Today’s fast-paced lifestyle demands that you pay more attention to your diet to avoid health complications.
As such, UCSI Hospital’s dietitian Loong Jie Yee shared some advice on personal health care and the risk of taking pills or supplements that promise immediate weight loss.
Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, she is responsible for preparing the patient menu at UCSI Hospital to ensure they receive adequate nutrients.
She said nutritional care is essential, especially for patients with chronic diseases like kidney disease and diabetes. Food with the right amount of nutrients will help in the patient’s recovery process.
She graduated from International Medical University with a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics with Nutrition. She is also an enthusiast of outdoor activities like climbing.
Individuals working in the office tend to have irregular meal times and little physical activity. These factors make weight maintenance and weight loss difficult.
"They sit for about eight to nine hours a day. Additionally, their hectic work schedules result in them not eating at the designated times. For example, when there are on-going meetings until lunch, their meals are delayed. This delay causes them to eat more because they are hungry.
"We also snack often. Snacking is not wrong if done in adherence to certain conditions. One of these conditions is the quality and quantity of snacks taken. Preferably, we should eat healthy snacks like yoghurt, fruits or nuts.
"Nuts are a rich source of fiber packed with many nutrients. However, they are high in calories. In fact, even food such as avocado and granola are high in calories. So not only do we need to make good food choices, we have to watch our portions as well. Moderation is the key" she said.
Most of us think that an ideal body is one that is slender with smooth and fair skin. However, the tendency to achieve that image has led some people to seek shortcuts like taking dangerous and unapproved pills or supplements.
According to Loong, society's standard of a beautiful body is often thin and fair. This standard has led many to rush into the market for weight loss products.
"The idea that you must be skinny to be considered beautiful is another perception society has set. What we need to be is healthy. If we go to extremes for the sake of meeting society's standards, we may achieve the opposite result and harm ourselves. So, we need to ensure we get the right amount of nutrients for the whole body and not just focus on the body size. There is no shortcut for slimming down," she said.
Additionally, she stated that many weight loss supplements contain "metabolism boosters" such as caffeine, green tea and herb extracts. There is no solid evidence that the consumption of these ingredients could lead to noticeable weight loss. For example, studies show that consuming over 400 milligrams of green tea extract can be detrimental to the liver.
"Many weight loss supplements contain laxatives. They make you go to the toilet more frequently. However, it is actually water weight that you are losing, which is temporary.
"If you need to lose weight, you may find that a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity will keep off the weight in the long term. If this is not enough, your doctor may prescribe proper weight-loss medication as part of your weight control programme, depending on your health condition," she said.
According to Loong, if we have a balanced diet, there is no need to take additional supplements.
"You may consider taking supplements when you have genuine deficiency in a particular nutrient due to your medical condition or certain dietary restrictions.
"For example, some people are lactose intolerant. Hence, they should make sure they get enough nutrients by taking food rich in calcium like anchovies, broccoli and leafy green vegetables.
"If you cannot find a substitute as the source for the nutrient, you may consider to take supplement. Talk to your health care provider about this," she said.
Commenting on the intake of vitamin C to prevent Covid-19, she explained that the body's immune system is complex. It does not solely depend on vitamin C. Instead, it also requires other minerals like zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and copper to remain healthy.
She also advised that we can control our food consumption and participate in activities like Zumba at home throughout this pandemic.