PCOS is a very common endocrine condition, especially for women of reproductive age. 

PCOS simply means polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can be further interpreted as,

Poly – many or multiple 

Cys – cysts

Tic – pertaining to 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a syndrome with many or multiple cysts in the ovaries. 

The prevalence of PCOS is between 5 to 15 % but it differs in each study. This disorder can be both morphological which means cyst formation in ovaries or biochemical which means hyperandrogenism. 

In other words, PCOS is a multifactorial disease which means there are many factors that lead to this condition. Some women can experience mild side effects whereas others can have severe PCOS symptoms. So symptoms also differ between individuals. 

In the menstrual cycle, there are two phases –

Follicular phase – menstruation to ovulation (days 1 to 14)

Luteal phase – ovulation to menstruation (days 14 to 28)

If this cycle is abnormal, then it is a sign of PCOS. 

Ovulation is a process that happens when the mature egg is released from the ovary for fertilization. If the egg isn’t fertilized, the body sends out the egg through menstruation. 

In some cases, hormonal imbalance happens which means the woman doesn’t make enough hormones needed for the ovulation process. So when ovulation does not happen, the ovary develops many small cysts (fluid-filled sacs). This cyst is responsible for the production of hormones called androgens and thus it leads to PCOS. 

 

How is PCOS diagnosed?

 

Recent diagnostic criteria according to Androgen excess society (AES) 2006 are,

  • Hyperandrogenism 
  • Oligo-ovulation / anovulation 
  • Polycystic ovaries 
  • Exclusion of other related diseases

If a person is suspected to have PCOS, a blood test, and pelvic ultrasound is the next step that should be taken for confirmation. 

Blood is taken to assess hormones, lipid levels, and glucose. 

Pelvic ultrasound is taken to scan the ovaries. 

After the diagnosis of PCOS, the person is prone to have diabetes and also has an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, hypertension, depression, and cardiac problems. 

 

What are the clinical features of PCOS?

 

  1. Reproductive Features – 

Hyperandrogenism 

Hirsutism 

Ovulatory and menstrual dysfunction 

Infertility 

Complications in pregnancy

Miscarriage

Pregnancy-induced diabetes (Gestational diabetes)

Pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders 

Neonatal complications 

Increased endometrial hyperplasia   

 

  1. Metabolic features 

Insulin resistance 

Metabolic disorder 

Dyslipidemia 

Type- 2 diabetes 

Increased cardiovascular risk factors 

 

  1. Psychological features 

Anxiety 

Depression 

Poor self-esteem 

 

Risk factors of PCOS

 

  1. Genetic 

Monozygotic twins 

One of the main risk factors for PCOS is genetics, especially in monozygotic twins. Monozygotic twins are identical twins. If one twin gets PCOS, the other twin also gets PCOS due to the genetic component. 

A first-degree relative is an individual’s parents or siblings or child who has PCOS have a high risk of having PCOS themselves. 

 

  1. Obesity 

In obese individuals, PCOS is very common especially in pre-pubertal obesity (if the person is obese before the onset of obesity).

 

  1. Early onset of menarche 

A person who attains puberty before 12 years comes falls under this category. 

 

  1. Large or small for gestational age 

If a person is born with less weight or more weight along with size, they are likely to have PCOS. 

 

PCOS AND OTHER RELATED CONDITIONS 

 

  1. FERTILITY AND PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS 

 

There are many studies where pregnant women with PCOS develop complications during delivery. There is an increased risk of women having gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and cesarean section if she has PCOS. 

Miscarriage is also very common in women with PCOS. 

There is no evidence-based study for postpartum depression among women with PCOS. 

 

  1. OBESITY AND PCOS 

 

Obesity is the main cause of the development of PCOS. obesity increases insulin resistance which in turn results in hyperinsulinemia and this high insulin increases adipogenesis and decreases lipolysis. Obesity is responsible for hormonal imbalance which increases androgen levels. 

The primary therapy for PCOS during their reproductive age group is lifestyle modification. 

 

  1. METABOLIC SYNDROME AND PCOS 

 

Metabolic syndrome is a group of abnormalities in our body that include insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. 

Several studies show that the main cause of this metabolic syndrome is hyperandrogenism. 

In a study, first-degree relatives showed a higher prevalence of hypertension and hyperlipidemia in women with PCOS. 

 

  1. PSYCHOSOCIAL FEATURES AND PCOS 

 

Depression and anxiety are very common in women with PCOS.

There are also risk factors in women with PCOS such as eating disorders that lead to obesity, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image. 

 

  1. HYPERANDROGENISM 

 

Hyperandrogenism is the production of androgens which is a male sex hormone. In PCOS, excess production of androgens happens and this leads to symptoms like facial hair and acne. 

These high levels lead to altered gonadotropin levels. If these levels are high then the person can face issues with ovulation. These high levels will affect the ovulation process by stopping it from occurring.

 

TREATMENT 

 

The primary treatment for the management of PCOS is the dietary modification and physical activity. So lifestyle modification is a major therapy recommended. 

Dietary management 

Women with PCOS should definitely plan their PCOD diet chart. They should

  • Calculate macros based on body compositions. 
  • Have a balanced diet with all the macros (Carbohydrates, protein, and fats along with vegetables). 
  • Exercise. It is very important for proper cardiovascular function and increases energy expenditure. 

Having a balanced diet and doing physical activity consistently has an approach that deals with the fundamental problem of PCOS which will help to improve the patient from the long-term consequences including, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

 

PHARMACOLOGICAL THERAPY IN PCOS 

 

The secondary treatment for PCOS is suggesting supplements. There are no specific supplements given for PCOS but for hormonal disturbances, supplements are suggested. 

The ORS (oral contraceptive pills) are generally recommended to improve hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance. 

Generally, medical therapy for PCOS is given to reduce the symptoms. 

In the reproductive age group, OCP is given for conception, and metformin is given for insulin resistance.  

Here are some common myths you come across when dealing with PCOS-

 

Myth- 1 – Doing seed cycling prevents PCOS 

Fact

Seed cycling is a naturopathy treatment that is given to women with PCOS. 

Seed cycling claims to optimize the hormones during the menstrual cycle and also relieves symptoms that are caused by hormonal imbalances. 

But there is no scientific evidence for seed cycling and PCOS. 

In seed cycling, the seeds that are asked to consume are flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. 

 

So we can consume these seeds as a good fat source but we cannot reverse PCOS. 

 

Myth- 2  – All women with PCOS are obese. 

Fact: 

Only around 50% of women with PCOS are obese. Thin women with PCOS do have other features of PCOS like excess facial hair, irregular menstrual cycles, and anovulation. On ultrasound, there will be a polycystic pattern. 

 

Myth- 3 – PCOS is not linked to diabetes. 

Fact: 

PCOS patients have insulin resistance and are at increased risk of developing Diabetes mellitus. However, the actual cause and the effect are still not known.

 

Myth- 4 – Women with PCOS should have a gluten-free diet 

Fact- 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, Raje, and barley. A gluten-free diet is not recommended for women with PCOS unless she has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. These are immune-related disorders in which the body responds abnormally to gluten, causing digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, nausea, etc. 

 

Myth- 5 reducing your weight can get rid of PCOS

Fact- 

By following a proper diet, and physical activity, you cannot completely overcome PCOS, you need to bring down the blood glucose level to the normal range, regulate your hormonal levels to improve your ovulation, and regulate the menstrual cycle to completely get rid of PCOS. 

 

Myth- 6 PCOS affects only women who are above 30 years 

Fact- 

PCOS does not show any age bias. The syndrome can easily affect adolescent age groups by showing irregular periods. Pubertal obesity is one of the causes of the occurrence of PCOS in adolescent age groups. 

 

Myth- 7 PCOS is only about irregular periods. 

Fact- 

Abnormal lipid levels, hyperglycemia, and metabolic syndrome are very common in women with PCOS. Even there are higher chances for endometrial cancer and breast cancer occurrence. So PCOS is not only irregular periods, there are so many risk factors that occur in PCOS. 

 

Myth- 8 – PCOS and PCOD are different

Fact- 

PCOS is also called PCOD. PCOS and PCOD are the same, they are concerned with ovaries. 

PCOS is a polycystic syndrome and PCOD is a disease condition. 

PCOS and PCOD are common metabolic disorders that are linked to hyperglycemia, hormonal imbalance, etc.

They both have similar symptoms and risk factors. Aetiology of both is the same. 

The only difference between PCOS and PCOD is the abbreviation. 

There is no scientific evidence for the differentiation of PCOD and PCOS. 

Our body requires sufficient nutrition for survival, as it also helps in body function and staying healthy in general. Food is the primary source of our daily nutrient requirements followed by supplements that help to boost the nutritional level of our body.

As seen in the previous article, food, nutrition and, nutrients are three different entities that are interrelated but not the same.

Food is the primary source of energy while nutrients are part of the food that nourishes us.

Then what does nutrition imply?

Nutrition represents the entire process by which we get our required energy and nutrients from food.

 

Once we understand this basic difference between food and nutrition, the next step is to know about our macros and micros.

Macros and micros are short forms of macronutrients and micronutrients. The nutrients in food are divided into macros and micros based on the amount required by the body.

 

In this article, we will talk in detail about macros, micros their functions, types and deficiency.

 

MACRONUTRIENTS

 

As the name implies macronutrients are required by our body in large quantities. These nutritive components are needed by our body to maintain energy and structure.

 

Our body cannot synthesize macronutrients and hence they must be obtained through diet. It is also crucial to note that a healthy diet never excludes or limits the intake of any macronutrient.

 

There are three main macronutrients and they are equally important for our body to function properly.

They are as follows:

Carbohydrates

Protein

Fat

 

CARBOHYDRATES

 

Carbohydrates or carbs are the body’s primary energy source. It is also involved in providing energy to the central nervous system i.e our brains. Carbohydrates are broken down by our body into glucose or sugar molecules, which act as an energy source. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are the three elements that make carbohydrates.

 

Around 60% of our calorie requirement per day should be fulfilled by carbohydrates. They are present in both healthy and unhealthy food. Therefore, it is important to make sure that our carbohydrate requirement is fulfilled by healthy food sources.

 

Carbohydrates are further classified as-

Starches

Fibre

Sugars

 

Starches are complex in nature and have intact fibres. On the other hand, Fibres are also complex carbohydrates and are mostly present in plant-based foods. These help in digestion

Of the three types, sugars are simple carbohydrates that can easily be broken down and absorbed by the body.

 

Some of the best sources of carbs include Rice, Wheat, Millets, Fruits, etc…

 

The most commonly asked question is about sugar cravings.

We often feel the urge to snack on sugary foods. But do we crave sugar or sweet-tasting food?

Here’s a simple test to find out.

Keep a bowl of sugar and try eating it fully.

Not able to finish the bowl?

 

Then you are not craving sugars but looking for hyper-palatable foods to comfort yourself.

 

PROTEIN

 

Protein intake is very important as it is required by all the cells in our body to function properly.

It plays a vital role in tissue structure, hormones, metabolism, and transport systems.

It is also involved with enzymes that regulate metabolism and balance the acid/base environment of the body.

 

Proteins are made of amino acids and are found throughout the body. They make up many enzymes, haemoglobin, and antibodies. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein which are classified as essential and non-essential.

 

The protein requirement for each individual will vary depending on their age, medical condition, health goal, etc… On average 25% of the calorie requirement must be fulfilled by the protein intake.

 

Some sources of protein are eggs, meat, poultry, legumes (sprouted), paneer, tofu, soy, fish, and seafood.

 

Now as we understand the importance of proteins, it is also crucial to address the common perception that eating too much protein might cause kidney problem

 

Eating the required amount of protein won’t cause any harm when consumed within the required limits.

You need to be cautious about protein intake only when kidney function is already affected.

 

FAT

Fats from food provide the body with energy and help in other functions like insulating organs and making up the cell membrane.

It is also involved in the absorption and transportation of fat-soluble vitamins. Other functions of the fat include brain and nerve function, and hormone balance.

 

About 15% of daily calories should be from fat intake. It should also be noted that the fat type and source are important to prevent adverse health effects.

 

Fat, in general, is classified into :

Saturated fat

Unsaturated fat – MUFA, PUFA, Omega 3, and Omega 6

Trans fat

 

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature due to their chemical structure. They tend to be high in cholesterol, hence consuming foods rich in saturated fats tends to cause more diseases.

On the other hand, unsaturated fat such as Monosaturated fat and Polysaturated fat is known as healthy fats. They help to control cholesterol at healthy levels.

It is always better to balance out saturated fats with other types of fats such as MUFA and PUFA.

Trans fat comes from industrial fat processing where saturated or unsaturated fats are processed by adding hydrogen ions to them.

Trans fats are also solid at room temperature.

The process of adding hydrogen ions is known as hydrogenation and they extend the shelf life of the product.

 

Good sources of fat include nuts and seeds, fatty fish, oil, butter, and ghee.

 

One of the most common thoughts that comes to our mind when we talk about fat is that it may increase our weight.

In reality, though fat contains more calories when compared to protein and carbohydrates it doesn’t mean that you will gain weight. Weight gain occurs only when there’s a calorie surplus. Fats in fact slow down digestion and help to make us feel satiety.

Excess calories from carbohydrates and protein can also be stored in our body as fat, increasing our overall weight.

 

Thus, the key to a healthy meal plan is having a balanced diet.

 

MICRONUTRIENTS

 

Micronutrients are required by our body in small quantities and but still, they cater to various important body functions.

Therefore, their deficiency can cause serious effects.

 

The term micronutrient encompasses both vitamins and minerals. It can also be classified as essential and non-essential micronutrients based on the ability of the body to produce them. It is estimated that around 30 vitamins and minerals cannot be synthesized by our body. And hence, they have to be made available through food intake or supplements.

 

VITAMINS:

 

In general, vitamins can be categorized as essential nutrients as most of them can’t be synthesized by our body and even if they are produced, the quantity is not sufficient.

 

Heat, acid or air can degrade vitamins as they are organic compounds produced by plants and animals.

 

It offers a wide range of health benefits such as boosting the immune system, aiding brain and nervous system functioning etc.

Based on solubility, vitamins are further classified as Fat-soluble and Water-soluble vitamins.

 

Fat-soluble vitamin

 

They are predominantly found in high-fat foods and are also better absorbed into the bloodstream when consumed with fat.

Fat-soluble vitamins include-

– Vitamin A

– Vitamin D

– Vitamin E

– Vitamin k

 

Water soluble Vitamins

 

Water soluble vitamins are cannot be easily stored by the body as they dissolve in water upon entering the body.

Since they are not stored in our bodies, we have to get them regularly through diet.

Water-soluble vitamins include-

– Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

– Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

– Vitamin B3 – Niacin

– Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid

– Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine

– Vitamin B7 – Biotin

– Vitamin B9 – Folate

– Vitamin B12 – cobalamin

– Vitamin C

 

The major food source of vitamins is fruits and vegetables.

 

MINERALS:

 

Minerals are inorganic compounds from the earth that are required for optimal body functions.

It helps in strengthening bones, preventing tooth decay, carrying oxygen, and supporting the immune system.

Minerals are classified based on the quantity required by the body as major minerals and trace minerals.

 

Major minerals:

– Magnesium

– calcium

– phosphorus

– sulfur

– sodium

– potassium

– chloride

 

Trace minerals:

– Iron

– Selenium

– Zinc

– Manganese

– Chromium

– Copper

– Iodine

– Fluoride

– Molybdenum

 

Sources: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, milk and dairy products, Fortified foods, egg yolk.

 

We can see from an overview of macronutrients and micronutrients that micronutrient deficiency is more common.

Let us see in detail the common micronutrient deficiency –

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin B12

Iron

Iodine

Calcium

 

VITAMIN D:

It is one of the important fat-soluble vitamins that is needed for maintaining serum calcium levels and for bone density.

 

Vitamin D must be obtained from the sun, but it is evident from research that we don’t get enough from the sun.

 

We can get vitamin D from food sources such as egg yolk, mushrooms, dairy products, and fortified dairy products. But they are not sufficient so it’s always better to consume a supplement.

 

Deficiency:

Deficiency of vitamin D mostly leads to low bone density and can also lead to osteoporosis in adults

 

What causes Vitamin D deficiency?

When we don’t get enough vitamin D from food or the sun, our body cannot convert vitamin D into its active form.

 

Who is at risk?

People with malabsorption syndrome ( Crohn’s disease )

People with chronic kidney disease (where kidney won’t be able to convert vitamin D)

People with hyperparathyroidism ( where the body’s calcium levels are controlled by too much thyroid hormone)

How to prevent it?

You can combat vitamin D deficiency by taking supplements

 

What is the best time to get vitamin D from the sun?

The best time to get vitamin D from the sun is morning 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

It is said that ultraviolet rays are intense during this time and our body can more efficiently make vitamin D

UV rays from the sun are classified based on their wavelengths as UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVB rays are responsible for producing the active form of Vitamin D in our bodies.

Additionally, it only takes a small amount of UV rays for our bodies to produce vitamin D. Therefore, we don’t have to expose ourselves to the sun for a long period. Excessive UV exposure will only damage our skin.

 

 

 

VITAMIN B12:

 

Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in our liver and can be used in the later stage of life when we absorb less vitamin B12.

Source: fish, shellfish, dairy products, nutritional yeast

Function:

To form and maintain a healthy nervous system

Deficiency:

Leads to neurological problems – poor memory, dementia, psychosis

Megaloblastic anaemia / pernicious anaemia (reduction in healthy RBC)

Depression

Loss of appetite and weight loss

Who is at risk?

Since B12 is mostly obtained from animal sources, vegetarians and vegans are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Older persons (who cannot absorb enough B12 from food)

Malabsorption syndrome

Symptoms:

Tingling sensation in feet

Muscle weakness and numbness

Weakness and fatigue

Irregular heart rate

How to prevent it?

You can either choose to have vitamin B12 shots (injection) or can have supplements.

 

CALCIUM:

Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in our body and is associated with our bone health.

It is also linked with parathyroid hormone, vitamin D, and calcitonin.

Functions:

Formation of bones and teeth

Linked with bone cell formation and destruction

Muscle contraction

Transmitting nerve impulses

Sources:

Green leafy vegetables

Nuts and seeds

Fish

Calcium-fortified foods

Symptoms:

Muscle aches

Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and feet

Low bone density (bones get fractured easily)

Confusions, memory loss

Who is at risk?

Malnutrition and malabsorption

Certain genetic factors

Women at the menopausal stage

Those who have less vitamin D levels

How to prevent it?

Add more calcium-rich foods to the diet

Take calcium supplements.

 

IRON:

Iron forms an essential part of proteins and enzymes. Thus, it takes part in many vital functions of the body such as aiding muscles to store and use oxygen.

Sources:

Dietary iron can be classified into heme and non-heme iron where heme iron comes from animal sources and non-heme iron comes from plant sources

 

Heme Iron:

Fish

Organ meats

Red meat

Non-heme Iron:

Raisins

Prunes

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds

Dark green leafy vegetables

Beans and legumes

 

Function:

Formation of red blood cells

Oxygen transport

Produces anaerobic energy

Makes up proteins and enzymes

 

Deficiency:

Iron deficiency is the most common worldwide

Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition in which our blood lacks healthy red blood cells.

 

Symptoms:

Brittle nails

Less immunity

Extreme fatigue

Weakness

Pale skin

Unusual cravings for the non-nutritive substance

Poor appetite

 

Who is at risk?

Women (due to blood loss during menstruation)

Vegans and vegetarians

People who have vitamin A deficiency can intensify iron deficiency

 

How to prevent it?

Include more iron-rich foods

To maximize iron absorption by including vitamin C-rich foods

Iron supplement

 

IODINE:

Iodine is an important mineral for normal thyroid function. In case of deficiency, it leads to enlargement of the thyroid gland and our body cannot make enough thyroid hormone.

 

Function:

Formation of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4)

Source:

Iodised salt

Eggs

Saltwater fish and seafood

 

Symptoms:

Swelling in neck

Unexpected Weight gain

Fatigue and weakness

Hair loss

Dry flaky skin

Impaired growth and development

 

How to prevent it?

Since the RDA for iodine is very less including iodized salt on a regular basis might help.

 

MICRONUTRIENTS THAT COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER:

 

In this section, we have listed a few micronutrients that work best when taken together.

 

Iron and vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron from non-heme sources (plant sources) by our body.

 

Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D and calcium are important for bone strength and work together to protect our bones wherein vitamin d is important for calcium absorption in our body.

So even if we take enough calcium from foods it might not be used properly if we have vitamin D deficiency.

 

Vitamin K and calcium

Too much vitamin K can lead to deposits of calcium in our arteries.

New research findings show that vitamin K is a regulator of calcium and is important for calcium deposition in bones

 

Vitamin B12 and folate

Folic acid and B12 work closely in making RBC which in turn helps with the proper functioning of the body.

 

MICRONUTRIENTS THAT WORK OPPOSITE:

The following combination of micronutrients is not supposed to be taken together for the following reasons-

 

Zinc and copper

Too much zinc can lead to copper deficiency by reducing the absorption of copper in our intestines.

 

Zinc, calcium, and iron

Excessive Zinc and calcium will inhibit iron absorption. In turn, excessive iron and calcium can also reduce zinc absorption.

 

Now, let’s bust some myths revolving around macro and micronutrients.

 

Myth: Eliminate carbohydrates from your diet to lose weight.

 

Fact: Eliminating carbs might initially show you results since you will be losing your water weight and not your body fat. In the long run, this type of diet is not sustainable as carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body.

 

Myth: Are you vegan or vegetarian? Then you are not getting enough proteins.

 

Fact: It’s true that plant-based sources have incomplete proteins. But when you take a balanced diet, your body will get the nine essential amino acids, even if it’s a plant-based diet. Therefore, it’s not true that if you are vegan or vegetarian you don’t get enough proteins.

 

Myth: Your body doesn’t need fat

 

Fact: Many are skeptical about fat intake as it might lead to weight gain. But one must know the difference between good and bad fat. Good fats are required by the body to perform various vital functions, for example, our brain requires good fat sources for energy.

Myth: Vitamin overdose is not possible.

 

Fact: It’s possible to overdose on vitamins, especially when you are taking supplements as well as fortified foods or if you are taking supplements for a very long time. Hence, it’s essential to take supplements under the guidance of a nutritionist/physician and track your vitamin intake.

 

 

 

If you are someone looking for a nutritionist’s guidance and find yourself encountering terms you don’t understand, you have come to the right place.

 

The nutritionist might tell you many things in Greek and Latin and you might be confused. It is true that some of our clients feel the same way when we suggest they take supplements to combat deficiencies. When we explain to them that they aren’t allergic but intolerant, they seem to get a tad confused. It is also possible that some people have a misconception about processed foods. 

 

By understanding the most commonly used terminologies and their differences, you will be better able to understand what you eat and what your nutritionist recommends.

 

  • NUTRIENT VS FOOD 

 

Most of us confuse the terms nutrient and nutrition. The term nutrition encompasses the term nutrient. 

 

Nutrients – are substances that are required for the nourishment of organisms while 

Nutrition –  is the entire process by which organisms obtain energy and nutrients from food.

 

We might also think food and nutrients are the same.

 

Food is the source of energy that helps our body to function properly and stay alive.

 

Nutrients are a part of food, which are used and metabolized by our body cells to provide energy.

 

Example: Fruit is your food and the vitamins and minerals in it are the nutrients.

 

Recipe – Smoothie is the food, the carbs, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat we get from the ingredients are the nutrients.


  •  ALLERGY VS INTOLERANCE

 

It is possible to experience adverse reactions after eating certain foods. 

 

These reactions can be categorized as immunologic (allergic) and non-immunologic (intolerance).

 

Many people mistake food intolerance for allergy as one of its symptoms is allergy-like reactions.

 

  Allergy: 

  • Allergies occur when the body’s immune system responds or overreacts to a particular type of protein. 
  • This protein is usually from foods, pollens, house dust, animal hair, or moulds and they are called allergens. 
  • During allergy, our body produces antibodies to defend substances that are usually harmless.

 

Intolerance:

 

Food intolerances arise if the body is unable to digest a certain food. This impairment may be due to a lack of digestive enzymes or a sensitivity to certain chemicals.

 

Food intolerance refers to the body’s inability to digest certain chemicals in food due to lack of enzymes or sensitivity to the chemical.

 

  • These are chemical reactions that occur that are not immune responses.
  • This often happens when we can’t properly digest particular food or its components. 
  • Food intolerances are uniquely individualized. 

 

Food allergy is more severe and fatal than food intolerances.

 

Example for allergy: Peanut allergy or shellfish allergy – A person who is allergic to peanut or shellfish, and eats one of these could even die without medical assistance. 

Symptoms: can start with rashes, hives, and itching and can develop into fatal symptoms like dilation of blood vessels, drop in blood pressure, etc. 

 

Example of food intolerance: It mostly occurs from enzyme deficiency. 

Many people can be lactose intolerant – they won’t have the enzyme lactase which is necessary to digest lactose, the main sugar in milk.

Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, etc. 


  • PROCESSED VS ULTRA-PROCESSED

 

The newest trend buzzing around among people is “saying NO to processed food”.

But one must understand that food does not make it from the farm to the fork unprocessed.

Even the fruits that we eat require some processing before they reach our plates. 

Choosing minimally processed foods is probably a better option than ultra-processed foods.

 

Processing:  Processing is anything that alters the fundamental nature of agricultural produce, such as freezing, dicing, drying, etc.

  • The nutrients in these foods will still be intact. 

Example: The milk we drink daily requires processing such as pasteurization to extend its shelf life. 

 

Ultra processing: A technique that converts agricultural produce into an entirely different form is known as ultra processing. 

 

Highly processed foods, also known as ultra-processed foods, are relatively cheap, convenient, and tasty but contain a lot of refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and salt. 

  • They could also be referred to as hyper-palatable foods. 

Example: Potato chips, bread, soft drinks, etc.

 

  • SUPPLEMENTS VS MEDICINE

 

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: A dietary supplement is a vitamin, mineral, herb, or nutrient that a person takes to treat or combat nutritional deficiencies, improve their overall well-being, or improve their overall wellness.

Dietary supplement labels may make certain health-related claims, but they are not intended to treat or cure any specific disease. Dietary supplements are generally safe to consume and cause no adverse reactions. 

 

MEDICINE: This is a preparation or substance used to treat a particular disease and ease symptoms. Several chemicals are mixed together in laboratories to produce medicines.

 

For example, fish oil that we consume to lower the cholesterol level is a supplement and the fever medication that we get only with a doctor’s prescription is medicine.

 

  • COD LIVER OIL VS FISH OIL 

 

COD LIVER OIL – as the name suggests, it’s derived from codfish livers.

The oils in these fish tend to build up in the liver, and they also contain high levels of vitamins A and D.

 

FISH OIL – Fish oil comes from the flesh of fatty fishes such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon. 

This results in higher concentrations of EPA and DHA.

Fish oil doesn’t contain Vitamin A or D.

 

However, cod liver oil often contains a lower concentration of omega 3’s when compared to omega 3 fish oil.


 

  •  SATURATED FAT VS TRANS FAT

 

SATURATED FATS: Saturated fat is solid at room temperature due to its chemical structure. 

Foods high in saturated fats tend to be high in cholesterol, hence consuming foods rich in saturated fats tends to cause more diseases. 

It has also been found that foods containing saturated fats are highly processed and contain more sugar and sodium which might have an effect on our body. 

Therefore, saturated fats should always be balanced with other types of fats such as MUFA and PUFA.

 

Example: butter, cream, cheese, coconut, etc.

 

TRANS FAT: Trans fat comes from industrial fat processing where saturated or unsaturated fats are processed by adding hydrogen ions to them. 

Trans fats are also solid at room temperature. 

The process of adding hydrogen ions is known as hydrogenation and they extend the shelf life of the product.

 

Example: margarine, shortenings, etc.

 

When we talk about nutrition, we often hear the following statements. We even hear some of these statements every day. But how true are they?

 

In this article, we will debunk 6 such statements:

 

  1. FLAX SEEDS ARE THE RICHEST SOURCE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS. 

 

Our common perception is that flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

 

But in reality, they are a rich source of fiber, but not the best source of omega-3.

The omega-3 fatty acid found in flax seeds is ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), which our bodies cannot convert to EPA/DHA.

 

Therefore, the most ideal choice is to consume EPA/DHA-containing foods such as fatty fish, salmon, tuna, etc.

 

  1. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS A GLUTEN-FREE DIET

 

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, maida, and rye which is responsible for the elasticity of these flours. 

 

So, WHO NEEDS A GLUTEN-FREE DIET? 

 

Individuals with celiac disease or individuals with gluten sensitivity or those who can’t tolerate even small amounts of the protein gluten should go gluten-free. 

 

If you are not gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, eliminating gluten from your diet can cause nutritional deficiencies. 

 

  1. EGGS ARE HEALTHY AND GOOD FOR CHOLESTEROL

 

Eggs are an economical and easily available source of high-quality protein which is a key source of many essential nutrients. 

 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced majorly in our body, forms an important part of our cells and is very important for the proper functioning of our body. 

While cholesterol is important for body functions, high amounts can lead to heart problems. 

But however not all cholesterol is bad, the cholesterol that comes from the foods you eat has a minimal impact because the body naturally regulates the amount of cholesterol that circulates in the blood.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN AN EGG?

 

For many years now, we all have been thinking that egg yolk is full of saturated fat. But, the truth is that the major fat portion in eggs comes from MUFA and PUFA. 

Saturated fats when consumed along with MUFA and PUFA don’t show to have much effect on cholesterol.  

Also, if you are still not convinced and are skeptical about consuming whole eggs daily, remember that consuming saturated fats along with lots of ultra-processed foods/refined carbohydrates is unhealthy. 

Instead include eggs as a part of your healthy diet along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

 

  1. LATE-NIGHT EATING WILL MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT.

 

Many people think eating late at night will make them fat but the truth is it doesn’t. 

According to science, a calorie is a calorie taken regardless of the time. 

What causes weight gain is the type of food you eat and the number of calories you eat. 

Most studies suggest that nighttime eaters mostly make poor choices of food. 

Studies show that most people who eat late at night binge eat to keep them awake, for this they rely on hyper-palatable foods that are high in sugar and fats that have low satiety value and make them eat more. 

The second most important point is that the calories that go in from the hyper-palatable foods must be burned out, if not definitely it will make them gain weight. 

VERDICT – Eating late at night is not bad but the type of food we eat matters the most and the calories we eat must be within the limits. 

 

  1. IS IT OKAY TO SKIP YOUR BREAKFAST?

 

For most of our lives, breakfast has often been dubbed “BREAKING THE FAST” and is considered one of the most important meals of the day.

 

They say skipping breakfast might lead you to overeat later in the day.

 

But, this is not true.

 

Also, it may not cause you to eat less either. It definitely depends on the individual. 

 

If you are taking appropriate amounts of calories and nutrients throughout the day, skipping breakfast won’t make much difference. 

 

  1. A DETOX DIET IS IMPORTANT

 

A detox diet – is a more popular diet trend that claims to detox/ clean our body and eliminates harmful toxins from our body. 

A typical detox diet involves a period of fasting followed by a diet that includes only fruits, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes it might also include herbs, teas, and enema. 

 

THE TRUTH – our body doesn’t need any detox program or diet, it’s naturally designed to detox itself. Our organs such as the liver, kidney, and lungs are detoxification machines that are naturally designed to get rid of the toxins from our body. 

That means maintaining a healthy diet is important in order to maintain the proper functioning of these organs. 

 

THE CON – The detox diets can also be dangerous since they include only a particular type of food group and avoid most of them and can cause nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, and other problems.

 

Covid 19 has shown us that food plays an important role in preventing and recovering from illness. It has also set the trend to move toward healthy sustainable food choices which can be achieved by 

 

  • Checking the traceability system – (FSSAI Lic No, Batch code, etc.)

First comes the traceability technique. This is the main contributor to ensuring food safety throughout the food chain by providing an idea of food spoilage through aroma, flavor, texture, and nutrition during food production. It makes it easier to track the origin of certain foods.

 

  • Opting for seasonal and local fruits and vegetables

Seasonal and locally available fruits and vegetables that are naturally ripened in the sun will taste better and be fresher. They also have the highest nutritional value because we consume them close to the harvesting period, making them safe for consumption.

 

  • Harvesting your own produce

It would be safe and healthy if you harvested your own produce – fruits, and vegetables on the terrace.

 

  • Choosing home food over restaurant/processed foods

Move from restaurant to home-cooked foods because restaurants stock the food for longer periods of time, causing the food to spoil and become contaminated. 

 

Planning your own menu helps you save time, money, and health. But we often stop ourselves because of these FIVE myths. Let’s debunk each of these myths and create a healthy meal plan

 

  1. MYTH: Meal plans are complicated and take hours to create

Taking the first step isn’t always easy! Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

Instead of planning a rigidly structured plan, create a loose map to follow with just enough structure to guide you. This is the key to creating a stress-free weekly meal map organized around meal types.

 

  1. MYTH: You must plan seven meals each week

What’s well begun is half done. You don’t have to plan for a whole week. Two or three is a great number to start with. 

 

In the beginning, experiment by planning two to three meals per week and plan the rest as it gets easy.

 

  1. MYTH: Low-fat means healthy

 Low-fat products might make you feel guilt-free, but they are less healthy choices as they contain a lot of other ingredients (additives, preservatives, etc.).

 

Before they go into your cart, check the package’s Nutrition label. Avoid foods high in sodium, sugar, fat, trans fats, saturated fats, and calories. 

 

  1. MYTH: Buy everything in bulk

Mega packages of food can be a great deal unless they’re big boxes of junk food. That’s just a big load of unhealthy temptations for your family. 

 

If you’re going to buy in bulk, stock up on healthy pantry staples or frozen items that you use a lot. And to keep it a bargain, make sure you’ll be able to finish items before they spoil.

 

  1. MYTH: Fresh produce is the best

 Frozen fruits and vegetables are as healthy as fresh produce. They’re frozen at peak ripeness, which preserves their nutrients.

 

If you buy canned fruit and veggies, rinse them before you eat them to cut back on added sugar and up to half the salt. Also, look for cans labeled with no sugar or no salt added.

 

Meal preparation is the concept of preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule. 

 

This helps you to indulge in your favorite meals while controlling the meal portion size, thus ensuring that you don’t overindulge. 

 

For safe food preparation take note of the following points:

  1. Clean the surface and produce before chopping.
  2. The cooking area, utensils, and kitchen cloth or equipment should be clean always. 
  3. Utensils and equipment should be cleaned after every preparation.
  4. Raw foods and cooked foods should be handled separately during meal preparation.
  5. Cooked foods should be covered and stored properly to prevent contamination.

 

Now that you have decided to prep your own meals, take note of the following points:

 

  1. Prepare your menu- Decide which recipe you are going to prepare for a meal and plan your ingredients accordingly. 

 

  1. Plan your meal with the foods that are available in season or on sale – Invest in seasonal ingredients to add variety to your diet. They are also fresher and more affordable.

 

  1. Check the refrigerator, pantry, and freezer – check the expiry date of the food that you have. You will be able to use the food before it spoils.

 

  1. Avoid the recipe that requires a special ingredient- make sure that the ingredient goes well with all the recipes if not, avoid the recipe. Because, if the ingredient is used only once and if it is not used for a long period of time then the product gets expired, and also it is a waste of money. 

 

  1. Cover your leftovers- Prepare your leftovers as a new recipe instead of throwing them away. For example, leftover chapati can be prepared as chili chapatis. This will reduce the cost and homemade foods will be safe for consumption.

 

Food labels are an integral part of a food product. It gives vital information about the product and its shelf life.

 

It is one of the most significant factors to consider in menu planning, as it tells you about the ingredients of the product.

 

Next time you see a food label, make sure to check the following:

 

Use by and expiry date – tells you if the food is safe to consume.

 

Ingredient list – tells you if any allergen is present and the presence of any preservatives or flavors or colors.

 

Storage instructions – It guides you on how to store the foods before and after opening the package and storage temperature. 

 

Still not able to plan your meals?

 

Follow these simple steps to get started today.

 

  • Check your inventory- Take a note of the ingredients available at home first, and buy ingredients accordingly 

 

  • Track your meals- Keep recording your meals to get a better idea of your meal pattern and build an outline for your meal plan.

 

  • Look out for seasonal items- Its always a great idea to include fresh and seasonal produce in your diet

 

  • Add your proteins- Don’t forget your protein sources and it needn’t be from a single source. Mix them up and create a variety.

 

  • Don’t discard the leftovers- Shower some love on your leftovers, they can be lifesavers on busy days.

 

  • Plan Plan Plan – It’s all about planning. Spend a couple of hours on the weekend and build your weekly meal plan.

 

Hydration power!

Our body is made up of almost 60% of water. Water is very important for many basic functions of the body such as transportation, chemical reactions, lubrication, shock absorption and temperature regulation.

Summer is a time where hydration becomes even more crucial for proper functioning of the body. The requirement of water for any individual depends on their age, gender, occupation and environmental conditions. But, in general, 3-4 litres of water on an average is vital and advisable.

Signs of dehydration-

Dehydration can occur to people of all ages but infants, children, and elders are more vulnerable to dehydration.

Some signs of dehydration:
-Headaches
-Muscle cramps
-Dark urine or no urination
-Dry nasal passage
-Cracked and dry lips
-Dry skin
-Feeling extreme thirst or parched

A simple method to identify if you are properly hydrated or not is to check for the color of your urine. Urine should be transparent to pale yellow in color, dark color urine can be a sign of dehydration. Also, try to focus on replenishing the lost fluids by sweating to prevent dehydration. Apart from water, consuming drinks containing electrolytes such tender coconuts are also great options.

Significance of electrolytes-

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge. The electrolytes in the body are Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Bicarbonates. Your cells use electrolytes to produce energy, which is why you might feel tired if you’re low on them. They’re all connected to fluid loss! That’s why the dynamic duo of water and electrolytes is so important for hydration.

An electrolyte imbalance can happen for many reasons such as,
-Dehydration
-Sweating
-Diarrhea
-Vomiting
-Severe burns
-Heart diseases
-Kidney diseases
-Eating disorders

Signs of electrolytic imbalance-

There are many symptoms that pop up due to electrolytic imbalance but it depends on the type of electrolyte that is out of balance. Some of the signs include fatigue, mood changes, confusion, stomach pain, loss of appetite, numbness in the hands and feet, irregular heartbeat or muscle cramping. Electrolytes are also found in foods like dense leafy greens, cucumbers, water fruits and celery.

Benefits of water and electrolytes in Summer

– It helps to balance your body temperature. Hence, keeps you cool and cope with summer better.
-Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can cause brain fog as electrolytes play an essential role in supporting the neurotransmitters that your brain depends on.
-Drinking plenty of water and electrolytes may enhance physical performance during exercise sessions and especially during summer when the heat can induce further dehydration.
-Water and electrolytes help the blood carry oxygen to different parts of the body.
-Proper balance will also support digestive process.
-It will help you to keep your skin healthy!

Enjoy the summer to the fullest by ensuring to stay hydrated throughout and keeping your electrolytic balance in check!

It is peak summer in most parts of India, and the rising temperature increases the risk of dehydration, skin burn, fever and infections if there is a lack of proper food habits. Following a seasonal diet will ensure the right supply of nutritional content to your body. Nature is very powerful and it provides with the right choices of foods which are fresh and have higher nutritional content than fruits and vegetables that are out of season.

Don’t be alarmed by the hearsays about avoiding the seasonal foods such as eating mangoes might cause heat boils. It absolutely does not cause any harm and only creates great memories! We are so lucky to have the best produce in this season which will not only provide your body with all the essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants or phytochemicals but also, helps you be hydrated well and cools down your body. They can help you enjoy a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables like cucumber, mango, melon varieties, jackfruit and berries. Cherish these instead of grabbing an ice cream or a chilled packaged beverage for it not only helps enhance the natural cleansing and healing abilities of our system but cuts down a lot of empty calories too! 

Mindful food choices in Summer:Summer and Nutrition

Coping tips to deal with the stressful heat: 

– Hydrate well. Water is very important for your system especially during summer to combat dehydration issues. You can also enjoy easy summer drinks like aam panna, coriander seeds or rebel seeds water, lemon mint water, tender coconut. Avoid aerated or packaged beverages.

-Control your portions. Most people will have less appetite during summer or will feel like having light foods. So, plan and have frequent small meals to ensure right nutrition to your body. 

-Avoid trendy diets and enjoy seasonal produce that are locally available which will benefit you better. 

-Avoid excessive caffeine, tea, coffee and alcohol as these tend to promote dehydration.

-Avoid deep fried, fast foods and spicy foods. Instead add Ginger, pepper, asafoetida, cumin or fennel seeds to your dishes for the punch and these will also help with digestive issues that are common in summer. 

Also, check out some refreshing dishes from our instagram page or recipes column to Summer and Nutrition and enjoy the season’s relish. 

Global data suggests that almost half of the mortality rate under 5 corresponds to malnutrition. So, a healthy nutritious diet is a significant contributor in the growing and developing years of children. India is yet to meet the target for stunting and growth, but
34.7% of children under 5 years of age are still affected, which is higher than the average for the Asia region (21.8%). And this especially corresponds to the children from poor economic backgrounds. Although there is a declining trend in the malnutrition status among children in India, the socio-economic background still remains a key risk factor. The risk of malnutrition was significantly higher among
children living in joint families, children whose mother’s education was less than or equal to sixth standard and those with working mothers.

On the other hand, since most of the nutritional assessments focus on malnutrition only; the risk of overnutrition has also increased among growing children which should also be given attention as it can lead to spurting of many metabolic disorders later during adulthood.

Hence, a healthy nutritious diet is a significant contributor in the growing and developing years of children as it will help set the stage for them towards building a healthy eating practice for the rest of their lives.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOODS?

Childhood is the most important stage for growth and development of their brain and immune system. So, getting the right amount of energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals is very critical. Apart from this, focusing on hygiene practices while preparing the meals
is also important to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal infections. A simple and proper meal plate designed with all nutrients will enable achieving optimal growth and development.

  • Include energy providing foods – It includes carbs and fats. So, give them energy rich foods like whole grains, nuts and vegetable oils, fruits like bananas, apples and starchy vegetables like carrot, sweet potatoes.
  • Body building foods-Protein: It helps with growth, development and repair along with building antibodies. Add a good amount of eggs, meat, fish and dairy products.
  • Protective foods – Make the meal plate colourful with different varieties of vegetables and fruits. It will help the body to function properly and boost the immune system.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D are very crucial for growing children for development of bone mass. So, the inclusion of dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and vegetables like spinach, broccoli and celery which are rich in calcium is a must. Children get most of their Vitamin D from sunlight and a small amount from some food items like (fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese and egg yolks).

A simple way to ensure that kids get the right amount of nutrients is to choose and offer healthy foods for them to eat. It’s also the key to a healthy and balanced plate because each food has a unique combination of nutrient supply—both macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THEIR EATING BEHAVIOUR:

In recent days, children are more inclined towards less nutrient dense foods or fast/convenient foods or are malnourished due to their economic background who require fortified high nutrient dense foods to combat their condition. It is our responsibility as an individual/parent and as a nation to guide the children to healthy eating opportunities no matter what their background is, to make them understand what to eat and whether to eat it or not. Setting a proper eating routine will help develop better eating behaviour since childhood and many national programs like Anganwadi feeding or home rations also help towards this. We need to inspire them to have and prefer healthy foods which are prepared at home because children generally observe what we eat and offer to them which will only set their food choices for future.

Tips to set healthy eating behaviour from home

  • Make the meal plates colourful and interesting. Pack their lunch boxes mindfully and add small notes on their food choices.
  • Try to have a bowl full of fresh fruit within easy view and reach on the kitchen table or bench. You can offer fruit as a snack or if your child is still hungry after meals.
  • Avoid digital distractions
  • Involve your children in cooking. If your child has helped to make the meal, they’re more likely to eat it.
  • Read books with healthy food content for your child – for example, books with pictures of fruits and vegetables. Get your child to point out different types, colours, shapes and so on which will help them to relate during meal time and create curiosity to try them.

Autism is a very complex developmental and neurological condition that typically shows up during the infant stage of life. It includes a broad range of conditions related to developmental disorders that affects their behavioural and social skills. Classic symptoms include repetitive behaviour, poor motor skills, information and sensory processing. There is no known cause for the Autism spectrum of disorders, but both genetics and environment are believed to play a role.

How does Autism impact their nutritional status?

Children with Autism are 5 times more likely to have a meal time challenge which may include tantrums, extreme food selectivity, or poor eating behaviour. So, inadequate nutrition will be a very common phenomenon among Autistic children. Most common deficiencies include fibre, folic acid, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins.

Common nutrition problems

  • Poor diet
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Feeding problems
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Gastrointestinal disorders like constipation
  • Exposure to neurotoxins
  • Frequent illness and infections

Nutrition intervention

Diet

  • Look for their interests and enforce elimination / challenge (based on behavioural adaptations)
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose free
  • Rotation diet
  • Antifungal
  • Specific carbohydrate diet

Supplements

  • Multivitamin and mineral
  • Essential Fatty acid

Herbs and Nutraceuticals

  • Probiotics
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Antioxidants

Dietary treatment process

Step 1 – Make appropriate dietary modifications
Step 2 – Try basic supplements
Step 3 – Then, introduce advanced supplements
Step 4 – Identify and eliminate problematic foods
Step 5 – Medical treatment (in cases of thyroid, CBC, Stool analysis etc.)

Strategies to improve feeding problem

  • Encourage mealtime with positive statements – “You can” and “do”
  • Avoid food burnout! Introduce variety in terms of colours and shapes when you give food to make it interesting.
  • Stick to a schedule – Routine will help reduce the anxiety
  • Limit distractions during meal time
  • Offer manageable foods – small, easily chewable bites
  • Offer 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks per day. Stop the nibbling.
  • Limit juice consumption
  • Use social modelling – Don’t make your child the focus of the meal time.
  • Use positive reinforcement – Ignore their negative behaviour and praise for some appropriate behaviour.

For an autistic child, a nutritious, balanced eating plan can make a huge difference in their ability to learn, how they manage their emotions and how they process information. Because children with Autism often are very picky with their meal options or have restrictions on what they eat, as well as difficulty sitting through mealtimes, they may not be getting all the nutrients they need. So, consulting with a nutritionist can help identify their nutritional risks, find solutions about the effectiveness and safety of nutrition therapies or supplements and guide your child to eat well and live healthfully.

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is the bacteria that are responsible for tuberculosis. While the general assumption about TB is that it affects just the lungs, the condition can affect other body parts like the spine, brain, and kidney. The key to dealing with Tuberculosis is early diagnosis, proper medication, and a clean diet that makes up for the loss of nutrition that comes with the condition. In this article, we’ll talk more about nutritional loss and how to tackle it.

What is the correlation between chronic TB and malnutrition?

There’s always a high correlation between any chronic condition and malnutrition. In people with tuberculosis, this malnutrition is the result of malabsorption or the body’s inability to absorb and properly synthesize all the nutrients in the food consumed, reduced intakes due to poor appetite, or the treatment itself, sometimes.

Studies show that people that are battling tuberculosis often have lower levels of vital vitamins and minerals. More often than not, the complications and secondary illnesses that come with tuberculosis are purely the result of this nutrition loss.

Vitamin deficiency in tuberculosis patients

Patients with Tuberculosis often show lower levels of essential vitamins. Here are a few such vitamins and the functions they help with.

  • Vitamin A – Enables normal bodily functions like vision, the immune system, and reproduction.
  • Vitamin C – Contributes to the development and repair of all body tissues. Essential for growth.
  • Vitamin D – Takes care of the immune function. Protects bone, muscle, and heart.
  • Vitamin E – Helps in vision, and reproduction, and is essential for the health of your blood, brain, and skin.

It is not a secret that the functions that these vitamins are responsible for our normal bodily functions and the loss of these vitamins can sabotage a lot of vital organs. Most of the time, people with tuberculosis do not properly compensate for the loss of vitamins, and the complications can be severe.

Mineral deficiency in tuberculosis patients

Patients with TB often also have to tackle mineral loss in their bodies. Here are a few minerals that are generally found in lower quantities/ratios in TB patients and what complications they might lead to.

  • Selenium – Myodegenerative diseases, such as muscle weakness, depression, anxiety, and confusion.
  • Iron – Anemic, tired, and short of breath.
  • Copper – Muscle weakness, anemia, low white blood cell count, neurological problems, and paleness.
  • Zinc – Hair loss, diarrhea, eye, and skin sores, and loss of appetite.

If you can take proper measures like a well-rounded diet that compensates for the loss of these essential minerals and constantly monitor symptoms, you can tackle tuberculosis and the complications that come with it effectively.

Dietary solutions

Be very informed of your dietary choices when you’re fighting tuberculosis. Do not follow a blanket diet plan that you do not fully understand. Compensate for the loss of vitamins and minerals, and eat food that’s rich in vitamins and minerals. As Yoda always insisted, a well-balanced diet with proper scientific backing is the best way to stop a chronic condition from worsening or slowing down the complications that come with it. In the case of tuberculosis, make sure that your diet contains all the vitamins and minerals that you are losing.

Get in touch with the nutritionists here at Optimal Nutrition Protocol, and we’ll help you arrive at an optimal dietary plan that’ll help you tackle tuberculosis better.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or chronic kidney failure is a result of when your kidneys have gradually lost their ability to filter out wastes and excess fluids from your body. The condition is usually progressive, and treatments include medications, dialysis and hemodialysis. Here’s a lesser discussed part of this touchy subject. How much of the excess fluids/wastes that are removed during these dialysis sessions are actually excesses or wastes? Are you losing something your body needs every time you go through a dialysis session? What are the side effects?

In this blog, we discuss the side effects of micronutrient deficiency that are very closely associated with CKD and dialysis. Read along, and keep yourself informed.

Kidney diseases and micronutrient deficiency – Where’s the correlation?

There’s always a correlation between nutrients and chronic illnesses. This correlation holds in good in both ways – You can develop complications and diseases if there’s chronic nutrient deficiency; and the nutritional balance in the body will be affected if you suffer from a chronic disease.

With respect to Chronic Kidney Disease, here are the reasons why your macronutrient balance is at risk –

  1. The dietary recommendations – There are a few dietary recommendations that people diagnosed with CKD will have to follow. These restrictions are aimed at reducing the intake of protein, phosphate, or potassium.
  2. Change in metabolism.
  3. Medications recommended for the condition.
  4. Other ailments and complications that you might be diagnosed with.
  5. The abdomen not being able to properly absorb nutrients.
  6. Excessive loss with urine and dialysate.

These are all potential reasons why people diagnosed with CKD might also have a micronutrient deficiency, and should be mindful of eating the rightful amount of everything that their body needs. This isn’t exclusive to later stages of CKD patients alone; but can pose a threat to people treating all stages of CKD.

What micronutrients are at the risk of loss?

  1. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) – Huge amounts of vitamin C are lost during dialysis. This is partly due to the process itself, and partly due to the vitamin getting oxidized to dehydro-ascorbic acid during hemodialysis.
  2. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – There’s a lot of controversy around the topic. CKD patients that received dialysis 35% drop in pyridoxine concentration. The study shows that vitamin deficiency was not observed in patients receiving 50 mg pyridoxine after each dialysis session. Conversely, in those CKD patients not receiving B6 supplementations, the B6 deficiency was found in 78%, 77%, 50%, and 34% of cases, respectively.
  3. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) – There’s a significant loss of folic acid every time there’s a dialysis session. Folate supplementation in a dose of 1 mg/day should prevent deficiencies in hemodialysis patients.
  4. Zinc – Deficiency of Zinc in the hair and skin is observed in people with CKD. Other tissues including erythrocytes (a red blood cell) have healthy amounts.
  5. Selenium – It’s a trace mineral. While even the general population has a deficiency due to poor dietary addition, people with CKD have it worse due to malabsorption.Needless to say, these are all important micronutrients. If you have CKD and you’re treating it, you’ll have to monitor and keep your micronutrient levels at a healthy level.

What should I do now?

First things first, understand the condition of chronic kidney disease, the treatment of kidney failure and their combined effect on your micronutrient levels. Do your own research and stop believing in hearsay. The ‘eight glasses’ trick does not work if you’re looking to clean your kidneys. Follow our space, talk to people from our team and keep yourself on the know about the condition and the implications.

Dietary restrictions

You will have to be regular with medications, because mostly these medications – though not completely – will provide doses of the micronutrients that are expected to be lost due to the condition or the treatment. So do not skip medications, stick to dietary instructions but make sure you get the recommended amount of nutritional intake. Avoid food with high salt and high potassium, and get a lot of your protein from sources like dairy and meat. Greens are essential too!

The next logical step would be arriving at a proper, tailor-made diet routine for you, and sticking to it. We can help you with it. The number of times we’ve heard people ask us, “I am on dialysis, can’t I have normal food anymore, at all?” gives us a rough representation of how ill-informed people are about the condition and the balanced approach they’d need towards food and diet. We can help you with that.

Get in touch, and follow ONP’s social handles for more such bite-sized updates about health, wellness, conditions and condition specific diet plans.

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