Soft drinks and health

Dietician daily

A soft drink is usually a term used for non alcoholic sugary drinks that are mostly but not necessarily carbonated. The sweet taste maybe because of fructose, sugar, fruit juices, corn sugar or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharine. Some of the most popular soft drinks available in markets are CocaCola, Pepsi, Fanta , 7up and many more.

Commercially available fruit juices are the mixture of sugar solution and fruit flavours. Fruit juices claiming to bi 100 % fruit still contains sugar as a main ingredient. Fizzy drinks are usually made by mixing water ,sugar and flavours and then carbonated by using carbon dioxide under pressure . It is widely consumed by people around the world and sometimes replaces water. These carbonated beverages are alcohol free but according to some studies a small amount of alcohol may produce as a result of fermentation of sugars and by adding flavouring…

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Good and bad carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are present as the main source of energy in our diet. They are the sugars, starches and fibre found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products. Carbohydrates are often classified as simple or complex on the basis of their chemical makeup and the way the body uses them for energy.

Simple carbohydrates are the basic sugars that are readily available to the body and are easy to digest.They are found naturally in milk and fruits and refined or processed sugars added in baking , soft drinks and candies.

Complex carbohydrates are the carbohydrates which are found in whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, pulses and legumes . They require a series of chemical reactions to be digested and absorbed by the body.

Fibre on the other hand is not digested by the body but are essential carbohydrates as it gives the feeling of fullness, aids in digestion by regulating bowel movement and provides body with bacteria that helps to lower bad cholesterol in blood.

The daily carbohydrates intake should be 45-65% of your total calories. 1 gram of carbohydrates provides 4 kcal of energy.

Functions of carbohydrates

carbohydrates is needed to provide energy to the body that is needed to perform various functions within the body. Apart from providing energy other functions include

  • It provides variety and colour to your diet .
  • Spares protein for growth and regeneration of tissues.
  • Helps in breaking up of fats.
  • Provides with fibre which helps in digestion and regulation of bowel movement.
  • It is the instant source of energy for the body.

Glycemic index

Glycemic index is general classification of carbohydrates in accordance with how they affect blood sugar levels.

Good and bad carbohydrates

Some carbohydrates are good for health while others can lead to poor nutrition , obesity and tooth decay , so the choice of carbohydrates is very important in order to get maximum benefits from it. For example A can of soft drink provides you with almost 140-160 kcal of only simple sugar and two slice of whole grain bread or one small chapatti provides you with same number of calories along with feeling of fullness, fibre, vitamin B, and minerals. For this reason carbohydrates are generally classified as good and bad carbohydrates.

Good carbohydrates are mostly the complex carbohydrates and are high in fibre it takes time to breakdown into glucose. It is essential to get most of your calories of carbohydrates from these carbohydrates.

Bad carbohydrates on the other hand are quickly converted into glucose and causes blood sugar to rise. It is usually best to avoid these carbohydrates as much as possible and use them occasionally as a treat.

Tips to evaluate good and bad carbohydrates

Good carbohydrates

  • Are low or moderate in simple sugars
  • Rich in fibre
  • Low in saturated fats
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in refined sugar and grains

Bad carbohydrates

  • Are high in calories and refined sugars
  • Low in fibre
  • High in refined grains
  • High in saturated fats
  • High in sodium

Examples of good carbohydrates

  • Fruits and vegetables are good source of carbohydrates and are packed with vitamins and minerals. It is essential to add up to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
  • Pulses are high in fibre , proteins and carbohydrates and are low in fats. It decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Whole grain cereals such as whole wheat chapatti, bread, oatmeals, corns are rich in fibre,vitamins and minerals. They have low glycemic index which helps to keep blood sugar level normal.
  • Unsweetened dairy provides you with lactose the sole carbohydrate source from animals.

Examples of bad carbohydrates

  • Fruits high in sugar such as candies, soft drinks, sweetened dairy, ice creams and desserts.
  • Refined grains such as white rice and breads because during processing the outer layer which is composed of fibre and Vitamin B is removed . Also they have high glycemic index which results in rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Commercially processed food in which sugar and refined carbohydrates are used such as pastries, cakes, patties e.t.c


Carbohydrates are essential part of heathy diet. A proper choice is necessary. Focus on fresh fruits , vegetables and whole grains and avoid desserts , sugars , soft drinks, and processed food foods rich in sugars


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pulses are the dry and edible seeds of the legumes with low fat content. They are widely used by humans and animals all around the world. Most common examples of pulses are chickpeas, dried and split peas, kidney beans, soya beans, mung beans, and several types of lentils.

Nutritional composition of pulses

Pulses are rich in proteins almost twice the amount of proteins found in wheat. They are rich in carbohydrates , fibre, minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B12. In many countries, where meat prices are high or meat consumption is forbidden due to religious factors, pulses are often used as a meat substitute because of its high protein and iron content.

Health benefits of pulses

  • Pulses are good for weight management. Becauseof the high satiety effect of fibre and proteins present in pulses, it gives the feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. Also because of the low glycemic index and fat content, pulses are good for people with diabetes.
  • The high fibre content of pulses helps to lower ldl cholesterol and reduces the risk of heartdiseases.
  • Pulses are rich in non heme iron. Iron in pulses if used with food containing vitamin C is readily absorbed by the body and prevent iron deficiency anaemia in women and children.
  • Pulses are rich in antioxidants and phytochemical that may contains anti cancer properties.
  • Pulses are rich in folic acid which reduces the risk of neural tube defects in newborns.

Cooking techniques

  • Soaking of pulses for 4-8 hours reduce their phytate content and cooking time. Soaking also helps to prevent flatulence and bloating which are normally caused by pulses. Pulses also contain some anti nutrients that reduce the ability of body to absorb nutrients present in them. These anti nutrients are removed by prolonged soaking of pulses with sodium bicarbonate.
  • Pulses should be used with the source of vitamin C as it helps to absorb the iron present in them. Lemon juice on top of chickpeas salad is a perfect example.
  • Pulses can be combined with variety of foods such as meat, grains and vegetables. They can be uses as a salad, main course or in soups and pastas.
  • A pulses should be used with grains in order to attain high quality protein with essential amino acids especially in communities where the intake of meat is limited either due to poverty or religious factors.


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Soft drinks and health

A soft drink is usually a term used for non alcoholic sugary drinks that are mostly but not necessarily carbonated. The sweet taste maybe because of fructose, sugar, fruit juices, corn sugar or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharine. Some of the most popular soft drinks available in markets are CocaCola, Pepsi, Fanta , 7up and many more.

Commercially available fruit juices are the mixture of sugar solution and fruit flavours. Fruit juices claiming to bi 100 % fruit still contains sugar as a main ingredient. Fizzy drinks are usually made by mixing water ,sugar and flavours and then carbonated by using carbon dioxide under pressure . It is widely consumed by people around the world and sometimes replaces water. These carbonated beverages are alcohol free but according to some studies a small amount of alcohol may produce as a result of fermentation of sugars and by adding flavouring extracts.

health risks associated with excessive consumption of soft drinks

The potential risks associated with the excessive consumption of soft drinks include


Carbonated beverages and fruit drinks provide you with empty calories which contributes to weight gain and obesity. A can of 330 ml of carbonated soft drink provides you with 140 kcal . It means that one person is consuming almost 7 tsp of sugar in one go. The low levels of satiety provided by these soft drinks makes people consume more food along with the drinks which results in weight gain. Sometimes these commercially available soft drinks contains high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener which is comparatively cheaper than common sugar, it stimulates appetite and is responsible for metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases

Bone loss

Excessive consumption of soft drinks can result in bone loss and reduction in bone mineral density. This is because people who consume more soft drinks do not consume much milk which results in the diet deficient in vitamin b12 , b6 and calcium . Also the phosphoric acid present in colas displaces calcium from the bones which results in lowering bone density , bone loss and ultimately osteoporosis.

Tooth decay

The acid such as carbonic and phosphoric acid present in soft drinks erodes teeth enamel and high sugar content of these drinks make teeth more susceptible to decay. Studies reveal that those who consume these soft drinks on regular basis are at higher risk of developing dental carriers and tooth decay than those who tend to avoid it.


The chemical process used for caramelisation in cola drinks produces the carcinogen which increases the risk of cancers . Studies suggest that high consumption of soft drinks doubles the risk of developing pancreatic cancer , prostrate cancer in men and breast cancer in young girls.

Tips to avoid soft drinks

Some basic tips and tricks to avoid soft drinks are

  • Replace soft drinks with homemade fruits and vegetables juices with less sugar
  • Drink a glass of water if you are having a desire of soft drink. A glass of lemonade with little slat and sugar is a healthy substitute.
  • Do not add soft drinks in your grocery list.


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Iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia which leads to a reduction in number of red blood cells and haemoglobin which is responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and tissue cells.

Causes of iron deficiency anaemia

The possible causes of iron deficiency anaemia are

  • Inadequate iron intake as a result of poor diet for example vegetarian diet with insufficient heme iron.
  • Inadequate absorption as a result of diarrhoea, drug reaction and gastritis.
  • Increased iron requirement during childhood, pregnancy and lactation.
  • Increased excretion as a result of blood loss due to injury, haemorrhoids, ulcers or parasites.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia

Anaemia occurs as a result of long term iron deficiency, the symptoms generally represent the malfunction of various body functions. Most common symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia are:

  • Decrease work performance and exercise tolerance.
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pica ( persistent eating of substances with little or no nutritive value) for example ice and mud eating.
  • Breathlessness
  • Ulcers on the corner of mouth.


Iron deficiency can be evaluated by different measurements from your complete blood test.

  • Ferritin level in your blood determines the iron stores.
  • TIBC level below 16 % are considered as inadequate for iron supply to tissues.
  • Haemoglobin level less than 8g/dL can indicate anaemia. However the value of haemoglobin vary widely among individuals.


Treatment should primarily focus on determining the exact cause of iron deficiency leading to anaemia. Repletion of iron stores is necessary in order to cure anaemia in the long run.


The main treatment of iron deficiency anaemia is through supplements . Doctors normally prescribe oral administration of inorganic iron in ferrous form such a s ferrous sulphate. However patients on iron supplements are often complaining about the side effects associated with iron supplements as these supplements tend to cause, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, excessive bleeding, heart burn and nausea.

These side effects can be minimised if you take the supplements in an empty stomach or between meals. Iron is best absorbed with vitamin C. Take supplements with a glass of orange juice or lemonade.


In addition to supplements, attention should be given to the amount of iron consumed.

The rich sources of iron are

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Beef
  • Egg yolks
  • Dried fruits
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Whole-grains and iron fortified cereals

Iron from animal sources is called heme iron is much better absorbed as compared to non heme iron which is present in eggs, grains, vegetables and fruits.

Factors that inhibits iron absorption

Iron absorption can be inhibited by number of factors. This includes

  • Carbonates, oxalates, phosphates and phytates present in unleavened bread, unrefined cereals and soya beans and fibre in vegetables may inhibits non heme iron.
  • Tea can reduce iron absorption up to 50 %.
  • Calcium found in dairy products also inhibits iron absorption.

Factors that maximise iron absorption

To maximise iron absorption it is important to :

  • include a source of vitamin C in every meal.
  • Avoid drinking too much coffee and tea specially with meals.
  • Improve food choices to increase dietary iron.
  • Include meat, fish or poultry in every meal if possible.

Diet and heart diseases

Heart disease is the major cause of death worldwide. It results from the lack of blood flow to the blood vessels surrounding the heart. The major cause of heart diseases are atherosclerosis and hypertension, both of which are greatly affected by diet. In atherosclerosis fatty material called plaque or atheroma is build up inside the arteries and as a result it narrows them.

Risk factors for coronary heart diseases

There are several risk factors which contribute to develop coronary heart diseases in later life. The primary prevention of coronary heart diseases involves the prevention and management of these risk factors in order to avoid heart problems. These risk factors are as follows


Cholesterol is the type of fats found in blood. An elevated cholesterol level in blood increases the risk for heart diseases. Cholesterol is transported in the blood through the proteins called lipoproteins. The main lipoproteins are Low density lipoprotein ( LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL).

HDL is responsible for carrying cholesterol away from blood to the liver

LDL is responsible for carrying cholesterol to the blood.

A blood cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl and LDL cholesterol up to 100mg/dl is considered desirable. HDL levels should be kept higher in order to prevent heart diseases. The normal reading of HDL is 60 mg/dl or higher. A HDL level less than 40 mg/dl is a risk factor for heart disease.


Hypertension is the major risk factor for heart diseases, stroke and heart failure. It contributes to disease development by causing injury to the blood vessels. Hypertension is defined as a blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg. Hypertension is frequently present with other risk factors including high cholesterol levels and obesity.


Nicotine found in cigarettes are responsible for initiation and progression of plaque formation in blood vessels and increases the risk of heart diseases. Clinical studies reveal that smoking is also responsible for the decrease in HDL cholesterol up to 6-8mg/dL.


Diabetes like hypertension is a disease as well as a risk factor of heart diseases. 80% of patients suffering from diabetes are likely to develop atherosclerosis and heart diseases. Heart diseases in patients with diabetes is attributed to other risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol levels.

Other factors which also contributes in developing heart diseases include

  • Dietary trends
  • Obesity
  • Menopausal status
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history of premature congestive heart failure
  • Age

Diet in heart diseases

Clinical trial and experimental studies have shown that numerous dietary factors affects blood lipids levels, atherosclerosis and heart diseases . People who consume more saturated fatty acids are at higher risk of developing heart disease. A proper diet is essential for the prevention of heart diseases and treatment of risk factors responsible for heart disease.

Fats and lipids

Total fat intake is related to obesity which in turns may cause atherosclerosis in longer run. For patients with increased risk of heart diseases it is essential to limit dietary fat to less than 30 percent of total calories in which saturated fat should be less than 7 percent, trans fat less than 1 % and the rest should consist of unsaturated fats mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. To achieve these recommendations it is essential to follow some tips:

  • Avoid high fat content of mutton and beef. Use lean cut parts and remove extra fat.
  • Always use skinless poultry
  • High fat fish is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 and is good for heart.
  • Consume low fat dairy products.
  • Avoid margarine as it is rich in trans fatty acids.


Soluble fibre found in fruits. vegetables , legumes and isapghol tend to lower the blood cholesterol levels and LDL. Whole grain cereals and legumes are strongly related to decrease risk of heart diseases. The recommended allowance for fibre is 30 grams of which approximately 6-10 grams should be from soluble fibre. This level is easy to attain if one consume 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables and 6-8 servings of whole grains.


Nuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and bio active compounds. Studies reveal that a small handful of nuts each day reduces the risk of developing heart diseases by lowering cholesterol and LDL levels in blood.


DASH diet composed of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, chicken ,fish and low in salt tend to lower blood pressure and thus prevent heart diseases.

Dietary guidelines to prevent heart disease

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  2. Replace refined grains and consume more whole grains.
  3. Limit saturated fats.
  4. Chose low fat protein.
  5. Reduce salt in your diet.
  6. Limit sugar intake.
  7. Reduce portion size.


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