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.