Preventing health issues starts with good nutrition
Non-communicable diseases have been on the rise and developing among the young
As Asian countries struggle to battle health problems affecting the younger generation, non-communicable diseases have been on the rise and developing at a younger age.
In addition, new waves of Covid-19 have hit the region, making people, especially the youth, more vulnerable.
Patients with pre-existing diseases are also likely to suffer more severe symptoms and complications when infected with the coronavirus.
This is why Dr Simon Sum, a dietitian nutritionist and director for scientific affairs, product science and innovation at Herbalife Nutrition, feels it is urgent and crucial to promote good health among the young during this period of uncertainty by educating them on nutrition.
To minimise the early onset of diabetes, what are some lifestyle habits to avoid?
Asians tend to develop diabetes at a younger age. To combat this, we need to focus on adopting better dietary habits and healthy active lifestyles earlier.
Currently, young people may face extreme stress and indulge in unhealthy calorie-dense foods with high amounts of sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.
These foods are generally cheaper and more convenient to purchase.
Aside from this, with online classes and schooling from home, the youth and younger children may not be that active in sports and other physical activities. Over the long run, this may add to unhealthy weight gain and lead to other health issues.
The four main non- communicable diseases (NCDs) defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. Are these genetic? How does one minimise the risk of being diagnosed?
While genetics and family history play a part, other risk factors include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and harmful alcohol use, which are typically established during adolescence and young adulthood.
Since we cannot control our genetics, the main way of preventing NCDs is through healthy eating habits.
Diet shifts in Asia have significantly contributed to the rising NCD rates. Over the years, there have been changes from healthier traditional diets to convenient fast-food type diets and junk foods.
As a result, insufficient vitamin and mineral intakes also become an issue along with overweight and obesity in young people - creating the double burden of malnutrition.
What foods should be taken in order to control weight?
There are no magic foods that can reduce our weight and it is always about calories in versus calories out.
However, one way we can manage our weight healthily is to replace simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain foods, peas and beans.
Lower in glycaemic index and higher in dietary fibres, vitamins and minerals, these carbohydrates are digested more slowly, which makes them more filling and a better option for weight and blood glucose control.
Drinking is common among young people today. When does it start to become detrimental to health?
A standard drink is 10g of pure ethanol according to WHO. The recommendation is no more than two drinks a day on average for both men and women.
Alcohol becomes bad for health when it is consumed more than the moderate amount. This can lead to alcohol abuse and other detrimental side effects.