Category Archives: Nutrients A to Zee

Nutrients affecting Digestive Health

digestive systemWe need a healthy digestive system to assimilate the food we eat; but little do we know that these nutrients are also needed to keep the digestive system healthy. From A to D, essential vitamins play key roles in maintaining digestive health. In most cases you can get these nutrients from the daily diet; but those with certain gastrointestinal diseases may need supplements, however always consult a doctor first. Read on to learn which vitamins are the most important for healthy digestion and how to incorporate them into your eating habits.

B Vitamins

These vitamins are found in proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, and dairy products, whole grain cereals, pulses, fruits like bananas, green vegetables and eggs. B vitamins are water-soluble, thus you cannot store them to use later; they need to be a regular part of your diet.

Essential B vitamins for the digestive system include:

  • B1: helps the body change the carbohydrates in diet into energy.
  • B3: is important for many digestive tract functions, including the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.
  • B6: is very important in helping digestive system process the protein in the diet.
  • Biotin:This B vitamin helps the digestive system produce cholesterol and process proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids.
  • B12: plays a role in the nervous system, the production of blood cells, and the body’s use of folic acid and carbohydrates.

Vitamin C

Because it is an antioxidant, many people associate vitamin C with the immune system and preventing colds, but it also aids in digestion by supporting healthy teeth and gums and helping the body absorb iron. Food sources include: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemon, mausmi), berries (e.g. amla), tomatoes, peppers, broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body in absorbing calcium and plays a key role in how the nerves, muscles, and immune system function. Also healthy levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer. There are three ways you can get vitamin D: Sun exposure, Vitamin D-rich foods, such as egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk and cereal and supplements.

If you are not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Keep in mind that you may already be taking a supplement that contains vitamin D. e.g. many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved primarily in boosting vision, bone, and reproductive health, as well as helping the immune system. Sources of vitamin A include liver, whole milk and its products, cod liver oil, kidney, egg, fish, meat and some fortified food products; colourful fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange and dark green leafy ones like carrot, papaya, tomato, capsicum, mango, apricot, spinach, fenugreek, etc. Although vitamin A is not directly involved in digestion, some gastrointestinal diseases can leave you vulnerable to a vitamin A deficiency.

So follow the mantra: Eat healthy to keep your digestive system healthy.

Food for Eyes

food for eyesVisual impairment is a global epidemic. In developing countries, nutritional deficiency and cataracts continue to be the leading cause of blindness, whereas age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are the leading causes in developed nations. The World Health Organization has instituted VISION 2020: “The Right to Sight” as a global mission to put an end to worldwide blindness.

Good nutrition is important to keep your eyes healthy and functioning their best throughout your lifetime. Age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration (vision loss) and cataracts commonly cause impaired vision and blindness in older adults. But lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, can help in delaying or preventing certain eye problems. Uncontrolled diabetes increases a person’s risk for cataracts and and may cause diabetic retinopathy.

Lots of researches have concluded that vitamin A, C, E plus zinc can slow down the development of age-related changes in eyes. Vitamins C and E may also help to inhibit the development or progression of cataracts. Vitamin A can be found in vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits (oranges, lemon, mausmi), and various berries like amla. Two chemical compounds called Lutein and zeaxanthin also are instrumental in preventing eye damage because of aging and overexposure to the sun’s radiation. They can also act like natural sunglasses, physically helping to filter out harmful rays and stopping it from reaching and damaging eyes.

In addition to important eye and vision benefits, lutein may help protect against atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in arteries), the disease that leads to most heart attacks.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are often found together in many fruits and vegetables. They include spinach, kiwi, sweet corn, mango, broccoli, green beans, prunes, capsicum (orange), peas, melon, grapes, oranges, papaya, peaches, lettuce, and pumpkin. For maximum benefit, eating these foods mentioned above lightly cooked is better than eating them raw, as cooking makes it easier for body to absorb them. Overcooking, however, can remove goodness of vegetables.

A diet high in saturated fat and sugar may increase the risk of eye disease. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and eye conditions including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have been shown to occur less frequently in people who eat diets rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and lutein.

There is currently no officially recommended daily dose of lutein and zeaxanthin, but it is thought that we should eat about 6mg each day – around two to four servings of fruit and vegetables mentioned above.  It remains unclear how much lutein and zeaxanthin is needed daily for adequate eye and vision protection. Also, it is unknown at this time whether supplements have the same effect as lutein and zeaxanthin obtained through food sources.

Remember that taking dietary supplements does not replace a healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables usually is the best way to get the important eye nutrients you need.