How much do you know about healthy eating.

Courtesy:FAO/Alessandra Benedetti; Right: ©Fundación Comunidad/Alberto Pascual

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and with it has come the rise of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Countries have developed dietary guidelines, adapted to local food situations and populations, to provide advice on healthy eating. ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti


Diets vary greatly from place to place based on food availability, eating habits and culture. Yet, when it comes to food, there is a lot that we know about what is and what is not good for us and this is true no matter where we live. Societal changes, however, are making these choices more complicated. While many countries are still dealing with undernutrition, more and more people around the world are eating energy-dense, high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods. Urbanization, more sedentary types of work and changing modes of transportation are decreasing people’s levels of physical activity, creating entire populations at risk of obesity, overweight and related diseases.

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and with it the increase of health-related problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. This trend is not confined to high-income countries. In fact, in low- and middle-income countries, the number of overweight and obese people is on the rise at an even faster rate. At the same time, in many cases, low- and middle-income countries also have to deal with high rates of stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies.

At a time when obesity is on the rise, dietary guidelines are that much more important. Based on the latest available evidence, guidelines are a country’s recommendations to its population for eating better and being healthier.

FAO’s website contains the most comprehensive compilation of dietary guidelines worldwide. More than 100 countries have developed dietary guidelines that are adapted to local food situations and populations.

Although the guidelines and food guides may vary in terms of structure and format (from booklets to posters and videos, from the popular food pyramid and South Korea’s roly-poly to Fiji’s pineapple and Guyana’s stew pot), the content has a lot of common advice.

Most countries’ guidelines recommend that people have at least 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. For a sweet tooth, fruit is a good alternative to processed sugars.
Left: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti; Right: ©Fundación Comunidad/Alberto Pascual

7 eating habits that we know are good for us:

1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits – Some countries are very specific about the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that we should consume daily, for example Greece says six, Costa Rica and Iceland say five. Canada even specifies the colors of vegetables to consume (one dark green and one orange vegetable a day). Serving sizes can vary by country; however, all guidelines recommend eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

2. Watch your intake of fats – Said in different ways, most guidelines make mention of reducing solid, saturated fats and give recommendations for replacing animal fats with vegetable oils. In Greece, olive oil is recommended, in Viet Nam it is sesame or peanut oil – demonstrating the importance of availability and cultural preference in each country’s guidelines.

3. Cut back on foods and beverages high in sugar – It is generally agreed upon that processed sugar is harmful to our health. The guidelines in every country recommend to maintain a low-sugar diet and to choose fruits over processed sweets or sugary beverages to satisfy a sweet tooth.

4. Reduce sodium/salt – Nigeria mentions reducing the use of bouillon cubes; Malta specifies limiting ready-made food high in sodium. Colombia on the other hand suggests limiting processed meats, canned foods and packaged products that usually have high salt content. Across all countries, the general agreement is that diets with less salt are better for you. 

5. Drink water regularly –Across the board, the guidelines recommend that water is the best thirst-quencher. Of course, we should always first make sure that the water is safe for drinking.

6. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation– If you do choose to drink alcohol, whether that is beer, wine or spirits, the general consensus is that it should be done in moderation.

7. Make physical activity part of your day, every day – For people who have more sedentary jobs or lifestyles, the broad recommendation is to get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. However, Benin’s guidelines point out that for people with jobs that require hard physical labour, additional exercise is not of top importance.

abundance agriculture bananas batch

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Harvard Women’s Health Watch:- Eat an egg for breakfast, prevent a stroke.

Eating an egg a day may help protect against cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online May 21 by the journal Heart. Researchers found that people who ate an egg every day had an 18% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 28% lower risk of experiencing a deadly hemorrhagic stroke, compared with people who didn’t eat eggs.

The study included more than 400,000 adults ages 30 to 79. Participants were from 10 survey sites in China. Researchers looked at how often study subjects reported eating eggs and then tracked their health for nearly nine years using registries and other methods.

Those who reported moderate egg consumption — one a day — were far less likely than non-egg eaters both to develop cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, heart attacks and related events, hemorrhagic stroke, and ischemic stroke.

sliced egg on top of green salad with bread

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Diabetes in Pregnancy – part one

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. When you are pregnant, high blood sugar levels are not good for you and your baby.

The prevalence of this disease is increasing in the younger generation, so now more women are affected during pregnancy.

According to an estimate, 21 million women or 16.2% of mothers have some form of high sugars in pregnancy.

Another 54 million women are affected by impaired glucose tolerance test(IGT). They have a potential to develop GDM if they become pregnant.

Factors that increase chances of Diabetes in Pregnancy 

  • Stress of urbanization: we have a busy schedule in today’s lifestyle, we grab anything within reach to eat during our busy day (especially fastfood)
  • Sedentary lifestyle: lack of exercise, no walk after meals, sleeping till late hours
  • Bad eating habits:  irregular hours or late hours of eating, unbalanced diet, lots of biryani (rice), burgers (bread), nihari (red meat), sugary drinks, and fried food many times a week.
  • Increasing age of marriage and high parity (no. of children)
  • The highest incidence of diabetes in pregnancy is in South East Asia (SEA) and Middle East North Africa (MENA) leading up to about 46% affecting 10.4 million mothers who give birth to live babies.
  • Globally 88% of women who have high blood glucose during pregnancy are from low and middle income countries.

Why does this matter?

There are problems for mothers:

  • Later in life, women may develop Type 2 (frank DM)
  • The mother is at risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy and at the time of delivery.
  • Recurrent fungal infections: mothers suffer from repeated fungal infections and smelly discharge from vagina during pregnancy
  • Operative delivery: they end up in caesarian sections or forceps deliveries due to the big size of the baby and may have injuries to their birth canals.


There are problems for baby:

  • The babies are bigger in size. They are swollen due to high insulin levels in their mothers.
  • The babies may suffer from obesity and other disorders like diabetes in adolescence and childhood
  • Congenital Anomalies: the babies may have ASD (that is a defect in heart chamber). There are also chances of defects in spinal cord.
  • Repeated miscarriages
  • Premature delivery as the water bag leaks before expected date due to infections caused by diabetes
  • Hydramnios: the water in the bag around the baby increases, causing discomfort and early rupture of membranes.
  • The problems faced by baby around birth time:
    The baby will have difficulty in breathing due to difficult delivery due to its size (in addition the material that helps in breathing develops late in GDM babies).  The baby’s sugar level falls as soon as baby is born, these babies will have jaundice more than the normal babies, there calcium level falls and they can have fits.


Who is at Risk?

What will your doctor be looking for in the first visit?

  • If the mother had pregnancy diabetes in previous pregnancy
  • If the woman is in the pre-diabetic range (pre-diabetes i.e. HbA1C is more than 5.7) A cut-off of > 5.7 % is considered at risk of developing sugar in pregnancy.
  • BMI > 30 kg/m2 at the first antenatal visit, personal history of metabolic syndrome, PCOS, obesity
  • Ethnicity: South or East Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Native American, Pacific Islander.
  • Diabetes in first degree relatives e.g. mother, father, mamoo, chacha, khala, phuphi, nani, dada – (maternal and paternal relatives)
  • Big baby in previous pregnancy – 9 pounds or more (4.1 kg)
  • If the mother had unexplained death of baby just before or immediately after delivery or birth of an abnormal baby.
  • If the mother is on cortisone tablets or has high blood pressure.
  • Overt Diabetes i.e. diabetes before pregnancy – Patients with confirmed fasting sugar levels of ≥7.0 mmol/L (≥126 mg/dL) or random glucose levels ≥11.1 mmol/L (≥200 mg/dL) in the first trimester receive a diagnosis of overt rather than gestational diabetes (meaning during pregnancy)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Hello my lovely readers,

I have put together a few informative articles I came across regarding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). They put together a holistic approach towards the identification and treatment of PCOS for the general public:

  1. Thirty interesting facts about PCOS (Courtesy:
  2. The role of dairy in PCOS (Courtesy:
  3. The NHS guidelines  (Courtesy:
  4. PCOS and weight gain (Courtesy:


PCOS image

Diagram to explain the common manifestations of PCOScourtesy: