What are the health benefits of turmeric and curcumin?

Sometimes, getting up in the morning takes a while. The muscles are tense, the bones are creaking and the floors are uncomfortable to touch. Joint pain and fatigue occur more frequently as we age. Some may even experience this in our early thirties as bad posture, lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating habits become a part of our daily lives.

A number of us might even find it tough to do simple daily things - going up the stairs becomes a chore and playing with our children is not as easy anymore. Many of us participate in sports or workouts to stay fit. However, without proper maintenance, the wear and tear of our body from repeated use becomes an obstacle for a normal, worry-free lifestyle. 

Proper nutrition and diet are important for a healthy body - after all, we are what we eat.

Many health professionals have recommended adding antioxidants, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to our daily food intake for a more wholesome diet. In recent years, curcumin has become more popular due to its many scientifically-proven health benefits. 

What is curcumin? Where does it derive from?

Curcumin is the most active compound found in turmeric, which is a relative of ginger. Turmeric is most often found in Southeast Asia and Indian subcontinents. It is widely used in the cuisines of India, China and Thailand as well as Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric can turn any dish into a vibrant yellow-orange shade and flavour-wise, it is earthy with a tinge of peppery spice. You will find this irreplaceable flavour in most curry powders. 

What are the benefits of curcumin?

For centuries, turmeric has been widely used in India and China for medical treatments of dermatologic diseases, infection, stress and depression.

In more recent scientific researches, curcumin is found to have many benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. 

Anti-cancer effect

Through various research conducted, curcumin’s anti-cancer effect includes preventing cancer growth, killing cancer cells, and alleviating treatment side effects. Lab studies have also shown that curcumin can help kill cancer cells and reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumours.1

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

Acute and chronic inflammation underlies most chronic illnesses including cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Curcumin fights inflammation at molecular level, thus it helps in preventing and even treating these diseases.

Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can block free radicals and stimulates your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Free radicals can cause deterioration to the eye lens, inflammation of the joints, damage to the nerve cells in the brain, accelerate the ageing process, and increase risk of coronary heart disease among others. 

Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, curcumin can help prevent many types of illnesses including diabetus, obesity, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, skin diseases as well as allergies and asthma.

How does curcumin help with joint pain?

Joint pain is common even among young adults due to our living habits and many other factors. Inflammation of the joints is what causes pain as well as arthritis. Other than medication, food or supplements with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants can help with joint pain. 

While some may take pain medication for joint pain relief, long term usage can cause many undesirable side effects such as kidney damage and heart problems. Hence, many have sought for other types of treatment or supplements. 

With its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidants traits, curcumin is a good alternative for joint pain relief. However, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and requires other substances like piperine (which can be found in black pepper) to enhance the absorption of curcumin in our bodies. 

Curcumin and black pepper are two of the main ingredients found in NeeFlex which can be taken daily to help deal with joint pain. Other ingredients in NeeFlux include collagen, moringa, cat’s claw, yeast and vitamin C to help protect and rebuild joint cartilage while promoting healthy bones.

Improve your mornings and live your life healthily by adding turmeric into your diet or you can take it the easy way by drinking NeeFlex for lifelong benefits.

References:

Ravindran, Jayaraj, Sahdeo Prasad, and Bharat Aggarwal. “Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively?” The AAPS Journal  11, no. 3 (2009): 495-510. https://doi.org/10.1208/s122248-009-9128-x.

Betül Kocaadam & Nevin Şanlier (2017) Curcumin, an active component of turmeric (Curcumalonga), and its effects on health, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57:13, 2889-2895. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2015.1077195

Not Everything Is The Higher The Better – Glycemic Index, Low Profile But Vital (Part3)

Is glycemic index (GI) the only way to control blood sugar level of diabetics? Do you know what is glycemic index?

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more information.

According to Ministry of Health Malaysia, many studies show that controlling carbohydrate intake, low calorie diet and weigh loss (individual who is overweight or obese, with BMI which is equal to or greater than 25 kg/m2) are more effective to control blood sugar level than referring to GI score alone. However, low GI diet is still very important to be part of the strategies of meal planning, it is because there are also many studies show that low GI diet decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as may be useful in controlling blood sugar level (Zafar et al., 2019).  

For your information, even healthy people may develop type 2 diabetes if they keep consuming high GI foods. Livesey et al. (2019) have shown that high GI foods substantially elevate the risk of type 2 diabetes. Once type 2 diabetes attacks us, we have to give up on many delicious foods, and the risks of developing chronic kidney disease, eye diseases, nerve problems, etc. which are caused by high blood sugar level in our body, will be increased. But, for those who think themselves are healthy, don't be too relieved at this moment, it is because during prediabetes stage or early stage of type 2 diabetes, normally you will not have any symptoms when your blood sugar level is high, unless you check it by using glucometer. Therefore, always stick to a healthy diet (including low GI diet) is the smartest way to stay away from diabetes. 

Apart from the tips to choose foods wisely according to GI provided in Part 1, here are some tips for lower GI foods options when it comes to the same type of food: 

 Choose/IncludeDo Not Choose/Do Not Include
Same Type of Food/Eating HabitsBoiled potatoesMashed potatoes
Diet contains more beans and lentilsDiet excluding beans and lentils
Fresh fruits and vegetablesCanned or juices (fruits and vegetables)
Whole grain breads, cereals and pastaNormal breads, refined cereals and pasta
BasmatiWhite rice
Smaller portions of foods with high glycemic indexBig portion of foods with high glycemic index
At least one food with low glycemic index in every meal and snackOnly foods with high glycemic index

Note: If you are experiencing diseases (acute/chronic), please consult your doctor/dietitian/nutritionist before following the tips above.

In conclusion, even though glycemic index cannot act as the primary strategy in meal planning, it is important for all of us, including those with diabetes. Besides GI score, actually serving size consumed matters as well, so in next episode we will discuss about glycemic load (GL). To

References:

What is Dengue? How can we reduce its lethal impact?

About Dengue

Dengue poses a continuing global health threat as about 50% of the world’s population living at risk of dengue, including tropical and subtropical countries, along with regions warmer temperate (WHO, 2020). Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease transmitted through the bite of a dengue virus (DENV)-infected female Aedes mosquito. At present, there is no safe vaccine and treatment available against all 4 DENV serotypes.

Dengue fever and its symptoms

Once infected with DENV, the person can be either asymptomatic which occupied 40-80% of the total dengue cases (ECDC); or either symptomatic with symptoms characterized by high fever, headache, rash, muscle and joint ache, eye pain, nausea/vomiting, bone pain and mild thrombocytopenia (low platelet count).

Dengue infection and care

During infection, DENV attacks certain types of immune cells as well as affecting other organs in the body. Both innate and adaptive immune systems are activated to fight against the virus. B cells from the adaptive immunity generate antibodies that specifically recognize and neutralize the foreign viral particles, providing long-term immunity against the distinct DENV serotypes. Dengue is a self-limiting illness and these symptoms typically last between 2-7 days if sufficient rest and supportive care are given. Generally, fluid maintenance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents will be given to reduce aches, as well as papaya leaf juice to increase platelet count.

Secondary infection and chronic diseases are risks of severe dengue cases (citable by nature.com) (Scitable by nature.com)

People who encounter a subsequent infection with another serotype of DENV have been associated with increase potential in developing severe cases of dengue, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS), which is a life-threatening condition. It is proposed that the antibody developed during primary infection could enhance the secondary DENV infection which worsens the clinical symptoms via a phenomenon namely antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). During secondary infection, researchers observed limited immunity of adaptive T cells against new DENV serotype, as they do not effectively eliminate the virus from the body and release uncontrolled amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This subsequently led to the happening of serious inflammation responses and tissue damage such as vascular leakage, which may lead to the progression of severe dengue complications.

Asymptomatic dengue infection in epidemic countries constitutes a potential threat of severe lethal dengue cases due to secondary infections. Other factors including existing chronic diseases can increase the risk of severe dengue development.

How ASODI may help in preventing or alleviating symptoms from dengue fever?

By providing immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory effects for a better immune defense
ASODI is a natural food product comprising a rich source of micronutrients that have been proven to exhibit effects of immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. These micronutrients include polyphenols, soy isoflavones (genistein and daidzein), fucoidan, chlorogenic acid (CGA), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), superoxide dismutase (SOD), vitamins and minerals.


Available as naturally occurring phenolic flavonoids with antioxidant effect, soy isoflavones are also well known for their immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have demonstrated that soy isoflavones can downregulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as in several immune cell types (Masilamani et al., 2012). Alongside its ability to activate natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitro (Gredel et al., 2008; Zhang et el., 1998), studies have also demonstrated that soy isoflavones and its metabolites modulate cytokine-induced natural killer function (Mace et al., 2019).


The immunomodulatory properties of the naturally occurring polysaccharide, fucoidan, are also generally acknowledged. Studies have shown that fucoidan can upregulate pro-inflammatory cytokines which can help to boost immunity and reduce the release of inflammatory cytokines during infections, thereby delivering a multi-degree regulation on the body’s immune system (Wang et al., 2019).


CGA from green coffee extract has been reported to display significant anti-inflammatory effects, in which one of them includes demonstrating great inhibition on certain cytokine secretion during oxidative stress induced-conditions (Naveed et al., 2018).

Apart from this, there is also accumulating affirmation on the immunomodulatory activities of EGCG found in green tea, by exhibiting modulating effects on inflammatory responses and innate and adaptive immunity (Pae et al., 2013). In addition, EGCG has also demonstrated in vitro inhibitory effect against 4 serotypes of DENV (Raekiansyah et al., 2018).


Based on the above, ASODI may be used as a supplementary remedy as to a prophylactic measure against dengue fever and to combat dengue fever during the early stage by preventing excessive accumulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could possibly contribute to the progression of severe disease complications.


By reducing inflammation responses triggered by oxidative stress to reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases


Extensive research has been suggesting that inflammation is closely linked with many chronic disorders (Zhong et al., 2019) and this could potentially act as a burden and cause alteration to the natural function of the body’s immune system. An altered immune system may affect how a body response towards a self-limiting disease like DENV and the risk of developing into severe dengue cases could also potentially heighten.


Polyphenols, SOD, CGA, and EGCG from ASODI are natural antioxidants that can eliminate free radicals to reduce oxidative stress, which subsequently minimizes the occurrence of inflammation responses. Hence, ASODI is a natural approach to preventing chronic diseases, which may help in reducing the chances of progression to severe dengue cases.


By providing overall health maintenance for a healthier body


Furthermore, another health-beneficial ingredient used in ASODI, barley leaf, is abundant in phytochemicals, essential vitamins, and minerals for normal physiological functions coordination to keep your body healthy and functional, as well as providing overall health maintenance. There are also evidences that certain diseases and health complications are associated with vitamins and minerals deficiency (Awuci, 2020). As a consequence, these micronutrients from ASODI can also help in reinforcing a healthier body, which may provide better protection against illnesses like dengue.

References

Health benefits of probiotics in human

Prebiotics as food source of probiotics

Apart from including probiotics in our diet for a healthy gut, it is also important to incorporate prebiotics as they act as food source for these friendly bacteria. Prebiotics are defined as ‘a selectively fermented compound that result in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gut microbiota, therefore conferring beneficial health effects on the host’ (Carlson et al., 2018). Prebiotics are naturally occurring non-digestible fiber that can be found in many food sources including chicory root, bananas, asparagus, leek, etc. Prebiotic is also now extensively available in several forms of dietary supplements including powder, liquid and capsule. The common types of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galactooligosaccharides (GOS).

Health impact of prebiotics in human

As prebiotics can promote the growth of gut microflora, this can help in restoring the gut microflora composition, resulting in amelioration or prevention of many chronic inflammation-related disorders that are closely linked to gut dysbiosis. The fermentation of prebiotics by gut microbiota results in the formation of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), a key mediator for gut health effects. In addition, the production of SCFAs has led to the elicitation of other beneficial physiological effects, including immune system potentiation, reduction in gut pathogenic bacteria population, enhance mineral absorption that could link to a decreased risk of osteoporosis, etc. Studies have also shown that the addition of prebiotics help alleviates symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and improve other digestive-related concerns.

Synergistic effect of prebiotics and probiotics

Prebiotics, when taken in combination with the appropriate strains may provide a synergistic effect on overall health, especially gut health. Apart from solely supplying food sources to the indigenous gut microbiota, it is also advisable to introduce additional probiotics into our diet for better health effects.  

References:

Carlson et al., 2018. https://bit.ly/3bsNodW

How glycation occurs in our body? How our body saves itself!

According to the previous article of glycation (Relationship between sugar, glycation, and aging & how to avoid?), sugar is a source of energy for our brain. However, if we eat too much refined sugar, it will cause metabolic disorders and glycation which lead to producing a number of toxic substances called advanced glycation end-products(AGEs). Glycation will cause over oxidative stress, inflammation, and accelerating aging. In this article, we would like to show you the occurrence and hazards of glycation, and how our body decreases the effects of toxins by our own antioxidant system on our body.

How AGEs generated?

Generally, sugar will be bound to proteins or other molecules by enzymes and work specific function that is beneficial in our body, this called glycosylation. Conversely, glycation is the reaction that reducing sugars, for example, glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, oligosaccharides, etc., bind to proteins or lipids without enzymes, and generates substances called AGEs. Glycation occurs in cells, organs, or tissue and is harmful in our body.

Where does AGEs come from?

AGEs generate both in vitro and in vivo. Sugar plays an important role in glycation, so high glucose concertation is easy to produce AGEs and accumulate in our body, leading to a series of oxidative stress. Therefore, the AGEs concentration in diabetes patients is higher than healthy people. The external factors to cause glycation are eating habits and smoking (10). Studies have demonstrated that smoking will increase AGEs in the body. In addition, although cooking food at a high temperature can have attractive brown color and flavor, but it also generates AGEs, especially for that food with high fat and high protein. For example, fried or roasted beef contains 10~100 fold of AGEs than uncooked beef. Obviously, when we enjoy delicious yummy food, at the same time, we intake a lot of AGEs (7).

What influence happened by AGEs?

1. Skin aging: In glycation, sugar will bind to proteins, denature its structure, and change the function of the protein. Our skin contains an abundance of collagen, but when glycation happens, collagen in the skin will decrease fast, the elasticity of skin will lose, and the wrinkle appearance (2)(3). That's why some people look elder because they eat much sugar.

2. Diabetes: Insulin is the key protein that regulates blood sugar. When glycation happens, insulin loses the ability to regulate blood sugar, results in high glucose concentration in the body, and causes complications, such as kidney diseases, retina, etc. (1)(3)(4).

3. Kidney disease: Kidney is one of the organs of detoxification. Excessive AGEs will reduce the ability of the kidney to clear toxic substances, causing damage to the kidney and leading to kidney-related diseases.

4. Cardiovascular diseases: Excessive glucose in the blood will affect the function of the vessel wall, lead to aggravating inflammation and oxidative reactions, and impedes the ability of blood vessels to transport oxygen. In the end, the heart fails to obtain enough oxygen then causes heart disease(4)(10).

5. Eye diseases: When there are too many AGEs accumulate in our eyes, it may lead to eye fatigue, dryness, and vision deterioration. If our body is at high blood glucose, it may be complicated by retinopathy or microvascular diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma, etc.

6. Alzheimer's disease: Studies have demonstrated that patients with Alzheimer's disease have higher AGEs in their brain than normal elderly people.

When we accumulate too many AGEs in our body, it will produce many free radicals and lead to the occurrence of oxidative stress to cause a series of inflammatory reactions that cause organ disorder, eventually, diseases happen (1). Fortunately, there is an antioxidant defense system composed of the enzymes and non-enzyme antioxidants in our body. This system can eliminate these harmful substances and reduce the damage to our body (1)(5).

What is the internal antioxidant system? How does it remove the toxic?

Antioxidative enzymes

The enzymes which can reduce the toxic free radicals include superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). At first, SOD converts the source of free radicals, superoxide anion (O2-), into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which can be converted to non-toxic water by the other two enzymes, CAT and GPx(5).

Non-enzyme antioxidants

The antioxidative vitamins or minerals in our body include vitamin C, vitamin E, carotene, zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and glutathione (GSH). Free radicals are unstable chemical substances. They possess unpaired electrons and easily react with proteins and fats in the body to snatch their electrons and cause a series of chain reactions. These non-enzymatic antioxidant substances can provide electrons to these free radicals and make them be stable and harmless substances, or help antioxidative enzymes to reduce the formation of free radicals (6).

At present, there are existing various products on the market for high antioxidant capacities, including vitamin C, vitamin E, GSH, polyphenols extracted from fruits and vegetables, and antioxidative enzyme SOD, etc. Among them, SOD is a protein that is easily destroyed in the intestinal tract, so it is important that a protective coating on SOD to keep its antioxidant capacity. However, although we can increase the anti-glycation power by taking supplements, the basic method is to start from the daily diet and reduce the consumption of refined sugar to eliminate toxic substances and increase the antioxidative abilities in our body (3) (7) (8).

Reference

  1. Singh, R., et al. "Advanced glycation end-products: a review." Diabetologia. 44.2 (2001): 129-146.
  2. Pageon, Hervé, et al. "Biological effects induced by specific advanced glycation end products in the reconstructed skin model of aging." BioResearch open access. 4.1 (2015): 54-64.
  3. Gkogkolou, Paraskevi, and Markus Böhm. "Advanced glycation end products: key players in skin aging?." Dermato-endocrinology. 4.3 (2012): 259-270.
  4. Uribarri, Jaime, et al. "Elevated serum advanced glycation endproducts in obese indicate risk for the metabolic syndrome: a link between healthy and unhealthy obesity?." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 100.5 (2015): 1957-1966.
  5. Mittal, Chandra K., and Ferid Murad. "Activation of guanylate cyclase by superoxide dismutase and hydroxyl radical: a physiological regulator of guanosine 3', 5'-monophosphate formation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 74.10 (1977): 4360-4364.
  6. Valko, Marian, et al. "Free radicals, metals and antioxidants in oxidative stress-induced cancer." Chemico-biological interactions. 160.1 (2006): 1-40.
  7. Uribarri, Jaime, et al. "Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet." Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 110.6 (2010): 911-916.
  8. Stinghen, Andréa EM, et al. "Uremic toxicity of advanced glycation end products in CKD." Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 27.2 (2016): 354-370.
  9. Glenn, Josephine V., and Alan W. Stitt. "The role of advanced glycation end products in retinal ageing and disease." Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects. 1790.10 (2009): 1109-1116.
  10. Prasad, Kailash. "AGE–RAGE stress: a changing landscape in pathology and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease." Molecular and cellular biochemistry. 459.1-2 (2019): 95-112.

What is Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)? The free radical scavenger

What are free radicals?

Free radicals in our everyday lifestyle and its impact on human health

Everyday our body is experiencing changes due to many factors including environmental pollution, smoking, alcohol, aging, work pressure, mental stress, unhealthy eating habits, exposure to electromagnetic wave radiation and use of chemical medicines, etc.  As a result of these factors we are living with, our body generates substantial amounts of free radicals.

Available in various types, free radicals are unstable in nature and tend to snatch electrons from other substances to make themselves more stable while transforming the once stable compounds into free radicals. Our body has its antioxidant system which can fight against these harmful substances, and a balance between free radicals and antioxidants is required for proper physiological function. Nonetheless, when the generation of free radicals exceeds the antioxidant capacity of the body, a phenomenon called the oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress can cause damage to our body DNA, cells, ultimately tissue organs, subsequently lead to the occurrence of inflammation responses. These inflammatory responses triggered by oxidative stress are the underlying cause of many chronic diseases.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD), free radicals scavenger

SOD provides antioxidant defense against free radicals

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a natural and metal ion-dependent antioxidant enzyme, which is widely distributed virtually in all living organisms, including microorganisms, plants, animals and humans. SOD is the most powerful and important free radical scavenger in the cell, which fights off free radicals to protect human DNA, cells, tissues and organs from the deleterious effects caused by these harmful substances. Extensive amounts of free radicals caused by factors such as work stress and environmental pollution can indirectly result in a certain degree of damage to our body, hence, SOD plays a significant role in our body’s antioxidant mechanism to avoid these concerns.

SOD can effectively resist and block the damage caused by superoxide anion (O2-) towards the cells and tissues. Derived from oxygen, O2- is a reactive oxygen species, a type of free radical, which is also an intermediate metabolite generated through a variety of natural biochemical reactions in our body involving oxygen metabolism. SOD provides cellular defense by specifically breaking down O2- into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and molecular oxygen (O2), followed by degradation of H2O2 into water and O2 by either other naturally occurring antioxidant enzymes, namely catalase (CAT) or glutathione peroxidase (GPX) in the body. SOD, CAT ad GPX form the first line antioxidant defense in our body to prevent the development of oxidative stress and related disorders.

O2- is involved in mechanisms that lead to the generation of other ROS such as hydroxyl radical (OH-), in which OH- is the most dangerous free radical and it is highly reactive. Prolonged free radical injuries caused by OH- can result in serious health concerns. By reducing the amount of O2-, SODs also regulate the concentration of these harmful OH-, thereby minimizing the risk of severe health complications.

SOD Health benefits

Though SOD is produced naturally in the body, the level of SOD deteriorates with age, resulting in antioxidant power depletion. Reduced antioxidant power indicates that your cells are more susceptible to oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which could subsequently lead to oxidative stress-related diseases. Not only antioxidants are the only agents that prevent oxidation damages and stress caused by free radicals, but they also work importantly in eliminating antioxidant deficiencies. Studies have also demonstrated the therapeutic potentials of SODs in numerous diseases including cancer, inflammatory diseases, aging, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. Therefore, SOD supplementation is a safe and natural approach to help in preventing oxidative stress-related diseases, which can lead to healthier wellbeing.

References:

Not Everything Is The Higher The Better – Glycemic Index, Low Profile But Vital (Part 2)

Previously in Part 1, we know that the glycemic index (GI) is important and cannot be ignored. For those who haven’t read Part 1, kindly click here to know more about GI before reading Part 2.

For your information, the same food will not have the same glycemic index (GI) score forever. There are many factors which can affect the GI score of food:

In conclusion, the glycemic index chart can be a very useful reference but it cannot be fully depended on due to the factors above. Actually, many people will then have a doubt, is following glycemic index the only way to control diet for diabetics? Stay tuned! We will discuss further in Part 3.

Not Everything Is The Higher The Better – Glycemic Index, Low Profile But Vital (Part 1)

We eat carbohydrates every day. Most of us know that carbohydrate is the main energy source for us to carry out our daily activities. However, do you know what glycemic index (GI) is? I believe many Malaysians are not aware that the glycemic index is a very useful guideline for us to choose carbohydrates wisely for our long-term health. Similar to ranking for rich persons, there is a ranking for carbohydrates – glycemic index (GI). This ranking has a scale (or the so-called GI scores) from 0 to 100, which indicates how quick or slow the carbohydrate raises blood sugar level after eating it.

The higher the glycemic index (GI) score, the faster the blood sugar level is raised. The chart below shows the GI categories, GI scores and examples of food.

Source: Ministry of Health, Malaysia, 2015. https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/glycaemic-index-and-glycaemic-load/

However, the GI scores are not shown on the food label. So how to choose foods wisely according to GI? Here are some tips for you:

  1. You can try to memorize the chart above.
  2. You can download and keep this chart in your smartphone so that you can refer when you go for groceries.
  3. You can print out this chart and paste it inside the phone casing or keep it in your wallet. With that, you can refer when needed.
  4. You can always add fiber-rich foods in your meals because they are always low in GI.  

In conclusion, glycemic index is not something the higher the better. Even though the awareness of choosing foods according to glycemic index is still quite low in Malaysia, no doubt the glycemic index is very important for us to be healthier. To be continued…

References:
Ministry of Health, Malaysia. https://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/glycaemic-index-and-glycaemic-load/

Relationship between sugar, glycation and aging & how to avoid?

Sugar includes table sugar, sweeteners, honey and fruit juices, and is extracted, refined and added to food and drink to make it taste better. Life will be tasteless without it! Both complex and simple carbs are made up of sugar molecules, which are broken down into glucose and used by every cell in the body to generate energy and fuel our brain.

Glycation in a simple term is a process where sugar bind themselves to other molecules such as proteins, fats even DNA without involving enzymic reaction. This process can cause the molecules to become harden and inflexible.

We all know that aging is a progressive loss of the efficacy of biochemical and physiological processes in our body that slowly happen until death comes to us.

Why glycation occurs?

When we keep eating high sugar food, our body may have the tendency to not metabolize sugars properly. It may become worse if we have prediabetic symptoms or we are already diagnosed with diabetes!

According to Kim et al, (2017), when glycation occurs in our body, one of the proteins that will be affected is the collagen in our skin, blood vessel and tendon which may result in loss of the its function and elasticity. Not only that, the scariest part is, glycation process has formidable end products which called “AGEs -advanced glycation end product” that also causes free radical formation, oxidative stress and inflammation, all of which accelerate the AGEING process!

Why glycation can cause both wrinkles and acne?

Sugar and refined carbs can cause a rush of the hormone insulin, which can then increase our levels of testosterone and in turn can contribute to acne. In the other word, as it can stimulate sebum production, pores can get clogged more easily and inflammation can occur.

We are also familiar with the fact that unbalance collagen production leads to skin sagging and therefore wrinkle formation. On top of that, the sugar we lavishly consume is also can be powerful dehydrating agent which not only boosts sebum production but also affects water binding. This can accelerate our skin to become wrinkle, loss of elasticity, laxity, and rough- textured appearance, adding to those unwanted dark circles around the eyes and the dogged age spots!

How to avoid glycation?

1. Eat more healthy food & rich source of antioxidant- Naturally occurring phytochemicals and nutrition are better as compared to drugs. It is also cheaper too. They are most abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as other foods including nuts, whole grains and some meats, poultry and fish. Good sources of specific antioxidants include allium sulphur compounds– leeks, onions and garlic; anthocyanins – eggplant, grapes and berries. Several medical herbs, dietary plants, and phytocompounds can inhibit protein glycation. These natural products with high antioxidant capacity are promising anti glycation and AGE formation agents. Their anti-AGE activity may be one mechanism of their beneficial actions on our health!

2. Cut sugar intake - Keeping tabs on how much sugar we are consuming is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We can start by cutting the sugar filled drink and choose more to plain water. Following a low GI diet (we will introduce "What low GI diet" in the further article) can be very beneficial for our skin. Dietary measures to control our blood sugar levels is essential in avoidance of glycation.

3. Get a quality sleep- Sleep deprivation is also known to impair insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance which means that glycation is more likely. A good quality night sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Make sure you are getting a minimum six to eight hours of sleep per night.

4. Stress free- Stress increases free radical regeneration and oxidative stress throughout our entire body which is a key factor when it comes to ageing. Stress can also lead to raised levels of cortisol, which also degenerates collagen.

5. Go physical- When we do moderate exercise, like walking, that makes our heart beat a little faster and breathe a little harder. Our muscles use more glucose, the sugar in our blood stream. Over time, this can lower our blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in our body work better. As a result, it will yield a modest reduction in glycation and substantially increase our muscle size!