Fiber and health

Add fiber-rich foods to your daily diet

Dear Dr. Mo: I am looking to improve my diet and fiber comes highly recommended as something to eat daily. What is it and where to get it from? How much is enough?

Dear reader: The reason fiber is highly recommended as a part of any healthy diet is simple – it is really good for you.

Previously, it was thought that fiber was a significant factor in preventing colon cancer but as it turns out, most of the evidence show that fiber has no such effect in prevention of this disease.

Still, fiber has many other good effects, for which it is considered a must-have in our everyday diets.

So, what does fiber do for us?

Fiber helps prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes (by improving insulin resistance), constipation and diverticulitis (an intestinal problem). It helps to regulate cholesterol levels by slightly reducing the “bad” LDL cholesterol. And last, but certainly not the least of good effects is the increase of the bulk of foods making us feel fuller for longer – that’s another way fiber helps us in avoiding overeating and being overweight.

What is fiber and where to get it from?

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate form found in plant foods.There are two types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble Continue reading

The 5-second rule – can you eat food you dropped on the floor?

Dear Dr. Mo: I’ve been told that if I dropped my food on the floor and picked it up within 5 seconds, it would still be safe and clean to eat –

Food gets contaminated immediately

Food gets contaminated immediately

bacteria didn’t have enough time to jump on it. Is that true?

Dear reader: To answer your question on the so called ‘5-second rule’ simply, this rule is not correct and NO, no small amount of time can pass to still allow us to pick the food up from the floor and safely eat it – germs free; and I mean no amount of time – not even a millisecond, or even less than that – not even a nano or a piko or however unimaginably small amount of time you want to use as a yard stick. Continue reading

The importance of eating breakfast

Dear Dr. Mo: How important is breakfast for my health? Should I skip it if I want to lose some weight? I see some of my friends do this.

Dear reader: To answer simply – breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you should never skip it.

That said; let me quickly give a few important reasons for this.

Make it a healthy choice

Make it a healthy choice

Fist and foremost, if you want to lose some weight or just maintain the one you have (especially if it is a healthy one and feels good to you) eating breakfast every morning is the way to go.

I’ve spoken to people whose strategy was to skip breakfast thinking they would reduce their daily amount of calories – you are guessing already – they have failed at that. The reason such a strategy doesn’t work is because without a proper breakfast, you become very hungry by lunch time and not only that but you drive your body into energy conservation mode in which calories are being conserved and stored rather than spent and where your metabolism slows down – all of which is bad news for weight loss. Continue reading

Caught a cold?

Dear Dr. Mo: What exactly is ‘common cold’ and how to recognize it – is that the same as flu? Should I be worried and what to do?

Dear reader: These days you can’t seem to escape people who sneeze, cough, have a runny nose or all of it together – in fact, you may be one of them.

Don’t worry, it’s usually nothing serious, just a mild viral infection of upper airways also known as common cold and it requires no special treatment.

Chicken soup helps in recovery

Chicken soup helps in recovery

The symptoms of common cold may bug us for up to two weeks at a time and if we can maintain our daily function, if there are no serious muscle or joint pains, no high fever or strong headaches and prolonged fatigue it’s not the flu or other serious conditions and you shouldn’t be concerned. But if symptoms persist even after two weeks or start to get worse after 7 – 10 days, visit your doctor to see what’s going on.

Over 100 viruses can cause a common cold and you may experience anything from a runny nose to sore throat, cough and sneezing to watery eyes and strong congestion. Part of the package may also be mild muscle ache and headache, slightly elevated body temperature, mild fatigue and upset fellow elevator passengers. Those unlucky enough may get all these symptoms at once. Continue reading

Skipping your meals – how bad is it?

Dear Dr. Mo: I’m on a diet, but it sometimes turns into no-food scenario for hours and hours after which I feel nervous and weak. How bad is it to skip meals?

Dear reader: Delaying or skipping meals is among the worst things you can do in your diet.  It causes your blood sugar levels to fall, even beyond optimal limits and this in turn causes you to feel cranky and nervous.
When the blood sugar is low this condition is called Hypoglycemia and it is usually mild but it can become severe and even life-threatening.

Hypoglycemia is often caused by glucose-lowering medications such as insulin, sulfonylureas or glinides but in case of skipping your meals this too can be the culprit for the condition. It deprives you of the needed carbohydrates and other nutrients and causes your blood sugar to drop, sometimes to dangerous levels.

Never skip your meals – rather, plan ahead and eat healthy

As I said, if the hypoglycemic state becomes severe, it may cause seizures, loss of consciousness and even coma. These grave consequences are usually the result of a combination of factors like anti-diabetic medication, vigorous exercise and too little or no food and rarely happen just if you’ve skipped a few meals, but this doesn’t say skipping meals is something you should tolerate.

For your note, symptoms of hypoglycemia could include the following:

Fiber-rich foods – your allies in healthy weight loss

Dear Dr. Mo: I wish to lose some weight and I know fiber is important part of a good weight-loss plan. My diet so far has not been very healthy and I am trying to improve it. Which foods do you suggest as a good source of fiber?

Dear reader: Nutritional super foods, rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other health preserving compounds are all around us. And yet, we succumb to advertising and our own cravings for sugars, greasy junk food and the simple fact that fast food is easier to acquire, it’s more readily available and in truth, it is often cheaper.

Colorful salads are a sure shot when it comes to fiber-rich food

The first step is to become aware of these things and understand that in the 21st century, eating healthy presents a real challenge and asks for will power.

The magic word in today’s healthy diet which attains and maintains a healthy weight and good shape is, planning.

I say that in any weight loss plan, a strategic goal has to be Attain and Maintain.

To Attain and Maintain, you need proper tools, one of which is dietary fiber.
Fiber absolutely has to be on your daily menu – it not only helps in weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer and by regulating your bowel movement, it helps regulate cholesterol levels and ratios in the blood, preventing both weight gain and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes etc.

To help in your planning, here are some fiber-rich (super)foods you could include in your everyday meals: Continue reading

Acai berries – fad or fact?

Dear Dr. Mo: Acai palm, its berries and Acai supplements have been advertised as being powerful in prevention of heart disease, cancer and in weight loss as well as potent beauty products. Is any of it true?

Dear reader: Acai palm is native to Central and South America. Its fruit, Acai berry is reddish/purple colored.
As many other berries, Acai berry has some good nutritional value, which is beneficial for our health.
It is rich in dietary fiber, heart-healthy fats and low in sugar.
It also has a high content of Anthocyanins, which are thought to be very powerful antioxidants.

Acai berries are rich in fiber

This anti-oxidative potential is the main reason Acai berry has been so popular.

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue. They give fruits and vegetables darker hues spanning from purple, red to black. These pigments have been shown to act as some sort of a “sunscreen”, protecting plant cells and plant tissues from the high-light stress.

Lab results (in vitro studies) have been very promising in showing the many health benefits of this class of flavonoids including some anti-cancerous effects, particularly in colon, prostate and esophagus cancer. Also, their protective effects have been researched in processes of aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections with positive results.
Continue reading

An apple a day? You should take this advice

Dear Dr. Mo: Is there some truth in the old saying that “An apple a day keeps a doctor away”?

Dear reader:  Your question is timed well as we are now in the season of apple picking. This saying could be in principle applied to many fruits and veggies and I always recommend a balanced diet to accommodate for a variety of healthful foods to keep us healthy. Here are some of the reasons why apples are so revered for their health benefits.

Apples belong to ‘super foods’

Apples lower cholesterol – there is about 4 grams of fiber per average-sized apple. Pectin is one of those fibers, which is soluble and is thought to lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) by reducing the absorption of it from food and bile and stimulating the body to use the cholesterol rather than to store it.

Apple helps with constipation and diarrhea – Pectin again, increases the volume and viscosity of stool and this relieves both constipation and diarrhea symptoms. Generally, fiber in apple (as with all other fiber-rich food) is beneficial for our digestion. Continue reading

Ordinary foods that keep you healthy

Dear Dr. Mo: Which foods should I always include in my diet to improve my health and why?

Dear reader: It goes without saying that good dietary habits are good for our health – but what is not often emphasized enough is just how good that is.
It has been widely recognized by medical community that by simply increasing your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables you are lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes – and when I say lowering I mean really lowering it by 50 to even 70%!

Bananas are a nutrient powerhouse

There are of course other benefits too: an antioxidant called Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and red grapefruit is linked to protection against breast and prostate cancers, chances of developing kidney cancer are greatly diminished by frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables and fiber rich foods keep your intestines work properly preventing constipation, intestinal illness and help control your weight by keeping you fuller for longer.
We all have different appetites, habits and tastes but vegetables and fruits should be an integral part of our daily diet and many adults need roughly two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables per day.

Here is my selection of some ordinary foods, which I consider rich in all the nutrients you need to turn your daily diet into a health promoting and health protecting habit. Continue reading