

1.     Contraceptives and folate: oral contraceptives interfere with and impairs the body’s metabolism of folic acid. Inadequate folate status is linked to impaired gene synthesis and insufficient production of Red Blood Cells which in severe cases can lead to fetal Neural Tube Defect. Women who are planning pregnancy shortly after stopping oral contraceptives are at a higher risk of complications as a consequence.

2.     Antibiotics and calcium: dietary calcium binds to antibiotics, reducing the body’s ability to absorb the amount of antibiotic intended. Calcium is found in milk, dark-green leafy vegetables etc.

3.     Antimalarial drugs and vitamin C: taking antimalarial medication with any vitamin C containing supplement or fruits compromise the rates of the parasites clearance. Grape fruit juice, orange juice or any vitamin C concomitant diminishes the efficacy and potency of widely used antimalarial drugs. Vitamin C favours the development of young malaria parasites.

4.     Antibiotics and iron supplements: iron supplements should not be taken with antibiotics or during fever because the body’s defense mechanisms have pulled all the reserves out and will only add strain to the body.

5.     Diuretics and potassium: diuretics (anti-hypertensive drugs) increases the loss of potassium along with fluids. Potassium is important for the proper functioning of the heart and other muscles.

6.     Antidiabetic drugs and vitamin B12: antidiabetic drugs interfere with vitamin B12 absorption and if left untreated, the deficiency can lead to anaemia, dementia, and neurological damage.