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Healthy Habits for Our Readers

A study on the nutrition and health status of children and women of child-bearing age in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, revealed that the main micro-nutrient deficiency is iron. According to the Danone Research Centre for Specialised Nutrition, the deficiency is mainly due to the lack of iron rich food such as meat products. Calcium intake is also inadequate. In some countries, there is evidence that Vitamin A intake is also inadequate though carotene rich food is in abundance in this part of the world. There is a need to educate the population about proper nutrition as Vitamin D, folic acid and iodine intakes are also not optimal.

Benefits of proper nutrition

Benefits of a proper and healthy diet in women preparing to start a family are multiple. It’s vital to be in the best health as you’re more likely to fall pregnant and have successful pregnancy outcome. Malnourished mothers are more likely to miscarry and have smaller babies. At the same time, there is an increased risk of maternal morbidity and mortality. Healthy mothers are also more likely to successfully breastfeed their babies. This is of particular importance as breastfeeding is the only way to provide optimal nutrition for newborn babies as formula feeding is known to be associated with increased infection and other complications.

At the same time, maternal deficiency in some micro nutrients is known to give rise to certain birth defects. One example is folic acid deficiency in mothers and the increased risk of spina bifida in the newborns. “There is an urgent need to perform nutritional research among women of child-bearing age in Southeast Asia as there are many gaps in terms of knowledge in this particular area,” says Mr Quak, a lecturer from Singapore. Little is known about the exact amount of nutrients available and the choices available. There is also a lack of information about the nutritional status of young infants and toddlers in this region.

Fit Foods

Exercise delivers endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. Team up with these to push through the pain barrier

Ginger – New research from the University of Georgia shows a daily 2-gram dose of ginger can reduce exercise-induced pain by 25%.

Cherries – Antioxidant-rich cherries stave off inflammation. When exercisers were given cherry juice before and after performing exercises that contract and lengthen muscle, they reported less pain. Post-exercise soreness was shortened by a day.

Coffee – Downing a cuppa may seem to boost energy levels but coffee also dulls muscle soreness and pain. One study from the University of Georgia found that a caffeine supplement equivalent to two cups of brewed coffee, taken an hour before exercise, reduced muscle pain afterwards by 48%. Many people use aspirin or ibuprofen for muscle pain, but caffeine seems to work better, says University of Georgia’s Professor Patrick O’Connor.

Lights Off Please

Artificial light at night linked to depression

Ohio State University researchers who studied the brains of rodents have found that being exposed to low light every night reduces the density of dendritic spines – the hair-like growths on brain cells that send chemical messages from one cell to another and regulate moods. Artificial light at night suppresses the hormone melatonin, needed to produce dendritic spines, says study author Tracy Bedrosian. “The level of light used in our study was similar to that which a person would easily experience falling asleep in front of the TV in a dark room. While more research is needed, it is a good idea to switch off unnecessary lights at night.”

Say It Loud: Turn It Down

Dial down the volume on your iPod and listen to this: one in five teens now suffer from hearing loss – a 30% jump from just two decades ago. The loss is mild, but it means more adolescents are hearing only about as well as a typical adult aged 40-60. Playing music too loud is partly to blame, experts believe. To avoid damage to your hearing, keep these numbers in mind, recommends audiologist Cory Portnuff: ■ 60% You can listen all day if you keep the volume at 60% of the maximum. ■ 80% You can crank the volume up to 80% if you’re listening for 90 minutes a day. ■ 100% If you want to blast it at maximum volume, keep it short – just five minutes a day.

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