Tuesday, 21 January 2020

How to Spot Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Children

Nutritional deficiency occurs when the body is not getting enough nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Children’s nutritional needs differ from those of adults primarily because they are growing. These problems that can have immediate and long-term effects on their health, growth and development. Food allergies, iron deficiency, tooth decay and constipation are common in the early years. If caught early, these nutritional deficiencies are much easier to remedy. 

Iron Deficiency (Anemia): Iron makes it possible for red blood cells to transport oxygen to our vital organs and throughout the body. It is commonly found in infants, preschool children, adolescent girls and pregnant women.

Symptoms of iron deficiency, or anemia, include: tiredness, pale skin (especially around the hands, nails, and eyelids), tongue may be smooth, pale and red, brittle and cracked nails, rapid heartbeat or a heart murmur, irritability, low appetite, dizziness, inability to concentrate.

Vitamin D Deficiency: Vitamin D is critical both in its own right, as well as for its role in the absorption of calcium. Both Vitamin D and calcium are vital in growing strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is formed by the action of ultraviolet rays from the sun on the precursor sterols in the skin. Deficiency of Vitamin D causes impairment of calcium absorption from digested food, resulting in rickets in children.

Characteristics: Softened skull in infants, soft fragile bones with bowing of legs, swelling of wrists, knee and ankle joints, poorly developed muscles, delayed dentition, restlessness and nervous irritability.
    If the deficiency is not corrected, it can lead to serious skeletal deformities and a condition known as Rickets.

B Vitamin Deficiency: The B Vitamins are needed in every area of our body and help maintain a strong immune system and optimal mental function.

Symptoms of B Vitamin deficiencies may include: decreased urine output, excessive crying accompanied by thin and plaintive whining, inability to learn and focus at school. loss of appetite, bad breath, weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc

Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is a trace mineral that is an essential element for humans and is  often forgotten in terms of discussions about nutritional needs. It usually takes a backseat to other well-known minerals. It is widely distributed throughout the body but the highest concentrations are found in the skin, eye, hair, nails etc. However, zinc is equally important for growth and healthy development in children.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency is characterized by poor appetite, weight loss, stunted growth, small sex glands in boys, skin changes, lightened pigment in hair(dull hair), white spot on fingernails and poor wound healing and changes in the sense of taste and/or smell. If left unchecked, zinc deficiency can lead to stunted growth, poor wound healing, and hair loss.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Fad diets; All you need to know about!

Several diets are being promoted as the best approach to losing weight. Unfortunately, many of these diets involve eliminating foods that contain necessary nutrients. Some even cut entire food groups. They typically promise rapid weight loss and other health benefits, yet often have no scientific evidence supporting their use. In addition, they are often nutritionally unbalanced and ineffective over the long term.  For example, fad diets may include those that are fat-free, very-low-carbohydrate, or high protein. Some fad diets focus on a particular food, such as grapefruit or cabbage. Some have you eliminate certain foods at specific times of the day. Others allow you certain foods, as long as you eat them along with certain other foods.
   A fad diet is a diet or eating plan that gains rapid popularity. They’re called fad diets because they are riding the waves of a trend. You may be hearing about them from a multitude of sources like television, magazines, friends, and family. Fad diets range far in wide; there’s a new one for everyone. Some of them focus on detox drinks like drinking only lemon or grape juice and others focus on eating only meat. The thing that they all have in common however, is that they all offer some type of rapid weight loss that will happen in a manner of weeks.
   While most fad diets do actually give you some results, this is normally only in the beginning. Most of them will help you lose weight rapidly, but it will not last. It is normally only a matter of time before you begin to put back on the weight. This is primarily because fad diets are unsustainable. You can’t live off solely drinking sugar free lemonade. This means when the diet is over, you inevitably return back to your original eating style – the style that helped you put on all that weight in the first place.

Your weight loss program may be a fad diet if it:

  • Promises weight loss of more than 2 pounds (1 kg) per week.
  • Does not provide support for long-term weight loss success.
  • Is rigid and does not fit into your lifestyle or state of health.
  • Cuts out major food categories (like gluten or carbohydrates) and stops you from enjoying your favourite foods.
  • Forces you to buy the company’s foods or supplements rather than show you how to make better choices from a grocery store.
  • Gives you nutrition advice that is based on testimonials rather than scientific evidence.
  • Promotes unproven ways to lose weight such as starch blockers, fat burners and colonic cleanses.
  • Encourage little or no  physical activity.

Types of Fad diets

1. It restricts carbs to 20 grams per day, while allowing unlimited amounts of protein and fat.

2. South Beach Diet: The South Beach Diet is a high-protein, lower-carb, lower-fat diet.

3. Vegan Diet: It is a diet that restricts any form of animal product.

4. Ketogenic diets: They typically provide less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, and often less than 30.

5. Paleo Diet: The paleo diet is a balanced, healthy way of eating that eliminates processed foods and encourages its followers to eat a wide variety of plant and animal foods.

6. The Zone diet: The Zone diet specifies a diet composed of 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fat and 40% high-fiber carbs. 

7. The 5:2 diet: The 5:2 diet is a form of alternate-day fasting that involves eating 500–600 calories two days a week, and eating normally otherwise

Some tips that apply to any healthy weight loss plan include:

  • Eat breakfast every day and don’t skip meals.
  • Limit liquid calories by avoiding soda and alcohol. Choose whole fruits instead of juice. Drink plenty of water every day.
  • Eat a variety of foods to ensure that you get all of your daily nutrients.
  • Watch what types of fat you consume. Do not eat any trans fats. Trans fats are found in many fried and baked goods. 
  • Read nutrition labels as you grocery shop.
  • Consume only moderate amounts of sugars, and food and drinks containing added sugars. In particular, limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Limit your daily intake of saturated fat and sodium. Try to eat healthy fats instead of opting for a strict low-fat diet. The latter typically is higher in carbs.
  • Watch your portions size. 
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Pick an activity that you enjoy. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times per week.

Fad diets will always be popular, and new plans will continue to be created to address people’s desire to lose weight quickly. However, just because a diet is effective for weight loss doesn’t mean it is sustainable long-term. To achieve and maintain your weight loss goal, it’s important to find a healthy way of eating that you enjoy and can follow for life. If you need help to figure out what weight loss plan will work best for you, you may want to think about seeing a consulting dietitian in private practice. 

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Choline: The New Essential Nutrient

The dietary component choline is the latest addition to the list of essential nutrients. It is an organic, water-soluble compound. It is neither a vitamin nor a mineral though, it is often grouped with the vitamin B complex due to its similarities. It is part of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter associated with attention, muscle control, learning and memory and several other functions. It impacts liver function, healthy brain development, muscle movement, your nervous system and metabolism. Humans can produce it endogenously in the liver, however you must obtain the majority through your diet or through dietary supplements.

    Functions of choline
  • Helps in foetal development: Choline is involved in several vital body processes, starting with your development as a fetus. Prenatal vitamins usually contain choline because it is critical for healthy fetal development, especially the brain and nervous system.
  • It helps the efficient use of fat: Choline has a crucial role in bringing fats out of the liver for the body. It helps the body to metabolize fats out of the liver and send it into the bloodstream so that the body can use it for energy, absorb fat-soluble nutrients, and to make brain components such as myelin. On the flipside, if fat stays in the liver, it results to fatty liver disease, which can cause pain, enlargement of the liver, extreme fatigue, and toxic overload.
  • DNA synthesis: Choline and other vitamins, such as B12 and folate, help with a process that's important for DNA synthesis.
  • Regulates healthy nervous system: This nutrient is required to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. It's involved in memory, muscle movement, regulating heartbeat and other basic functions.

Who Are at Risk of Deficiency?
Although choline deficiency is rare, certain people are at an increased risk.
  • Pregnant women: Choline requirements increase during pregnancy. This is most likely due to the unborn baby requiring choline for development.
  • Postmenopausal women: Estrogen helps produce choline in the body. Since estrogen levels tend to drop in postmenopausal women, they may be at greater risk of deficiency.
  • Endurance athletes: Levels fall during long endurance exercises, such as marathons. It's unclear if taking supplements improves performance.
  • High alcohol intake: Alcohol can increase choline requirements and your risk of deficiency, especially when intake is low.


Many foods contain choline. The main dietary sources of choline consist primarily of animal-based products—meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Cruciferous vegetables likered-fleshed sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli etc and certain beans are also rich in choline, and other dietary sources of choline include nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Choline is also present in breast milk and is added to most commercial infant formulas.

NB: Instead of animal products, choose fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, which are plentiful in choline. 



Thursday, 14 November 2019

World Diabetes Day 2019

World Diabetes Day takes place on the 14th November every year. The purpose of this one day is to raise awareness of a condition that millions of people all around the world live with every day. Essentially, diabetes is about the body’s inability (or lack of it) to produce the required amount of a hormone called insulin to control glucose levels in the blood. There are broadly two types of diabetes: Type 1 (Diabetes Insupidus) requires daily administration of artificial insulin by means of injection or insulin pump. Type 2 (Diabetes Mellitus) is more generally managed by a combination of dietary control and medication in the form of tablets.
    Diabetes incidence have dramatically increased among adults and children in the past decades. It results from improper regulation of blood glucose in either hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Diabetes is diagnosed when one's fasting blood glucose is 126 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood or greater. It ranks sixth among the leading causes of death, and was responsible for four million deaths in 2017. If untreated or unmanaged, it can lead to life-changing complications. These include amputation and several other major diseases, like stroke, heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.
Causes of Diabetes

1. Changes in lifestyle

i. Physical inactivity, overnutrition and obesity predispose one to developing diabetes mellitus later in life. Men whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches (102 cm) and more than 35 inches (89cm) in women are at higher risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and dyslipidaemia. 

ii. Drugs and hormones: several drugs especially the oral contraceptives cause glucose intolerance and in susceptible individuals may induce diabetes

2. Acquired and environmental factors

i. Infection: it may precipitate insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

Symptoms of Diabetes mellitus

A lack of knowledge about diabetes means that spotting the warning sign is an issue impacting a cross-section of society. The warning signs can be so mild that you don't notice them. Some people don't find out they have it until they get problems from long-term damage caused by the disease.

1. Excretion of large amounts of glucose in urine: losing so much solute in the urine causes osmotic diuresis and the volume of urine increases(polyuria). The patient constantly feels thirst.

2. Slow-healing sores or cuts. Over time, high blood sugar can affect your blood flow and cause nerve damage that makes it hard for your body to heal wounds.

3. Pain or numbness in your feet or legs. This is another result of nerve damage (poly-dipsia) and drinks large quantities of water.

Friday, 1 November 2019



Potassium plays an important role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Its deficiency is characterized by an increase in blood pressure, fatigue, salt sensitivity, irritability and kidney stones. As deficiency progresses, symptoms like irregular heartbeats, muscle weakness, and glucose intolerance will be experienced. An average intake for potassium for adults is 4700 milligrams (4.7g) per day.
  Potassium toxicity (overdose) from natural sources is nearly impossible except through overconsumption of potassium salts or supplements.
  Low levels of potassium in the diet plays an important role in the development of high blood pressure. Low potassium intakes raise blood pressure, while high potassium intakes together with low sodium intakes prevent and correct hypertension.

NB: some diuretics(drugs) used to treat high blood pressure deplete the body potassium. Thus, people who take potassium-wasting diuretics need to monitor their potassium intakes carefully.
  Rich sources of potassium include purple fresh fruits/vegetables(e.g. eggplant, beetroot), banana, orange, sun-dried tomatoes, honeydew, dates, pears, avocados, whole-wheat products, coconut water, walnuts, non-fat dairy products, shrimp, fish, chicken, vegetables (cucumber, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, pumpkin leaves(ugu), carrots, broccoli etc) and legumes like kidney beans, lima beans, soybeans, etc.

Why You Need Potassium

For starters, it helps your blood pressure. It does this in two different ways:
  • It aids your kidneys. Potassium helps remove extra sodium from your body through your urine. This is a good thing, because too much sodium can cause high blood pressure.

  • It also helps the walls of your blood vessels to relax or loosen up. When they’re too tense or rigid, it can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause heart problems. Getting enough potassium is good for your heart.
You also need enough potassium for good muscle health -- so that your muscles can flex or contract the way they should. And your nerves need potassium so that they can work well.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Is Junk Really Cheaper Than Main Meal?

Many people are of the notion that "eating healthy is expensive" but this belief may be costing them more while potentially damaging their health. We are often lured in by the convenience and marketing of junk food, disregarding the detrimental effects on our own health.  
Processed fast food usually has fewer nutrients than homemade and you’re feeding into the addiction to a highly processed food, riddled with large amounts of excess sodium, sugar, saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol.  These foods over time can lead to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes type 2, heart and stroke disease and certain cancers. Getting into a healthy mindset helps preserve your current health and decreases your susceptibility to preventable diseases too. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, a good number of total disease and injury burden is attributable to overweight and obesity. (Two per cent can be blamed on low fruit consumption.)

In general, follow these rules:
  • Have a salad, steamed vegetables, fruit or soup instead of fries.
  • Choose water, low-fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruit drinks, or milkshakes, which can be a huge source of calories and sugar. Instead of a slice of pie or cookie for dessert try fruit and yogurt.
  • Choose foods that are broiled, steamed, or grilled instead of fried. For example, pick a grilled chicken instead of fried chicken or chicken nuggets and choose steamed vegetables or fresh fruit instead of French fries.
  • When ordering a sandwich, select lean meats such as turkey or grilled chicken instead of items such as burgers, steak, or cheese sandwiches. Ask if they have a whole wheat bread or wrap option.
  • Ask for sauces or dressings that come with meals to be served on the side and use just a small amount.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Canned Food! Good or Bad?

In today’s life everybody is very busy and so no time to cook. Our busy lifestyles make convenient cooking, enticing. However, the question is often asked: is canned food healthy for you? Always, a question comes in our mind that what is the  health factor behind canned food. Canned foods can be a lifesaver; they can also be dangerous.

The good:
  • Canned food is a convenience alternative to fresh foods. They are convenient and can be found almost anywhere. It’s practical way to add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, they don’t spoil easily and can be stored safely for years. 
  • They are also affordable.
  • Fresh fruit can cost a pretty penny when out of season. Canned is a great way to enjoy fruit any time of year. 

The bad:
  • Canning is used to preserve foods for long periods. During this process, foods are prepared, sealed and heated. Heat is used to kill harmful bacteria and prevent spoiling, but can also destroy heat-sensitive nutrients like Vitamins B and C. For this reason, canned foods often get a bad rep for being less nutritious than fresh or frozen foods.
  • May Contain Deadly Bacteria- canned foods that weren’t processed properly may contain dangerous bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. Consuming contaminated food can cause botulism, a serious illness that can lead to paralysis and death if left untreated. It’s important to never eat from cans that are bulging, dented, cracked or leaking.
  • Added Salt, Sugar or Preservatives-Salt, sugar and preservatives are sometimes added during the canning process. Excess salt or sugar may pose health problems. A variety of other natural or chemical preservatives may be added as well.
  • May Contain Trace Amounts of BPA- BPA (Bisphenol) is a chemical that is often used in food packaging, including cans. So BPA can migrate in the food content. BPA is linked to health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and male sexual dysfunction.

How to make the right choices

All canned foods aren’t created equal. So, you still need to be mindful when going to the shop:
  • Always read food labels and the ingredients list.
  • Choose lower sugar and lower sodium versions.
  • Look for any dents in the cans. If you see a dent, find another can to prevent the risk of botulism.

  • Choose BPA free cans – BPA has been linked to heart disease and other chronic diseases.
  • Never eat from cans that are bulging, dented, discoloured, rusted, cracked, or leaking.

  • Check the best before date.