Currently Browsing: Health

Reasons to Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly

Among all our senses, our sight is probably the one we rely on the most. Our eyes allow us to see and enjoy life as it is. That’s why it is important to know the conditions of our eyes.  The great thing is, you don’t even have to make trips to the eye doctor every month. You can have check-ups annually or every two years. That’s what “regularly” is in terms of your eyes. Anyway, here are some other reasons to have your eyes checked!

Vision correction

First of all, if you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses and notice that your eyesight is already blurry, of course, you’d want to get your eyes checked. If you have astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness, or other eye problems, you’ll have to go to your doctor regularly. This is so that he/she can keep monitoring your condition and get your vision corrected accordingly. Because our condition can change as we age, your doctor will need to update your prescription through the years so that you can still maintain good eyesight.

To avoid straining our eyes too much

Wherever you are in Singapore, you will see screens almost everywhere. From computers to our phones, too much exposure to screens can have a significant effect on our eyesight. Sometimes we also get tempted to use our phones in the dark before we sleep. That simple act can have a lot of negative implications for our vision. If you’re able to get your eyes checked, your doctor might recommend glasses that can help alleviate digital eye strain.

Identify eye diseases

Another important reason to get your eyes checked is so that you can detect eye diseases in their early stages. There are eye problems that aren’t really detrimental, while there are also others that can lead to vision loss. There are times when you don’t notice that your vision is deteriorating and one day you’ve suddenly lost vision in one eye.  If you can identify the symptoms of serious eye diseases early, you might still be able to take the proper measures to prevent them.

You might also detect other health problems

It may come as a surprise, but a lot of people have already learned that they have a health condition because they had an eye exam. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes are among the serious health conditions that have been detected through an eye examination. If you’re wondering why this is possible, the answer is pretty simple. When you go for a check-up, eye doctors evaluate the blood vessels around your retina. The blood vessels in the retina is actually a good gauge to know the condition of the blood vessels that circulate throughout your body as a whole.


Healthy Whole Grains You Should Include in Your Diet

Most dietitians consider whole wheat food healthier than refined grains because all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are intact in the germ, bran, and endosperm of the kernels.

Examples of whole grain food include bread, pasta, cereals, grain snacks, and flours. For a healthy diet, doctors recommend that at least a half of your daily grain consumption is made up of 100% whole grains.

These are the ingredients you need to find on the labels to make sure that the whole wheat food you’re eating is the real deal.

Wheat is high in gluten and is usually made into pasta and bread.

Brown Rice, as well as red, purple, and black rice, are considered whole grain because the germ and bran have not been removed. They can be easily digested even by infants and are also gluten-free.

Rye, sometimes labeled rye berries, contains a high level of fiber in both its bran and endosperm, that is why it has a low glycemic index level.

Amaranth is known for its high protein content and gluten-free characteristics.

Freekeh, also known as durum, farik or frikeh, is harvested while still young, then rubbed and roasted to make it easier to cook.

Barley is among the oldest cultivated grains and can adapt to any climate. It’s rich in fiber, copper, manganese, and selenium, but is difficult to prepare and is slow-cooking.

Buckwheat isn’t a grain, but a rhubarb, so it’s ideal for gluten-free diets. It can adapt to poor soils and is a hardy plant resistant to most pests.

Einkorn is the oldest known wheat variety and is high in protein, potassium, beta-carotene, and phosphorus.

Bulgur is easy to cook, because it’s the result of wheat kernels that have been cleaned, dried, boiled, and ground.

Quinoa isn’t a grain, but is related to beets and Swiss chard. It’s commonly found in salads and cereals and is rich in essential amino acids.

Farro or Emmer is another ancient wheat and is the main ingredient for the semolina flour.

Corn is a cheaper and healthier substitute to rice, plus it’s rich in fiber and antioxidants.

Kañiwa is rich in protein and has complete amino acids. It’s also much easier to prepare than its cousin quinoa.

Millet, which includes foxtail, pearl, proso, finger or ragi, and fonio, can be used in various dishes and even beverages. It’s also gluten-free and high in antioxidants and proteins.

Oats can be processed and not lose both its germ and bran, so oat flour and oats are still whole grain food. They contain beta-glucan and avenanthramides.

Sorghum or Milo can be used for flour, beer, popcorn, porridge, and baked food. It’s gluten-free and an ideal whole grain substitute for individuals who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease.

Teff is easy to grow and has a high iron and calcium content.

Spelt has higher protein content than most wheat, but is rarely cultivated commercially.

Triticale is a hybrid of rye and durum wheat recommended to consumers who like organic food.


Go-To Hike Trails in Singapore

For a country known for its incredible buildings and urban city life, Singapore actually puts a highlight on its natural attractions as well. That being said, one of the best ways to see the scenic nature is through hike trails. One way or another, these hike trails are also places you shouldn’t miss. The picturesque views invite both locals and tourists alike, whether for early morning jogs or just to bask in the beauty of nature. So, without further ado, here are some of the best hike trails to go to in Singapore.

1. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of the many hike trails in Singapore known for the richness in plantlife and wildlife. It also has the tallest hill in Singapore. This is why the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is more ideal for those who like to walk around in nature. Another reason why it’s one of the best to go to is that there are four different trails you can take. One takes you directly to the peak of the hill while the other tree accounts for the scenic views around the nature reserve.

2. Hindhede Nature Park

Right next to the Bukit Timah Nature Park is the Hindhede Nature Park which also has equally great hike trails. The trails here are actually easier to traverse which makes it great for beginners and leisure hiking with kids. This location also houses a variety of animal species so it will be very much worth it take stops and look around. There’s also the incredible Hindhede Quarry towards the end of the park.

3. TreeTop

The TreeTop Walk located at the MacRitchie Reservoir is already a pretty popular hike trail even though it’s also a pretty hard climb. Though there are steep slopes and most of the path is wavy, you’ll find it very much worth the time and effort once you reach the top. At the top of the trail, there’s a long suspension bridge that gives you a view of the whole forest. Again, this is a fairly hard trail for complete beginners, so make sure you have enough water and that you’re fully prepared to make the hike.

4. Pulau Ubin

The Pulau Ubin hike trail is probably one of the best places to go to if you really want to take a break from the city life. This granite island has almost everything that nature lovers look for. There’s an abundance of wildlife, there’s rich greenery, and an overall picturesque view of the island. In addition to that, there’s also a coastal boardwalk which you simply won’t see in many other trails. Another great think about the Pulau Ubin trail is that you can go around in bikes if you get too tired walking!


What is Ichthyosis?

The name might bring images of extinct sea creatures that look more horrifying than sharks, but ichthyosis is a name for a group of skin diseases that is characterized by thick, dry, and scaly skin which make the affected person look like a fish. It is a disfiguring disease that results in the isolation of the victim, because it is a condition that is misunderstood by so many. A study in 2012, however, showed that 200 to 400 cases of moderate to severe types of ichthyosis in Singapore are reported annually.

Types and Symptoms of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis can be acquired or inherited, the former usually resulting from malignant, inflammatory or hormonal diseases. Some doctors, however, cannot point the exact cause of acquired ichthyosis. Inherited ichthyosis is known to occur if there are mutations in more than 40 genes that are associated with the disease. Genetic ichthyosis will often show symptoms at birth and will affect the person for the rest of his/her life.

The symptoms of this disorder of cornification vary in every form, but the patients all suffer from dry and scaly skin, blistering, redness, skin shedding, pain or itching, and overheating. There are 22 types of ichthyosis that have been studied so far, with the inherited type usually altering the skin cells called keratinocytes found in the outer skin layer or stratum corneum. The 22 types of ichthyosis are grouped into 3; common, autosomal recessive congenital, and keratinopathic ichthyosis.

Common Ichthyoses:
1. Ichthyosis vulgaris
2. Recessive X-linked ichthyosis STS

Autosomal Recessive Congenital Ichthyoses:
1. Lamellar ichthyosis TGM1 and Others
2. Harlequin ichthyosis ABCA12
3. Congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma ALOXE3 and Others

Keratinopathic Ichthyoses:
1. Epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT1 and KRT10
2. Superficial epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT2
3. Ichthyosis Curth-Macklin KRT1
4. Congenital reticular ichthyosiform erythroderma

Other types of ichthyosis include, Collodion baby; Darier disease; epidermal nevus; erythrokeratodermia variabilis; keratitis- ichthyosis-deafness; Netherton syndrome; Pachyonychia congenital; palmoplantar keratodermas; Sjorgen-Larsson syndrome; Chanarin Dorfman syndrome; CHILD syndrome; Conradi-Hunermann; ichthyosis hystrix with deafness syndrome; Refsum disease; and trichothiodystrophy.

Treatments of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is diagnosed using prenatal testing for inherited ichthyosis, blood tests, and biopsy. Prenatal testing is recommended for parents who suspect that their baby might inherit the disease. The test will determine the levels of plasma cholesterol sulfate and confirm the absence in fibroblasts of steroid sulphatase. The blood tests and biopsy on the other hand will reveal the thickening in the stratum corneum, degeneration of suprabasal keratinocytes, and the absence of the filaggrin and granular cell layer.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ichthyosis to date, and the treatments focus on easing the symptoms experienced by the patient such as the use of ointments, creams and lotions. The affected person is advised to bathe in salt water or urea or salicylic acid to reduce the scaling, and to take retinoids or keratolytics if the symptoms are severe.

Infants born with the disease are closely monitored to avoid infection, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, flexibility, skin fragility, and ocular complications.


European Lifestyle May Reduce Depression Risk

We have already heard from fitness experts and sources that Mediterranean diet (a.k.a veggies, fruits, whole-wheat pasta, chicken, fish diet) is known to bring great health benefits. But a study conducted in Spain takes its known advantages up a notch. The findings suggest that correspondents with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, specifically obeying the way of living of people from countries like Italy, France, Greece and Spain lowered their risk of getting depression to 50% compared to those with lowest adherence. In short, Mediterranean lifestyle may also bring psychological benefits.

This Mediterranean lifestyle is composed of three (3) parts: Exposure to the well-known diet, physical activity and time spent with friends/family (socialization). Researchers ran and followed up the study for more than eight (8) years by the help of almost 12,000 university graduates. It turned out those participants who combined the three essential components had lower depression risks.

Although previous researches have shown the relationship of healthy diet and risk depressions, this recent study is the first to delve deeper on the association of overall, specifically Mediterranean lifestyle and depression itself. Researchers did not draw conclusion on the exact reasons why a balanced combination of physical activity, socializing and eating healthy diet is related to lower depression risk but according to Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, the lead study author and professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, certain ingredients in the Mediterranean diet such as fruit, olive oil and legumes have anti-inflammatory components which may be of use in inflammation prevention—which has been linked to depression in the past.

Exercising or physical activities have been previously linked by experts to help reduce anxiety and depression because during workout, our bodies release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Lastly, social interactions according to the study researchers comes with better psychological health—suggested mechanisms such as having social support during hard times may backup this correlation.

For Asians, a Mediterranean diet may not be widely practiced but for beginners, a Mediterranean-Asian meal plan would be a good starting point. According to an article contributed by Brittany, a healthy living blogger on skinnyfitalicious.com, Mediterranean and Asian foods are rich in taste and normally provide nutrients the body needs. Ingredients from both cultures can be infused to one healthy and tasty recipe for example, combination of fish and rice, olive oil and veggies etc.

Recipe books featuring Mediterranean pyramid and 100 recipes from 25 European countries are available online like the ones found in Kinokuniya Singapore. Either diet can be unhealthy (for example, fusion of tempura fish or vodka) but what matters is the principle of these diets that drive the real benefits, one of which is to take a minute to savor and enjoy the tasteful flavors because the value it bring is not only within the confines of nutrition but also for the mind as well.


« Previous Entries