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We often hear about the needs and benefits of incorporating essential fatty acids in a healthy balanced diet, which includes omega-6 fatty acids. Many of us know that omega-6 fatty acids can be obtained from consuming the oil of a little yellow flower, so what is this yellow flower and how does it gain its popularity? 

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennisis a plant native to North and South America. It is a plant with yellow flower that also grows throughout Europe and parts of Asia. Evening primrose plant has many uses as it can either be consumed orally or applied topically. In the earlier days, Native Americans appreciate the value of this plant by making poultices from the evening primrose plant to treat several skin conditions, such as bruises and minor wounds. The stem and leaf juices were often used as topical remedies for skin inflammation. As for oral remedies, the leaves were used to help with gastrointestinal discomforts and sore throats. 

Evening primrose oil is obtained by extraction from the seeds of the evening primrose plant, and is rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It is often used to make medicine or supplements. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids and are necessary for human health as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, our body cannot make them therefore we have to obtain omega-6 essential fatty acids from food. 

Health Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil carries a lot of benefit to the human body. It is sometimes known for its use in the management of chronic inflammation such as atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis, but evening primrose oil is widely known and more commonly used for several women health hormone-related conditions.  

Management of Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. It is associated with somatic, emotional and behavioral symptoms during the women’s menstrual cycle, such as: 

  • anxiety 
  • depression 
  • acne 
  • fatigue 
  • cyclical mastalgia 
  • irritable bowel syndrome 
  • headache 

GLA in evening primrose oil helps to promote prostaglandin synthesis and alleviates premenstrual syndrome. In one study conducted, two groups were given either GLA or placebo and evaluate their severity and duration of premenstrual syndrome. After three cycles, the severity and duration of the symptoms and irritability improved in the GLA group compared to the placebo group. Read more on managing premenstrual syndrome.

Management of Breast Pain

Breast pain is a common discomfort and anxiety for ladies in the reproductive ages. There are two types of breast pain, which are cyclical breast pain and noncyclic breast pain. Evening primrose oil can help to manage cyclical breast pain. 

Cyclical breast pain is linked to the menstrual cycle and the changing hormone levels.  It is often described as dull, heavy and achy pain that usually starts in the second half of the menstrual cycle then settles during the period.  It usually involves the upper outer breast area into the underarm. 

Most clinical trials on women alignments have focused on the efficacy of evening primrose oil in cyclical breast pain. The deficiency in GLA or its derivatives makes the breast tissues sensitive to sex hormones, which is associated with breast pain. Studies have shown that those who have consumed evening primrose oil have been known to feel significant relief of discomforting breast pain. 

Management of Menopausal Symptoms

Evening primrose oil is known to be useful in managing menopausal symptoms as well. Hot flush is one of the most commonly experienced menopausal symptoms. Evening primrose oil is often used to manage the frequency, severity and duration of hot flushes. 

Generally, evening primrose oil is considered safe and a good source of omega-6 fatty acids to include in our daily diet due to the needs of our body and its vast benefit to our health. 

    Reference

  1. Mahboubi, Mohaddese. “Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Oil in Management of Female Ailments.” Journal of menopausal medicine vol. 25,2 (2019): 74-82. doi:10.6118/jmm.18190 

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Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant found throughout United States, California, South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. Historically, milk thistle plays a role as a natural remedy to treat a range of health condition especially liver disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice, gallbladder problems, diabetes, indigestion and other conditions.  

One of the active ingredients in milk thistle is called silymarin, which is extracted from the fruit of the plant. Silymarinis believed to have a mixture of active flavonolignans and flavonoids that displays scavenger and antioxidant properties and act against free radicals as well as having anti-inflammatory effect. This antioxidant activity of Silymarin can protect our liver from both acute and chronic toxicity and injury, which is why milk thistle may be beneficial for liver problems. 

Today, milk thistle is still used as a complementary treatment to help with chronic inflammatory liver diseases. 

Function of Our Liver 

Liver is a very important organ in our body. It is located under our rib cage and on the right side of our abdomen. Liver regulates most chemicals in the blood as all the blood leaving the stomach and intestine will pass through the liver. The liver will process this blood and breaks down, balances, and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic. This is why we often associate detoxification to liver function.  

There are various related health conditions that are related to poor detoxification of our liver, which may lead to liver related diseases such as alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis and fatty liver disease. 

Liver diseases can either be genetic or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver such as toxins, viruses, alcohol use and obesity. Over time, these damages will lead to several conditions such as scarring of the liver, which can lead to liver failure. 

Role of Milk Thistle in Liver Health 

Milk thistle has been shown to play a role in the management of some of these related liver health conditions.  A few studies have shown that the benefits of silymarin on these conditions; to reduce inflammation and protect the liver, and to improve liver function. 

Alcoholic liver disease is a result of overconsuming alcohol that damages liver cells, which will lead to build up of fats, inflammation and scarring. One of the ways to help with alcoholic disease is to stop the intake of alcohol completely.  

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Inflammation happens when our liver tissues are injured or infected.  Alcohol consumption, several health conditions and some medication might cause inflammation of the liver. Viral infections are the most common cause of hepatitis, such as Hepatitis B and C. Chronic hepatitis can lead to complication such as scarring of the liver, liver failure or even liver cancer.  

Fatty liver disease is a common condition caused by the storage of extra fat in the liver. In most cases, fatty liver disease will not cause any symptoms as the liver can still function normally. However if left uncorrected, the disease will worsen over time and might lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver tissue. Being overweight, having type II diabetes and having high cholesterol will increase the risk of you getting fatty liver disease.  

Lifestyle tips for a healthy liver 

The best way to fight a disease is to avoid it. Here are a few tips to keep your liver healthy. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss can play an important part in reducing liver fat. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet 
  • Exercise regularly to burn off the fat storage in our body 
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Alcoholic drinks can damage our liver cells and scar our liver. 

In general, milk thistle is a beneficial complementary treatment option alongside with the other conventional treatment. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before starting to use milk thistle or any other supplement. 

    Reference

  1. Gobalakrishnan, S., Asirvatham, S. S., &Janarthanam, V. (2016). Effect of Silybin on Lipid Profile in Hypercholesterolaemic Rats. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 10(4), FF01–FF5. https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2016/16393.7566 
  2. Abenavoli, L., Capasso, R., Milic, N., &Capasso, F. (2010). Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy Research, 24(10), 1423–1432. doi:10.1002/ptr.3207 

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Very often we hear the word “stress” among our friends and families, but what do they actually mean?

Stress can be defined as the degree when one felt overwhelmed or unable to cope with the current situation as a result of pressures that are unmanageable. Sometimes, stress response is good as it can help us to push through difficult situations. However, when stress becomes excessive or too much to deal with, rather than helping us this pressure can make us feel overwhelmed and will have a negative impact on our health.

Stress can come from anywhere. You might feel stressed out at work due to long working hours, heavy workload or dealing conflicts with your colleagues. Stress might also come from your daily lives, such as having a traumatic injury, moving to a new home, or even just having a small argument with your family members.

People constantly suffering from stressful situations might experience the following:

  • Physical symptoms, such as headache, fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Mental symptoms, such as poor concentration and judgment
  • Emotional symptoms, such as irritability and depression
  • Behavioral symptoms, such as eating disorders and nervous habits like nails biting

It is difficult to avoid stress in our lives, but we can learn to manage it:

  • Stay active. Regular exercise can lift your mood.
  • Learn to relax. Relaxation technique such as yoga and deep breathing can activate the body’s relaxation response.
  • Connect with others. Spend some time with the people you love that will bring up your mood.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Cut down on processed food and go for foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

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Kids grow at a rapid pace. They need a good appetite to enjoy their meals and obtain essential nutrients. Good nutrition supports healthy growth especially in their physical, emotional and intellectual development. Just like many other parents, there are times when you are worried whether your kids are getting enough nutrients through their diet.

There are many reasons why kids have low appetite:

  • Sickness –flu, diarrhea or fever may make kids not feel like eating much
  • Constipation – this is a common factor that causes a loss in appetite for kids, which needs to be corrected by modifying their diet and lifestyle
  • Intestinal worms – presence of intestinal worms in kids can make them eat lesser than usual
  • Lack of exercise – with too little outdoor playing time, kids burn up less energy and are less likely to be hungry at mealtimes
  • Snacking between meals – this leaves kids feeling fuller for longer and in the end they are unable to finish the food on their plate
  • Drinking sweetened beverages and juices – these beverages are full of calories and therefore consuming them will lead to a loss of appetite
  • Distractions – watching TV or a smartphone during mealtime will make kids less interested in the food on their plate

Here are some tips to make kids love to eat:

  • Respect their appetite. If your kids aren’t hungry, try not to force them a meal or snack. Do not make your kids associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration.
  • Schedule mealtime. Serve meals and snacks at about the same time every day.
  • Make it fun. The more creative the meal is the greater variety of foods kids will eat. Serve food in a variety of color, shape, source and form.
  • Involve kids in meal preparation. Kids will be more interested in the food they help to select and help to prepare. They will be eager to eat them once they’re done.
  • Show a good example. If you are constantly eating a variety of healthy foods, your kids will learn to do the same.
  • Be more active. Running, jumping, biking, swimming, and other physical activities can help to burn more calories and increase their appetite.
  • Cut down distractions. Turn off TV, smartphone or tablet during mealtimes, as this will help the kids to focus on eating.
  • Limit on junk. By stocking less junk food around the house and replacing them with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products, you will encourage kids to eat healthier foods.

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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