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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

A Simple Guide to Eating Out Without Putting On Weight

Written: 10/17/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Today I had a date with a nice girl. It's been a while since I actually went on a date (about 3 months!) so I was admittedly excited. After talking to her for a while, it became apparent that she was trying though to maintain her weight. As we talked, it also became clear that others could use similar advice.

So, let's talk about eating out without putting on a ton of weight. If you are like most people, lunchtime begs for McDonald's and other junk food joints. This post will help you navigate through the trans fat and artery cloggers.

Business lunch, candlelight dinner with your lover, parties... There are many occasions to eat in a restaurant and no matter how keen you are on losing weight, you will eventually be forced to eat out. You will more often than not be faced with a variety of dishes, all loaded with nasty calories. So why not combine your goal with leisure. Here are a few tips to avoid excess when eating out:

Beware of the sauce!
Every meal comes with a plethora of sauces. Samurai sauce, American sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise; you spell it, they have it.
  • Appetizers: as tough as it is, avoid appetizers that come with a sauce. This could be mayonnaise or one which is laden with meat. Choose a meal with vegetables or better a slightly seasoned salad. In many cases, appatizers with a light breading are better for you than those with think sauces.

  • Main Dish: Choose baked or roasted meat or fish instead of a dish which is seasoned with sauce or deep fried. For the vegetables, avoid fried potatoes and instead choose green vegetables. If not, go for a slight portion of rice, pasta or baked potatoes.

  • Desserts: Never let yourself be tempted by chocolate ice-cream or chocolate cake. Choose a fruit or a fruit salad instead. After dinner, your body is asking for sweets. A fruit sweet will satisfy just as much as the caramel, pecan cake. Avoid all desserts with crème chantilly.

  • Alcohol: If you are taking a toast, avoid or limit the alcohol. A glass of wine or champagne may be okay. But banish alcohol like whiskey or gin. And if you have the possibility, opt for a glass of juice or simply water. During the meal, limit yourself to a glass of wine only.
In most cases, do not hesitate to ask for special services like separating the sauce from the dish, replacing the chips with green peas. Most restaurants will accept your wishes without any questions asked and if they do ask question about your culinary taste, then I highly doubt this restaurant warrants a second visit from you. You can also try two small appetizers as opposed to ordering an appetizer and a main dish.

Specialized Restaurants and Fast foods
You want to change from traditional meals. Here's how to cut down calories in fast foods and specialized restaurants:
  • Pizzeria
    At most parties and outings with friends, you are bound to see a huge a pizza sooner or later. Although a few pizzas are better than traditional dishes served in restaurants, you must be wary of them. For the toppings, choose a variety of foods like tomatoes or mushrooms instead of plain, old cheese.

  • Burgers
    Contrary to popular beliefs, you can eat healthy at a fast food restaurant. The combination of hamburger, chips, soda and ice cream is not the healthiest combination though. On the other hand, a dish composed of a simple hamburger accompanied by a salad and a glass of water is acceptable. And if you desperately need a soda to wash down the hamburger, opt for a light one although this is no guarantee that it has less calories than its normal counterpart. The best solution for you is to simply drink the glass of water.

  • Chinese Restaurant
    In a Chinese restaurant, you have a variety of dishes to choose from, thus decreasing the risk of excess calories. In a general manner, avoid fried foods and select foods which have been cooked by passing them over boiling water. You can also choose chicken or prawn salads. Choose white rice to Cantonese rice. For the dessert, a fruit is the best choice for you. I would avoid Chinese buffets because the overall atmosphere of a buffet is to overeat.

  • Indian Restaurant
    If you like spicy foods, you most certainly have visited an Indian restaurant at least once in your life. Even here, you must be careful of what you eat if you are really determined not to gain weight. Prefer Tikkas based dish to grilled foods or chicken tandooris (chicken cooked in a spicy yogurt sauce). Beware of curry dishes which are full of calories. Indian vegetarian dishes are awesome and you must go for them first.
On a final note, whatever restaurant you choose to eat, never eat giant portions. Eating modest portions will do both your health and your wallet good. And never forget that you are here to have a good time, so just relax and take all this easy! :)

Simple Tips to Use Your Fridge Effectively

Written: 10/16/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Today I had a very unpleasant surprise when I opened the door of my fridge. I noticed a foul smell coming from it since quite a few hours ago and when I opened it... I found that my frozen potato wedges were rotten. This is all to show you that just tucking in your food after shopping in your frige will not ensure their safety. There is a whole science behind fridge usage which I'll explain below.

Everything in its place

After shopping it is imperative to keep your food in your fridge, in order to prevent contamination of the food. But do note that there is a place for every food. The temperature is not uniform in a fridge. Depending on the model of your fridge, it is, normally, colder at the top or at the bottom. To know this, just place a thermometer in a glass of water at different levels of the fridge and measure the temperature. But in most models I know, the colder part of a fridge is the top compartiment of the fridge.

Eggs: Eggs are better conserved in a temperature range of +5°C to +15°C, instead of a fridge. This is to prevent a thin layer of water from forming on the eggs by condensation. The water will make the egg shell porous and will facilitate the entry of germs such as salmonella inside the egg. When laying eggs, salmonella from hens' droppings can deposit on the egg shells.

Milk, Canned Foods and Mineral Water: You must place the most recent one in the inside of the compartment behind the more ancient ones. Then you will automatically take the older ones, which will rotate your food stock and prevent a food from staying for months in the confinements of your fridge.

Fridge Temperature and Cleanliness

Most of fridges I know do not come with a built-in thermometer. If you do not have a built-in thermometer in your fridge (like me), place one in a glass of water in the compartment where you keep food which are most vulnerable like fish or meat. The water will help the thermometer estimate the temperature of the food and not of the air around. Besides water will decrease all variation in temperature due to the opening of the fridge door. It is a good practise to keep the temperature between 0°C to +4°C.

You must clean your fridge every week and disinfect it once a month with water and a disinfecting agent. Rinse well afterwards to prevent corrosion.

With a thin film of isothermal plastic (plastic which do not conduct heat) or aluminium foil, protect the foods so as to prevent cross contamination, that is one contaminated food passing the germ on to a safe food: drippings, air circulation when you open the door,etc... The best way to protect your food is to pack everything.

Besides, remaining food, even when packed, should be consume rapidly. Never place hot foods in your fridge. Wait for the food to cool down before putting it in the fridge.

Electricity Outage! What must you do?

If your fridge breaks down or there is an electricity outage in your area, do not panic. Everything is not lost.

  • Avoid opening your fridge. Most fridges nowadays have a great isolation system and can maintain the temperature constant for about 24 hours.

  • Check the temperature of the fridge like I mentioned above.

  • If the outage has been going on for a long time and the temperature is high, the food have a soft appearance. You must throw them away.

  • If the outage lasted for a few hours only and the temperature is still low, you must check the appearance of the food. If it is still hard, you must consume them rapidly in the next hours. If it is soft to the touch, you must resign yourself to throw them away.

  • Always bear in mind that you must never put back in a fridge a food which is already defrosted.

To have a healthy meal, you must have nutritious food and for these, you must know how to preserve the food.

Acknowledgements: You can be a good student or a very learned person, but actually some of these simple tips were passed on to me by my mother and grandmother.

If ever you have some other great tips on how you store your food safely, please do share it with us.

Panic in Your Plate: Infections and Intoxications and How to Prevent Them

Written: 10/15/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Diethack is participating in the Blog Action Day.

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

I thought for a very long time on what issue to write. Up to now, there is 15 720 blogs which are participating and I'm sure most of them will write about how to avoid pollution and other such environment-related topics. So I wanted to innovate a bit and find a topic on how pollution and the environment affect your eating habits and nutrition.

Besides a more strict and better quality of life, most of the foods we buy look less and less safe to eat. Between listerias and salmonellas, toxic infections seem to be more common. Meat, vegetables, eggs and even water are at risk of infection and invasion of toxic products. Is the food industry taking all the necessary precautions to ensure you are at the safe end of the food chain?

What are the toxins?

Many polluants and germs tend to disrupt the safety of our foods. What substances cause intoxication? Who are those bacteries who sneak in our meals?

The definition of a toxic substance is a substance which when eaten or taken in by other means cause harm to our body. You must keep in mind though that there is a limit to the toxicity of a substance. Everything if over-consumed is harmful for the body, even water! Here I'll be talking about substances which are perceived as very dangerous when taken in very small dosage.

  • Heavy Metals

    The most notorious pollution by heavy metals was in the 60s in Japan. For 30 years, a chemical factory has been polluting the bay of Minamata by throwing tons of mercury away. Living principally on fish, the inhabitants of Minamata Bay were intoxicated by eating the contaminated fish. By a phenomenon which is known as bioconcentration, the mercury is not eliminated but gets concentrated as it goes down the food chain until it becomes lethal for the last organism on the food chain which is us, human beings. The victims had numerous neurological problems (loss of muscular power, loss of mobility, problem of coordination, vision problems, and bizarre behaviours).

    Although this scenario is less likely to happen these days, you must always be careful if you are living near a factory or in a zone of heavy pollution like urban or industrial zones. You are more prone to toxication by heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic, all which can have fatal consequences on your health.

  • Pesticides

    Residus of phytosanitary products commonly known as pesticides, can be dangerous for health. People can be exposed to pesticides in three ways:

    1. Inhaling pesticides (inhalation exposure),
    2. Absorbing pesticides through the skin (dermal exposure), and
    3. Getting pesticides in their mouth or digestive tract (oral exposure).

    Depending on the situation, pesticides could enter the body by any one or all of these routes. Typical sources of pesticide exposure include:

    • Food: Most of the foods we eat have been grown with the use of pesticides. Therefore, pesticide residues may be present inside or on the surfaces of these foods.

    • Home and Personal Use Pesticides: You might use pesticides in and around your home to control insects, weeds, mold, mildew, bacteria, lawn and garden pests and to protect your pets from pests such as fleas. Pesticides may also be used as insect repellants which are directly applied to the skin or clothing.

    • Pesticides in Drinking Water: Some pesticides that are applied to farmland or other land structures can make their way in small amounts to the ground water or surface water systems that feed drinking water supplies.

    • Worker Exposure to Pesticides: Pesticide applicators, vegetable and fruit pickers and others who work around pesticides can be exposed due to the nature of their jobs. To address the unique risks workers face from occupational exposure, EPA evaluates occupational exposure through a separate program. All pesticides registered by EPA have been shown to be safe when used properly.

  • Nitrates and Nitrites

    Nitrates are not very toxic, but the problem resides in their capacity to transform into nitrites and nitrites are very toxic chemicals. The danger of nitrites are the formation of cancer cells and rendering "haemoglobins" in blood incapable of transporting oxygen. Nitrate is a natural constituent of plants and is found in vegetables at varying levels depending on the amount of fertilizer applied and on other growing conditions.

  • Food Additives

    Food additives are substances added to food to increase its shell-life or to make it more attractive or to make it more tasty. I've written two articles on Food Additives which is a must read if you are keen on harnessing safe nutrition habits.

    Food Additives - What's Really in your Food?

    Food Additives and 6 Ways to Minimize Their Effects

  • Mycotoxins

    Mycotoxins are toxins produced by organisms such as mushrooms, mould or yeasts which can contaminate food. They are responsible for the expiration limit you find on food labels. Animal farms which feed on plants contaminated by mycotoxins can pass on the mycotoxins to humans when you feed on their meat or milk.

  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)

    Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad-cow disease, is a fatal, neurodegenerative disease of cattle, which infects by a mechanism that surprised biologists upon its discovery in the late 20th century. In the UK, the country worst affected, 179,000 cattle were infected and 4.4 million killed as a precaution.

    An outbreak of mad cow disease is an ever-looming nightmare. In the 1980s and '90s, the brain disorder infected 180,000 livestock in Europe and claimed dozens of human lives, devastating the British cattle industry. Britain, the United States and most other major cattle-producing nations have imposed stringent measures to control the disease, but another outbreak is a very real possibility.

How to identify them in your plate

Many other alimentary toxins are known to be sneaky and hide in the foods you eat. Here are some of the illness, together with their symptoms and their food sources:

  • Salmonella infections: These are due to a bacteria called Salmonella. It manifests itself after a period of incubation of 8 to 48 hours. The incubation period is the time from the moment of exposure to an infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear.

    Symptoms: diarrhea, headaches, stomach pains, nausea, vomit, fever.

    Foods Sources: Meat, Chicken, Eggs and egg products, Dairy products, fish and seafoods. It generally applies to food that are eaten raw or slightly cooked.

  • Infection by Campylobacter: is due to a bacteria Campylobacter Jejuni. The effects start to appear after a period of incubation of 2 to 5 days.

    Symptoms: Diarrhea, stomach pains, vomit and fever.

    Foods Sources: Eating contaminated meat (chicken, porc), uncooked meat, dairy products and even water. Transmission of the bacteria can also occur if you come into contact with animals.

  • Listeriosis: is a bacterial infection due to Listeria monocytogenes.

    Symptoms: Meningitis, Septicemia, abortion for the pregnant women.

    Food Sources: Cheese made with unpasteurised milk, smoked fish, starchy foods like noodle, pasta.

  • Botulism: is an intoxication caused by a bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. The first signs appear normally 12 to 36 hours after infection: partial or complete paralysis.

    Symptoms: Trouble seeing, dry mouth, paralysis, vomit, constipation or on the contrary diarrhea.

    Food Sources: Canned foods, uncooked meats and fish.

  • Brucellosis: is an infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans (zoonosis) caused by a bacteria of the family Brucella. The period of incubation varies from a few days to several months.

    Symptoms: Fever, headaches, diffused pains, perspirations, fatigue

    Food Sources: Fresh cheese, sheep milk, contact with animals

How to prevent contamination of foods

  • Smart Shopping

    You go shopping once or twice per week but do you know how to shop? Make a list and stick to it. Eat well before shopping. Always read the label before dropping a food item in your shopping trolley. Check the expiration date. Begin your shopping by the items which are not food-related like clothes, perfumes and other accessories, gardening, etc. Then you get to the 'spices' section and canned foods. Afterwards you buy your fruits and vegetables and last, frozen foods.

  • Fridge Usage

    On your return, put the frozen foods immediately in the fridge. During a hot weather, avoid gossiping with your neighbour after your shopping or else your foods will get contaminated easily.

  • Isothermal Plastics

    Use isothermal plastics or plastic which do not conduct heat.

  • Check Packaging of food

    Whenever buying a food, check whether the food's packaging is not torn or if it is a can, whether the can is not dented.

  • Always choose fresh

    Between fresh and frozen, fresh always win. Buy fresh foods at your local market whenever you have time.

  • Buy small quantities and more frequently

    Never buy in bulk. You will be tempted to do so, especially because of this crazy sale but never give in. By buying in small quantities and more frequently, you are ensuring that you have fresh food always and not some stale food which have remained in your shelf for over a month.

  • Always wash your food

    This is one of the most basic rule of cooking but nevertheless, some people always forget this.

  • Always wash your cooking wares

    Like food, your cooking wares are the items which are most in contact with the food you eat. Wash them in hot water immediately after use and wipe them clean to remove any moisture. If you don't wipe them, then mould will start to accumulate on them.

  • Do not mix food

    Sometimes a bacteria or germ cannot proliferate on raw vegetables but if it comes into contact with meat via a cooking knife, it gains a better terrain to proliferate. So always make sure not to mix your foods.

  • Never let your foods in open air for long

    Flotting polluants in the air can easily fall on the foods and contaminate them if the foods are left in open air for long.

What to do if contaminated?

There are many polluants in the air and they are increasing as days go by. I hope the simple steps mentioned above will guarantee safe foods for you. If ever you are a victim of intoxication, here is what you or your close ones must do:

Signs showing you are a victim of food poisoning:

  • Nausea

  • Vomit

  • Stomach Pains

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

These signs may appear between 1 to 24 hours after you have consumed polluted or contaminated food. You must go to a hospital as soon as possible.

If you are near a person suffering from food intoxication, then make the person lie down and keep a sample of the food he/she has eaten with you.

The amount of polluants and germs in the air are on the rise as days go by. But if you use the simple steps mentioned above, you will enjoy a safe and nutritious meal.

My buddy Jay has written a great article on items you never thought could be recycled!

Don't forget to check out other blogs which will be pushing out great contents about the environment on Blog Action Day.

How to Spot Denutrition and Fight it Back

Written: 10/12/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

This is part of the mini series on A Simple Health Guide for the Elderly. I went over the first point on how to manage your weight. Now we are going to tackle the problem of denutrition in this post. Although this guide is geared for old and ill people, you may consider it as a guide applicable to everybody.

We identify a person in a state of denutrition when the person is not eating enough to cover the nutritional needs of his/her body. The person will lose "muscle" and will feel tired a lot. On the long term, his/her body will be vulnerable to various infections or it can aggravate any existing diseases. Besides, the worn-out person decreases his/her social interaction and is more subject to depression. It is therefore very important to detect denutrition very early, so as to get rid of it more easily.

Who is at risk of denutrition?

  • Old people living alone at home.

  • Adolescents (particularly girls).

  • Anorexic people.

  • Some of the people hospitalised.

  • Some people living in nursing home.

Certain diseases increase the risk of denutrition, namely:

  • Certain types of cancers like cancer in your digestive system or lungs. Treatment of these cancers can change your taste and sense of smell. You can experience a loss of appetite, nausea, vomit and a disgust of food.

  • Respiratory or kidney infection, alzheimer or parkinson.

  • The fact of living alone, lack of exercise, depression, emotional shocks or disturbances in your life and the loss of mobility.

How to identify denutrition

You must be attentive to the following signs:
  • Person's Complaints: pain in the legs, moodiness, loneliness, fatigue, refusal of going out, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, memory loss.

  • Life of the person: events causing dramatic changes (death, severe illness, loss of mobility), bad eating habits (less than 3 meals per day), low earnings, lack of family members or close friends, difficulty to move around.

  • Signs: loss of weight of 5% to 10% of normal weight during last 6 months, dehydration, mouth and jaw problems, skin diseases, problem to masticate and swallow.

  • Risky Situations: depression, consumming more than 5 medications per day, burns, cancer, HIV, alzheimer, parkinson, respiratory and renal problem, partial amnesia.

How to fight denutrition

  • Follow the person's weight every month.

    A loss of 5% in 1 month or 10% in 6 months means denutrition.

  • Heighten the person's appetite: A loss of appetite most of the times lead to denutrition.

  • Make sure to vary the quantity and quality of food served.

  • If you are not eating with the person, ask him/her if he/she is eating 4 meals per day and what she/he is eating during each meal.

  • If possible, see what is left of his/her last meal to get an idea of what the person has been eating.

  • Visit the refrigerator: if it's empty, maybe the person is no longer buying food. In this case, talk to the person and see why and how to remedy to this situation: buying food for him/her, buying food together, home delivery of food, sharing of meals.

  • Take particular notice of the appearance of the person. Is he/she floating in his/her clothes?

  • Has the person's pet gain weight recently? Maybe it is eating in the place of the person.

  • If you are cooking for the person, cook something that is more easy for the person to eat like a vegetable soup.

  • The old person may has trouble eating because of pains with his/her teeth. Go and see a dentist in that case.

  • Taking medications before eating may cause a loss of appetite. Ask the pharmacist if it is possible to change the schedule of dosage of the medications.

  • Encourage the person to seek the help of a qualified dietician.

  • If he/she is in lack of social interaction, make the person go out or bring people at the person's place.

How to Manage Your Weight: An Index of Your Health

Written: 10/10/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

I'll follow Liz's advice when writing this article and hope not to make you laugh too much after reading this first sentence! ;)

I'm sure most of you still remember the Simple Health Guide for the Elderly I wrote last week. If not, you must try to boost your brain power with the following tips. Anyway the four points to look after for elderly people (and for most people as well)are the following: weight, nutrition, hydration and activity level. Today I'll go into the first one in detail.

Follow your weight
When the weight of an old person changes too much, on a short or long term, this implies a change in the health of the person and necessitates a medical check-up. It is very important, therefore, for a person to check his/her weight regularly.

How often should you weigh yourself?
One time per month: It is very important to have a scale at home. Select a specific date and make sure you weigh yourself each time on the same date of the month. Mark your weight on a calendar or a planner and calculate the change since the last time you weighed yourself. A change of 1 or 2 kg is not very important because it usually has to do with the amount of fluid (water) in your body. 1 litre of water is equal to 1 kg. So if you drank 2 litres of water just before weighing yourself, then you will weigh 2 kgs more. A change of more than 5% is cause for worry. If you notice that, then talk to your doctor and schedule a check-up with him. One time per month is a very good schedule because it allows you to monitor your weight for your health reasons only and not because you want to gain or lose weight. Also more than one time monthly is unnecessary.

Every week depending on situations:
  • When you are at risk of dehydration: high temperature, fever, diarrhea, vomit.

  • After an infection, an illness, have been hospitalized, or experienced an emotional shock.

  • In case of heart problems: heart is not beating fast enough to supply blood everywhere in your body.

If the weight varies quickly
A sudden loss or gain in weight over a period of 2 or 3 days is normally due to the variation of the amount of fluid (water) in your body.

Loss of weight: 1 or 2 kg in 1 week
This often implies dehydration. Here are a few signs of dehydration:
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty to swallow dry food, sometimes most foods
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Your urine is dark
When in this condition, you must drink 1/2 glass of water or drink a bowl of soup every half hour.

Gain of weight: more than 2 kgs in a week
This implies water retention in your body which usually manifests itself by a swelling of your legs at night. This is often linked to a bad treatment by medication (Heart or Renal treatment). Contact your doctor so that he can balance your treatment again.

If the weight varies slowly
A loss or gain of weight over many weeks implies a difference in energy taken in by the body (nutrition) and the energy expenditure of the body (physical activity).

Loss of weight: -5% in 1 month or -10% in 6 months This means malnutrition, that is the person is eating less than he/she is spending.

Gain of weight: +5% after malnutrition This means that the person is in convalescence stage and this is very well. If this is not after a period of malnutrition, then the person need to increase the amount of physical activity he/she does.

Defer to this table to look up your gain or loss of weight.

In case of weight gain

When you are old, weight gain and obesity do not have the same impact on health. When you are younger, the more the weight gain, the more the risk of diseases increases (especially heart diseases).

For an old person, however, a loss of weight does not mean a good thing for the person's health. On the contrary, in certain situations, it may be that a certain amount of weight gain can protect the old person's health: less of fractures of the leg, less risk of death in case of hospitalization.

In other words, if the person is overweight, this does not mean that you must make him/her lose weight but you must simply try to stabilize his/her weight, that is prevent the person from gaining weight.

Gain of a lot of weight in a short amount of time
If the person has put on a lot of weight in a short amount of time, (ex. 10 kg in a few months), this can impact his/her mobility and his/her social life at the same time. You can remedy to this by correcting some "errors" like:
  • by following a nutrition rhythm of 3 meals per day + 1 breakfast.
  • avoid unhealthy snacking, especially sugary, fatty and oily foods.
  • avoid taking alcohol drinks. A glass of wine per day can be allowed though unless told otherwise by your doctor.
  • by eating sufficient amount of proteins per day.
  • by doing an exercise every day or simply moving about or taking a walk.
Like I said in the title, your weight is an indication of your health and if you maintain your weight, you will "most of the time" remain in good health.

Do You Need Supplements?

Written: 10/09/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Today I was doing my usual intern and I received a young man. The latter was feeling a lot of stress and fatigue lately. He had been feeding on junk food for the past week and he was asking me if he needed to take in supplements. The answer is...


A well-balanced diet, well-proportioned both in quantity and quality, is sufficient to cover all your nutritive needs. It is not necessary to take vitamin or mineral pills, which are both unnecessary and expensive.

A balanced diet refers to intake of appropriate types and adequate amounts of foods and drinks to supply nutrition and energy for the maintenance of body cells, tissues, and organs, and to support normal growth and development.

Below is a definition of a dietary supplement from US Food and Drug administration:
A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. The "dietary ingredients" in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. They can also be in other forms, such as a bar, but if they are, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet. Whatever their form may be, DSHEA places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of "foods," not drugs, and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement.

Here are the reasons why you should not take in supplements and instead focus on eating a well balanced and varied meal:

  • If you think it's simple to just take in supplements when you have not eaten well, then you are on the wrong track. No supplement can provide you with the nutrients found in a fruit, a vegetable soup or a yoghurt. Fruits and vegetables, for example, provide you with vitamins and minerals and are even better, because they contain fibres, satisfy your thirst, contain little calories and are delicious to eat.

  • Besides if you take supplements everyday, this may have a cumulative effect on your system which may be disastrous to your health. An excess of vitamins and minerals can be as harmful as a lack of vitamins and minerals. If you really need vitamins and minerals supplements, take the recommendations of your doctor or a qualified pharmacologist. If you are taking the supplements, check their labels and make sure not to go beyond the number of days the supplements have been prescribed for. If the supplements do not have any label pointing out the number and period you must take them, then just cast them aside. You are better off without them.

What about calcium supplements?

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements must be taken only when recommended to do so by your doctor, when you are lacking in calcium and you are at risk of osteoporosis. Your needs are probably covered if you:

  • consume about 3 to 4 dairy products per day or if you drink a lot water enriched with calcium. Read the labels well and ask about the quality of the water supplied to you at your water distributor centre to see if the water is enriched with calcium.

  • like to go out and enjoy sunlight. Tha action of the sun on your skin produces vitamin D and if you get sufficient sunlight per day, then there is no need to take in vitamin D. You can perform outdoor physical activities everyday so that you get to exercise a bit and at the same time, resource your body with vitamin D.

Foods enriched with Omega 3

They are not necessary if you consume fish like salmon, sardine and if you are a vegan, certain types of vegetable oils like soja oil or a tsp of flaxseed oil in your salad where you can get omega 3 naturally.

Moreover, omega 3 works best if it is taken with other nutrients, therefore with the foods you are eating during a meal.

Supplements made from plants

Preparations of medicinal products or supplements from plants have always existed in most traditions. There exists many supplements made from plants but their nutritional efficiency have been rarely proven. These last years, certain products, whose compositions have not been well known, have proven to be dangerous for our health.

What about when I'm practising a sport?

Besides the physical efforts, there is no need for supplements like drinks made for athletes which are "supposed" to ameliorate your performances except when recommended by your doctor.

There are many miraculous products out there supposed to cure a lot of diseases or to make you feel better. NEVER FALL FOR THEM!!! The only real "supplement" you need is fresh foods which you can easily obtain at a market and a lot of water in sufficient quantities.

How and What to Eat When You Have Diabetes or Alzheimer

Written: 10/08/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Are you suffering from diabetes? Are you having heart problems? If so, what and how do you eat? Do you stop eating sugar? When you are ill, nutrition and physical activity plays an important role but also for the small pleasure it provides. The following article will try to provide you the answers to the following diseases: diabetes and alzheimer.

NOTE: This article serves only as a guide. The final decision for your nutrition rests in the hand of your treating doctor.

Nutrition and Diabetes

Taking medications and following the doctor's recommendations are necessary to prevent further complications which may endanger yourself. To be effective, it is important to respect the schedule of taking your medications or taking your insulin injections after you have eaten because these two are related.

Health Guidelines for the diabetics

  • Supervise your weight strictly. A stable weight is the best guarantee that you are eating well, not too much or too less.

  • Eat at regular hours. Eat 3 times per day. Don't jump meals.

  • Avoid unhealthy snacking.

  • There is a "myth" that if you are suffering from diabetes, you must eat less. This is not a verified fact. On the contrary, it will destabilise your system. Just eat your usual quantity but including only nutritive elements in your meal.

  • Limit the consumption of sugar and fat. If you want to eat a sweet food, eat it after having eaten something (never on an empty stomach), ideally at the end of a meal.

  • Eat starchy foods only to your appetite.

  • Do not limit the intake of dairy products. Eat 2 or 3 dairy products per day.


Hypoglycemia is a decrease of your blood sugar level. This is a very frequent event which can have grave consequences if not treated promptly. It is generally preceded by signs like: perspiration, nervousness and shakiness, acceleration of the heart's pace, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, confusion, difficulty speaking, feeling of weakness.

How to react

  • You must eat sugar immediately to increase your blood sugar level. For example, you can take 2 teaspoons of honey or a glass of fruit juice. The problem is when a person has the following signs, he/she doesn't normally know what is happening to him/her.

  • Every relapse of your blood sugar level must be communicated to your doctor so that he/she can make a change to your treatment.

  • Make sure you have a regular physical activity.

  • Do not start bilge eating sugar after you have a bout of hypoglycemia.

Other problems

If you are diabetic, the following signs necessitates the help of a doctor:

  • constant fatigue over a period of several days.

  • a sudden loss in weight.

  • a permanent sensation of thirst.

  • nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain.

  • deterioration of mental capacity.

  • muscular cramps.


A diabetic has a tendency to dehydrate as soon as his/her blood sugar level increases. It is therefore necessary for a diabetic to drink a lot of water and even more if his/her blood sugar level is more than 2g/litre.

Nutrition and Alzheimer

Even if there is no cure for alzheimer actually, it is possible to reduce its progress. Following the nutrition and eating habits closely of a person suffering from alzheimer is very important because most of the time, the person is either forgetting to eat or is eating the same thing over and over again or even refuses to eat.

General advices

  • As stated above for diabetes, follow the weight of the person suffering from alzheimer strictly.

  • Enrich the meal with more nutrients like adding more vegetables to the meal if you notice the person eating less or losing weight.

  • Encourage the person to move. A daily physical activity allow the person to have a peaceful sleep at night and thus prevents the inversion of the circadian rhythm or day/night rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly-24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria.

  • Follow a pattern of eating at certain times of the day, everyday.

  • Make sure the person is sitting at the same place everytime he/she is eating.

  • Do not vary the dishes too much.

  • Remove any distractions during meal time such as turning off the radio or television.

  • Make sure that the room is well lit. This reassures the person and increases his /her concentration on the meal.

  • If possible, eat with the person.

  • Sometimes you have to make the person eat the food. If he/she is not opening the mouth, place the spoon with the food gently on his/her lips.

  • If the person is not chewing his/her food properly, prepare some light foods and encourage he/she to chew by talking with him/her. Make sure also that his/her teeth are in good order.

Make eating easier

In certain cases, the person suffering from alzheimer has trouble focusing and cannot sit down for a meal, which can disturb his eating habits. Provide the person with meals that do not require a fork, knife or spoon and can be taken anywhere.

  • home-made sandwiches combining green vegetables like lettuces, tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish.

  • uncooked vegetables sticks.

  • sausages, meat/fish balls.

  • pizzas.

  • biscuits, pancakes, cakes without eating fruits.

Taking care of a person suffering from either of the above illness is very tiring psychologically, even more if it is a parent, your partner or your "child". Make sure you also are eating well, follow your weight and do not hesitate to ask for help.

A Simple Health Guide for the Elderly

Written: 10/05/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

It's not very easy to retain the pleasure of eating and exercising when age and the health problems associated influence your eating habits and your health. Helping an "old" person to maintain a quality nutrition and to do some exercise is very important in order to live healthily.

If you are close to the person - wife/husband, partner, child, family member or just a friend, this guide is for you. Whatever the state of the person's health you are helping, you must keep the following four essential points in mind: weight, nutrition, hydration and activity level. You must promptly call a doctor if you notice a slight change in any of the following activities.

Be particularly careful if the person in question suffers from diabetes or a health disease. If the person receives food at home, make sure that all the food are eaten.Keep a time table of all the medications the person has to take and at what time and make sure, he/she takes them. A person suffering from Alzheimer has a great risk of suffering from "malnutrition or denutrition".

Four Essential Points To Look After

  1. Weight

    Ask the person to weigh himself/herself or help him/her if he/she is not capable:

    once a month.
    several times per week depending on situations like

    - in case of high risk of dehydration: high temperature, fever, diarrhea, vomit.
    - after an infection, hospitalization or an emotional shock.
    - after recent heart problems.

    Note the weight in a calendar or a notebook.

    Note: Warn the doctor if the person's weight varies by 2 kg or more in a month.

  2. Nutrition

    Be particularly careful if
    • the person is following a diet, which was prescribed by a doctor or he/she is doing on his/her own.

    • the person you are helping, eats less fore more than 3 days.

    • the person is consuming certain type of food in high quantities like meat, milk and vegetables.

  3. Hydration

    • Verify that the person is drinking at least 1 litre of water per day.

    • Make the person drink a glass of water every time you are present with him/her.

    • Make sure she is drinking more water in periods of risk of dehydration: high temperature, fever, diarrhea, vomit.

  4. Activity Level

    Every decrease in the activity level means a state of fatigue or a decrease in the moral of the person. These are signs of a start of malnutrition. Assure that the person you are helping has:

    • a physical activity: walking, gardening, housework.

    • intellectual activity or a hobby: reading, boardgames, chess, etc.

    • social contact.

As the title states, this is just a simple guide to help the elderly. I will go into details in each point during next week. Helping someone leaves us with a great feeling but helping someone who really needs help is a very noble act.

5 Power Foods to Live Longer

Written: 10/03/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucille Ball

Actually Lucille is right about the eating slowly but I can't vouch for the lying of one's age. People are now resorting to all kinds of surgeries and beauty products just to appear younger.

The following statistics come from a 2005 American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery News Release:

The most sought after surgical procedure was the liposuction. About 455,489 women did a liposuction in 2005 and I'm sure the number is much higher now. About 3,294,782 in the USA alone did a botox to make them much more beautiful.

Increasing one's life span can actually be achieved without any procedures. Here are 5 "secret foods" to increase your life expectancy:

The following foods have anti-aging properties and can prevent your cells from aging prematurely.

  1. Spinach
    Spinach is loaded with nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C. Popeye took the spinach to boost his strength but he was actually protecting himself against diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis. Among its many health benefits, Spinach improves your eyesight and your mental capabilities. Cooked spinach is an excellent source of iron, a mineral that is particularly important for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency. Boosting iron stores with spinach is a good idea, especially because, in comparison to red meat, a well-known source of iron, spinach provides iron for a lot less calories and is totally fat-free.

  2. Tofu
    Termed as the "elixir of longevity" of the japanese, Tofu is a highly nutritious, protein-rich food that is made from the curds of soybean milk. It contains a lot of tryptophan, manganese, iron, protein and selenium. Tofu, made of soy, is a powerhouse of protein. 4 ounces of tofu provides 9.2 grams of protein, that's 18.3% of the daily value for protein, and it comes virtually free of saturated fat (less than 1 gram), and at a cost of only 86 calories. Most types of tofu are enriched with calcium and thus, prevents osteporosis. Selenium is needed for the proper function of the antioxidant system, which works to reduce the levels of damaging cells in the body.

  3. Blueberry
    Everybody by now knows that blueberry is a powerfood. But do you know why? Actually blueberry is not a powerfood but an antioxidant powerhouse. As described above, antioxidants help prevent the destruction of cells in our body that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. In addition to that, Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily. In laboratory animal studies, researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Researchers found that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging animals, making them mentally equivalent to much younger ones.

  4. Avocado
    The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado contains a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid. Monounsaturated fat actually lowers cholesterol level in our body. One cup of avocado has 23% of the Daily Value for folate, a nutrient important for heart health. Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."

  5. Garlic
    Garlic is a popular food known for its culinary properties but relatively unknown for its health benefits. Garlic acts as an anti-coagulant in the blood, which reduces the risk of strokes, and also increases survival time in cancer patients by helping to destroy cancerous cells. In order to maximize the health benefits of garlic, it is suggested to wait 15 minutes between peeling and cooking garlic to allow the enzymatic reaction to occur to retain some health benefits of garlic.

15 Calorie-Cutting Food Hacks

Written: 10/01/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Cutting back on calories is often seen as a near to impossible task by most but fear not! Actually reducing the amount of calories in your food can be achieved simply by knowing what and what not to eat and the quantity of food you must eat.

Here are 15 hacks to make sure you lose weight and keep off the lost weight on the long term:

  1. Use two egg whites instead of one whole egg.

    I have written an extensive article on the hidden secrets of the egg but many people seem to overlook this point. Actually scrambling two egg whites instead of cooking a whole egg can save you about 85 calories. Do this for a month and you have actually saved about 2,500 calories for each egg you eat in a day. BeHealthy has a great power breakfast with scramble white eggs to boost you up for the whole day.

  2. 1/3 alcohol, 2/3 ice cubes, a slice of lemon and a straw

    If you are a regular drinker or you just like to take a cocktail from time to time, this recipe is for you. Doctor your glass of alcohol by cutting the usual amount of alcohol you drink by half and eventually to 1/3 and filling the rest with ice cubes. Tuck a straw in and start sipping. The motion of sipping instead of gulping the drink will actually make you feel you are drinking the same amount of alcohol you used to drink. The slice of lemon to your cocktail is actually for flavour and a bit of vitamin C! ;) This hack can apply to other drinks like soda instead of alcohol.

  3. Seltzer Wine Hack

    This is for the wine lovers who just can't stop themselves from drinking a glass of wine before bed. Fill your glass of wine half full and top it off with seltzer. Seltzer is carbonated water and thus has no calorie value. Although carbonated water can cause dissolution of your teeth, this is actually very low in value and is one hundreds less soda.

  4. Replace whole milk with skim milk

    Skim milk is whole milk without the additional fat. Skim milk is low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

  5. Cut down the butter

    Instead of pouring butter over your popcorn, just try your popcorn with some spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.

  6. Ban the margarine

    If you are not used to read labels, it is better to stop using margarine because as a reader reminded me, some margarine contains trans fat. Trans fats lowers the amount of HDL or good cholesterol. This is not beneficial to health because it increases the risk of Coronary Heart Disease. I wrote an article some time ago about margarine and trans fat effects which I strongly advise you to read.

  7. Opt for fresh everytime

    Be it fresh fruits, fresh vegetables or fresh meat, fresh means nutritive. Ditch dried fruits in favour of fresh fruits, canned or packaged mixed vegetables in favour of fresh fruits and frozen meat in favour of fresh meat.

  8. Sip wisely

    Soft drinks and iced teas are typically loaded with calories, especially when they come in super-sized bottles. A 16-ounce bottle of cola, for instance, contains 182 calories, and a 16.9-ounce bottle of iced tea has 186 calories. Trade regular soda for the diet version or, better yet, a bottle of water, and you'll nix all of those calories from your diet.

  9. Shake off the cream

    Rather than lighten your coffee with cream and sugar, make the switch to skim milk and a calorie-free sweetener. One tablespoon of cream and two teaspoons of sugar adds up to 90 calories. Using two tablespoons of skim milk (you'll probably want a little more for desired creaminess) will deliver just 15 calories, for a savings of 75 calories.

  10. Divide your meal in 3 parts

    As I wrote in the article on how to prepare a healthy family meal, try the following 3 sequences of meal. Have an entree, a small portion of the main dish and a dessert to wash it down. The entrée and dessert can be fresh fruits or vegetables whereas the main dish must be a balanced meal.

  11. Higher moisture content cheese

    When buying cheese, choose types with higher moisture content and less fat. Acceptable varieties include edam, skim milk, mozarella, ricotta, quark, and cottage cheese.

  12. Avoid frying

    Instead of frying, try other cooking techniques like baking, roasting, or why not simply eat the vegetables as salads with baked meat.

  13. Switch from flour bread to whole wheat bread

    Whole wheat bread is actually more consistent and nutritious than flour bread (commonly known as white bread). Actually the bread is bleached which gives it its typical white colour. Along with the colour of the bread, most vitamins and essential nutrients are removed from the bread. Whole wheat bread is actually more filling than the same amount of white bread. So you'll tend to eat little and more healthy than a lot of "unhealthy" white bread.

  14. Dump the mayonnaise

    Mayonnaise is the common name for "egg yolk". Mayonnaise is basically a mixture of egg yolk, oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt. The egg yolk is high in cholesterol and contains all the fat of the egg. So next time think twice before adding mayonnaise to your meal. Those so claim fat-free mayonnaise actually contain fats, be it only a little.

  15. Eat soup more regularly

    Prepare some healthy vegetable soups and eat them on a more regular basis. Soup is laden with nutrients and tends to fill you up with less calories than actually eating a whole dish.