December 2020 | Eurobio

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Have you ever been bothered by the darkening of your skin tone after one beach holiday getaway? Or get frustrated when you notice some unexplained patches of your skin that are darker than the other parts of your body?

Dull skin, pigmentation, dark spots, uneven skin tone are challenges for a glowing skin. Darkening of the skin makes you look older and tired.

Uneven skin tone can be temporary or permanent, and may result from sun exposure, ageing, hormonal changes or scarring. Too much of sun exposure causes excess melanin production. The harmful UV light damages the skin and causes brown spots and uneven skin tone. Hormonal changes also often cause hyperpigmentation in the body andthis may occur during pregnancy, stress or ageing. Acne lesions or skin injury can cause scarring of the skin resulting in uneven skin tone.

We can adopt a few beneficial habits in our daily routine to achieve a healthy-looking glowing skin, such as:

  • Put on sunscreen
  • Drink enough water every day
  • Shield ourselves under the sun
  • Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, antioxidants and flavonoids are beneficial to skin health

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Diarrhea is defined as passing loose or watery stools 3 or more times a day. Many people get diarrhea a few times a year. Generally, most incidences will be resolved after a day or two. It is usually enough just to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

However, diarrhea in babies, young children and elderly can quickly become dangerous as they are at risk of dehydration and this will lead to life threatening conditions.

Common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Food poisoning from food contaminated by a virus or bacteria
  • Travelers’ diarrhea
  • Inflammation of the gut lining
  • Some medications that disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, including antibiotics

Probiotics, also known as the good bacteria, are the health enhancing bacteria which help reestablish the gastrointestinal beneficial micro flora and alleviate heath disorders.

Probiotics have shown to play a role in preventing and treating diarrhea. Studies have shown that probiotics help to shorten the duration of diarrhea and reduce stool frequency, in other words it made the diarrhea go away faster.

During an infection, bad bacteria enter our body and increase in number. Moreover, antibiotics will also kill off bacteria in our gut, whether it is good or bad bacteria. Besides, traveling exposes us to many types of microorganisms that are not typically introduced to our digestive system, which can also cause diarrhea. All these will knock our gastrointestinal micro flora out of balance.

Probiotics help to fight off the bad bacteria and restore the balance of normal flora in our gut, making us feel better.

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We often hear that good posture is important for our health, and start to correct others if we notice someone with a bad posture resulting from long term habits. But many do not know how bad postures will impact our long-term health.

Common effects of bad posture:

  • Headache, back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor digestion
  • Poor circulation
  • Misaligned spine

Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Having a good posture is more than just looking good.  Good posture helps us to carry out daily movements including standing in a queue, walking to work, sitting on your office chair and even lying down on your bed while placing the least strain on our muscles and nerves. By doing this:

  • Muscles can work more efficiently, preventing muscle strain, muscle fatigue and even muscular pain
  • Reduce stress on spinal joints and nerves, and minimizing the likelihood of injury
  • Reduce the wear and tear of joint surfaces, especially during movement and weight-bearing exercises

Common bad posture habits include:

  • Slouching in a chair
  • Standing with a flat back
  • Hunching your shoulders
  • Leaning on one leg
  • Looking down and gazing downwards on your phone for long hours
  • Holding and answering your phone between your ear and your neck

There are a few ways to improve your posture, such as:

  • Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities
  • Switch positions while sitting
  • Do gentle stretching exercise to help relieve muscle tension
  • Do not cross your legs while sitting
  • Stand straight, keep your shoulders back and feet apart while standing
  • Lift heavy objects with an upright posture and bending at the knees and hips

We need to make sure that we hold our body the right way, whether moving or still, to prevent unnecessary pain and injuries. With a good posture, not only we will look better, we will feel better as well.

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Processed foods are foods that have been altered in some ways before we eat them.  Not all processed foods are unhealthy as some foods are fortified to add nutrients while some needs processing to make them safer, such as milk that needs to be pasteurized to remove harmful bacteria. However, most processed foods contain high levels of sugar, salt, fats and preservatives to improve the taste, to extend the shelf life or to contribute to the food structure. Examples of processed foods are:

  • Canned food such as tinned vegetables, baked beans etc.
  • Meat products such as bacon, sausages, ham etc.
  • Snacks such as potato chips, cookies and cakes
  • Microwaveable meals or ready meals
  • Drinks such as sugary drinks and soft drinks

Processed foods are always being stated as one of the main contributors of obesity and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases. This is because people may not be aware of what is added and also the amount added to the food they are buying and eating, which can lead to excessive intake of sugar, salt and fat. As we all know, consuming large amount of sugars, salt and fats are bad for our health as they contribute to long term diseases such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

There is no doubt that at least some processed foods are found in most people’s kitchens, as they can be a time-saver when preparing meals. In addition, the extra ingredients in processed foods make it more flavorful which enhances the eating experience.  The question is how can we eat processed food as part of our healthy diet?

There are many ways that we can do to reduce the amount of processed food that we consume:

  • Read before you buy. Reading the nutrition labels can help us to identify and choose the right type of processed products and keep a check on the sugar, salt and fat content.
  • Opt for minimally processed meats. Avoid highly processed meat products such as bacon, ham and sausage.
  • Snack smarter. Think of crunchy nuts and seeds or even easy homemade popcorn when craving kicks in. They are healthier than that bag of chips.
  • Make smart choices when eating out. Select foods that are cooked to order and reduce the consumption of sauces and dressings.
  • Cook more meals at home. By doing this we can control the ingredients that we used.

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Having a meal is not a difficult task for most people, but the question is what to eat?

A healthy diet is important to supply nutrients required by the body and helps to reduce the risk of diseases.  The Malaysian Food Pyramid and the Malaysian Healthy Plate can serve as a helpful guide to achieve a well-balanced diet in your everyday life.

The Malaysian Food Pyramid categorizes food into different groups and the recommended total daily intakes. There are 3 basic tips when planning our meals using the food pyramid:

  • Eat more grains, fruits and vegetables; meat, beans in moderation and less fat, salt and sugar
  • Eat the right amounts according to the recommended servings in each group
  • Eat a variety of foods throughout the day

The Malaysian Healthy plate translates the message of the food pyramid into your daily meals and shows the proportions of food groups to be eaten for one meal:

  • ¼ of the plate consists of rice, noodles, breads, cereals, cereal products or tubers
  • ¼ of the plate consists of fish, poultry, meat or legumes. Choose more lean cuts and choose more plant-based proteins
  • ½ of the plate consists of various fruits and vegetables

While eating out is convenient, these foods are generally higher in calories, salt and sugars than home-cooked food. However, we can still opt for healthier choices such as:

  • Choose healthier cooking methods such as boiled and baked food instead of fried foods
  • Ask for more vegetables and fruits
  • Choose plain water instead of sugary drinks
  • Share your meal to prevent excessive eating
  • Supplement with vitamins and minerals

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Menopause is a natural biological process, which is defined as a complete year without menstrual bleeding for 12 consecutive months. Menopause is a natural part of ageing, and will be experienced by all women normally between 45-55 years of age.  During menopause, the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and this marks the end of the reproductive years of a women’s life.

There are three stages or transition phases of menopause, which include perimenopause (when the body hormones begin to change before menopause, menstrual periods become irregular, menstrual flow may become heavier or lighter); menopause (refers to 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period); and post-menopause (refers to the years after the last period, when the symptoms begin to subside).

The symptoms of menopause can last for several years.Some women have no trouble during the menopausal transition. For others, menopausal symptoms can be severe and affect their daily activities as the symptoms may disrupt their quality sleep, lower their energy levels and affect their emotional health. Menopausal symptoms are different for every woman but the common menopausal symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods e.g. periods that are shorter, longer, lighter or heavier than usual
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sexual activity
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Mood swings

Besides the reproductive function, estrogen also plays a role in keeping the cholesterol in control, slowing the natural break down of bones and regulating heart health. Therefore, it is very important for post-menopausal women to change their eating habits and get more physical activity as they are more vulnerable to heart diseases and osteoporosis.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that consists enough vitamins and minerals, especially calcium
  • Increase physical activities especially weight bearing exercises to strengthen the bones
  • Maintain a healthy weight and stay fit
  • Undergo regular checkups to keep an eye on cholesterol level and blood pressure
  • Cut down on daily coffee intake to reduce the consumption of caffeine

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A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that begins in the urinary system. The urinary system is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Any of these organs can become infected, but most infections involve the urethra and the bladder. UTI typically occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to multiply.

 

Women are most at risk of developing a UTI, and many women experience more than one infection during their lifetimes. Risk factors specific to women for UTIs include:

  • Female anatomy. Woman has a shorter urethra than man. This shortens the distance for bacteria to reach the bladder or kidneys and cause infections.
  • Menopause. After menopause, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.

Symptoms of UTI typically involve lower abdominal discomfort, such as:

  • Feeling a sense of urgency
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Passing frequent and small amount of urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Red or bright pink colored urine – a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine

There are a number of things that we can do to reduce the risk of getting a UTI. These include:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
  • Go to the toilet as soon as there is a need to urinate, rather than holding it in.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Empty bladder as soon as possible after intercourse. Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush away bacteria.
  • Probiotics help to improve the balance of micro flora in the urinogenital areas and reducing the risks of UTI. Probiotics also help to restore and maintain the natural flora of the vagina.

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Men require high physical performances in their daily life. However, having poor muscle strength and low aerobic endurance, lack of stamina and vitality will affect their daily performance and health.

Men will experience a drop in levels of the sex hormone testosterone as they age. The hormone declines gradually and affects the male reproductive system, physical and mental aspects of their health.

Most men will face decreased energy, strength, endurance and stamina. Some men may have a lower sex drive or libido. Sexual responses may become slower and less intense, and erectile function may be destructed.

Other factor that may affect men’s vitality includes:

  • Environmental factors such as heavy metals or environmental estrogen
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, hormonal disturbances, stress, and anxiety
  • Lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking or alcohol drinking

The best way to maintain vitality and daily performance is to adopt a healthy lifestyle:

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Erectile dysfunction or ED, sometimes known as impotence, is the most common sexual related problem that men report to their doctors.  ED is defined as the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough to perform sexual intercourse, or in other words, sex. People who suffer from ED will have symptoms such as trouble having an erection, trouble keeping an erection or reduced sexual desire.

ED is very common and having erection trouble from time to time isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. However, ED that is progressive or happens routinely with sex is not normal, and it should be treated.

Erectile function is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Sometimes a combination of physical and psychological issues causes ED, and may be due to a lot of reasons, including:

  • An underlying health condition such as: heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity
  • Blood flow in the penis is limited or nerves are damaged
  • Had surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
  • Low testosterone level
  • Certain medications
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol drinking
  • Stress or other emotional reasons

Aside from an early warning of a more serious illness, ED can also cause complications to a man’s mental health such as:

  • An unsatisfactory sex life
  • Stress or anxiety in daily life
  • Low self-esteem and embarrassment
  • Problems in relationship

A few measures can be made to help reduce or improve ED:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit or stop alcohol intake
  • Increase physical activity and maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress and seek help for anxiety, depression and other psychological health issues
  • Take Ginkgo Biloba extract which can facilitate blood flow, to improve the symptoms that is due to vascular causes
  • Ensure sufficient nutrition that boost vitality example Zinc, Ginseng, vitamins and minerals

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Tinnitus is a condition where one can hear sounds and noises that are not caused by outside source or external stimulation. Common tinnitus sounds such as ringing, buzzing, humming or even music or singing can be heard in one or both ears. They may come and go, or you will hear them all the time.

Tinnitus can be annoying as it affects your daily life such as sleep and concentration and impair the quality of life, but it is not usually a sign of serious condition and generally improves overtime. Although there are a number of health conditions that might cause tinnitus, the exact cause is never found. The common causes are:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises, short-term or long-term will cause tinnitus as well
  • Too much earwax that hardens and is difficult to wash away will lead to blockage and cause irritation to the ear drum
  • Medication use that can damage the ear function (ototoxic)
  • Blood vessels disorder linked to tinnitus such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure

In many ways, tinnitus cannot be prevented but we can carry out some measures and simple remedies to help with tinnitus:

  • Use hearing protection while exposing yourself to loud noises
  • Turn down the volume especially while using headphones
  • Practice relaxation exercises as tinnitus can be worsened by stress
  • Tinnitus is commonly linked to blood vessels disorders. Therefore, take good care of your heart health such as doing regular exercise as healthy blood vessels can help with tinnitus
  • Ginkgo Biloba extract improves blood flow and regulate vascular tone. It provides adequate supply of blood to the ear, which can improve tinnitus caused by impaired circulation

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