Nutrition

Published: Sunday February 16, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday February 16, 2014 MYT 8:15:25 AM

Eating right

All sugars, regardless of whether they are perceived to be healthy (for example, honey and brown sugar) or not, will turn into fat if eaten in excess. – AFP

All sugars, regardless of whether they are perceived to be healthy (for example, honey and brown sugar) or not, will turn into fat if eaten in excess. – AFP

A doctor offers some pointers to help us maintain a healthier diet.

WE all know that we have to eat right and exercise in order to achieve optimum health and stave off those insidious non-communicable diseases that are becoming increasingly common nowadays.

But really, who has the time for that?

Between job demands, familial commitments and having a little fun (after all, what’s life without living?), it’s much easier to skip the gym and grab that fast-food burger than it is to wake up extra early for that 30-minute exercise routine and preparing a healthy meal from scratch.

Herbalife World Wide Nutrition Training vice-president Dr Rocio Medina certainly agrees. When asked what she thought was the most challenging aspect of maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, the Mexican medical doctor said: “Actual lifestyle. People don’t have time to prepare their meals. They don’t have energy to exercise. They are very stressed to make good choices.

“Besides, people don’t know what is better for their health, and they are not aware of this nutrition transition and how it is affecting their health.”

She was referring to the ironic nutritional situation, particularly prevalent with junk food and fast-foods, where there is too much sugar and fat, and not enough vitamins and minerals.

“There are excesses, such as the excess of sugars – mainly, high fructose corn syrup, excess of saturated fats, and (an excess of) omega-6 fatty acids over omega-3 fatty acids, as well as the excess of sodium.

“But we still can’t get rid of deficiencies such as iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals.”

She adds that this becomes increasingly visible as we age, with the loss of muscle mass and the gaining of abdominal fat.

Dr Medina was in Kuala Lumpur recently to give a talk on the roles of balanced nutrition and healthy lifestyle in the prevention of obesity-related lifestyle diseases.

Herbalife World Wide Nutrition Training vice-president Dr Rocio Medina giving a talk on the role of balanced nutrition and healthy lifestyle in the prevention of obesity-related lifestyle diseases at Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur, on January 13, 2014..
Dr Rocio Medina … 'People don't have time to prepare their meals. They don't have energy to exercise. They are very stressed to make good choices.'

In an email interview after the talk, she shares that the field of nutrition has seen more research backing up the use of meal replacements and supplements as a means to help people lose weight.

She says: “There is scientific evidence of meal replacements and supplements being a perfect tool to help people maintain weight, and even losing weight, with a balanced intake of macronutrients, micronutrients, fibre and water.

“The science has shown that a higher amount of lean protein, less saturated fat, less simple sugars and less sodium, is a good way to get optimal body composition.”

The former professor of nutrition and obesity at the Universidad de Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, also shares five important points that she believes people should remember while eating:

> All sugars, regardless of whether they are perceived to be healthy (eg honey and brown sugar) or not, will turn into fat if eaten in excess.

> The modern-day diet has resulted in the consumption of too much omega-6 fatty acids, resulting in an unhealthy proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies. In order to counteract this, we need to consume more omega-3-rich foods, such as wild-caught fish, almonds, chia seeds, walnuts and supplements.

> The spicier the food you eat, the more hungry you will be. Food intake is regulated in the brain, and those foods will lead to food dependency.

> Skipping breakfast leads to feeling more hungry, and an increased propensity for consuming more fat, sweets and salty food. Muscle mass is also lost every time you do not have a complete meal.

> No nutrition programme is balanced without exercise. Exercise not only helps to maintain muscle mass and an active metabolism, but also promotes positive biochemical reactions within the body.

Tags / Keywords: Health, nutrition, eating right, Herbalife, Dr Rocio Medina, diet, obesity, diseases

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