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Coco SugarSugar, probably, is one of the best-known flavorings in the world. But how can we tolerate its excellent taste if it is also one of the main reasons that lead to non-communicable diseases like Diabetes? Diabetes is a serious and chronic metabolic disease characterized by an increase in blood sugar levels which has been consistently one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines through the years. As of 2019, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) data showed that 3,993,300 of the then total 63,265,700 Filipino adult population have diabetes, with a 6.3 percent prevalence of diabetes in adults. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that from January to December 2020, Diabetes Mellitus ranked fourth as the leading cause of death in the country. From the average 32,991 deaths between 2015 to 2019, the figure rose to 37,265 last year. So, how can coco sugar be a healthier alternative to the table sugar that we used to flavor our foods? What are the health benefits we can get from it?

Coconut sugar, also known as Coconut Palm Sugar, is a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. Coconut sugar is made in a natural 2-step process: A cut is made on the flower of the coconut palm and the liquid sap is collected into containers. Thereafter, the sap is placed under heat until most of the water has evaporated which will eventually have an end product of brown and granulated residue. Its color is similar to that of raw sugar, but the particle size is typically smaller or more variable. Regular table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup don’t contain any vital nutrients and therefore supply “empty” calories. However, coconut sugar does retain quite a bit of the nutrient found in the coconut palm. Most notable of these are the minerals iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, along with some short-chain fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also contains a fiber called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption and explain why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar.

Coconut sugar provides a few potential health benefits, but it is primarily a sweetener and is not that rich in nutrients. Still, it could:

Prevent low blood sugar. The body relies on glucose for energy. Like brown sugar and cane sugar, coconut sugar can help raise blood glucose levels and prevent conditions such as low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry, shaky, sweaty, dizzy, or nauseous. It can even lead to seizures and coma. If you are looking for a natural, plant-based sweetener to keep your blood glucose and energy levels up, coconut sugar is the ideal choice.

Lower chances of a blood sugar spike. Per serving, coconut sugar contains a small amount of inulin, a type of soluble fiber that can make post-meal blood sugar spikes less likely. Foods containing inulin can be healthy choices for people with diabetes.

At the end of the day, coconut sugar is no miracle food. It’s very similar to regular table sugar, although it’s not as processed and it contains a minimal amount of nutrients. If you’re going to use coconut sugar, use it sparingly. Coconut sugar belongs in the same boat as most sugar alternatives. It’s healthier than refined sugar but definitely worse than no sugar at all.

NO I Zamubec Alomar C. Adlawan, RND

References:

  • Diabetes: A bitter health crisis for Filipinos

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1461980/diabetes-a-bitter-health-crisis-for-filipinos

  • Coconut Sugar: Are There Health Benefits?

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-coconut-sugar#1

  • What Is Coconut Sugar and How Is It Made?

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-sugar#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

growth and developmentUnderstanding the growth and development of a child is one of the many important milestones of parenting. As babies grow older day by day, they change rapidly physically and mentally and develop their own personalities. At this stage of their lives, parents are the proudest of seeing their child becoming their own persona. So, for parents out there trying to understand the natural phenomena changes in your child’s life, here are some guides to examine if your child’s growth and development are appropriate for his or her age or something you need to worry about:

Growth and development, as a whole, are not limited to physical changes that occur in the child’s body but also in the changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking, and speech. These changes develop depending on the environment they are in. According to Medical Plus, soon after birth, infants normally lose about 5% to 10% of their birth weight but at 2 weeks of age, the infant should gain weight and grow quickly. This is the start of the rapid growth up to 2 years of age and after this, the growth slows until the adolescent growth spurt.

Development on the other hand is important that parents and caregivers must monitor. The child's developmental milestones must be observed such as their ability to playing, learning, speaking, behaving and moving, as well as, their ability to respond and make simple movements like voice recognition, face recognition, rolling over, and crawling. Thus, a regular check-up with your pediatrician is very critical in determining potential developmental delays that can cause problems in the health of the child. These are the determining factors on how faster they will learn, how they will behave and relate to others, and perform their activities of daily living in the future like socio-economic and educational attainments or the quality of life they may have in the days to come.

The bottom line is that parents should know the growth and developmental changes of their child to give early intervention that can prevent problems in the future. We need to be very careful in taking care of our little ones. We don’t want them to suffer or be in pain so let us pay more attention especially in the earlier stages of life. The more developmental stimuli we give, the more we encourage their mind and body to respond. Give quality time to your child!

NO II Joanna Marie E. Baltazar, RND

 

References:

1. Your child’s development from birth to 3 years

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/child-development-birth-3-years

2. Normal growth and development

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002456.htm

3. Healthy Development

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/facts.html

4. Physical growth of infants and children

https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/growth-and-development/physical-growth-of-infants-and-children

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Are you a breastfeeding mother who worries about how you can continue to provide the best nutrition for your baby because you are also working for the family? Should you just stop providing the precious nutrient you yourself can give with your breast milk? Worry no-more as there is an alternative way to continue providing breast milk even when you’re not around with your baby. Introducing... Cup Feeding! Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the baby is a must and continued breastfeeding is still the best for them from six months to two years and beyond. If the baby can’t latch to the breast, cup feeding is recommended. Cup feeding is an alternative way if a baby can’t latch to the breast and needs to be given some milk. It can also be used for supplementing a baby who is not getting enough milk and a baby who is separated from his/her mother for a while.

Alcohol and NutritionDid you know that heavy drinking can lead to big shortages in the nutrients you get? Research shows that drinking a lot over a long time “as in alcohol use disorder” often leads to poor nutrition. Alcohol is a substance produced through the fermentation and distillation of natural sugars and starches. It is one of the most popular toxic and psychoactive substances in the world with dependence-producing properties. It can affect both your mental state and mood. It influences consciousness, impairs judgment, and lowers inhibitions. In many of today’s societies, alcoholic beverages are a routine part of the social landscape for many in the population. This is particularly true for those in social environments with high visibility and societal influence, nationally and internationally, where alcohol frequently accompanies socializing.

Alcohol as an intoxicant affects a wide range of structures and processes in the central nervous system and increases the risk for intentional and unintentional injuries and adverse social consequences. Alcohol has considerable toxic effects on the digestive- and cardiovascular systems.  Alcoholic beverages are classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and increase the risk of several cancer types. Alcohol as an immunosuppressant increase the risk of communicable diseases, including tuberculosis and HIV. Both the volume of lifetime alcohol use and a combination of context, frequency of alcohol consumption and the amount consumed per occasion increase the risk of a wide range of health and social harms.

NUTRITIONAL EFFECT OF ALCOHOL

WEIGHT CHANGES - The question of drinking a small amount of alcohol along with a meal is not an option for people with an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholics do not stop at just one or two drinks. One or two are never "enough." But for those who can drink moderately some clinical research indicates that replacing dietary carbohydrates with alcohol causes body weight loss and adding a moderate amount of alcohol to an adequate diet causes little weight gain.

OVEREATING - Individuals tend to overeat when they sit down to a high-fat meal and wash it down with alcoholic drinks. The energy content of alcohol represents extra calories. This effect seems to add to the overfeeding associated with a high-fat diet, increasing the chances of weight gain.

MALNUTRITION - The more alcohol you drink, the more calories you get. This makes you less hungry for food because the body senses that its caloric needs have been met, so there’s a higher chance you’ll skip meals or choose foods that are low in nutrients. Over time, too much alcohol can make your body less able to absorb some of the important nutrients you need, even if you’re eating a healthy diet. 

HEART DISEASE - High blood triglycerides, along with other risk factors, may increase the chance of developing heart disease. For those who drink alcohol, the liver produces more triglycerides that circulate in the blood.

BRAIN DISORDER - Alcohol can damage the brain in many ways. The most serious effect is Korsakoff's syndrome, characterized in part by an inability to remember recent events or to learn new information. This is often caused by a specific nutritional deficiency of thiamine (Vitamin B1) that can accompany severe alcohol use disorders.

CANCER - Studies also have noted an association between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer. The mechanism of this effect is not yet known, but the association may be due to carcinogenic actions of alcohol or its metabolites to alcohol-induced changes in levels of hormones, such as estrogens, or to some other process.

There are many adverse health effects associated with heavy drinking or binge drinking. The damage is done by the toxic effects of alcohol, by nutrient deficiencies and by other adverse effects of the wrong food such as food allergy.

Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages are also "foods" with great potential for abuse. They trigger cravings and compulsive eating and drinking as other foods do, but the health and social consequences are more drastic. The compulsive use and abuse of alcoholic beverages can be devastating to individuals and society.

Alcohol is high in empty calories, so cutting back on beverages including beer, wine, and cocktails may help reduce your overall calorie intake. An occasional drink or two is fine, but heavy drinking comes with numerous health risks. Limiting your alcohol intake to a light or moderate amount may help lower your risk for certain health conditions linked to heavy alcohol use, including nutrient deficiencies, heart problems, diabetes, and cancer etc. So, “DRINK MODERATELY”.

AA VI Angelyn P. Intal, RND

References:

  • What is Alcohol and its nutritional effects?

https://www.verywellmind.com/nutritional-effects-of-alcohol-63192

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/nutritional-therapy-alcohol-use-disorder

https://www.who.int/health-topics/alcohol#tab=tab_2

HIVAccording to the Department of Health, a UNAIDS Report on the global HIV epidemic states that the number of new infections in the Philippines has more than doubled in the past six (6) years from an estimated 4,300 in 2010 to an estimated 10,500 in 2016. The Philippines has become the country with the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific, and has become one of eight countries that account for more than 85% of new HIV infections in the region. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment. HIV, if left untreated, can progress to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know if you are infected. This will help you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting the virus to another person.

There are three stages of HIV: Stage 1-Acute HIV Infection, Stage 2- Chronic HIV Infection, and Stage 3-AIDS. AIDS is the most severe phase of HIV infection. People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses, called opportunistic infections. Some people that are infected may have flu-like symptoms within 2 or 4 weeks after infection. Possible symptoms that you may experience are fever, headache, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches and joint pain, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, weight loss, cough, and mouth ulcers.

HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, sharing needles to inject drugs, blood transfusions, and mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or through breastfeeding. You can't become infected with HIV through ordinary contact. It cannot be transmitted by hugging, kissing, dancing, or shaking hands, sharing toilets, food, or drinks with someone who has the infection. To protect yourself from HIV, get tested if you are at risk, use condoms properly during sexual contact, don’t share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment, and consult your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is right for you and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away, and get tested and treated for other STDs. If you think you are infected with HIV or at risk of getting the virus, consult your doctor immediately. Stop the stigma and discrimination, now!

PNFP-ZDN Rowence F. Zorilla

References:

1. What Is HIV?

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids

2. About HIV-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

3. HIV/AIDS

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524

SaltThroughout time, “Salt” played an important role in cooking, food processing, and in human's sense of taste. One of the basic facts of salt especially in the human body is that it helps our cells to absorb nutrients, aids the digestion process, enables the transmission of nerve impulses, and much more.

The staple seasoning is known as table salt or sodium chloride is commonly used in food as a flavor enhancer, as a preservative agent, as a binder, controls the color, and improves the tenderness of meats. While in bread, it strengthens gluten in the dough, providing uniform grain, texture and strength, allowing the dough to expand without tearing. It also develops rind hardness and even consistency in cheese. Here are the following roles of salt in food and cooking.

The Roles of Salt in Food and Cooking are as follows:

a. As Seasoning

Salt is used as a seasoning to enhance the taste of food. It makes bland foods such as carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc.) palatable and it helps to bring out the natural flavors in other foods.

b. As Preservative

Salt is an important natural preservative and has been used for centuries to preserve meat, fish, dairy products, and many other foods. Long before the invention refrigerators slating, like pickling, was used to keep food safe to eat.

Within foods, salt brine dehydrates bacterial cells, alters osmotic pressure, and inhibits the development of bacterial growth – making it take longer for food to spoil.

It inhibits the growth of clostridium botulinum, the bacteria responsible for serious food poisoning – botulism. Salt helps to prolong freshness making food safer for longer. Even with the development of refrigeration, this is an important aid to food hygiene.

c. As Binding Agent

Salt helps extract the myofibrillar proteins in processed and formed meats binding the meat together and reducing cooking losses. It also increases the solubility of muscle proteins.

In sausage making, stable emulsions are formed when the salt soluble protein solutions coat finely formed globules of fat, providing a binding gel consisting of meat, fat, and moisture.

d. As Color Controller

Salt promotes the development of color in foods such as ham, bacon, and hotdogs. Used with sugar and nitrate or nitrite, salt produces color in processed meats which consumers like to see. Salt enhances the golden color in bread crust by reducing sugar destruction in the dough and increasing caramelization.

e. As Texture Aid

Salt strengthens gluten in bread dough, providing uniform grain, texture, and dough strength, allowing the dough to expand without tearing.

It improves the tenderness of cured meats such as ham by promoting the binding of moisture by protein. It also gives a smooth, firm texture to processed meats. Salt develops the characteristic rind hardness and helps produced the even consistency in cheese.

f. As Fermentation Control

In baked products, salt controls fermentation by retarding the growth of bacteria, yeast, and molds, preventing wild fermentation. This is important in making a uniform product and reducing the opportunity for harmful bacteria.

Within cheese, salt helps to assure the dominance of the desired flora, controls the rate of lactic acid fermentation, aiding the development of flavoring, body, and texture. In cheeses like stilton, for example, this is largely responsible for the taste and texture.

According to Healthline, despite the health risks and dangers associated with salt consumption, its use is constantly growing and widely used at home and in the food industry. Nevertheless, the consumption of salt should be reduced and controlled to avoid further health problems. Remember that what is in deficit or in excess is generally not good. As the saying goes… “Where salt goes, water follows”. So, eat right and consume salt a generous amount to be healthy!

AA VI Angelyn P. Intal, RND

References:

  • The basic facts of salt.

https://saltassociation.co.uk/salt-the-facts/

  • The role of salt in food and cooking.

https://saltassociation.co.uk/education/salt-health/role-salt-cooking/

  • Risks and dangers of high salt intake.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-dangers-of-sodium-restriction