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Visual impairment is considered one of the significant health problems apart from the other common diseases and has a serious impact on the personal, economic, and social life of an individual. There are at least 2 billion people who suffer from visual impairment around the world and almost half of these cases could have been addressed and prevented. 

There are many conditions that will affect our vision such as refractive errors, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, to name a few. These conditions normally disrupt the light that passes from our eyes to the brain. In this context, we will be talking about what is age-related macular degeneration, discussing what are the common symptoms and ways to prevent or delay the progression of this disease. 

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD is an age-related eye disease that will affect our central vision. It happens when aging causes damage to the macular region of the eyes, which controls sharp, straight-ahead vision. As a result, people with AMD cannot see fine details, either near or far. In advanced stages of AMD, people may lose their ability to drive, see faces and to read. Currently there is no cure for AMD but treatment options are available to prevent or slow the progression of the disease. 

Common Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of visual impairment among people 50 and older. Although people rarely go blind due to AMD, it still affects the center of our vision and disrupts our day to day activities. 

The actual causes of AMD remain unknown but research indicates that a combination of heredity and environmental factors might contribute to the development of this disease. Risk of getting AMD increases if one is:

  • Over 50 years old
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Having a diet that is high in saturated fat
  • Having family history of AMD
  • Having high blood pressure

What are the symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

AMD in its early stages may have no signs or symptoms therefore people may not suspect they have it until they notice changes to their eyesight. Every individual may experience different symptoms of AMD but the most common symptoms are as follows:

  • Mild blurriness in their central vision or trouble seeing in low lighting, which is necessary for driving, reading or performing certain tasks
  • Straight lines start to look wavy or crooked
  • Difficulty recognizing familiar faces
  • Blurry area may gets bigger and may see blank spots

Experiencing metamorphopsia symptoms, where a linear object looks curvy or a flat thing looks rounded indicates a warning sign for late AMD.

What are the different types and stages of age-related macular degeneration?

There are two primary types of age-related macular degeneration, which are dry AMD and wet AMD. Both have different causes and people can develop both types of the disease, whether it’s in one or both eyes:

  • Dry AMD, which is also called atrophic AMD. Dry AMD is the most common form, with about 80% of those with AMD having the dry form. The exact cause of dry AMD is unknown, both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role in the disease progression. Dry AMD happens when the macula gets thinner with age, and it usually progresses slowly over the years with a gradual loss of vision. It happens in 3 stages: early, intermediate and late. Late Dry AMD has no treatment, but there are ways that can be done to protect or to reduce the effect of vision loss on your life and to make the most out of the remaining vision.
  • Wet AMD, which is the less common type of AMD. Wet AMD usually causes faster vision loss and it is the most common cause of severe loss of vision. This type of AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels start to grow in the back of the eye. Fluid or blood will leak into the macula, causing damage to the macula which leads to severe vision loss. Dry AMD can turn to wet AMD at any stage but it is always at the late stage when it reaches wet AMD. Treatment options are also available for wet AMD.

How is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Besides the regular family history and medication review, there are several test that will be carried out to diagnose AMD:

  • Visual acuity test.

    This is a common eye chart test that measures vision ability at various distances.

  • Examination of the back of the eye. 

    The optometrist will put drops in the eyes to dilate them and use some tools to examine the back of your eyes to check your vision. These drops may make your vision blurry therefore do not drive or operate machinery after your vision is back to normal.

  • Fluorescein angiography. 

    This test involves injecting a special dye into a vein in the arm. As the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina, pictures are taken with a special camera to detect any leaking abnormal blood vessels or retinal changes. This test is used to detect wet AMD.

  • Amsler grid test. 

    Amsler grid, which is a checkerboard like grid, can be used to detect any visual impairment by determining if the straight lines in the pattern appear faded, broken or distorted. These indications may signal the possibility of AMD.

How To Manage Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Do not be overly worried even if you had received a diagnosis of AMD, as there are steps and healthy habits that can be taken to help and slow down the disease progression

  • Quit smoking.

    Smoking exposes you to dangerous free radicals that will cause damage to our eyes and will increase your risk of getting AMD.

  • Choose a healthy diet.

    Consume more leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli as these contain antioxidants and vitamins, including lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for people with AMD. Foods that are high in zinc and protein content are also beneficial to eye health.

  • Take supplements. 

    People with AMD may benefit from a mixture of vitamins and minerals as stated in ARED (Age-Related Eye Disease) study 2. These vitamins include lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper. It is also recommended to add in omega-3 fatty acids to help with anti-inflammation. These supplements, although not a cure for AMD, may help to slow the disease in some people with certain forms of AMD.

  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure and weight. 

    Poor blood circulation due to uncontrolled blood pressure will restrict blood flow to the eyes and worsen the condition of AMD. Losing weight will help to achieve healthy blood pressure easier.

  • Wearing sunglasses outdoors. 

    Wearing sunglasses can protect our eyes from the harmful effect of UV and blue rays which will cause retinal damages after prolonged exposure.

There are also certain treatment options available for wet AMD such as photodynamic therapy and injections given directly into the eyes. These treatment options destroy the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet AMD and stops vision from getting worse.

As the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration may look like other eye conditions, having a routine eye exam is important especially when you are above 50 for early detection of AMD or any other age-related eye diseases. With early detection, treatment can start earlier and preventive measures can be taken as well.

Reference

  • Boyd, K. (2022, July 25). Vitamins for AMD. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamins-amd
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, December 11). Wet macular degeneration. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wet-macular-degeneration/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351113 
  • NHS choices. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd/treatment/#:~:text=Treatment%20depends%20on%20the%20type,stop%20your%20vision%20getting%20worse. 

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What is Stress?

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension that differs from person to person. Generally it can be defined as the degree when one feels overwhelmed or unable to cope with the current situation. Stress is extremely common and can affect anyone at any age. 

Research has shown that more than three-quarters of adults report physical symptoms of stress, including headache, tiredness, or sleeping problems. At times, stress response does provide positive effects as it can help us to push through difficult situations as long as it does not become excessive or too much to deal with. We will be discussing the possible causes of stress and its positive and negative impact on our mental and physical health in this post. 

What are the signs of stress?

Stress isn’t technically a disease, although it can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. During stressful situations, our body will release various stress hormones that will adjust our heart rate, breathing, vision and more to prepare our body to cope with a fight-or-flight response. This is called the stress response. When stress response is activated for a long period due to chronic stress, it will cause wear and tear on the body. Physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms will develop.

Some common physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Chest pain with a racing heart
  • Headaches, dizziness and trembling 
  • Unexplained pains and aches
  • Having trouble sleeping and feeling exhausted
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with digestion
  • Falling sick often with a weak immune system

Stress can also lead to emotional symptoms, such as:

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Sadness and depression
  • Having episodes of panic attacks

People constantly suffering from stressful situations might also develope certain unhealthy behavior such as:

  • Gambling
  • Excessive drinking
  • Overeating or eating disorder
  • Drugs or substances abuse

 

What are the types of stress?

There are many types of stress.  Some can be a short-term while some are long-term problems, depending on what changes your life. The three main types of stress are:

Acute Stress

Acute stress is relatively common and can happen to anyone. It can be caused by many things such as losing a loved one or being in an accident. People may also feel acute stress when they are having enjoyable moments such as preparing for an interview, trying out new things or anticipating new events in life such as moving a house or getting married.  

Due to its short duration, acute stress normally does not have serious consequences on our physical and mental health. However they may show signs and symptoms such as:

  • Having distressing thoughts, dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks of the event
  • Trying to avoid people, places or things that will remind them of that stressful event
  • Having difficulties to focus on details and paying attention
  • Feeling of restlessness and anxiety

Episodic acute stress

Episodic acute stress happens when acute stress is experienced more frequently on a regular basis. Although one may suffer more frequently than an acute stress, episodic stress is not continual and will stop from time to time. This type of stress is experienced most commonly in people who are naturally anxious, irritable or short-tempered. It is also often seen in people who make unrealistic or unreasonable demands of themselves, causing them stress while attempting to achieve their goals.

There are several reasons on why and when this may happen:

  • Regular presentations at work
  • Taking up too much responsibilities and feeling overwhelmed
  • Having to visit doctors very often due to a medical condition  
  • Being responsible for loved ones with recurring challenges & problems

Chronic stress

When your stress level is high for an extended period of time or keeps coming back, you are experiencing chronic stress. Chronic stress is ongoing stress with no or limited relief, and normally experienced by people or carers dealing with prolonged health issues or disabilities. Chronic stress also affects people who:

  • Have ongoing financial difficulties
  • Are victims of abuse
  • Experiencing discrimination
  • Has low self-esteem
  • Has limited support and social network

Long term stress has negative impact on health, such as:

  • Having anxiety or depression
  • Having hypertension and type 2 diabetes 
  • Higher risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Weakened immune system, which will increase risk of infection

Sometimes, it is also possible to develop and be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a stressful event or a series of stressful events. Although most people will be able to cope and adjust their life back after a period of time, people with PTSD will suffer the symptoms for months, even years, and the symptoms might even get worse. This will interfere with their day-to-day life, and will require professional help.

What is the physiological impact of stress?

Besides affecting your body mentally, stress may cause other physiological impacts that affect our physical health, especially chronic stress. 

Some physiological health conditions from chronic stress could be:

Is there any positive impact of stress?

Not all types of stress are harmful and negative. Manageable stress increases our alertness and performance. Research has shown that a small amount of stress is needed and they are good to push us to a level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance. 

Positive stress or eustress, although fairly new to all of us, is the type of stress response that we feel when we are excited. It helps us stay motivated, work towards our goal and makes us feel good about life. Examples of positive stress includes:

  • Going on a first date
  • Trying out a new activity or new exercise
  • Going for an interview or getting promoted at a job
  • Taking on a new project or learning something new
  • Sitting for an examination

What are the common triggers of stress?

Frequently the source of stress is rooted in changes. The cause and triggers can be different for everybody, but the common life problems or situation that may be stressful for individuals are:

  • Financial problems
  • Changing job
  • Moving house or relocate to another country
  • Relationship problems with one or a few members in the family
  • Undergoing a breakup or divorce
  • Recent traumatic events such as the death of a family member
  • Having chronic illness or injury, or being a carer of a person with chronic illness

Stress is not only caused by big important events. It might be a build-up of a lot of smaller things as well, such as:

  • Having overwhelming responsibilities
  • Going through a period of uncertainties in life
  • Not having control over the outcome of a situation
  • Being bullied in school or discriminated at work

How to keep your stress levels healthy?

Since avoiding stress is inevitable, we should learn how to manage stressful situations. These activities may help us to relax and cope with our stress level:

  • Take care of your body by eating healthy food, with lots of essential nutrients. If getting enough nutrients is not manageable due to time, consider supplementation as some vitamins or minerals may help with balancing your moods
  • Try and exercise regularly, even if it means taking a short walk out in nature as moving your body has many benefits for your mental and emotional wellness.
  • Connect with friends and family, and share with them your concerns and how you feel, whenever necessary, and get advice if you need
  • Make time for yourself and doing activities that you enjoy most such as reading a book, watching a movie or even just lying in bed
  • Practice relaxation technique such as deep, slow breathing and yoga to help with muscle relaxation and self awareness

Although there are some positive impacts of stress, learning how to manage our stress is important to lessen the impact of stress to our health. Do not be afraid to seek professional help from your doctor if you ever experience physical or emotional stress that affect your day-to-day activities.

 

Reference

  • Robert Sanders, M. relations| A. 16, & Sanders, R. (2015, July 9). Researchers find out why some stress is good for you. Berkeley News. Retrieved November 5, 2022, from https://news.berkeley.edu/2013/04/16/researchers-find-out-why-some-stress-is-good-for-you/
  • Stress: Signs, symptoms, management & prevention. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress 

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How Healthy Diet Can Influence Our Wellbeing?

Having a healthy diet will influence our wellbeing in the short run and also for the long haul. There are many benefits of eating well. Eating healthily can help keep our energy level high throughout the day and also significantly reduce our risk of many chronic diseases. Consistently eating healthfully has major benefits for our eye health as well. 

A healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of various eye problems while eating healthily, including the right type vitamins and minerals may also help with our eye care. Vitamins and minerals such as Lutein, Fish oils, and Bilberry that are good for eye health can be obtained from multiple food sources, which we will discuss more in this article and how they play a role in our eye care.

Food for Eyes

Eating the right food is the best way to get eye-healthy nutrients. Below are 11 types of food and fruits that are good for our eyes and it will do us good by adding them in our everyday diet:

  • Fish, especially oily fish. 

    Oily fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids that can provide long term benefit is for several eye conditions such as dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration. Such fishes include sardines, tuna and salmon.

  • Beans and legumes.

    Low in fat and packed with zinc, beans and legumes such as kidney beans and chickpeas are good food options especially for vegetarians to protect the retina and lower the risk of getting cataracts.

  • Seeds and nuts. 

    Besides containing omega-3 fatty acids, seeds and nuts also contain vitamin E that offers antioxidant protections to the eyes, which can help slow age-related macular degeneration from getting worse. It may also help prevent cataracts. Eating a handful of seeds or nuts each day will boost your vitamin E levels.

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. 

    Citrus fruits contain vitamin C which provides antioxidant protection to fight age-related eye damage.

  • Carrots. 

    Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good vision, especially for our eyes to see in low light conditions.

  • Eggs. 

    Eggs are very versatile and can be made into many types of dishes, which makes them an easy great addition to our everyday diet. Eggs are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin which protects our eyes from sunlight damage.

  • Water. 

    As roughly 60% of the human body is water, it is not surprising that adequate hydration is good for eye health. Our eyes rely on water to keep them lubricated in the form of tears and drinking more water can help our eyes to produce a healthy volume of tears. Poor hydration will cause dry eyes and affect vision clarity.

  • Raw red peppers. 

    Although all colours of pepper have nutritional benefits, red peppers may have higher antioxidants and nutrient levels as they are riper than the yellow or green peppers. Red bell peppers are high in vitamin A and vitamin C which may lower our risks of getting cataracts.

  • Dark leafy greens

    Dark leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin C and E, which help to lower your risk of long-term eye diseases. They also contain a fair amount of lutein and zeaxanthin.

  • Lean meat and poultry. 

    Although oyster contains more zinc per serving than other food, lean proteins such as beef, pork and chicken are all good sources of zinc as well.

  • Dairy products such as milk and yogurt. 

    Milks and yogurts not only contain vitamin A but also zinc. Therefore, incorporating dairy products in everyday diet is vital for maintaining good eyesight

Warning Eye Health Signs

While taking steps to maintain our eye health, there are a few alarming signs that we should also be paying attention to and seek advice from healthcare professionals should we experience them, such as:

  • Double vision
  • Change in colour of our iris, which is the white part of the eyes
  • Dry eyes with itching or burning sensation
  • Excess discharge from the eyes or tearing
  • Trouble focusing

Quick Tips to Keep Eyes Healthy

Apart from eating nutrient rich foods that are good for the eyes, we should also be practicing good habits to take care of our eye health such as:

  • Minimizing screen time to reduce digital eye strain
  • Wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Try to avoid blowing air into your eyes
  • Maintaining healthy sugar levels to prevent diabetic retinopathy
  • Washing your hands before putting on contact lenses

We should also visit our eye doctor regularly for eye health examination and inform our doctor should our vision get worse after treatments.

Reference

  • MediLexicon International. (n.d.). 10 best foods for eye health and eyesight. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321226
  • WebMD. (n.d.). 10 foods that are good for your eyes. WebMD. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/ss/slideshow-eyes-sight-foods 

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Our body is constantly in contact with bacteria, viruses, radiation and pollution. Therefore, we need a strong defense system to protect us from getting ill. Strong and healthy defense systems consist of the intact physical defense system (skin and mucous layer) and the healthy immune system.

To boost our immune system, we can adopt a healthy lifestyle and focus on nutrient-rich food in our daily lives. In this post, we will be discussing the importance of maintaining our immune system at a healthy state and also the variety of fruits that contain essential vitamins to maintain a healthy immune system.

What Is Considered A Healthy Immunity?

A strong immune system is critical to keep you healthy all year long and especially to protect you during the flu season. On a daily basis, we are constantly exposed to potentially harmful substances or viral infections that will make us fall sick.  A healthy immune response system recognizes and neutralizes these harmful substances from the environment should they enter into our body such as bacteria, viruses and also pollutants.

People with poor immune health will have a higher risk of getting sick when they are exposed to cold or flu viruses, having frequent infections, longer lasting or have an allergic reaction that affects the body, leading to long recovery time.

What Vitamins Strengthen the Immune System?

Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is required for the healthy function of all cells, including our immune cells.There are many vitamins and minerals that can help to strengthen our immune system, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, Zinc, Selenium and many more. Out of all of these immune boosters, vitamin C is one of the commonly discussed and widely available vitamins that we can obtain through fruits, vegetables and also through supplementation. Besides being an immune booster, vitamin C is also needed for growth and repair of all tissues in our body, which is an important function for wound healing.

Although Vitamin C is present in so many foods, the amount of consumption might still be inadequate probably due to lifestyle habits and poor food choices such as constantly consuming food that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt, while not taking in important nutrients.

Here are a few examples of fruits that are widely available which contain high amounts of vitamin C:

  • Orange. 

    Orange is a widely eaten fruit that makes up a significant portion of vitamin C daily intake. Commonly available in households, it is a go-to fruit to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a cold. Oranges contain 59 mg of vitamin C per 100 gram.

  • Apple. 

    In addition to vitamin C content, apples contain quercetin, a type of antioxidants that helps to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

  • Grapefruit. 

    Just like oranges, grapefruits are also a great source of vitamin C. However, grapefruits interact with statin, which is a medication that helps to lower cholesterol level therefore both should not be taken together. Besides vitamin C, grapefruits also contain significant amounts of vitamin A and fibre.

  • Strawberry. 

    Besides vitamin C, strawberries also contain an excellent amount of manganese, folate and potassium, which are the most abundant vitamins and minerals in strawberries. They are also loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds.

  • Guava. 

    Not only does it have a higher content of vitamin C than orange, with 228mg of vitamin C per 100mg of fruit, guava is also loaded with other nutrients that are beneficial to us. One of the key nutrients in guava is fibre, which is known to help with digestion and ease the symptoms of constipation.

  • Blueberries. 

    Often labelled as superfood, blueberries are high in antioxidants and contain anthocyanin, which is a type ofplant flavonoid. These powerful antioxidants may help protect cells against damage from disease-linked free radicals.

  • Pineapple. 

    Pineapples are loaded with vitamin C and manganese. It also contains a group of digestive enzymes called bromelain that breaks down protein molecules and aids in digestion.

Besides taking in vitamin C rich fruits, there are also multiple ways to strengthen our immune system by changing our daily lifestyles such as:

  • Find relaxing ways to cope with stress levels
  • Exercise regularly or increase your physical activity
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a day
  • Avoid smoking and minimize consumption of alcohol

While citrus fruits may be the most well-known source of vitamin C, you can also find a wide variety of other fruits and food sources that are rich in Vitamin C such as peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step toward positive health benefits and disease prevention.

Reference

  • Hill, C. (2022, May 10). 20 foods that are high in Vitamin C. Healthline. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_21
  • Whitbread, D. (2022, September 27). Top 10 foods highest in Vitamin C. myfooddata. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/vitamin-c-foods.php 

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We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that three healthy balanced meals a day is ideal for better digestion and sufficient to obtain the nutrients we require. However, these healthy eating habits are sometimes neglected especially among people with hectic lifestyles. Oftentimes, food that requires less preparation time such as processed food or easy-to-go meals will be their choice of food, and processed food are normally low in nutritional value while high in salt and sugar. In some low-income communities, people may settle for foods that are higher in calories as they often lack access or do not have the means to afford healthier foods. This will lead to higher risk of chronic diseases and poor energy levels. In this post, we will be discussing common and effects of unhealthy eating habits and how they will impact our lives.

How Does Food Affect Our Body?

Our body needs a lot of nutrients to function and keep us well. The easiest way to obtain the nutrients and fuel we need is through food. Eating well with good nutrients will help to increase our energy levels. It will also minimize risk factors of unhealthy eating habits such as getting diseases like type two diabetes, heart diseases and stroke, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. At the same time, it will also affect our mood, sleeping pattern and mental health. Different types of food contain different types of vitamins and minerals therefore it is important to incorporate meals with a variety of nutrients in our daily lives.

What Is Poor Nutrition?

Poor nutrition can also be classified as undernutrition, which is when we are not getting enough nutrition that we require. We require macronutrients and micronutrients to keep our body healthy, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients support our vital body functions including growth, our immune system and our nervous system while preventing diseases. People who are suffering from nutrient deficiencies may not know it until it starts showing up in signs and symptoms.

Common signs of people with poor nutrition include:

  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Unintentional weight loss or having low body weight
  • Excessive weight gain or being obese
  • Poor concentration
  • Having low mood or depression
  • Poor immune system leading to falling sick often and taking longer time to recover

Any person can suffer from undernutrition, but there are certain factors that affect the choice of food that might put one at a higher risk of getting poor nutrition in their diet. Some of the factors that affect the choice of food may include:

  • Education and knowledge.

    Level of education can influence our dietary behavior during adulthood. With knowledge on nutritional values of various foods, we can make healthier choices when choosing our meal of the day.

  • Cost and accessibility. 

    People who are in the low-income groups might have low intakes of fruits and vegetables due to the higher cost of healthier food, resulting in a higher tendency to consume unbalanced diets.

  • Lifestyle.

    People with time constraints, especially during a busy schedule will seek out convenience and be more inclined towards ready-to-cook products or processed food rather than cooking meals with natural nutrients. These pre-packed meals usually do not contain all the essential nutrients to fit the body’s needs.

  • Stress.

    The influence of stress on food choice is complex because different people react and respond differently under stress. In general, people tend to eat more or eat less than normal when they are in a stressful situation.

What Are The Common Unhealthy Eating Habits?

Most of us have developed certain habits when it comes to eating.  While some habits are good, some might be bad habits without even us noticing.  Here are a few unhealthy types of  eating habits that we might be practicing every day and some recommendations on how to stop these unhealthy habits and take steps to improve our eating practices:

  • Mindless eating. 

    Over and under eating are both unhealthy eating habits. Over eating will cause our body to consume extra calories that we do not need and this will lead to weight gain and obesity. Being obese increases our risk of many diseases. Listen to your body and learn to eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full.

  • Skipping breakfast. 

    Breakfast gives us an energy boost to start a new day after a full night’s rest. Without breakfast, we will feel hungry and tend to overeat later. To overcome this, we can prepare breakfast the night before or something that we can consume on the run.

  • Night time eating. 

    Eating at night especially snacking is almost never a good idea, especially if you are going on a weight losing journey. Try to brush your teeth after dinner to avoid snacking at night as you will be less inclined to eat again with a newly cleaned mouth.

  • Emotion and stress. 

    Stress or feeling emotionally down will trigger us to eat even if we are not hungry. In these situations, we should choose some activities that will help us to cope with our emotions and at the same time keep us away from the fridge or kitchen, such as taking a walk, exercising or talking to an empathetic friend.

  • Unhealthy food choice. 

    Taking too much junk food and processed food when we are having a busy schedule or skipping a meal or two. Planning meals ahead of time can minimize the need for fast foods and ready-to-go meals.

  • Eating too quickly. 

    This will cause more bloating and gas, and at the same time we might also be eating more than we need as our brain takes time to catch up with our stomach to feel the fullness. Slow down our eating or take a smaller bite each time, and make sure that we chew our food thoroughly as it helps with digestion too.

  • High sugar liquid intakes. 

    Soda, juices and other sweet beverages have high sugar content. Consuming too much of these sugary drinks will not only cause weight gain, it will also increase our risk of getting diabetes. Replace these drinks with calories-free options such as water and unsweetened tea.

  • Endless snacking. 

    Snacking unhealthy food such as chips, candy, etc all the time, especially when feeling stressed, watching TV, working or throughout the day is a bad habit.  If there is a urge to snack, try snacking on healthy snacks such as nuts like almonds, fruit or vegetable bits such as carrot, cucumber, apple, yogurt sticks, etc.

It is not difficult to eat a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. Generally, a person who eats a selection of food that includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and adequate water will meet their daily nutritional needs and improve their overall health. However, people with digestive issues or those who are taking certain medications or having certain medical conditions might require additional supplementation to help them get the essential nutrients needed to manage these special conditions. Otherwise, a normal person with no pre- medical condition can easily adopt certain practices to break unhealthy eating habits.

Reference

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 3). Improving your eating habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html 
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 8). Poor nutrition. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.html
  • Garone, S., Groth, L., Welch, A., Thurrott, S., Kennedy, K., Rapaport, L., &Petrarca, M. (2022, September 9). 9 bad eating habits and how to break them. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/bad-eating-habits-and-how-to-break-them.aspx 

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Skin is the largest organ in our body but often we do not pay too much attention to it. Unhealthy skin conditions such as dull, dry, flaky or patchy skin will not only affect our appearance but also lower our confidence level.  It can also sometimes be a symptom of other more serious health conditions as well.  

 Certain people might apply makeup on a daily basis to cover up the imperfections of the skin especially on their faces but this might lead to other concerns as makeup contains a lot of chemicals and skin-unfriendly components that can cause irritation and itchiness.  

Oftentimes, health conditions such as nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalance can also make achieving healthy skin more challenging.  Therefore, it is important to be more cautious of our skin conditions and practice healthy skin habits. In this post we will be looking at some healthy habits to achieve radiant-looking skin naturally and also keeping our skin healthy. 

What is Radiant Skin? 

Unlike other measurable skin concerns such as wrinkles and acnes, skin radiance is relatively subjective. Generally, radiant skin has the ability to reflect light, making skin look glowing, smooth and luminous, indicating a reflection of good health. It will also have a relatively even tone and elastic skin texture, giving out this healthy-looking glow. 

What Causes Healthy Glowing Skin? 

Healthy glowing skin is a reflection of good health and a healthy body. Children and young adults tend to have glowing and radiant skin because their skin cells turnover rate is higher. Skin will look dull when rough, dead skin cells pile up.  

Certain people may be more likely to have dull skin due to their genetics. Unhealthy habits such as smoking, poor hygiene, using harsh chemicals and an unhealthy diet that lacks antioxidants will make our skin look dull and speed up aging. There are also certain daily routines that we may not think about that can also add up to damage over time such as excessive exposure to sunlight, lack of sleep and stress. 

How You Can Get Radiant Skin Naturally? 

If we want to achieve glowing and vibrant skin that looks young and feels nourished, a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle should always be our first priority. Staying active and keeping skin hydrated is also crucial to maintain a healthy looking skin. Below are some of the good practices that we can adhere in our daily life to support glowing and radiant skin: 

  1. Wear sunscreen daily

    Wearing sunscreen daily is the easiest way to protect our skin appearances and health at any age. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage cells from oxidative stress and the release of free radicals. This will lead to pigmentation and premature aging. Applying sunscreen regularly will protect our skin from sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging.

  2. Avoid smoking

    Chemicals present in tobacco will damage collagen in our skin, which are the building blocks that provide strength and elasticity to our skin. It will also cause oxidative stress to our skin, which leads to premature aging. Smoking will also reduce the oxygen supply to our skin.

  3. Practice good skin cleaning routine

    Wash your face at least twice a day, or whenever needed. Good hygiene practice is important to remove dirt and bacteria and to keep our skin healthy. Perspiration will cause irritation to the skin therefore it is important to wash our skin as soon as possible after sweating as well. Choose a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol and cleanse your skin gently. Excessive scrubbing will irritate our skin and accelerate skin aging. 

  4. Apply moisturizer

    Apply moisturizer after washing your skin, especially if your skin is dry or itchy. Apply gently to avoid pulling on delicate skin. 

  5. Increase your water intake

    Drinking enough water is important for our vital organs, plus it helps to maintain our skin health. One of the signs of healthy skin is hydrated skin that looks supple and taut while giving off a slight shine under natural light. Poor water intake can result in dehydration and drier skin, which will in turn cause dullness in appearance. 

  6. Eat healthily

    Good nutrients will result in good health, which will also reflect on our skin condition. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains healthy skin nutrients such as proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc can have an impact on overall skin health and appearances. Food that contains these nutrients includes fatty fishes, avocados, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli and various fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, try to avoid processed food, especially those that contain high amounts of sugar, as a diet with high sugar content can accelerate aging. 

  7. Take supplements

    Sometimes, nutrients from food are insufficient for us to achieve the skin complexion that we desire. Taking supplements for glowing skin, especially antioxidants will help us to achieve radiant skin. Glutathione, which is an antioxidant that is normally produced by our body, helps in achieving healthy radiant skin and an even skin tone. However, the level of Glutathione will drop due to aging, stress and free radical damages. Therefore, it is important for us to replenish the Glutathione that is lost and to restore healthy looking skin. Vitamin C also helps to promote glowing skin as it is an important factor for collagen synthesis. 

  8. Stress management

    Stress hormones can contribute to skin damages such as acne and aging. Besides, chronic stress can lead to serious health problems, and some people might turn to substance abuse such as alcohol or drugs to manage their stress, which will then worsen our skin condition. Practice relaxation techniques to manage your stress well. 

  9. Get enough sleep

    Insufficient rest especially at night will put our body in stress and produce large quantities of stress hormones. This will trigger inflammation throughout our body, resulting in skin damages. 

  10. Limit the consumption of alcohol

    Frequent and excessive drinking can lead to several problems of the skin. Alcohol will cause the dehydration of the skin, which will also worsen or aggravate other skin conditions. 

  11. Active lifestyle

    Exercise can promote blood circulation and thus be able to carry nutrients throughout our body. It also promotes our body’s natural process of flushing out toxins.

Having changes in diet and lifestyle habits are some of the ways that you can achieve radiant skin naturally. However, people with underlying skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation issues, signs of skin infections, persistent rashes and pain should always seek advice immediately from healthcare professionals or dermatologists who can recommend the best options for you. 

Reference

  • Dixon, S. (2019, April 17). How to get your skin to glow from the inside out. Healthline. Retrieved August 20, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/guide-how-to-make-skin-glow#1.-What-to-eat  
  • Face washing 101. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2022, from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/face-washing-101  
  • MediLexicon International. (n.d.). How to get glowing skin: 11 tips for diet, skin care, and more. Medical News Today. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-get-glowing-skin

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Bones are important elements in our body that are responsible for the movement of our body. Our bones work together with our joints, connective tissues and muscles to support our body weight, helping us to stand upright and to do everyday movement. Bones degenerate as we grow older.

With an increasing aging population and longer life span worldwide, osteoporosis which is a commonly known bone condition affects more people as they grow older. It is found that osteoporosis is more common among women, but it can affect men too. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men worldwide suffer from osteoporosis over the age of 50 or experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime.

Although osteoporosis is a serious condition, it can be treated and also be prevented via healthy lifestyle and diet. In this article, we will be looking at the causes of osteoporosis and the common symptoms and discuss a few ways to manage, or even better, to prevent osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis? 

Osteoporosis is a disease that will cause bones to weaken and will form fragile bones with less bone mass and strength. Since bone is a living tissue, it is constantly being broken down and replaced. If the creation of new bones does not keep up with the loss of old bones, osteoporosis will occur.   

Fragile bones will more likely break or fracture even just from a mild stressor such as bending over or coughing. This will increase the risk of a sudden or unexpected bone fractures, most commonly affecting the bones of hips, wrist and spine. 

Why is Knowing about Osteoporosis Important? 

Bone fractures due to osteoporosis are not only painful; in serious cases it can also cause life-changing disability and loss of independence. Statistics have shown that osteoporosis will result in more days spent in hospital as compared to other diseases such as diabetes and heart attack. Prolonged hospitalization will incur additional medical costs which will not only be a burden to the healthcare system but also cause a financial strain on the patients. The patient may no longer be able to work or have reduced available days to work and support themselves due to hospitalization.  This may even lead to requiring financial assistance from their relatives and friends, and might lead to a direct economic loss. 

Bone fracture involving the bones of the hip or spine is the most serious complication of osteoporosis. Statistics have shown that hip fracture causes the most death, where up to 20%-24% of patients die in the first year after hip fracture. Even if patients survive from hip fractures, they are at risk of losing their independence, unable to walk independently and require assistance to carry out their daily activities such as driving or grocery shopping. Some may require nursing home care and as this is often not covered by medical insurance, it will become a heavy financial commitment. 

Besides affecting patients physically, fractures due to osteoporosis will also affect sufferers emotionally and mentally as it reduces their overall quality of life. Long-term loss of independence and mobility will often cause depression and a lack of self-worth. They will tend to isolate themselves from friends and family members, reduce social interaction and no longer want to do the activities they used to love or used to enjoy. This is why it is so important to notice the early warning signs and symptoms of osteoporosis and address it early enough to prevent fractures from happening. 

What are the symptoms of osteoporosis? 

Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” as many people do not notice that they are having osteoporosis since it has no obvious symptoms, until it is too late. Most people actually find out they have osteoporosis when they have a fall or suffer from a fracture. 

 Although no obvious symptoms can be determined, there are a few warning signs that may indicate that your bones are weak and fragile. Bones breaking easily, brittle fingernails, weaker grip strength and receding gums may be early warning signs of osteoporosis. As for later-stage osteoporosis, the most common warning signs are presentation of height loss and a curved spine. Some people may also suffer from lower back pain. This is because people who suffer from osteoporosis will have low bone mineral density and spinal fractures can occur even without a fall. These spinal fractures are compressed due to the force of gravity and cause the spinal column to become shorter, resulting in back pain, loss of height and a hunched forward posture.  

Who is at risk of osteoporosis? 

Although osteoporosis particularly affects women in their middle and later years, it can happen to anyone as men are also affected. Many factors can increase the likelihood but some of the risks which are unchangeable are: 

  • Age. Osteoporosis is a common problem for aged people.  Bone mineral density will decrease when we age and this will increase bone fragility. Commonly, risk increases after mid-30s. 
  • Family history. Osteoporosis does run in the family as there might be inherited factors involving bone development. If one or both parents have had a broken bone, there is a risk that some of the children may inherit the condition. 
  • Gender. Females are more likely to get osteoporosis than men especially after menopause. This is because the hormones, namely estrogen and testosterone play an important role in maintaining bone mass and strength in both genders. After menopause, the level of estrogen will drop and this will result in acceleration in bone mass loss. 
  • Body frame size. People with a smaller body frame size will have less bone mass than those who have a larger body frame. Thinner and lighter bones will have a higher risk of bone fractures. 
  • Medical condition. Risk of osteoporosis will also be higher if you have certain medical problems. People with hyperthyroidism will have higher than normal thyroid hormone levels in their body. Thyroid hormones affect the rate of bone replacement. If the rate of bone loss is faster than the rate of bone production, patients will have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. 

Besides unchangeable factors, other dietary and lifestyle factors can also increase your risk of getting osteoporosis: 

  • Low calcium intake. Bones are made up of calcium and calcium is an important mineral needed during bone production. If the amount of calcium is inadequate in our blood, our body will take the calcium from our bones. People who lack calcium for a long time will have a reduction in bone density, early bone loss and increased risk of fractures 
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activities act as a stimulus for our body to produce strong bones. Without regular exercise, sedentary adults are at risk of thinning and aging bones. Loss of muscle mass will also occur with inactivity and this will expose the bones to higher impact forces with less support by the muscles and bones will become easier to break. 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Studies have indicated that heavy alcohol consumption especially during adolescence and young adulthood can affect bone health and may increase the risk of osteoporosis later. 
  • Taking certain medication. Long-term steroid use will have a major impact on bone density as steroids have a major effect on how our body uses calcium and vitamin D. This interference of bone building process will lead to bone loss, fractures and osteoporosis. 
  • Eating disorder. Low bone mass is common in people with eating disorders. People with eating disorders tend to eat very little to limit their calories intake. Most often their diet will lack nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy body, including minerals that are needed for bone production. This will increase their fracture risks. 

The good news is that these osteoporosis risk factors are modifiable and measures can be taken to reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis. 

How to prevent Osteoporosis? 

There are many measures and lifestyle changes for the prevention of osteoporosis.  Here are some recommendations to help reduce the risk of fractures and to prevent osteoporosis, at whatever age and whichever gender, male or female. 

  • Staying active. Weight-bearing and strength training exercises are best for your bones as they make you more flexible and make your bones stronger, reducing the chance of fall and fractures. 
  • Increase your intake of calcium. Having a healthy and balanced diet every day which includes calcium rich food such as milk, green leafy vegetables and salmon is important to maintain strong and healthy bones.  Consider taking calcium supplements if you are not getting sufficient calcium from your diet. 
  • Get some sun.  We obtain most of our vitamin D from the sun and since vitamin D helps our body to absorb calcium, it will help to promote bone density. 
  • Reduce the intake of alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation as excessive consumption of alcohol will increase our risk of getting osteoporosis. 
  • Preventive fall hazard. Remove tripping hazards, install non-slipping mats and install brighter light bulbs are some of the ways that we can prevent falls and reduce the risk of fractures. 

Osteoporosis, although a serious condition; can be prevented with an early diagnosis by assessing the bone mineral density and if fractures occur, to go for early treatments of osteoporosis.  Increasing awareness among the general public will increase awareness and will be useful in preventing osteoporosis.  

 Always consult your healthcare professionals, doctors or pharmacist for any tips on how to take good care of your bones before it is too late, and if you are diagnosed, to get advice on the management of osteoporosis. 

Reference

  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation: IOF. IOF International Osteoporosis Foundation. (2022, August 11). Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/
  2. Pouresmaeili, F., Kamali Dehghan, B., Kamarehei, M., & Yong Meng, G. (2018). A comprehensive overview on osteoporosis and its risk factors. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, Volume 14, 2029–2049. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s138000
  3. Sozen, T., Ozisik, L., & Calik Basaran, N. (2017). An overview and management of osteoporosis. European Journal of Rheumatology, 4(1), 46–56. https://doi.org/10.5152/eurjrheum.2016.048  
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Alcohol and other factors affecting osteoporosis risk in women. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/292-298.htm#:~:text=Human%20and%20animal%20studies%20clearly%20demonstrate%20that%20chronic%2C%20heavy%20alcohol,and%20weakens%20bones’%20mechanical%20properties

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Visual impairment is recognized as one of global significant health problems which have a serious impact on the personal, economic, and social life of an individual. Globally, there are at least 2 billion people who suffer from visual impairment and almost half of these cases could have been addressed and prevented.

Many people can be affected by visual impairments including young children, with causes such as uncorrected refractive errors, cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and many more. In this post we will be looking at types of refractive errors including their common causes and possible ways to prevent them.

What are refractive errors?

Refractive error of the eye is a very common vision problem where the shape of the eye keeps light from focusing on our retina, which is a light sensitive layer of tissue in the back of our eyes. This will prevent us from being able to see clearly and focus on the images from the outside world, resulting in blurred vision.

What are the types of refractive errors?

There are four major types of refractive errors, which are: 

  • Short sightedness, also known as myopia, where close objects are clear but distant objects look blurry. Usually, short sightedness is inherited and often discovered during childhood and it will progress throughout adolescence. Even though short sightedness usually starts in children, it can affect adults as well.
  • Long-sightedness, also known as hyperopia. In contrast to myopia, hyperopia makes nearby objects look blurry. Hyperopia can also be inherited. Children often have hyperopia, which may lessen in adulthood.
  • Presbyopia. Presbyopia happens due to the aging of lenses in the eye, which affect middle-aged or older adults. The lens is more rigid and less flexible, losing its ability to focus images on the retina. Presbyopia causes a person to have trouble seeing things at close range and this is a normal part of aging.
  • Astigmatism. Symptoms of astigmatism are blurry and distorted vision. The clear front layer of our eyes known as cornea is usually smooth and equally curved in all directions. When light enters our eyes through the cornea, it is focused equally on all planes or in all directions. People with astigmatism will have cornea or lenses that are having different shapes than normal resulting in distorted images formed.

Most people will experience one if not more, of these conditions in their lifetimes. 

What are the symptoms and signs of refractive errors?

Blurred vision is the most common symptoms of refractive error, while some people may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Double vision 
  • Squinting 
  • Headaches 
  • Feeling tired and sore of the eyes 
  • Trouble focusing especially looking at computers 
  • Reduced concentration 

However, some people might suffer from refractive errors without even knowing it as they do not have any symptoms. Refractive errors can be detected by an eye care professional during regular eye examination therefore it is important to get eye exams done regularly and start treatment as early as possible. 

What are the risks and causes of refractive errors? 

Several groups of people are more likely to be affected by refractive error such as those with family history of refractive errors and aging. There are also a few environment factors that will increase the risk of refractive errors as well, such as:

  • Long periods of work in front of a digital screen, which will increase digital eye strain. 
  • Spending long hours indoors with inadequate sun exposure. 
  • Inadequate regular sleeping hours. 

The main cause of refractive error is due to the inability of light to focus on our retina and form a clear image, and there are three main factors that affect this focusing ability: 

  • Aging of the lens in the eye that loses flexibility to focus light onto retina.  
  • Eyeballs that are too short or too long to focus light properly. 
  • Abnormalities in the shape of the cornea resulting in distorted images. 

How to prevent refractive errors? 

Although refractive errors of the eye cannot be prevented, it can be managed well through early diagnosis via eye examination. Treatment options may include: 

  • Wearing glasses. Prescription glasses are the safest and simplest way to correct your vision. 
  • Wearing contact lenses. These are worn directly on the eyes to correct your sight, which are more practical while undergoing physical activities as compared to prescription glasses. 
  • Undergo laser eye surgery. Laser eye surgery can reshape the shape of our cornea and make vision clearer. 
  • Undergo intraocular surgery. This type of eye surgery involves an implant of intraocular lens, which is a thin plastic that replaces our natural lens. This new artificial lens is shaped perfectly and will remove any refractive errors. 

See your doctor for eye exams regularly and inform your doctor if your vision gets worse even after treatment. Eating healthily, including the right type vitamins and minerals such as Lutein, fish oils, and  Bilberry that are good for eye health may also help in your eye care.  Also, minimizing screen time to reduce digital eye strain are good habits that should be practiced to maintain eye health as well.  

Reference

  1. Refractive errors. Refractive Errors | Kellogg Eye Center | Michigan Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.umkelloggeye.org/conditions-treatments/refractive-errors
  2. Refractive errors: Types, signs, causes, and treatment. MyVision.org. (2022, February 26). Retrieved August 15, 2022, from https://myvision.org/eye-conditions/refractive-errors/
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Refractive errors. National Eye Institute. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/refractive-errors

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Different parts of the eye and brain are responsible for the things that we see in our daily life. These parts include our retina, lens and optic nerve. When light passes through the eye lens and hit the retina, special cells called photoreceptors turn the light into electrical signals. These electrical signals will travel to the brain through our optic nerve and our brain will turn these electrical signals to images that we see every day.

Eye related conditions

Many habits and the modern life style today are taking a heavy toll on the general health of the eyes. Daily uses of electrical appliances and digital gadgets for work and entertainment especially for long hours such as televisions, computers and mobile phones will badly affect the well being of our eyes. We can see that today a large section of children are wearing glasses, and one of the contributors to this situation might be the prolonged usage of mobile devices and digital screens such as laptops, tablets and television watching. Without sufficient rest and blinking, our eyes will become dry and tired, and this will affect our eye health.

There are many conditions that will affect our vision and these conditions normally disrupt the light that passes from our eyes to the brain. Some of the conditions are as below:

  • Refractive errors. Refractive errors are the most common type of vision problem. It includes near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. These conditions will make it hard for us to see clearly as the light cannot focus correctly on our retina. Blurry vision is very common and people having refractive errors will also experience double vision, hazy vision and eye strain if they try to focus on the image.
  • Cataract. Cataracts can happen at any age but are more common in older people as it is caused by normal changes in our eyes as we gets older. The clouding of the eye lens will make the vision blur, hazy and less colourful. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes and surgery can be performed to correct vision problems caused by cataracts.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar will lead to a progressive damage to the blood vessel on the retina and it usually affects both eyes. Over time, diabetic retinopathy will cause vision loss and blindness. Diabetic patients are at high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy especially those with uncontrolled blood sugar.
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). As the name suggest, this condition normally occur when we age. AMD will cause the lost of central vision as it affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina that allows our eyes to see the fine details. People suffering from AMD will have trouble carrying out daily activities because it will be harder for them to see faces, read, cook, drive and do close-up work.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye disease that destroys our optic nerves. It can lead to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is usually caused by high eye pressure. Currently there is no cure for this condition but early treatment may slow the progression and stop the damages. People with glaucoma will experience a gradual loss of vision that most of them will not notice during the early stage as it happens slowly.

How to take care of eye health

Eyes are very delicate organ in our body and they need special care. We rely heavily on our vision for many movements that we perform such as personal interaction and carrying out daily tasks. It even affects our sleep schedule as our sleep schedules are affected by the light we see during the day.

There are many things that we can do to take good care of our visual health and make sure we are seeing our best. The most important one will be to eat a balance diet that contains sufficient eye health nutrition. Adding sufficient antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will improve our overall eye health.

Certain types of food, fruits and nuts are good for our eyes, plus some eye health supplements. Those that contain these vitamins and minerals will help to improve our eye health nutrition:

  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin can help to protect our eyes from harmful ultra violet rays in the sunlight. You can get Lutein and Zeaxanthin from green leafy vegetables and other colourful fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, corn and persimmons.
  • Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to protect your eyes from damages caused by free radicals. Collagen production also requires Vitamin C, which is used to provide structure of your eyes. Vitamin C can be found in citrus and tropical fruits as well as bell peppers, tomato and broccoli.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper visual development and retinal function. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to improve the retinal cellular response to ischemic, oxidative, and inflammatory damages. Omega -3 fatty acids can be obtained from several sources including salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, nuts and seeds.
  • Vitamin A is essential in maintaining our photoreceptors, which are our eyes’ light sensing cells. Deficiency in Vitamin A will cause night blindness and other serious conditions. Vitamin A can be obtained from animal sources such as liver, egg yolks and dairy products which has the richest source of Vitamin A.
  • Zinc is also essential for eye health. Zinc helps Vitamin A to produce melanin, which is a pigment that protects our eyes. Deficiency in Zinc may cause cloudy cataracts and poor night vision. Red meat, oysters and shellfish contain Zinc that we can obtain from dietary source.

Besides taking eye health nutrients, we also need to take good care of our eyes by getting regular eye examinations, wearing sunglasses during outdoors, managing our digital screen time and maintaining a healthy sugar level.

Reference

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 3). Common eye disorders and diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html#:~:text=The%20leading%20causes%20of%20blindness,disorders%20include%20amblyopia%20and%20strabismus.
  2. Diet and Nutrition. AOA.org. (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2022, from https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/diet-and-nutrition?sso=y

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The digestive system

Our digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract, which is a series of hollow organs that connects the mouth to the anus. It also includes the organs that are needed for digestion such as liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Digestion is needed for all the food that we consume as the food we eat needs to be broken down into smaller components until they can be absorbed and utilized by our body for energy, growth and cell repair.

What are the roles of the digestive system

Each part of the digestive system plays a role in moving the food or liquid through the gastrointestinal tract. To break down food into smaller size, our pancreases will secrete digestive enzymes into our small intestine. The small intestines will then mix the enzymes with the food via a movement called peristalsis. This will help to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats into smaller molecules for our body to absorb the nutrients. Small intestines are also responsible for the absorption of nutrients. Once this is done, the food residue will move on to the large intestines to further absorb water and to be removed from our body.

What are gut microbiota and why are they important

The small intestines and large intestines contain intestinal microflora, which is a complex ecosystem containing over 400 bacterial species. The balance of these bacteria is the key to good health as they act as a protector to our gut by preventing potential invasion of intestinal lining by harmful bacteria. This gut microbiota also helps in communication between the body and the gut lining which is essential for the development of a healthy immune system. Some of the condition that may affect the digestive system includes:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloated stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal reflux diseas

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are special plant fibres that the human body cannot digest. It is described as “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host health”. 

What are the benefits of prebiotics?

Prebiotics feed the gut microbiota and help them to grow and work better. The beneficial intestinal microbes will ferment prebiotics and obtain their survival energy. Therefore, the benefits of prebiotics have links to the benefits of these good bacteria. Prebiotics are also able to modify the gut environment by decreasing the gut pH due to fermentation and as a result, they are able to selectively modify and influence the composition and function of the gut microbiota.

How do prebiotics help with the digestive system?

Just like these good bacteria, prebiotics may support a healthy gut, offer a better digestive system, help in our immune system by keeping bad bacteria in control and preventing bad diseases from growing and spreading. Due to their ability to alternate bacterial growth in the gut, some studies have also suggested that prebiotics are able to reduce the development or severity of atopic dermatitis and eczema in children.

Although limited studies have been carried out on prebiotics, their relationship with human overall health has been an area of increasing interest in recent years. Not all plant fibre can be classified as prebiotics. The commonly-studied prebiotics are inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and more recently human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).

Where can you get prebiotics from?

Prebiotics can be obtained from various sources and most of them naturally exist in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Garlic
  • Green vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Tomato

Besides dietary consumption, prebiotics can also be obtained from supplements for digestive health that contain probiotics and prebiotics.

Prebiotics are generally considered safe for consumption and they may serve as an alternative to probiotics to a healthy gut. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, or more accurately you are what you feed your intestinal microflora. Both prebiotics and probiotics are needed to support our body in building and maintaining a healthy digestive system and also to support our overall health.

Reference

  1. Canny, G. O., & McCormick, B. A. (2008). Bacteria in the intestine, helpful residents or enemies from within? Infection and Immunity, 76(8), 3360–3373. https://doi.org/10.1128/iai.00187-08
  2. Davani-Davari, D., Negahdaripour, M., Karimzadeh, I., Seifan, M., Mohkam, M., Masoumi, S., Berenjian, A., &Ghasemi, Y. (2019). Prebiotics: Definition, types, sources, mechanisms, and clinical applications. Foods, 8(3), 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods8030092