Saturday, 21 May 2022

Dietary supplements-how much do you need them?

 


Dietary supplements have become astoundingly popular. Most people take a multivitamin and mineral pill for mistaken reasons, such as to make up for the dietary shortfalls, boost energy or build up a muscular physique. Other invalid reasons include the belief that extra vitamins and minerals will help cope with stress, the belief that supplements can build lean body tissue without physical work or enhance athletic performance and lastly, the desire to prevent, treat, or cure symptoms or diseases ranging from the common cold to cancer. On a fair note, supplementing is a costly but harmless practice and sometimes, it is both costly and harmful to the health.

As a healthy person, why take a supplement when you can get the nutrients you need from food? Supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet; however, certain nutritional supplements may be desirable in certain situations.

The effects of these supplements when taken depend on several factors such as the level of nutrients already being absorbed from the diet, as well as factors that influence nutrient absorption and metabolism.

Reasons why nutrients should be consumed from foods rather than supplements

  • Foods rarely cause nutrient imbalances or toxicities, but supplements can. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of harm. People’s tolerances for high doses of nutrients vary, just as their risks of deficiencies do. The amounts tolerable to some may be harmful to others, and no one knows who falls where along the spectrum.

  • People who use, are more likely to have excessive intakes of certain nutrients—notably iron, vitamin A, niacin, and zinc. The toxicity level is often not recognized as the effects develop subtly and progress slowly.

  • Some dietary supplements are contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs, such as steroid hormones and stimulants. Other substances that have also shown up in a wide variety of dietary supplements include toxic heavy metals, bacteria, and toxic plant material.

  • Lastly, supplements are likely to interfere with one another’s absorption or with the absorption of other nutrients from foods eaten at the same time. For example, zinc hinders copper and calcium absorption, iron hinders zinc absorption, and calcium hinders magnesium and iron absorption. Among vitamins, vitamin C supplements enhance iron absorption, making iron overload likely in susceptible people.

Are there people who need supplements?

Yes, some people need supplements as some conditions such as illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction may limit food intake making them suffer from marginal nutrient deficiencies.  People who may benefit from nutrient supplements in amounts consistent with the RDA include:

  • Pregnant women and women of childbearing years require extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.
  • Older adults, especially postmenopausal women, may take calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and in boosting bone health.

  • People over 50 may benefit from vitamin B12 supplements.

  • Young women with anaemia may benefit from iron supplements.

  • People on very restricted diets or with many allergies.
  • People who have diseases, infections, or injuries or who have undergone surgery that interferes with the intake, absorption, metabolism, or excretion of nutrients may need specific nutrient supplements.

  • Those at risk for age-related macular degeneration such as an eye problem may benefit from antioxidant and zinc supplements.

  • If you fall into any of these categories, ask your doctor about appropriate doses. In general, though, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from food rather than pills.

The kind of vitamin and mineral supplement to use when in need

  • If you are selecting a supplement yourself, a single, balanced vitamin-mineral supplement with no added extras such as herbs should serve. Choose the kind that provides all the nutrients in amounts less than, equal to, or very close to the Recommended Daily Allowance(RDA).
  • For women of childbearing age who need supplemental folate choose a supplement with just the needed nutrient or in combination with a reasonable dose of others.
  • Lastly, take your health care professional’s advice if it is offered.

 

 

Friday, 6 May 2022

Vitamin E

 


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and/or lipid-soluble antioxidant and plays a fundamental role in protecting the body against the damaging effects of oxidative stress formed in the environment. Like the other fat-soluble vitamins, its use depends on the presence of dietary fat. When deficient in this important vitamin, one is prone to impaired eyesight, infections, and some forms of skin diseases. Be it as it may, vitamin E is found in most of our food sources and one only becomes deficient except in cases of impaired absorption.

Benefits of vitamin E

  • Vitamin E inhibits processes related to the development of atherosclerosis and protects the body against free radicals and conditions related to oxidative stress such as ageing, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infection, and some cases of Alzheimer's disease.
  • It has antiproliferative effects in the eye that are seemingly protective against conditions

such as glaucoma. 

  • It protects red blood cell membranes from destruction, especially in the last 2 months of gestation.
  • It helps lessens the appearance of scars and deal with dry skin.

Rich sources

The richest sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower etc. Other food sources of vitamin E include nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts etc), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), and fortified cereals. It can also be found in fruits such as avocado, mango, blackberries, raspberries, and other types of berries.

PS: Because vitamin E is readily destroyed by heat processing and oxidation, fresh or

lightly processed foods are the best sources of this vitamin

Friday, 22 April 2022

Honey vs Sugar, which is a healthier sweetener?

 

Honey is a natural, sweet, thick liquid obtained because of the nectar collected by bees from flowers. It can range in colours from pale yellow to dark brown and consists primarily of water and simple sugars (glucose and fructose). It consists of various organic acids, vitamins, proteins, enzymes, antioxidants, and nitrogen elements. The antioxidants found in honey are known for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Due to the higher levels of fructose when compared to that of sugar, the former is denser, sweeter and contains more calories than the latter.

Sugar is derived from sugar beets and sugar cane plants and involves a lot of processes making it lack vitamins and other nutrients. It may come in three different forms-raw sugar, brown sugar and whites sugar. Though based on the form (e.g. brown sugar), some traces of nutrients can be found

Both honey and sugar are carbohydrates, and both contain two primary sugars: fructose and glucose, with white sugar being 100% sugars (50% fructose and 50% glucose), while honey is about 85% sugars (fructose and glucose ratios varying with each honey variety). The remaining 15% of honey is water, pollen, and trace minerals. Because of this difference in their makeups, white sugar is absorbed into the body and blood at a faster rate than honey.

Some benefits of honey over sugar

  • Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurised, clarified or filtered in any way, and this form typically retains more of the health-promoting nutrients that can be lost to the standard processing methods.
  • Honey contains antioxidant compounds called flavonoids which are reported to have antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties.
  • Honey has a lower GI value than sugar, meaning that it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. If you are diabetic or trying to manage your blood sugar levels, there is no real advantage to substituting sugar for honey as both will ultimately affect blood sugar levels.
  • Honey is a proven cough suppressant and also relieves sore throats. For many people, raw honey helps to moderate the sinus and throat irritation caused by pollen allergies.


While honey does provide more nutritional value than table sugar, when consumed in excess, both honey and sugar can have negative effects on metabolic health. If you are reaching for honey, it is best to reach for local and raw honey to benefit from its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and health benefits.

 

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Velvet Tamarind

 

Velvet tamarind is a seasonal tropical fruit ripening between January and May with a peak yield in March and April. It is consumed in West Africa including Nigeria. It is one of the versatilely consumed wild fruits in Nigeria, and it is called different names by each tribe; popularly called “Icheku” by the Igbos, “Awin” by the Yorubas, and “Tsamiyar kurm” by the Hausas. It is loved by many probably because of its sweet and tangy taste. It can be taken as a fruit snack, or soaked and juiced into a fruit juice and/or the juice added to a smoothie.

Some of the nutritional benefits include.

  • Velvet tamarind is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of colds, improves the body’s immune system, and protects against cancer of the oesophagus.
  • A good source of potassium: potassium plays a major role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and steady heartbeats. It also helps to correct and prevent hypertension.
  • A great source of calcium: calcium plays important role in blood clotting and helps maintain normal blood pressure and is essential for maintaining steady heartbeats. 
  • Also a great source of magnesium: magnesium is one of the crucial minerals that help regulate normal blood pressure and heart rhythm.
  • Velvet tamarind is also an excellent source of antioxidants: Antioxidants are powerful components that may help protect the body from disease. They protect the body against inflammation diseases and certain forms of cancer.
  • It is a good source of soluble dietary fibre:  soluble fibre helps lower blood cholesterol, and glucose levels, promotes gut bacteria and helps achieve a healthy weight.
Velvet tamarind is currently in season, do well to take advantage of it while it is still easily accessible.


 

 

 

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Health Effects of Sugars

 


When it comes to health, sugar has a two-edge sword reputation. They occur naturally in carbohydrate-containing foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, legumes etc. Consuming foods with minimal processing contain healthy sugar. Aside from the healthy sugar contents of these foods, they also have high amounts of fibre, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Added sugars and concentrated sweets such as soft drinks, cakes, pies, etc contribute discretionary calories to the diet with little or no other nutrients should not form a major part of one’s food intake.

Moderate amounts of sugar pose no major health risk, but in excess, can be detrimental in two ways. It can contribute to nutrient deficiencies by supplying energy (calories) without providing nutrients while contributing to tooth decay. High intakes of sugar have also been shown to increase the risk of obesity.

Sugar and nutrient deficiencies

High energy foods contain lots of added sugars such as cakes, candies, and sodas that provide the body with glucose and energy, but few, (if any) other nutrients, compared to naturally occurring foods that contain natural sugars and lots of starches, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

For instance, spending 240kcalorie of a day’s energy allowance on a 500ml(50cl) soda gets little value for those calories. In contrast, a person using 240 calories on three slices of wheat (unfortified) white bread gets 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre, plus several micronutrients.

Sugar and dental caries  

Any carbohydrate-containing food, including fruits, bread, or milk, as well as sugar, can support bacterial growth in the mouth. These bacteria produce the acid that eats away tooth enamel. Of major importance are the length of time the food stays in the mouth and the composition of the food, how sticky the food is, how often the food is eaten, and especially whether the teeth are brushed afterwards.

 How do you recognize sugars?

People often fail to recognize sugar in all its forms and so do not realize how much they consume. To estimate how much sugar you consume, treat all the following concentrated sweets as equivalent to 1 teaspoon of white sugar (4g of carbohydrate);

·       1 teaspoon honey brown sugar, jam, corn sweetener, syrup, molasses, or maple sugar

·       A 50cl of soft drinks contains 60g (15 teaspoons i.e. 5 tablespoons) of sugar which is equivalent to 240 calories.

 

For other food-related consultations, consult us today!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Managing some breastfeeding challenges

 


Breastfeeding can be challenging whether as a first-time mom or an experienced mom. But remember, the benefits it offers to your newborn and you out-ways the challenges. Many women face different breastfeeding problems while others do not and each breastfeeding journey is quite different from another. In any of the challenges facing, remember you are not alone.

Some of the challenges include;

Low milk production

This is when your breasts do not make enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of your baby and a range of factors may be responsible for this challenge.

What to do

  • Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well.
  • Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding and have your baby stay at the first breast if he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when the baby slows down or stops.
  • Avoid giving your baby formula or cereal in addition to your breastmilk in the first few months of life. Your baby may lose interest in breastmilk which can decrease milk supply.

Plugged ducts

They are common in breastfeeding mothers. A plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast. A plugged duct happens when a milk duct does not drain properly. Pressure then builds up behind the plug, and surrounding tissue gets inflamed. A plugged duct usually occurs only in one breast at a time.

What to do

  • Breastfeed on the side with a plugged duct as often as every two hours. This will help loosen the plug and keep your milk moving freely.
  • Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple. 
  • Use a warm compress on the sore area.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight, since a tight bra can constrict milk ducts. 
  • If you have plugged ducts that keep coming back, get help from a lactation consultant.

Nursing strike:

 A nursing "strike" occurs when a baby suddenly refuses to nurse for no apparent reason. It occurs most often in babies older than 3 months of age.  Do not stop breastfeeding because self-weaning is more gradual than sudden and baby-led weaning rarely occurs during the first year. During a strike, a baby is trying to let you know that something is wrong. A nursing strike usually lasts just a few days but may persist for a week or two. This usually does not mean that the baby is ready to wean (stop breastfeeding totally). Babies react to different things that can lead to a nursing strike. Some babies will continue to breastfeed without a problem. Other babies may just become fussy at the breast. And other babies will refuse the breast entirely. Do not wean during a strike, most babies can be coaxed back to the breast with some patience and determination. 

What to do

·       Keep trying: You might try feeding your baby when he or she is very sleepy. If your baby is frustrated, stop and try again later.

·       Deal with distractions. Try feeding your baby in a quiet room with no distractions.

·       Change positions: Try different breastfeeding positions. If your baby is congested, it might help to suction his or her nose before feedings.

·       Cuddle your baby:  Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby might renew your baby's interest in breastfeeding. 

·       Address biting issues:  If your baby bites you during breastfeeding, stay calm and slip your finger into your baby's mouth to quickly break the suction.

·       Evaluate changes in your routine: Think about any changes in your routine that might be upsetting your baby. Are you stressed? Are you taking any new medications? Has your diet changed? Are you using a new perfume or fragranced soap? Could you be pregnant? Focus on taking care of yourself.

Mastitis

It is soreness or a lump in the breast that is caused by obstruction, infection and/or allergy. It is most common in the first 2-3 weeks postpartum but can occur at any stage of lactation. As a lactating mother, you should regularly check your breasts for lumps that indicate a blocked duct. If found, ensure the baby feed effectively on that side, adjusting in positioning and attachments, and use hand expression to massage the area starting behind the sore spot to unblock the duct.

Symptoms are similar to the plucked ducts with pain/heat/swelling being more intense and red streaks extending outward from the affected area.

What to do

  • Breastfeed on the infected side every two hours or more often. This will keep the milk moving freely and your breast from becoming too full.
  • Gently massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
  • Apply heat to the sore area with a warm, wet cloth.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight, since a tight bra can constrict milk ducts.

Engorgement

Engorgement occurs when the breast gets hard, tight, and painful with full of milk. It can lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection, so it is important to try to prevent it before this happens.

What to do

  • Breastfeed often after giving birth and allow to feed for as long as he or she likes.
  •  Ensure your baby is appropriately latched on the breast and sucking well
  • Breastfeed often on the engorged side to remove the milk, and to prevent the breast from becoming too full.
  • Hand express or pump a little milk to soften the breast and nipple before breastfeeding.
  • Massage the breast.
  • Use cold compresses on your breast in between feedings to help ease the pain.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.


For more tips on overcoming breastfeeding challenges, consult a breastfeeding consultant or a dietitian.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Formula Feeding


Breast milk is the optimal milk feed for infants because it is nutritionally adequate and reduces the risk of illness in infants. But in a case where breastmilk let-down is delayed, infant formula should be given until breastmilk is produced. While doing so, always ensure to properly and correctly sterilize the feeding tools to prevent bacterial contamination which can cause gastroenteritis.  The feeding must be frequently on-demand until breastmilk is produced. Infant formula is nutritionally adequate but does not provide the same protection against illness as breastmilk. Exclusively breastfed infants have a reduced possibility of being hospitalized for diarrhoea or respiratory tract infections in the first 6 months of life.

The standard formulas are made from skimmed cow’s milk with added fats and nutrients to replicate the nutrients composition of breastmilk. There are different brands of infant formula in the market with each brand having different additions of milk proteins. Always check carefully to make sure you are buying suitable milk for your baby.

For a start, it is recommended that formula with a greater proportion of whey protein be used as this is easier to digest and closer to the protein composition of breast milk. The Whey dominant infant formula is often labelled with a ‘1’ and is promoted for newborn babies. The ratio of proteins in the formula approximates the ratio of whey to casein found in human milk (60:40).

Follow-on formula: Follow-on formulas are only suitable for infants over 6 months as they are higher in protein, iron, and vitamin D than infant formula. The follow-on formula is a Casein dominant infant formula often labelled with a ‘2’ and promoted as suitable for hungrier babies. Although the proportions of the macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein etc) are the same as in the whey-dominant formula, more of the protein present is in the form of casein (20:80). The higher casein content causes large relatively indigestible curds to form in the stomach and is intended to make the baby feel full for longer. When your baby is up to 1 year of age, other kinds of pasteurised milk such as whole cow’s milk, sheep’s or goat’s milk can be given.

PS: There is also a range of specialised infant formulas for infants with certain medical conditions and they should only be used on the advice of a doctor or dietitian.