Do you know that aqueous cream can be used as soap substitute? And as a matter of fact, it is actually neither intended nor recommended to be used as leave-on product.Aqueous cream is formulated using water and emulsifying ointment which contains sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). When left on skin for prolonged or extended periods, SLS can cause irritation, which is the reason why aqueous cream must be washed off.Regular soaps are best avoided by those with sensitive and dry skin. This is because soaps remove natural oils on skins and dry them out. Besides, they often contain additives which are irritant to our skins. Aqueous cream on the other hand provides a layer of oil on the skin and retains water underneath, making it ideal for dry skin. And SLS, which is fine if only in contact with the skin briefly, cleanses the skin rather effectively, making aqueous cream the perfect soap substitute!Note that though aqueous cream cleanses well, it does not lather or foam. Also it can make your floor slippery, so do use a non-slip mat to avoid accidental falling.
Wondering what superfoods are? Check out post and our list of superfoods, their nutritional values, and potential health benefits.
Definition of superfoods
Superfoods are nutrient-rich food that are thought to be especially beneficial for general health and well-being. Other than essential nutrients, these foods are usually jam-packed with antioxidants as well. As a result, superfoods are often glorified as being able to slow down aging, bolster intelligence, reverse the wear and tear caused by unhealthy foods and pollutants, etc.
The list goes on. And the health claims often look too good to be true. And in fact, there are really too good to be true. Most of them are loosely, if at all, based on inconclusive research that tests extracts in much higher concentrations than that found in the foods. You will have to eat an enormous amount of these superfoods in order to gain those potential health benefits.
Nevertheless, as promised, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular superfoods.
|Superfoods||Nutritional Values||Health Claims|
|Acai||Amino acids, beneficial fatty acids, boron, calcium, copper, enzymes, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc||Support weight loss, combat cancers and inflammation|
|Beetroot||Iron, folate, nitrates, betaine||Lower blood pressure, prevent dementia|
|Blueberries||Vitamin K, C, fiber, manganese, other antioxidants||Help protect against heart disease & some cancers, lower blood pressure, improve memory|
|Cocoa||Iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, antioxidants||Reduce blood pressure, prevent cancer, relieve stress|
|Cruciferous Vegetables e.g. broccoli, kale||Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin A, K, calcium, fiber, beta-carotene & other antioxidants||Fight cancer, cardiovascular disease & diabetes|
|Garlic||Vitamin C, B6, manganese, selenium & other antioxidants||Improve high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds & cancers|
|Green Tea||Vitamin Bs, manganase, potassium, magnesium, caffeine, other antioxidants||Support weight loss, lower cholesterol, fight cardiovascular disease, prevent cancer & Alzheimer’s disease|
|Goji Berries||Vitamin C, B2, A, iron, selenium & other antioxidants||Boost the immune system & brain activity, protect against heart disease and cancer, improve life expectancy|
|Nuts e.g. almond, walnuts||Fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, calcium, monounsaturated fat||Help lower blood cholesterol levels, support healthy heart|
|Oily Fish||Vitamin D, protein, vitamin Bs, selenium, Omega-3||Prevent cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, age-related vision loss, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis|
|Pomegranate Juice||Fiber, vitamin A, C, E, iron, other antioxidants||Prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, cancers, strengthen bones|
|Yoghurt||Calcium, vitamin D, protein, probiotics||Promote good digestive health|
|Sea weeds||Amino acids, beta-carotene, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, Omega-3||Combat cancers, promote good digestive health|
|Wheatgrass||Chlorophyll, vitamin A, C, E, iron, calcium, magnesium||Reduce inflammation, prevent cancer|
|Red Wine||Antioxidants||(In moderation) support healthy heart, prevent cell damage, promote longevity|
Though the therapeutic uses of these superfoods are not founded on sound evidence, it is still undeniable that these foods are high in nutrients (and, for some of them, low in calories too). There is definitely no harm to add them into your daily diet. However, you should bear in mind that the key to healthy life is to have a balanced diet. You should still take a variety of different foods to ensure you obtain all the nutrients you need. None of these foods by itself provides all the nutrients our body required. And like every other good things in life, more is not always better, these superfoods should be taken in moderation.
Most people will probably know what turmeric is, what it is used for. But do you know that it has medicinal value too?
Turmeric – Curcumin
Turmeric is widely used to add flavor and color to curry dishes. Apart from that, it is also commonly used as coloring agent in mustard and cheese. In fact, for centuries, turmeric has also been used as medicine in India and China. And in the past few decades, curcumin extracted from turmeric, has attracted the interests of researchers to explore its potential therapeutic uses.
So what is so good about curcumin?
Potential benefits of curcumin include but are not limited to:
- Anti-inflammatory activity – relieve symptoms (the pain, swelling and stiffness) of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Anti-oxidant properties – reduce the oxidative damages caused by free radicals
- Neuro-protective action – reduce cognitive decline, improve Alzheimer’s disease
- Anti-cancer activity – curcumin has been shown to stop the growth of certain tumors though more research is needed.
Apart from that, curcumin also appeared to have slight effect in lowering blood pressure and blood sugar.
Before you get all too excited about this rising star, it should be noted that though some of these health claims are made on promising data, more evidence is still required to confirm the health benefits of curcumin.
Curcumin is generally safe to take. It may, however, cause bloating, nausea, yellowing of the stools and diarrhea in high doses or after long term uses. Used externally, it can cause skin irritation.
Curcumin supplements could potentially increase the risk of bleeding in people taking blood thinning medications. Apart from that, curcumin supplements are often formulated together with piperine which may affect the efficacy and increase the toxicity of some drugs, for instance, phenytoin, propranolol, carbamazepine, etc. As a consequence, you should always check with your health professionals if curcumin supplement will interact with your current medicines.
As mentioned earlier, curcumin may reduce blood sugar level, therefore, diabetic patients should always talk to your doctor before starting on curcumin supplement.
Tips on supplementation
- Choose curcumin products that include black pepper extract (piperine) or otherwise optimized for absorption as curcumin by itself is poorly absorbed.
- Avoid taking it before bedtime as sleep disturbances have been reported.
- Consult your health professionals before starting curcumin supplement especially if you are taking any other medications or have obstructions of your bile passages.
Remember to check out the following resources if you would like to know more about curcumin:
- Curcumin by Mary S. Easton UCLA Alzheimer Translation Center explains about curcumin and some related frequently asked question with reference to scientific papers.
Some glorify probiotics as the panacea, while the others think probiotics are useless. So should you still take probiotics? Let’s find out.
First of all, let’s go through the terms…
- Probiotics are the good living microbes that protect us against the bad ones. The good microbes most commonly found in food and supplements include yeasts and bacteria from Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups.
- Prebiotics are dietary fibres that assist the growth of probiotics by providing them nutrients.
- Synbiotics refer to products that contain both probiotics and prebiotics.
- CFUs is an abbreviation for “colony forming units”. It’s essentially used as a measure of the number of living microbes.
Not all microbes are bad
There are good and bad microbes. The good ones are those that normally occupy the surfaces of our body that are exposed to the environment, i.e. our skin, our digestive tract from mouth to anus, our respiratory tract from nose to lungs, our urinary tract, etc. The good bacteria crowd out and produce toxins that kill the bad bacteria, fungi and parasites, preventing them from taking over, thus keeping us healthy. Apart from that, the good bacteria also help digest food, process and produce important vitamins, manage and eliminate toxic substances.
Many factors can cause the bad bacteria to take over, for instance, the use of antibiotics, stress, poor nutrition and serious illnesses. This can in turn lead to a lot of health issues including digestive problems, constipation, infection, etc.
Benefits of probiotics
The good bacteria may
- Support healthy digestive system – Improve acid reflux; relieve diarrhea (especially viral- or antibiotic induced), constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
- Improve oral health – Reduce plaque build-up, banish persistent bad breath
- Support urinary and female genital tract health – Prevent urinary tract infection and vaginal thrush
- Improve immune health
- Relieve allergies including eczema and hay fever
Note: Despite the vast amount of research conducted, more conclusively evidence are still needed to support those health claims.
Side effects associated with probiotics are rare, and if occur, normally only involve mild digestive problems such as bloating.
You are advised to consult your doctor before taking any probiotic dietary supplements especially if you have any health conditions.
Sources of probiotics
Fermented food including yoghurt, Kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. are good sources of probiotics. Apart from fermented food, probiotics are also incorporated into some food products such as milk formula.
Alternatively, there are also dietary supplements to boost up the level of good bacteria. These supplements come in different formulations, ranging from tablets and capsules to liquid forms. Some of these need to be refrigerated, some don’t. However, all of the probiotic products need to be stored in places away from extreme heat, light and moisture.
What’s more, probiotics are now also formulated for external use in the form of cream and shower liquid.
Tips on supplementation
- Choose products that contain multiple strains rather than single isolated strain.
- Choose supplements that contain prebiotics. This will help promote the growth and activity of ingested probiotics and the existing good bacteria lining our body.
How about the total CFU? Well, it’s thought that the variety of bacteria strains (and their ratio) is more important than the CFU of a single strain of bacteria. As it’s been proposed that overly high amount of one single strain may compromise the healthy bacteria balance.
In a nutshell, good microbes are crucial to us in maintaining good health, however, there is no strong conclusive evidence to support the benefits of supplementation in healthy adults. Despite that, it is definitely untrue to go as far as saying that probiotic supplements are worthless. More evidence are still needed to determine the usefulness of probiotic supplements.
Check out the following resources if you would like to find out more about probiotics:
- Probiotics: In Depth by NIH outlines what the science says about the effectiveness and safety of probiotics.
- No evidence probiotics are beneficial for healthy adults by PubMed Health explains without bias the latest scientific review on probiotics in layman’s terms.
- How to Choose the Best Probiotic Supplement by Dr. David Williams explains what you need to consider when choosing a probiotic supplement.
Get ready to wow at the health benefits of Kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented tea made by adding SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast – basically the fermentative bacteria and yeasts) into sweetened tea that has previously been cooled to room temperature. It is a refreshing beverage with an acidic taste and a slight hint of sweetness.
Nutrients in Kombucha
Before we go into details about the benefits and potential benefits of Kombucha, let us first examine the nutrients that are present in Kombucha. Kombucha essentially contains probiotics, Vitamin Bs, antioxidants, organic acids, enzymes, amino acids and trace minerals.
Apart from that, Kombucha also contains sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. At this point, you’ll probably be like what… alcohol? But, just don’t freak out yet, the alcohol content is extremely, extremely low. Many other fermented foods contain alcohol too! And no, you will not get drunk on Kombucha. And the police will not stop you for driving after drinking Kombucha.
It should, however, be noted that the exact composition of Kombucha does vary depending on a lot of factors.
Benefits of Kombucha
- Support healthy digestive system – The probiotics, enzyme and beneficial acids present in Kombucha can assist our guts to carry out their jobs properly.
- Boost energy – Vitamin Bs, caffeine and iron inside Kombucha are essential in supporting energy production within our body.
- Strengthen immune system – The probiotics present can help boost up our immunity. Not to mention the antioxidants and vitamins also help fight against suppression of the immune system.
- Support weight loss – Kombucha was found to improve metabolism, regulate appetite and limit fat accumulation which in turn support weight loss.
- Reduce inflammatory problems – Kombucha may help reduce inflammation, and therefore, alleviate arthritis symptoms and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Fight oxidative stress – The antioxidants present in Kombucha can potentially help detox by counteracting liver cell toxicity, prevent cancers and slow aging.
Recently, fermented foods such as Kombucha have also been proposed to benefit brain development and behavior because of their probiotics and vitamin Bs content.
Other health claims found include improving memory loss, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, asthma…and the list goes on. Nevertheless, more investigations are required to ratify those claims.
As as a smart consumer, you probably are already aware that some healthy claims you found on the internet look too good to be true. In fact, you are right. Many of them have been wildly exaggerated.
Despite that, the true health benefits of Kombucha do exist. And if you are already sick and tired of the beverage options available at the moment, it probably isn’t a bad idea to give Kombucha a try.
Side effects such as stomach problems and allergic reactions have been reported. But the link between these reported adverse effects and Kombucha has yet to be confirmed because of a lack of research on Kombucha in general.
And because Kombucha contains yeast and bacteria, as a precaution, young children, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, people who have weakened immune system should try avoid it before further evidence is available. People with irritable bowel syndrome should also avoid as it can worsen diarrhea.
Like every other good things in life, more is not always better (almost never). You should not have too much of Kombucha in a day no matter how much good you think it can do for you.
If you feel like DIY, you can always buy one starter kit which includes the SCOBY to make your own Kombucha. Check out Kombucha Recipe by KombuchaKamp for a step-by-step guide to make Kombucha at home.
Having brittle nails, dull skin or thin hair? Looking for stronger teeth and bones? Silica could be the answer. And its benefits are more than that.
Silica can be found everywhere, from animals and plants (virtually every living organisms) to the earth and the environment we live in. In humans, silica presents in small quantity, predominantly found in connective tissues such as hair, skin, nails, bones, teeth, cartilage and blood vessels.
What silica does?
Silica helps with the production of collagen. And since collagen is one of the major components that make up connective tissues which provide structure and support to literally all tissues within the body, collagen deficiency can weaken the structure of connective tissues and lead to a whole lot of health problems. Silica, therefore, seems like a promising agent for treating many health problems.
Despite of that, scientist has only started to look into the potential therapeutic use of silica in the past few decades. To date, many silica-containing supplements are marketed for hairs, skin and nails, as well as strong teeth and bones.
Researchers have found that silica appeared beneficial in brittle nail syndrome and osteoporosis. Apart from that, there are also claims that silica may lower the chance and severity of atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of arteries) and reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease.
Sources of silica:
As previously mentioned, silica presents in plants and animals. The silica content in plant-derived foods such as cereals, oats and root vegetables are higher than animal-derived products such as meat and dairy. Horsetail, which is a type of herb, has also been used to make dietary supplements because of its high silica content. Guess where else do we get our daily dose of silica from? Drinking water, mineral water and even beer! Did I mention that silica is also commonly used as food additive for many different purposes! (But let’s not get into too much details on that!)
Nevertheless, it should be noted that though silica can be found in many food sources we consumed daily, not all of them are well absorbed.
Fortunately, nowadays you can easily find supplements containing silica that are well absorbed by our body on the markets.
Potential adverse effects associated with oral intake of silica include silica stones with long term therapy.
Toxicity of inhaled silica is thought irrelevant to oral exposure.
As with any other dietary supplements, you are advised to talk to your health professionals before you start taking them.
Jurkić LM, Cepanec I, Pavelić SK, Pavelić K. Biological and therapeutic effects of ortho-silicic acid and some ortho-silicic acid-releasing compounds: New perspectives for therapy. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2013;10:2. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-2.
Wondering what’s so good about fish oil supplements and why everyone is taking them? This blog post is going to explain on the the benefits and side effects of fish oil and how to choose a fish oil supplements.
Fish oil is a good source of Omega 3. Fish oil supplements on the market can basically be grouped into 3 broad categories, fish oil, fish liver oil and krill oil.
- Fish oil, depending on the manufacturers, are either sourced from wild-caught fish or farmed fish, which can be small fish like anchovies and sardines or big fish like tuna and salmon.
- Fish liver oil usually sourced from cod liver. Cod liver oil is also rich in Vitamin A and D too.
- Krill oil are sourced from krill, which are basically small shrimp. Apart from Omega 3, krill oil also comes with astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidants which give krill their red colour.
Omega 3 refers to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
EPA and DHA can be found in seafood, whereas ALA can be found in vegetable oils, seeds and nuts.
So what is so good about fish oil?
EPA and DHA found in fish oil are essential building blocks for cells.
Most notably, scientific research have shown that Omega 3 helps lower triglycerides level which is bad for your heart.
While there may be arguments whether fish oil supplements are beneficial in slowing progression of various other health conditions, studies found that people who take diets rich in Omega 3 are less likely to die of heart diseases and develop other age related disease.
As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Why not boost up your Omega 3 intake now?
Note: You are advised to consult your health professional first before supplementing yourself especially if you are allergic to seafood, pregnant or taking other medications.
Choosing the Right Fish Oil Supplements
So what do you need to look at when choosing the right fish oil supplements?
- Fish Source – Ideally, you will choose fish oil sourced from small wild-caught fish. This is because farmed fish are likely to have higher concentration of antibiotics and pesticides. Larger fish, on the other hand, are further down the food chain and will therefore accumulate more toxins from the smaller fish they eat.
- Purity – Choose fish oil that has been molecularly distilled as this ensures even the smallest contaminants are removed. You might also want to avoid products with added artificial colours, sweeteners and emulsifier.
- Eco-friendliness – Make sure you only buy products that are from a sustainable source. You wouldn’t want to be an accomplice in overfishing. That’s not good for you either if you want to always get the fish oil you need.
- Formulation – Fish oil supplements can be found in capsule or liquid form. The pro about capsule form is that they usually last longer before they go bad (yes, fish oil can go rancid), however, the capsules which are usually made of gelatin can be a problem for people who are allergic to gelatin or those who don’t eat gelatin. The good thing is for many of the fish oil capsules on the market, you can just squeeze the fish oil out without taking the gelatin. Liquid formulation, on the other hand, is good for people who want to avoid gelatin or have difficulty swallowing capsule. However, liquid fish oil does go bad faster.
- Concentration – The most important thing about taking fish oil supplements is that it is the amount of Omega 3 (DHA and EPA combined) that matters rather than the amount of fish oil. Taking fish oil supplements with higher strength means that you will not have to take as many capsules each day.
Side Effects of Fish Oils
There is no serious adverse effects associated with fish oil supplements. The more common side effects will be:
- Stomach pains or nausea
- Fishy burps (if you consider that a side effect?)
- Potential for excess bleeding on very high doses (especially if you are taking blood thinning medications)
P/S: Fish oil supplement is best taken with meals.
Feel free to share this post with you friends and family if you enjoy it!
A few good reads have also been included below if you would like to find out more around this topic:
- Fish by Better Health Channel discusses about fish, the goods and the bads, as well as how you should prepare you fish.
- 15 Omega-3 Foods Your Body Needs Now by Dr. Axe explains the dangers of Omega 3 deficiency and natural sources of Omega 3. There are also some nice recipes there!
- Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth by US NIH has a nice summary of what the science says about fish oil supplement for those who want to go deep.
- Dietary Fats by Medline Plus has a very brief summary about dietary fats and links to various tools, clinical trials and journal articles related to fats.
Wondering what vitamin B complex refers to, who are susceptible to deficiency and what are the symptoms of deficiency? Then this is the right post for you!
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex refers to 8 water-soluble vitamins, which include B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate) and B12 (Cobalamine).
Do you need vitamin B supplementation?
Well, most people can get enough vitamin Bs from food. There are, however, several reasons why we might require vitamin B supplements. This is usually due to poor diet, poor absorption or increased requirement.
As vitamin Bs are water-soluble, therefore, our body cannot store them and they will need to be consumed regularly.
Benefits of vitamin Bs
Vitamin Bs are crucial for energy production. Notably, some of them are also essential for healthy nerve function and help with anxiety and depression. Apart from that, each vitamin B also play other important roles in our body.
- Thiamine, B1- Important for healthy brain & nervous system
- Riboflavin, B2 – Essential for healthy red blood cells and immune system
- Niacin, B3 – Supports blood sugar control
- Pantothenic acid, B5 – Helps lower blood cholesterol
- Pyridoxine, B6 – Supports healthy immune system, prevent painful nerve condition in diabetics
- Biotin, B7 – Supports healthy hair and skin; helps with nerve pain condition in diabetics
- Folic acid, B9 – Prevents neurological defects in fetus
- Cobalamine, B12 – Essential for healthy red blood cells and nervous function
Vitamin Bs are relatively safe to take with minimal potential adverse effects. Taken at very high doses, vitamin Bs have been reported to cause nervousness, flushing, nausea, bloating, sleep disturbances, etc.
You are advised to consult your health professionals before taking vitamin B supplements because if taken incorrectly, vitamins can mask deficiencies of other vitamins or cause toxicity.
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Check out the following resources if you would like to find out more about vitamin Bs: