Keeping your healthy balance over the holidays

We know it well, silly season is not for sissies. We always head into it with the best intentions not to give way to the over-indulgence; not to leave our healthy eating plans by the wayside, and to make sure we have the ‘me-time’ for prioritising the physical activity and self-care that we need to maintain our healthy balance. But we can trip up.

No sooner have we got through the swirl of team, company and client lunches, drinks and parties than we’re whirling off on holiday with non-stop plans for spending (well-deserved) time with family and friends. And, you know what? It’s actually, all good.

Our human drive to gather together around food is really not the problem. No matter what is available, what’s on offer and even, what might be pressed upon us, we still remain absolutely in charge of everything that we choose to eat or drink over the upcoming festive season. What’s critically important is how you think and how you decide to act in the moment.

For some, the legendary lavishness of the holidays is an excuse to let go despite the stated aspirations to achieve that bikini body this summer. It’s easy to take an ‘everybody’s doing it, I can’t avoid it’ approach, and lose your balance and your focus on your personal goals.

Or, you can see it for what it is – a highly social time that is good for you in so many ways, but will inevitably be accompanied by loads of food and drink. It’s important to stay mindful of this fact: you are completely in charge of how the holiday unfolds for you. You have all the power to maintain balance and progress on your healthy lifestyle goals – without suffering, and without setting yourself uncomfortably apart from others.

Healthy lifestyles have gained serious traction over the past years. Sure, no one has yet been able to convince Grandma to replace the condensed milk with low-fat yoghurt in her classic Christmas Day potato salad, but the chances are you will still find plenty of others in your social circles who, like you, want to start some new, healthier traditions and eating habits when it comes to the food we share over the festive season. It’s actually so unlikely at any holiday gathering this year that you won’t find some companions who also intend to stay focused on balanced eating in the context of a healthy lifestyle. Find them, band together and forge forward into a festive season that truly recharges mind, body and soul.

We asked Registered Dietitians, Retha Booyens and Mbali Mapholi, spokespeople for ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) to each give us their top festive season tips for mindful, in charge, healthy eating over the holidays:

Mbali says:

  • It’s the same packet of chips – “Yes, you’re relaxing on the beach with friends and the context is the holidays – but the packet of chips being offered around is just the same as any other time, so, stick to your same reactions. If you’re not hungry, or if you would prefer a healthier snack, pass it on. This is not different advice from how to choose when waiters at a party are offering trays of canapes – just because it is in front of you, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Be mindful about what you choose to eat. Sometimes when it comes to food offerings, we go on autopilot and think we need to hoover up everything in our sights just because it is on offer. But, we don’t. It’s just food. There will be more. There will be other contexts. We still have free choice, and we need to keep this in perspective – it is the same packet of chips you could say no to any other day, so say no today.”

Retha reiterates:

  • Keep it in perspective – “If you find yourself in Rome on a rare holiday with the chance to enjoy an Italian Gelato alongside the Trevi Fountain – just go right ahead and enjoy it. But if the choice is about yet another third helping of Mom’s peppermint crisp tart, you can probably skip that this time around. If it is a genuine once in a lifetime experience, go for it, but if it’s a holiday habit that just trips you up, let it go.”

Retha says:

  • You won’t feel happy if you just over-ride your healthy weight loss or weight management plans – “You can avoid the stress that compromises your enjoyment of the holidays by sticking to your goals and plans in flexible and practical ways. Keep your portion sizes in check at every meal. Cut back on the empty calories of alcohol by consciously reducing your intake and also drinking a glass of water between every glass of wine or beer. Never slake your thirst with an alcoholic beverage. Stick to your exercise regime. If you can’t access your usual classes, sessions and activities, then run, walk, ride or play physical games for a minimum of two and a half hours a week.”

Mbali adds:

  • The devil is in the detail – “It’s not the holiday season that is the pitfall but rather our mindless reactions. Step away from the snack table. When you eat; choose well, chew slowly and be aware of what you are eating. Bring your favourite healthy dish to the family braai. Don’t hesitate to eat well and share that. Keep your eye on portion size and trade the treats you don’t want to miss out on with increased exercise and a more balanced meal before or after.”

 

For more information about ADSA or to find a dietitian in your area, please visit www.adsa.org.za


Women and Diabetes in the Spotlight this November

Over the past decades, the rise of diabetes around the world has been so prevalent and extreme, it is sometimes referred to as the epidemic of our modern times. In 2017, the diabetes focus theme is Women and Diabetes. Globally, diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women, resulting in 2.1 million deaths each year. It is estimated that there are currently more than 199 million women living with diabetes, and by 2040, this total is expected to reach over 310 million.

Registered dietitian and ADSA (the Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson, Ria Catsicas says, “According to the latest mortality report for South Africa released earlier this year, diabetes is ranked as the leading cause of death in women, and the most important risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes is obesity. At this time, more than 60% of South African women are either overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk than men of developing diabetes in the future.”

Gender also means that women experience additional health risks due to obesity. As Ria notes: “Almost 17% of pregnant South African women experience gestational diabetes which is directly related to obesity. This condition puts them at risk of experiencing high blood pressure during their pregnancy, miscarriages and still birth. In addition, the babies of mothers-to-be with gestational diabetes tend to be large which can contribute to complications during birth and are themselves at a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in life. Obesity also plays a role in increasing the risks of female infertility.”

Optimal nutrition is key for the person with diabetes; it is also crucial for those who may not have diabetes yet, but are insulin-resistant and those with a family history of diabetes, as genetics are also a risk. Optimal nutrition is also essential for all women – up to 70% of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle.

Type 1 diabetes is managed by medication (injectable insulin and or tablets),a controlled diet and exercise; but when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, good nutrition along with other healthy lifestyle changes are usually the first line of treatment to manage diabetes, and if medication is required, a healthy diet can complement and often influence the medicine, to help avoid experiencing the life-threatening complications of diabetes. Tabitha Hume, also a registered dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, points out that common-sense healthy lifestyle changes can be a vital safeguard. “Balanced meals that are made up of a combination of high fibre, low-GI carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy plant fats with generous helpings of vegetables and salads and some fruit (in controlled portions) can be a general guide. However, plasma glucose control is very individual, depending on the severity of the diabetes, and the type and dosage of medication being used. Diabetics will need the help of a registered clinical dietitian who can support them in translating these guidelines into the practical meal plans that best suit their food culture, their taste preferences, daily routines and lifestyles.’’

ADSA spokesperson, Nasreen Jaffer agrees, “There is no ‘one size fits all’. In order to make a sustainable change to a healthier eating plan, all aspects of a person’s life must be taken into account. A working mom with kids at school does not have the same amount of time for food planning and preparation compared to a stay-at-home mom. It is the role of the dietitian to help tailor an eating plan that is healthy – as well as practical, affordable and do-able for the individual.”

All three experts agree that this year’s World Diabetes Day focus on women is relevant to the adoption of healthy lifestyles across South Africa’s population.   While many men play a prominent nurturing role in the home, and many are becoming increasingly interested in the impact of nutrition on health and physical performance, it is still common for women to take the dominant role in the nourishing of the family, and ensuring health and disease prevention.

Tabitha points out: “Since women are most often the home chef, the grocery shopper, and the planner of meals and snacks for children and the family, if nutrition education is targeted at women, there is a higher chance that healthy nutrition guidelines filter through the whole family and have the biggest impact. Family traditions, practices and cultures most often derive from the mother in a family which is why children often adopt the religion and language of the mother. This is where the ‘Mother Tongue’ phrase originates. South African women are encouraged to develop a ‘Mother Meal’ concept moving forward, helping to instil healthy eating habits in children from a young age.”

World Diabetes Day on 14 November aims to shine a light on the risks for developing diabetes; as well as the needs for regular screening, access to information, self-management education, treatments and support, which includes optimal nutrition.


RETHINK YOUR DRINK – CHOOSE WATER

Clean and clear, refreshing and invigorating, we know instinctively that water is good for us. Yet, many of us have lost touch with water. Overwhelmed with the wide choice of what to drink, most of it sweetened with sugar, we’ve somehow left the simple, but profound goodness of water behind.

National Nutrition Week 2017, running from 9 to 15 October and, with its theme “Rethink Your Drink – Choose Water”, aims to help us rethink when it comes to water and get into the habit of making water our beverage choice each day. Water contains no kilojoules and hydrates. It is essential for health and is the best choice to quench thirst.

What the campaign highlights is that when we are not drinking water, we are probably choosing a sugar-sweetened drink which spikes our daily kilojoule intake, degrades our diet, and leads to weight gain and the onset of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dental caries.

“The prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases in the country is alarming,” says Rebone Ntsie, Director: Nutrition, of the National Department of Health). “The South African Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2016 found that the prevalence of overweight was 13.3% among children 0 – 5 years of age. About 67.6% and 31.3% of South African women and men respectively are overweight and obese. These findings show that overweight and obesity among children and adults have increased from earlier surveys. Replacing sugary drinks with water can help.”

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA)warns that the risk of coronary heart disease and ischaemic stroke rises with an increase in body weight. “There is also a clear link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease,” she says. “Indicators of heart disease such as blood lipids and uric acid also increase with an increase in consumption of sugary drinks.”

Daily consumption of two or more sugary drinks has been found to increase the risk of developing diabetes by at least 24% compared to consuming less than one sugary drink per month. According to Statistics South Africa, diabetes was the second leading underlying cause of death in the country in 2015, accounting for 5.4% deaths and the leading cause of death in females (7.1%).

On average, commercially produced sugary drinks contain the following amounts of sugar per 500 ml serving (2 average-sized cups/glasses):

  • Sweetened fizzy drinks: 13 – 17 teaspoons
  • Energy drinks: 13½ to 15 teaspoons
  • Fruit juice: 12 – 16 teaspoons
  • Sweetened milk or yoghurt-based drinks: 7 – 13½ teaspoons
  • Sweetened iced tea: 8 – 10½ teaspoons
  • Sports drinks: 4½ – 12 teaspoons
  • Sweetened drinks, such as sweetened flavoured water, vitamin enriched water and coconut water: 4 – 8 teaspoons of water

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the intake of free sugars, i.e. sugars added by the manufacturer, cook or consumer or sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, should be less than 10% of the total daily energy intake for adults and children and less than 5% for further health benefits.

“This means that the maximum intake of free sugars from food and beverages per day for adult men and adolescents (14 – 18 years) should not be more than 12 teaspoons, and for adult women and children 5 – 13 years, not more than 9 teaspoons”, says Nicole Lubasinski, President of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA).“To achieve more health benefits, the number of teaspoons of sugar from food and beverages per day for adult men and adolescents (14 – 18 years) should not be more than 6 teaspoons, and for adult women and children 5 – 13 years, not more than 5 teaspoons”.

Some sugary drinks have a nutrition information label, this will indicate how much of the carbohydrate in the drink is found as sugar”, says Carol Browne of the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA). “Sugar is one of the primary ingredients in drinks, and so it will be listed high up on the list of ingredients. In milk based drinks some of the sugar will be the sugar from milk, and this is not classified as a ‘free sugar’. In these products the total sugar content on nutrition information label should be considered with the ingredient list.”

“It makes good sense to replace sugary drinks with lots of clean safe water”, says Rebone Ntsie. “Drinking lots of clean and safe water is essential for one’s health. Besides keeping you hydrated, it helps with digestion, regulate your body temperature, and to lubricate your joints. Furthermore, tap water is cheaper than any other drinks.”

“There are several ways to increase your intake of water”, says Abigail Courtenay, registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADSA.   “Make sure you always carry water with you; set reminders on your cell phone or notes at your desk every hour; drink water with meals; before and after exercising; and send a bottle of water with your child to school every day. You can also add fresh slices of lemon, cucumber, mint leaves, lime or fresh fruit to your water or unsweetened rooibos or herbal teas to add more flavour.”

On Wednesday, the 11th of October, ADSA (@ADSA_RD) will be hosting a Twitter Talk from 13h00 to 14h00 where dieticians and National Nutrition Week partners will be providing information, tips, ideas and advice on choosing water as the beverage of choice instead of drinking sugary drinks. Join the conversation live on Twitter, and follow the @ADSA_RD handle to get great ideas and tips. The Department of Health in the various provinces will also celebrate National Nutrition Week during the month of October.

For more information on National Nutrition Week 2017, visit the website: http://www.nutritionweek.co.za/


6 Eating Habits for Healthy Kidneys

When it comes to health advice, our hearts are often in the spotlight. However, as equally vital organs, our kidneys really shouldn’t be relegated to the shadows. Worldwide, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is on the rise – 1 in 10 people globally are affected, and that’s every bit as serious as cardiac disease.

Our kidneys work very hard for our bodies, and the downside of their dogged efficiency is that by the time we are bothered enough by the symptoms of CKD, the damage has been done. In the late stages of CKD, only ongoing dialysis or surgical transplant may help prolong life – treatments that are not available to many South Africans. This is why health professionals drawing attention to Kidney Awareness Week from 2 to 6 September, advocate for regular screening of kidney function, especially if you fall into the high risk categories.

Interestingly, similar to heart health, obesity, diabetes and hypertension put us at risk for CKD as well. The view of ADSA (the Association for Dietetics in South Africa) is that with the high prevalence of obesity, diabetes and hypertension in the country, it stands to reason that we need to become a nation aware of, and caring about our kidneys.

People who are overweight or obese are up to seven times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease compared to those of normal weight. A family history of CKD or renal failure is also a red flag indicating that you need to actively focus on the health of your kidneys. However, the prime culprit in the majority of CKD cases in South Africa (64%) is undetected or uncontrolled hypertension, which is abnormally high blood pressure. So a basic step in ensuring kidney health is regular blood pressure testing and adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes in order to keep your blood pressure in check.

Every day, our valiant kidneys help us dispose of the excess salt and water that we consume. In the process, they also happen to eliminate toxins that would otherwise build up and take down the living system that is our body. Our kidneys also play an important role in controlling our blood acidity and blood pressure levels. For those who are obese, the kidneys have to work harder, filtering more blood than normal to cope with the demands of the greater body weight. This increased workload can damage the kidneys and raise the risk of developing CKD in the long-term. “When kidneys do fail, the body is literally overwhelmed by excess water, salt and toxins, which defeat every other organ and body system,” says ADSA spokesperson, Registered Dietitian, Abby Courtenay, “The job of the kidneys may not be glamorous or poetic, like the heart, but it is every bit as important.”

The good news in all of this is that there is a lot we can do day to day to promote the health of our kidneys. Courtenay adds: “If you have been screened and diagnosed in the earlier stages of CKD, or need to implement measures because you suffer from obesity, diabetes or hypertension, you can make a significant positive difference just with your daily diet.”

“Nutritional strategies to deal with CKD, as well as its risk factors are well-researched and documented,” says Registered Dietitian, Cecile Verseput, “What’s important to note is that in the most up to date professional interpretation of the research available, the focus has turned from considering single nutrients to looking more holistically at an overall healthful dietary pattern, particularly rich in plant-based foods.” Cecile points out that recent SA consumer statistics show that fresh fruit and veg, as well as healthy sources of vegetable protein, are low shopping priorities in the country.

Here are her Six Top Tips for Boosting Kidney Health:

  1. Go green – and red, yellow, orange, purple and blue! Boosting the fresh fruit and veg in your diet is one of the best ways to protect your kidneys. There are so many ways to make vegetables and salads a delicious part of your family’s eating.
  2. Get real – Drop the high-salt, trans-fat takeaways and convenience foods like hot cakes. Cultivate a real interest and enjoyment in cooking from scratch with fresh, healthy ingredients. It’s so much more delicious, and good for your kidneys.
  3. Be choosy about fats – They are not equal. Go for extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil rather than hard fats to protect the blood vessels in your kidneys.
  4. Go nuts – Boost your intake of nuts and legumes. They are delicious, and provide healthy fats and fibre.
  5. Forget the convenient fads – Let go of the sugar-sweetened drinks and treats, fast foods, processed and red meat.
  6. Embrace plant protein power – Open up to the wide range of legumes, grains and nuts that are readily available and make them part of your daily eating. Swap red meat with legumes or alternatively with fish or poultry.

 


Why breastfeeding and work can, and should, go together

Returning to work after maternity leave rates as one of the top reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding their babies before they should. The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week runs from the 1st to the 7th of August with the aim of uniting all sectors of society in the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. The campaign, co-ordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), identifies four critical focus areas, one of which is women’s productivity and work.

ADSA_Breastfeeding ImageWorking SA mums are entitled to a minimum of four consecutive months of maternity leave. Many take at least one month of that leave prior to the birth, and then make their return to work when their infants are just around three months old. However, exclusive breastfeeding of an infant from birth to six months is what is recommended as optimal nutrition by the World Health Organisation. Therefore, the only way that working new mums can meet these important health standards is if they can breastfeed or express breast milk for some months at their workplaces.

 

The benefits of creating workplaces that are friendly to nursing mums go beyond just the physical welfare of our new generations. Cath Day, registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADSA (The Association for Dietetics in South Africa) points out: “There is a vast body of scientific research that has shown that breastfeeding, as exclusive nutrition in the first six months and then as a supplementary food for two years and beyond, also protects and benefits the physical health of the mother; while impacting positively on her emotional well-being as she forms the essential bond with her new child. It is clearly in the interests of the employers of child-bearing women to protect, promote and support them during the times when they are breastfeeding because companies need their employees to be healthy and optimally productive.”

ADSA recommends that businesses formalise their support of breastfeeding in the policies, standards and practices of their employee wellness programmes.

So what can businesses do practically to protect and support the nursing mums on their workforce?

  • Uphold the Law – Corporates must recognise and facilitate the legal rights of SA breastfeeding mothers enshrined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Up until their babies are six months old, working mums are entitled to two, paid 30-minute breaks every work day for breastfeeding or expressing milk.
  • Know and promote the benefits of breastfeeding – “It helps to have employers who are knowledgeable about why breastfeeding is so important and a commitment to protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding in the workplace,” says Cath Day. “As part of the employee wellness programme, registered dietitians can be engaged to make presentations to all staff on the advantages of a breastfeeding-friendly work environment and how to make it happen in your company. The straightforward facts and the inarguable science go a long way to reducing the discomforts and stigmas people might attach to breastfeeding.”
  • Provide the place – Nowadays it is widely regarded as completely unacceptable for breastfeeding mums to have to lock themselves in a public toilet, or their car, to breastfeed or express milk at work because they have nowhere else to go. Many companies realise that a breastfeeding-friendly workplace means providing a secure and comfortable space for working mums to spend their 30-minute breastfeeding breaks. Preferably, this private room should have a door that locks, comfortable seating, plug points for breast pumps and a refrigerator for the safe storage of breast milk.
  • Be flexible and adaptable – Part-time, flexi-time or temporary work-from-home plans can be very effective solutions for breastfeeding mums, and should especially be employed by companies who provide no proper facilities for the legal breastfeeding breaks in their workplace.
  • Offer child-care facilities – A number of progressive companies with a clear focus on employee engagement provide workplace child care facilities for the babies and small children of their employees. This is ideal for breastfeeding mums as they can more easily and quickly breastfeed their infants and need to express less milk.

ADSA spokesperson Zelda Ackerman, whose areas of expertise include baby and child feeding, urges new working mums to know their rights and to get the support that they need from their bosses and colleagues so that going back to work doesn’t become a barrier to the continued breastfeeding of their infant. “It is really important for South Africa as a country to transform to a culture of being breastfeeding-friendly in every environment,” she says, “We have to consider the potential health burdens of being a country with exceptionally low rates of breastfeeding, and turn this trend around. From the family home to the work environment to society at large, breastfeeding mothers need support.”

Zelda’s top tips for breastfeeding mums returning to work include: 

  • Before your return to work, give yourself enough time to get to grips with finding the pump that works best for you and regularly expressing milk – and give your baby enough time to get used to expressed breast milk. Time and practice will help you both to establish this as a stress-free routine before the big change up ahead.
  • Also, ahead of time, build up a stock of breast milk at home – it can be refrigerated and frozen. Stored breast milk should always be dated, and you retain more nutritional quality if you refrigerate it immediately after you have expressed.
  • On your return to work, have straightforward conversations with your bosses and/or team members, as necessary, so that they are clear about your breastfeeding goals and needs. Be clear about your legal right to two, paid 30 minute breastfeeding breaks each working day, and establish with them how this is going to work best for you and what accommodations you will need.
  • If you encounter resistance or lack of support in your workplace, get help rather than give up breastfeeding. Other working mothers in your workplace and HR personnel may help to raise awareness of the importance of your continued breastfeeding. External sources of help can include breastfeeding support organisations and registered dietitians.
  • You can reduce discomfort from engorgement and pace your two breastfeeding breaks optimally at work if you arrange your workday mornings so that you give your baby a good feed that ends just before you leave for work; and then breastfeed your baby again as soon as you get home. Co-ordinate this well with your baby’s caregiver so that they don’t feed the expressed breast milk just before you get home. If you are breastfeeding a baby older than six months of age, make sure your caregiver doesn’t provide late afternoon snacks so that your child is ready for a good breastfeed when you get home from work.
  • Be patient and resilient. Our modern world doesn’t necessarily make breastfeeding easy, natural and stress-free. But it is as important as it has ever been to both you and your baby. The science is clear, the more you can; the better for you, your baby and our society at large.

Dietitians urge South Africans to ‘Eat Fact Not Fiction’

Nutrition advice promising all sorts, from weight loss to healthier living and even cures for diseases, spread like wildfire across social media. In the era of ‘alternative facts’ and post-truth, ‘the latest, greatest nutrition advice’ from dubious sources can unfortunately tempt many away from accepted dietary guidelines and recommendations based on years of evidence.

‘Evidence and Expertise’ is the theme of Dietitian’s Week 2017, highlighting the important role of dietitians who are able to interpret nutrition science and dietary guidelines in order to customise nutrition advice for each individual. This is vital because from weight loss to a disease like diabetes, there is no ‘one size fits all’ best eating plan. Dietitians happen to be health professionals trained and qualified to do this.

Dietitians and Evidence

In the course of earning their degrees in the science of dietetics, dietitians are specifically taught the skills required to interpret scientific evidence. In order to maintain their professional registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), all practising SA dietitians also have to undertake ongoing studies that ensure they keep up with the latest knowledge provided by new and emerging evidence, in accordance with the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme. This means they have the latest evidence-based food, health and disease expertise at their fingertips – and you won’t find a registered dietitian in the country basing any recommendations on the long outdated food pyramid.

Dietitians and the Food-Based Dietary Guidelines

The country’s broad strokes dietary guidelines, on which public health messages are based, and which were developed according to the process recommended by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), have also evolved over the years, featuring a notable shift from the emphasis on nutrients to the focus on actual foods, which by nature contain a variety of nutrients. ADSA, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, provides further clarity on the guidelines with its statement on the Optimal Nutrition for South Africans. The latest visual Food Guide from the Department of Health provides a very different picture from older models such as the Food Pyramid and represents the latest FAO recommendations.

Dietitians and Patients

But the reality remains that diet is highly personal. What we eat is rooted in our culture and tradition, shaped by affordability and accessibility, and inextricably intertwined with highly variable lifestyle factors such as weight, physical activity, emotional connection to food and our consumption of non-food substances, as well as various physiological differences and genetics.

“This is where the dietitian comes to the fore,” says ADSA President and Registered Dietitian, Maryke Gallagher. “If you take a disease such as diabetes, which is a prevalent lifestyle disease in the country, and is a condition that can be managed through diet, each patient needs a tailor-made plan and focused support to make their individualised diet work towards their well-being and health. When the situation demands change around something as fundamental to life as food, then broad strokes are not necessarily sustainable solutions.”

Dietitians and Sustainability

The role that the dietitian can play in helping the communities in which they work to secure healthy food systems that are good for both people and the planet is an emerging responsibility in the profession. Dietitans are increasingly involved in facets of our modern food systems including agriculture and alternative food production methods, natural resources and ecosystems, social justice and community health issues, as well as developing food policy and food systems research that takes sustainability into account.

Dietitians and Diseases

Some may associate dietitians with merely giving advice and support to someone who wants to lose weight, but dietitians work across a range of industries. They are also experts in providing nutritional advice with regard to serious diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, liver disease, kidney disease, cancers, HIV/AIDS, TB, throat, stomach and intestinal disorders, as well as food allergies and intolerances, eating disorders, sports nutrition and life-stage nutrition (including the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding as the best start in life). Apart from dietitians in private practice, they work in hospitals and communities, academia and industries. In addition to consulting with patients, dietitians are also involved in research, nutrition training and development of provincial and national policies.

Dietitians and Malnutrition

In South Africa, where the health issues that arise from the obesity epidemic stand side by side with those resulting from undernutrition, our dietitians’ work literally spans from one extreme to another. The South African Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (SASPEN), a supporter of Dietitian’s Week, highlights the essential role the dietitian plays in providing nutritional support to promote optimal nutrition to people in hospitals, where malnutrition is a common cause of the exacerbation of disease, delayed healing and prolonged hospital stays.

The Dietitian and You

It’s clear, that as a country, our need for dietitians is multi-fold, which explains why there’s a lot more than just dietary guidelines on the mind of a registered dietitian. In consultation, your dietitian is going to be taking in many factors unique to you to work towards helping you make optimal food choices. This includes your age and gender; your genetics, body size and body image; your environment, culture, spiritual beliefs and family life; physical activity level, mental well-being and general abilities; your work life and patterns; your budget; food preferences, eating tastes and cooking skills; as well as your existing health conditions and prescribed meds.

In the hopes of steering us clear of the latest trumped up ‘diets’ and promoting a return to genuine expertise and evidence, dietitians countrywide are suggesting that we ‘Eat Facts Not Fiction’.

In collaboration with the British Dietetics Association, Dietitian’s Week is held in SA from 12th to 16th June, with the 2017 theme ‘Evidence and Expertise’.

To find a dietitian in your area, please visit the ADSA website.

 


Statement on the outcome of the HPCSA inquiry into the conduct of Professor Tim Noakes

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa’s (ADSA) former president Ms Claire Julsing-Strydom submitted a complaint about Professor Tim Noakes to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) in 2014 on behalf of ADSA regarding, what it considered, unconventional infant nutrition advice.

The complaint

The complaint was lodged after Professor Noakes advised a mom via Twitter to “ween” (sic) her baby on to a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. ADSA believed, at the time, that the advice:

  1. was not based on current scientific evidence;
  2. contradicted international and local guidelines for complementary feeding adopted by organisations like the World Health Organisation;
  3. could negatively affect a baby’s health, growth and development; and
  4. was provided via Twitter without an examination or consideration of the baby’s health or age and therefore nutritional needs. ADSA also considered it risky if other moms on Twitter took the same advice.

Professor Noakes did not advise the mom to continue with breastfeeding, which undermined its importance. For these reasons, ADSA considered the advice unconventional and requested the HPCSA to investigate further.

The HPCSA charge and inquiry

The HPCSA is a statutory body established to regulate registered healthcare practitioners and protect the public. The HPCSA considered the complaint and decided to hold an inquiry into what it considered “unprofessional conduct” that was “not in accordance with the norms and standards of your profession” and that Noakes “provided unconventional advice on breastfeeding on social networks (tweet/s).”

ADSA has lodged other complaints to the HPCSA to adjudicate in the past. Most cases are resolved mutually without the need for a detailed inquiry. It was never ADSA’s intention for this matter to span over 3 years and to progress to a hearing. The HPCSA follows a specific disciplinary process for all complaints. This case has gone through all the necessary steps and couldn’t be resolved or concluded in the preliminary inquiry phase. The HPCSA has autonomy on the type of inquiry it wished to institute and ADSA has co-operated fully with their decision.

The formal hearings began in June 2015 and continued in November that year. The inquiry continued in February and October 2016. The hearings have now been concluded and the HPCSA has issued its verdict.

ADSA’s concern

ADSA was concerned, when lodging the complaint in 2014, that a strict low carbohydrate, high fat diet for babies would not meet all the nutritional needs of a growing child. Current scientific evidence does not support an extreme low carbohydrate, high fat diet for babies. When foods rich in carbohydrates such as whole grains and legumes are avoided and other carbohydrate food sources such as dairy, fruits and vegetables are restricted, the diet can become deficient in certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin C, B1, B3, B6, folate, magnesium and fibre. Because infants and young children are considered a vulnerable group, the potential for nutrient deficiencies is a serious concern. Deficiencies can compromise growth, and cognitive and physical development. Restrictive diets for babies with medical conditions should only be followed under strict medical supervision with monitoring by suitably trained and registered healthcare professionals.

Dietary guidelines for feeding babies are developed by organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), based on a strong body of evidence. In South Africa, the Department of Health has adopted these recommendations. We also have Paediatric Food Based Dietary Guidelines backed by technical support papers published in 2013. This is a widely accepted scientific approach to child nutrition. The risks of experimenting with a baby’s development are immense and the long-term effect of low carbohydrate, high fat diets for babies is currently unknown. ADSA believed that the advice provided by Professor Noakes was against accepted common practice. The concern for the health of babies was ADSA’s primary interest when ADSA lodged this complaint.

The use of social media for professional purposes does pose interesting questions, especially for dietitians and other health care practitioners. While social media may be appropriate for generic public health messages such as how to reduce salt or sugar consumption in diets, social media may not be advisable for providing specific individualised, clinical nutritional advice to vulnerable groups such as babies, where little is known about their health and medical history. ADSA does recognise that social media provides significant opportunities for public health information and for use by health care professionals. However, clear guidelines are required to guide and regulate patient interaction outlining the use and limits of social media by health practitioners.

“ADSA accepts the verdict and we are relieved that the hearing has finally been concluded. We welcome the precedent this case provides on what we considered unconventional advice. The case also sets a precedent about the use and limits of social media by health professionals. For ADSA this hearing was never about winning or losing, or standing for or against Professor Noakes. It was about protecting the health of babies and future adults,” said Maryke Gallagher, President of ADSA.

“We will study the verdict in detail and decide what implications this case has for ADSA and dietitians. We also call on the HPCSA to provide guidelines for health professionals’ use of social media in their practice,” said Gallagher.

ADSA and its members will continue to provide dietary advice that is evidence-based and in line with guidelines provided by the national Department of Health and international bodies such as the World Health Organisation. A scientific and rigorous process is used to develop international and local dietary guidelines, and the outcome of the inquiry does not mean that these guidelines will now change. ADSA will consider new approaches and practices based on scientific evidence that has been adopted by credible health organisations.

About sponsorship and big foods

“Many dietitians and members of ADSA have been worried about the allegations made during the course of this inquiry that dietitians are unfairly favouring big food companies because they sponsor the organisation. ADSA wants to assure those concerned that we will never compromise ADSA’s independence as a result of corporate sponsorship. ADSA is a registered not-for-profit organisation (NPO) and relies in part on fundraising to sustain its work. In 2016, we received 63% of income from members. Our sponsorship policy is clear on non-influence by sponsors. We do not endorse any brand, product or retail chain. There is no conspiracy between big foods and dietitians to sell unhealthy food to South Africans. A healthy population through well balanced diets is what we strive for,” said Gallagher.

It is very unfortunate that the professionalism and integrity of a number of nutrition scientists in South Africa has been unfairly questioned during this inquiry. It is ADSA’s hope that the reputation of nutrition professionals and dietitians as nutrition experts will be restored. Despite the negative sentiment, ADSA believed it had a responsibility to enquire about an issue that had such significant consequences for dietitians and other health professionals.

On Tim Noakes

“We respect Professor Tim Noakes for his work as a sports scientist. He is a well respected A-rated scientist and is respected in academic circles. His work is pioneering and he has always tested conventional thinking. But, we have differed with Professor Noakes on this issue. We have no personal gripe with Professor Noakes. Our concern has always been about the health of babies,” said Gallagher.

This hearing has been rather divisive with strong views expressed on both sides. The debate has raised significant awareness about the importance of nutrition, which is positive. Health, wellness and nutrition should concern everybody. But, South Africans have also been confused by the ebb and flow of this divisive nutrition debate and the inconsistent nutritional advice provided over many years. That is unfortunate.

“I’m pleased this is over and we can now focus on other urgent nutrition challenges we have in South Africa,” concluded Gallagher.

Useful links:

ADSA’s position on infant nutrition:

Infant Nutrition Statement

Comprehensive Q&A:

Q&A

ADSA’s sponsorship policy:

ADSA Sponsorship Policy

Tim Noakes tweet: 

ADSA_Noakes Tweet

  1. The HPCSA charge:

“guilty of unprofessional conduct or conduct which, when regard is had to your profession is unprofessional, in that during the period between January 2014 and February 2014 you acted in a manner that is not in accordance with the norms and standards of your profession in that you provided unconventional advice on breastfeeding on social networks (tweet/s).”


Is a Career as a Dietitian for You?

Dietetics, the field of nutrition, health and the application of science-based nutrition knowledge offers a variety of distinctive career opportunities that goes beyond the usual view of the dietitian as someone who simply helps others lose weight. If you have interests in health, food, healthy lifestyle and science, you may well find your niche in this growing profession.

“A dietitian is a registered healthcare professional who is qualified to assess, diagnose and treat nutritional problems, as well as to advise on preventative nutritional strategies,” says Maryke Gallagher, registered dietitian and President of ADSA, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa. In South Africa, the minimum qualification for a dietitian is a four-year BSc degree and one-year of community service. To practice dietetics in the country, one must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). A registered dietitian is, therefore, a recognised expert in evidenced-based nutrition. This scientific expertise is vital in today’s world where there is an abundance of unscientific health and nutrition information, as well as a plethora of fad diets and nutrition gimmicks.

While dietitians are certainly the ‘go-to’ people for those battling with overweight and obesity, there is a lot more to the career than just sharing weight reduction and management expertise. What we eat has significant impacts on many other diseases and health conditions. Whether therapeutic nutrition or preventative nutrition, dietitians promote good health and wellbeing for all. There is much scope to tailor a career in dietetics to your personal passions. You may be interested in focusing on children’s health, maternal health, food allergies or eating disorders, or on some of the many medical conditions that require a dietitian’s management such as diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and intestinal disorders. In addition, when it comes to sports, nutrition also impacts on performance, and dietitians may often play integral roles on the teams managing high performance sportspeople.

Without doubt, there is a high need for registered dietitians in South Africa. While infectious disease such as HIV/AIDS and TB continue to be prevalent in South Africa, non-communicable diseases like heart disease, strokes, cancers and diabetes are actually the main causes of deaths (1). Yet up to 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, keeping physically active and avoiding tobacco products (2).   South Africa is ranked the most obese country in sub-Saharan Africa(3). Alarmingly, two out of three women and almost one in three men are overweight or obese, and almost 1 in 4 children aged 2-14 years are overweight or obese in South Africa(4). On the opposite side of the coin, chronic under-nutrition is also prevalent with 1 in 4 children aged 0-3 years suffering from stunting, a condition where a child grows to be small for their age due to poor nutrition(4). There is also a high incidence of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin A and iron, in South African children and women of reproductive age(4). South Africa has high levels of food insecurity with around 1 in 4 food-insecure South Africans experiencing hunger and a further 1 in 4 at risk of hunger(4).

Dietitians may work in a variety of settings with different areas of focus:

Private practice – like other health professionals, dietitians can set themselves up to consult privately with patients who need advice on nutrition therapy and support to make healthy eating a lifestyle change.

Hospitals – known as clinical dietitians, these practitioners primarily work in hospitals consulting with patients who are referred to them by doctors or other healthcare professionals. Their role in a patient care team is to assess and individualise nutrition therapy (whether an appropriate special diet, tube feed or intravenous feed) as an integral part of recovery or palliative care.

Community – these dietitians may be employed in the public sector, or by NGOs or community-based organisations. Their focus is generally on the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding; growth monitoring and the prevention of malnutrition; nutrition promotion and education; promotion of healthy lifestyles to address non- communicable diseases; prevention and treatment of vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and addressing food insecurity issues.

Institution-based – dietitians also work in food service management providing healthy and specialised diets to people living in institutions such as senior homes, school hostels, welfare care centres, prisons and health care facilities. Their work includes planning, costing and developing menus; controlling implementing, evaluating and overseeing food service systems; and managing special dietary requirements.

Industry/Corporate – there are varied roles for dietitians in the food, retail, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. They may advise on current food labelling legislation, nutrition regulations and the nutritional analysis of food items; be involved in product development; share latest developments and trends in nutrition; participate in nutrition-related marketing activities; lead corporate wellness programmes and conduct literature reviews.

Research/Academia – dietitians employed by educational institutions are involved in continuously providing new evidence-based nutrition information through on-going research and teaching and are responsible for the training of new nutrition professionals. 

Media/Publishing – in the Information Age, there is opportunity for dietitians, who have important knowledge to share, to generate expert content providing nutrition advice, latest evidenced-based nutrition news and views, commentary on nutrition issues and inspiration for healthy eating.

Do you have what it takes?

Maryke advises that a career in dietetics will suit those who:

  • are interested in food and health
  • enjoy and have a flair for Science
  • would be fulfilled by a caring, helping profession
  • are lifelong learners who are attentive to the on-going developments in Science
  • are able to translate scientific knowledge into practical advice
  • are comfortable in the role of the expert and like sharing knowledge with others
  • have strong inter- and intrapersonal skills
  • have a positive attitude and the ability to motivate others
  • have empathy, understanding and tact

 

 

References
  1. Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2014: Findings from death notification / Statistics South Africa. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa, 2015
  2. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011
  3. World Health Organisation. 2015. Global Health Observatory Data Repository. Accessed June 2015. http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.
  4. Shisana O, Labadarios D, Rehle T, Simbayi L, Zuma K, Dhansay A, et al. South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1). Cape Town: Health Sciences Research Council, 2013.

 ABOUT ADSA

ADSA, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa is one of the country’s professional organisations for registered dietitians.  It is a registered non-profit organisation served by qualified volunteers. The Association represents, and plays a vital role in developing the dietetic profession so as to contribute towards the goal of achieving optimal nutrition for all South Africans.  Through its network of ten branches ADSA provides dietitians with the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals in their provinces. Through its comprehensive Continuing Professional Development (CPD) system, ADSA supports dietitians in meeting their mandatory on-going learning, which is essential to maintain their registration status with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Visit: http://www.adsa.org.za

 


Salty South Africa – are we doing better after salt legislation?

Despite South Africa passing world-leading legislation to reduce salt intake, too many South Africans eat too much salt, putting themselves at risk of heart disease and strokes. Today is the start of  Salt Awareness Week which runs from 20-26 March.

 

ADSA_Salt week banner

Salt – a forgotten killer

Excess salt intake directly increases blood pressure in most people, and exacerbates high blood pressure in people who already have this condition. “High blood pressure is not only caused by high salt intake, and factors such as genetics, obesity, fruit and vegetable intake, stress, smoking and a lack of exercise all contribute. However, reducing salt intake is a safe, affordable and effective strategy to reduce high blood pressure or avoid developing high blood pressure” says Prof Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA).

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that it’s African region has the highest prevalence of high blood pressure globally. People of African origin are more prone to salt sensitivity, and excess salt is consumed through both liberal addition of salt to meals and as salt hidden in many processed foods. In South Africa, the prevalence of high blood pressure ranges from 30% to as high as 80% in adults over the age of 50 years (1) .

A world-leader in salt reduction

South Africa is ahead of the pack with ground-breaking legislation to limit the salt content of certain foods. June 2016 marked the implementation of these regulations that have reduced salt in commonly consumed foods such as breads, breakfast cereals, and processed meats. So far legislation has been hugely successful with most manufacturers complying, and some products have reduced salt content by 30 to 40%.

What can the food industry do?

During World Salt Awareness Week, WASH and the HSFSA are calling on manufacturers to put less salt in our food, and challenge everyone to read food labels and choose the lower salt options – it’s as easy as that! Salt legislation will reduce salt intake by approximately 0.85 grams per person per day, depending on the individual’s food choices. One study estimated that this level of salt reduction will result in 7 400 fewer cardiovascular deaths and 4 300 fewer non-fatal strokes every year in South Africa (2) .

The WHO recommends that total salt intake should not exceed one teaspoon a day, an amount equal to 5 grams. The average South African eats roughly 8.5 grams of salt per day (range of 6 – 11 grams), with some people eating significantly more than this (3) . Salt legislation is a good start, but it is inadequate to curb excess salt intake.

How do we eat so much salt?

“Salt intake is not easy to measure and is hidden in almost everything we eat, even sweet foods. When adding extra salt in cooking or at the table, all the pinches, shakes and grinds of salt add more salt than we actually need. One take-out meal can triple our salt limit for one day. Even something as simple as a cheese and ham sandwich can provide 2.5 grams of salt, already half the daily limit” says Gabriel Eksteen, Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist at the foundation.

Do YOU eat too much salt?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA launched an online salt calculator in 2015 in partnership with Unilever South Africa. This is the easiest way to see how much salt you eat, and which are the main salty culprits in your diet. The calculator has been carefully updated to improve accuracy and to reflect changes after salt legislation. Test your salt intake at www.saltcalculator.co.za . You may be surprised where your salt comes from!

How to reduce salt intake

Total salt intake includes what is already in the food, and what people add to food while preparing or eating the food. Choose foods wisely, keeping an eye out for food products with the Heart Mark logo and eat salty foods less often. How much salt is added at home is completely in the individual’s hands. When using salty ingredients like stock cubes, soy sauce or chicken spice as part of cooking, don’t add any further salt. Taste food while cooking and at the table, and think twice before adding more salt!

ADSA_Change your salty ways

Get tested

One in every two South Africans with high blood pressure remain unaware of their condition. This prevents effective care and increases the risk of heart diseases and strokes. The HSFSA recommends that all adults test their blood pressure at least once every year. The public can get their blood pressure measured for free from 17 March until 9 April at all Dis-Chem pharmacies nationwide.

The next step forward

South African salt legislation will further reduce the salt levels of certain foods by 2019. Yet many foods are excluded from legislation, including fast foods. The HSFSA call on the fast food industry to clearly display the salt content of their meals, and to start reducing the salt content of their offerings. Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Chairman of WASH comments: “Salt damages our health. Salt reduction is the simplest and most cost effective measure to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks every year. It is not just down to the individuals; manufactures must stop adding salt to our foods. During World Salt Awareness Week you can do something great for your health by eating less salt“.

 

1) Lloyd-Sherlock P, et al. Hypertension among older adults in low- and middle-income countries: prevalence, awareness and control.
Int J Epidemiol. 2014 Feb;43(1):116-28. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyt215
2) Bertram et al. Reducing the sodium content of high-salt foods: Effect on cardiovascular disease in South Africa. S Afr Med J
2012;102(9):743-745. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.5832
3) Wentzel-Viljoen et al. “Use salt and foods high in salt sparingly”: a food-based dietary guideline for South Africa. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 26(3): S105-S113

Expert Tips for a Healthier Lifestyle

February is national Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month, with Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day being celebrated on 22nd February. The National Department of Health encourages all South Africans to live healthier lifestyles, through promoting healthy eating, regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco products, and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. But can improving our lifestyles have much of an impact on our health? According to the World Health Organization, the good news is that leading a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes and 60% of premature deaths due to cancer *.

A panel of health and wellness professionals, including dietitians, a psychologist, a sleep expert and a yoga instructor, give us their top tips on healthy eating, aiming to achieve balance, improving sleep and learning to relax to make our lifestyles healthier:

How to Get Healthy Eating Right

To transform poor eating habits into healthy ones, Raeesa Seedat, Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, says:

  1. Start your day well: Eat breakfast! – Breakfast is linked to improved nutrient intakes, as well as improved concentration and alertness. Studies show that skipping breakfast is associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and tiredness.
  2. Avoid temptation – The sight and smell of food is often enough to tempt us. Avoid keeping tempting but unhealthy foods around the house and avoid the treat aisles in the supermarket.
  3. Shop smart – To avoid impulsive buying, plan your shopping with a budget and a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! If you don’t buy unhealthy foods, you won’t eat them.
  4. Motivate yourself – Research shows that habits that don’t serve us can be overcome with good intentions. For example, having a conscious intention to eat healthier snacks helps to override a habit of making poor food choices.
  5. Do not starve yourself – One of the most common triggers for unhealthy snacking is hunger. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Do not get to the point where you are so hungry you could wolf down anything you get your hands on. Carry healthy snacks such as fruit, plain unsalted nuts or a tub of low fat yoghurt to work or school to snack on.

What small changes can we make to our daily eating that will help us move towards a healthier lifestyle? Kezia Kent, Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson says:

  1. Hydrate: Increase your daily water intake – being well-hydrated is important for overall health. Herbs such as mint, chopped fruit and lemon slices can all be used to make water more interesting. Remember that store-bought flavoured waters often have added sugar and should therefore be avoided.
  2. Eat regularly through the day by trying to eat every 2-3 hours – Eating healthy snacks between main meals helps to maintain a healthy metabolism and can help to control portions at main meals. Your first meal or snack of the day should be within 90 minutes after waking up. Never skip meals.
  3. Only eat until you feel satisfied – If you begin to feel uncomfortable or too full, then you’ve already eaten too much. If you still feel hungry after a meal, have some fresh vegetables with fat-free salad dressing.
  4. Avoid eating while doing something else – eating while driving, watching TV, being on an electronic device or working prevents most people from actually realising what and how much they are putting into their bodies. Focusing on your food enables you to be aware of what your body wants and needs. Many also find they enjoy their food more and are more satisfied with what they have eaten.
  5. Be active every day – it can be a considerable boost to your overall health to prioritize daily physical activity.   Even a short walk is better than nothing.

How to practice balance in your life

Raydene Naidoo, Psychologist from the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) recommends:

  • Focus on yourself from time to time and pamper yourself. You can’t expect others to nurture you if you can’t nurture yourself.
  • Learn to say no without feeling guilty. Having reasonable boundaries is healthy, and it helps you to regulate how much you take on.
  • Take time to nurture your relationships, especially with your loved ones.
  • You are only human and you’re not always going to get the balance right. Rome was not built in a day. Allow yourself a cheat day but within moderation.
  • Get a good night’s rest as often as you can, naps count too.
  • Set SMART goals for yourself. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific.

How to improve our sleep

Sleep is central to all body functions. By the time you are 30 years old, you have already slept for about 10 years. The basis of good sleep is to maintain good sleep hygiene. Dr Kevin Rosman from the Morningside Sleep Centre has this advice:

The sleep environment – the bed must be comfortable enough, the room quiet enough, dark enough, cool enough, and secure enough. Complete absence of sound would be the best, but is generally not possible. Second-best is a continuous quiet hum. Television is generally a bad idea. Sometimes double lining of the curtains may be necessary to keep the room dark enough. We sleep better at night when the environment is cool. If you have an air conditioner, for example, set the temperature to that which is comfortable for the “cooler” partner, and let the other simply add a blanket.

Winding down the brain – before going to sleep, one needs to give the brain a chance to wind down. Allocate between 30 and 60 minutes for this. Going to bed directly after working or after exercise can cause difficulty getting to sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can affect sleep, and sufficient time should be allowed after the consumption of these before getting into bed.

Regular sleep habits – because the body works on a number of different cycles, we sleep best at our usual bedtime. Getting up at the same time every day is also helpful.

How to relax more

An important part of a healthy lifestyle is stress reduction and stress management. Lexi Ryman, Co-Founder of Wild Thing Yoga & Body Conditioning, says “Taking time to switch off and quiet your mind is so important for so many reasons; for example, having your nose to the grindstone all the time limits our perspective, meaning we might not achieve our full potential.”

The practice of mindfulness underpins activities such as yoga and meditation. “Yoga is a form of moving meditation where your movement is guided by your own breath,” Lexi says “It is a complete and total mind-body-spirit overhaul and the benefits of practicing yoga range from the physical benefits of increased flexibility and strength right through to mental and emotional wellbeing.”

To practice mindfulness, start small. “Set your alarm clock for 10 minutes earlier in the mornings. Find somewhere quiet, with a comfortable seat. Close your eyes, and focus on your breath – allowing it to move freely in and out of your nose. Start with 5 minutes and see how you go from there. If you really aren’t a morning person, try it in the evenings. Tonight, instead of your usual routine of flicking on the TV when you get home, take a few moments, find a quiet space, no technology on or around you and just breathe. Find a way of moving your body that feels good in your body. Try out different exercise or yoga classes, until you find an environment that’s comfortable to you.”

To find a registered dietitian in your area who can assist you with a healthy lifestyle plan, visit www.adsa.org.za. 

* Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011

The facts about ADSA

Have you ever wondered who ADSA is or why you should become a member? Read on to find out more about what ADSA does and how you can get involved.

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa, or ADSA, is the professional organisaadsa_what-dietitians-do-boxtion for registered dietitians, and has been committed to serving the interests of dietitians in South Africa for the past 29 years. The Association is made up of a variety of members, from registered dietitians and nutritionists, to community service and student dietitians, international, retired and honorary members.

ADSA’s VISION: To represent and develop the dietetic profession to contribute towards achieving optimal nutrition for all South Africans.

ADSA’s MISSION: As the registered professionals in the field of dietetics and nutrition we support and promote the continued growth of the profession of dietetics in South Africa.

ADSA is a registered not-for-profit organisation (NPO) and unlike counterparts abroad, it is mainly driven by passionate and dedicated volunteers, most of whom are not remunerated for their time and services. The Executive (national) and Branch (provincial) Committee members serve for a 2-year term. Here are some of the many functions and activities the various portfolios are responsible for.

  • President: directs, manages and guides the Association, oversees all its activities on a strategic level and builds strategic partnerships
  • Communications: coordinates all internal communication with members, via the weekly bulletin and quarterly newsletters, managing ADSA’s website, and ADSA’s inputs into other scientific journals or newsletters, as well as co-ordinating a mentorship programme and bursary fund and being a member of the biannual national nutrition congress organising committee
  • Public Relations: handles all aspects related to public relations, including planning and implementing nutrition and health-related awareness days, formulating and publicising statements based on evidence, acting as the official contact person for input into media content, monitoring of nutrition information communicated to the public and creating content to promote the profession in the public space, assisted by a team of spokespeople
  • Sponsorship: recruits and manages suitable sponsors in line with ADSA’s updated rigorous sponsorship policy
  • Representation: coordinates ADSA representatives on eight different official scientific or government groups or committees, as well as other interest groups, and manages the submission of comments to government on nutrition-related draft legislation
  • Private Practicing Dietitians (PPDs): manages all professional issues relating PPDs, including the PPD database, addressing billing practices and providing assistance to PPDs on issues they may experience in private practice
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD): manages the accreditation of CPD events and online activities to create opportunities for continued education and upskilling of dietitians. Each year the 10 ADSA branches across the country are encouraged to host one CPD event per quarter and there has been on average 3 to 4 CPD-accredited events per branch per year. This portfolio also provides dietitians with access to latest scientific evidence, guidelines and resources through PEN.
  • Membership: manages membership applications and coordinates member benefits. Liaises with members and non-members to establish needs to enhance membership benefits.
  • Public Sector: establishes a support network and line of communication between dietitians in the public sector and ADSA, and communicates relevant developments, such as employer/labour negotiations to ADSA members
  • Branch Liaison: acts as the communication link between ADSA branch chairpersons and the national Executive Committee to ensure consistency in operations
  • Secretary: assists with organisational tasks for the Executive Committee, such as taking meeting minutes and record keeping
  • Chief Operating Officer: part-time employed dietitian to assist with public relations, attend meetings on behalf of ADSA, and assist with other executive portfolios as and when required

The ADSA Executive and Branch Committee portfolio holders strive to meet the needs of the members they serve, by being in constant communication with members. This means that ADSA policy and strategic direction is continuously evolving to meet the changing needs of nutrition professionals in South Africa. Recent significant changes include an updated sponsorship policy, that includes a stricter process of selection and is based on international standards, as well as a review of membership benefits to determine the most appropriate fee structure. ADSA’s Constitution was also recently reviewed and updated to reflect the growth of the nutrition profession.

If you are a registered dietitian, nutritionist with a recognised nutrition degree, community service or student dietitian, we invite you to join us today. As your professional organisation, the more members we have, the stronger our collective voice, and the more we can do to achieve our vision and mission to grow the profession and to promote the nutritional well-being of our country.

To find out more about the benefits of joining ADSA or to find a registered dietitian in your area, visit http://www.adsa.org.za.


The Low Down on South Africa’s Sugar Tax

The Minister of Finance announced in the February 2016 National Budget a decision to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), with effect from 1 April 2017, to help reduce excessive sugar intake by South Africans. The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) welcomes this step as one part of the solution to address the obesity problem and improve the health of South Africans.

How much sugar do South Africans really consume?

When you think of sugar-sweetened beverages, the first thing that comes to mind is the regular fizzy drink, but the term encompasses far more than that. SSBs are beverages containing added sweeteners that provide energy (‘calories’ or kilojoules) such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit-juice concentrates. This includes carbonated drinks (fizzy soft drinks and energy drinks), non-carbonated drinks (sports drinks, iced teas, vitamin water drinks and juice concentrates), sweetened milk drinks and sweetened fruit juices. And many of us do not realise just how much sugar is found in these drinks. For example, a 330 ml bottle of iced tea has a little over 6 teaspoons of sugar!

ADSA is concerned that the intake of added sugars (sugars added to foods and drinks during processing by the food manufacturing companies, cook or consumer) is increasing in South Africa, both in adults and children. Some estimate that children typically consume approximately 40-60 g/day of added sugar, possibly rising to as much as 100 g/day in adolescents. High intakes of added sugar, particularly as SSBs, has been shown to lead to weight gain and cause dental caries. The added sugar in these drinks makes them high in energy (kilojoules). Because these drinks don’t make us feel full in the same way that eating food does, most of us don’t reduce our food intake to compensate, making it easy to consume too many kilojoules. Over time, these extra kilojoules can cause one to become overweight, putting us at risk for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Obesity is already a massive problem in South Africa, with 2 in 3 women and 1 in 3 men being overweight or obese, as well as almost 1 in 4 children.

What is ADSA’s recommendation for sugar intake?

ADSA supports the recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines that we need to reduce the intake of beverages and foods that contain added sugars, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, sweetened yoghurts, frozen desserts, some breakfast cereals, ready-to-use sauces, cereal bars, health, savoury and sweet biscuits, baked products, canned or packaged fruit products, sweets and chocolates. The WHO advises reducing the intake of free sugars found in foods and beverages (including added sugars, but excluding sugars naturally present in fresh fruits, vegetables and milk) to less than 10% of total energy (kilojoule) intake for the day (i.e. 50 g of sugar, which is approximately 12 teaspoons per day), with a conditional recommendation to further reduce intake to 5% of total energy (approximately 6 teaspoons per day) for additional health benefits. The South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines also advise to ‘use sugar and foods and drinks high in sugar sparingly’. To put this into perspective, a 500 ml bottle of a carbonated drink will provide your maximum sugar allowance for an entire day!

The sugar tax – is it a good idea?

The proposed tax on SSBs will mean roughly a 20% tax will be added on to sugary drinks, which is intended to decrease the purchase and consumption of SSBs. Encouragingly, in Mexico, a sugar tax has reduced sugary drink sales by 12% in the first year. The sugar tax is likely to affect shelf prices, but will also motivate manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar added to their products.

ADSA welcomes the proposed tax on SSBs, but acknowledges that the sugar tax is only part of the solution to address the growing obesity problem. Just as taxing tobacco does not reduce or stop smoking by all people, taxing SSBs will not reduce or stop all purchasing and consumption of SSBs and reduce obesity on its own. Obesity is a complex condition, and sugar is not the only cause. There is a need for multiple interventions across a variety of different sectors to address unhealthy diets and lifestyles and have an impact on the obesity epidemic. ADSA recommends that revenue generated from the tax should go towards health promoting interventions, such as subsidies to reduce the costs of fruits and vegetables, education around healthy choices and creating an enabling environment to make those healthier choices easier.

In addition to reducing the consumption of SSBs to prevent obesity and promote long-term health, ADSA continues to recommend a healthy diet which includes whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, healthy oils, proteins such as lean meats and seafood, and a reduced intake of processed meats and salt, accompanied by regular physical activity.

ADSA’s detailed Position Statement on the Proposed Taxation of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, with references, can be accessed here: http://www.adsa.org.za/Portals/14/Documents/2016/Nov/ADSA%20Position%20Statement%20on%20Sugar%20Tax_Final_28%20Nov%202016.pdf

 


10 Healthy Ways to Survive the Festive Season Eating Frenzy

Every year the festive season arrives and all our healthy eating plans go out of the window. There is no doubt that time to relax and enjoy ourselves is important to our well-being, but we tend to over-indulge in rich foods, sweet treats and alcohol. At the same time, we are cutting back on regular physical activity and staying up too late, too often.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to indulge a little, but allow for eating in moderation and maintaining a varied diet. Ditching your weight loss or weight management plans, or letting go of your health conscious habits over the festive season stresses both body and mind. Of course, you want to enjoy yourself, and it’s certainly not the time to feel deprived, but you can avoid the holidays becoming an extended binge by using strategies to moderate the inevitable excesses.

We asked a team of registered dietitians from ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) to give us their top tips on how to balance holiday fun with staying healthy, and here’s what they have to say:

Surviving holiday parties: Don’t attend a party on an empty stomach – grab a small healthy snack before you go. When you get there, don’t rush to eat – socialize and settle into the festivities before you eat and keep your socializing away from the buffet table or appetizer trays – to help limit nibbling. (Cheryl Meyer)

Eat mindfully: The buffet table is an invitation to eat all you can, so first survey what is available, choose the foods you really want to eat, and then move away. Eat slowly, focusing on enjoying the taste and smell of each bite. (Jessica Byrne)

Eat what you love, leave what you like. Be picky – don’t deny indulges, but only eat treats that you really love – avoid “wasting” calories on non-favourites. Think quality rather than quantity. (Cheryl Meyer)

Make water your MVP (most valuable player) this holiday season:  Jazz it up with lemon, cucumber or even fruit cubes like watermelon ice cubes, adding an element of holiday indulgence to plain water. Also try plain fruit or herbal tea for a change.  Water and tea can help fill you up preventing holiday overeating or even overindulging in alcohol or fizzy drinks, both loaded with calories/ energy. (Hlanzeka Mpanza)

Balance less healthy meals with healthy ones: Choose only one less healthy item or meal per day.  For example: one day an English breakfast, the next day an ice cream and the next day a take away, but not all three on one day. Ensure the other meals are healthy by eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. (Zelda Ackerman)

Be a snack smuggler: Travelling, shopping and lack of routine during the holidays can lead to skipping meals, or grabbing that seemingly convenient fast food. To keep your appetite in check, never leave home without a snack. Fruit makes a refreshing and no fuss snack, and a small packet of unsalted nuts can easily fit in your handbag for when the hunger hits. (Jessica Byrne)

Avoid after-dinner nibbles and snacks: Those chocolates and biscuits that come out after an indulgent lunch or dinner are unnecessary calories and will probably only make you feel more uncomfortably full. (Lila Bruk)

Have your cake and eat it too: If you do have one of the many sweet treats on offer, keep your portion size as small as possible and choose the healthiest of what you can find. For example, generally fruit-based cakes and desserts are better choices, so an apple tart would be a better option than a chocolate cake, especially if you don’t eat all the pastry. (Lila Bruk)

Start your day with a wholesome breakfast: Have a low GI breakfast such as oats, wholegrain cereal or wholewheat toast with avocado or eggs. This will not only keep you satisfied, your sugar levels stable and hunger pains at bay, but will also prevent you from snacking on sugary treats that are empty calories with little nutrients. (Lucinda Lourens)

Get moving with friends and family: Spend quality time with friends and family these holidays, but instead of catching up over coffee and cake, make the most of the warm weather and plan to do something where you can be active together. Meet for a walk on the beach or get a group together and go for a hike. Go for a swim, or get the whole family involved in a post-lunch stroll around the neighbourhood. (Jessica Byrne)

This ADSA NutritionConfidence recipe, created by Chef Vanessa Marx, is perfect for keeping your health on track this holiday, while still indulging in delicious festive food: “Grilled Ostrich Fillet with Egyptian Dukkah and Cucumber Raita”.

Ostrich is a truly South African and healthy alternative for the braai this festive season! The raita bursts with flavour while being low in sugar and fat. Ostrich meat is a great alternative to other ‘red meat’ sources. Classified as a ‘white meat’ due to its fat content, it’s low in fat (even lower than some chicken cuts) and saturated fat; but also a good source of biologically available iron. This makes a great pairing with the “Spinach, Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad”.


What your dietitian wants you to know about diabetes

There were 2.28 million cases of diabetes in South Africa in 2015 according to the International Diabetes Foundation and around 1.21 million people with undiagnosed diabetes. Considering these numbers it remains vitally important to continue educating South Africans about diabetes and to address the myths that are often associated with this lifestyle disease.

Nasreen Jaffer, Registered Dietitian and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson has a special interest in diabetes. She debunks some of the myths surrounding diabetes and nutrition:

People with diabetes have to follow a special diet or have to eat special diabetic foods.

People with diabetes do not have to follow a ‘special’ diet. People with diabetes need to make the same healthy eating choices as everyone else. Healthy eating choices include vegetables and fruit; whole grains; fish, lean meats and poultry; dairy products; seeds, nuts, legumes and plant oils. Everyone needs to limit fatty red meats, processed meats, salt and foods high in salt, and foods and beverages with added sugar.

There are foods that should be avoided completely.

The answer, is ‘no’. Moderation is key, the minute you’ve banned a certain food entirely, you’re likely to start craving it intensely. Your health and weight are more affected by what you do daily than what you eat once or twice a week, so if you’re in the mood for a piece of cake once in a while, buy a small one and share. If you deprive yourself of something you’re craving, it’s just a matter of time until your binge on it and sabotage your motivation. However, crisps, chocolates, and sweets are high in saturated and trans fat, while sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, iced tea and energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar, so these have to be limited.

 If I am diabetic, my diet is going to be more expensive.

It is not necessary to buy expensive foods marketed to diabetics. Healthy eating can be economical, and is often cheaper than buying unhealthy treats. Buying seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables is cheaper than buying fruit juices and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you replace sweets, chocolates, crisps, puddings and cakes with fruits, yoghurt and salads as your snacks and desserts, you’ll find you will save money. Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are cheaper alternatives to red meat, while providing numerous health benefits.

Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Too much sugar does not necessarily cause diabetes, but because foods and drinks with added sugar are often energy-dense (high in kilojoules), consuming too much of these on a regular basis can lead to weight gain. This can put us at risk for type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages seem to have the strongest link to type 2 diabetes. ‘Sugar’ doesn’t only refer to the sugar added to tea and coffee, but also includes sugar and sweetened products added when cooking and at the table. Look out for hidden sugars in pre-prepared and processed foods, like some breakfast cereals, sweetened drinks, dairy products, sauces and sweet treats. People with diabetes should limit or avoid adding sugar as it can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels.

 People with diabetes cannot eat carbohydrates.

No, this is not true. While all foods that contain carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar levels, people with diabetes can still eat carbohydrate foods. There are healthy types of carbohydrates that you do want to include in your eating plan, and the type or quality of carbohydrate foods is important. Therefore, for optimal blood glucose control it is important to control the quantity, and distribute carbohydrate foods equally throughout the day. For example, choose wholegrain or high-fibre carbohydrate foods as they don’t increase blood sugar as quickly as refined grains, and make sure that each meal is balanced, containing not only carbohydrate foods, but also protein or dairy, non-starchy vegetables or healthy fats.

People with diabetes should restrict their fruit intake.

Because fruit contains natural sugars, too much fruit can contribute to an increase in blood glucose levels. However, eating fruit also adds fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals to the diet, so while people with diabetes should not eat excessive amounts of fruit, fruit should not be completely eliminated. Portion control is important, and people with diabetes should choose whole fruit rather than fruit juice. It is recommended that you consult your dietitian to calculate the amount of fruit that you should include in your daily diet.

If one of my parents has diabetes, there is nothing I can do about it – I will develop diabetes eventually.

If you have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, you have all the reason you need to embrace a healthy lifestyle. While genetics may contribute 30 to 40% to the development of any condition, including diabetes, environmental and lifestyle factors may have a 60 to 70% impact. If you maintain a healthy body weight, stick to a healthy eating plan, avoid tobacco use and keep physically active regularly, you have a very good chance of not developing diabetes.

If I have diabetes, I can’t exercise.

On the contrary, diabetes is a compelling reason to exercise regularly. The reason for this is that physical activity plays a very important role in lowering blood glucose levels. Exercise also predisposes your body cells to being more sensitive to insulin, and of course, it helps to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, such as brisk walking, while doing some resistance or strength exercises at least twice a week. If you use insulin it is important to check your blood glucose levels before and after physical activity. If you get results below 6 mmol/l it is recommended that you lower your insulin dose or eat a healthy snack to prevent a hypoglycemic attack during or after exercise.

Early diagnosis of diabetes is vitally important. This year the theme of World Diabetes Day is “Eyes on Diabetes”, focusing on the screening for type 2 diabetes to ensure early diagnosis and treatment, which can in turn reduce the risk of serious complications. The sooner that elevated blood glucose levels can be treated and returned to normal, the better. If you are diagnosed with either pre-diabetes or diabetes, you need to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle that focuses on regular physical activity, good nutrition and weight-loss if you are overweight or obese.

Everyone over the age of 45 years should be screened for diabetes every 2 to 3 years, or earlier if you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes (such as a family history, high blood pressure or previous diabetes during pregnancy). If you haven’t yet been screened, visit a healthcare professional to find out if you are at risk.

Should you experience any of the following symptoms contact your doctor as soon as possible – sudden weight loss, hunger, blurred vision, tiredness, excessive thirst and frequent urination.

To find a registered dietitian in your area who can assist you with a diabetic-friendly lifestyle plan, visit www.adsa.org.za.

 


Why dietitians want you to love your beans!

In celebration of National Nutrition Week: ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils’ (9 to 15 October), we chatted to a few dietitians to find out why these foods, also known as pulses, should form an essential part of our diet.

To find out more about why beans are good for health, how to cook them, how to prepare them, snack ideas and great recipes, join the #LovePulses Twitter Talk on Wednesday, 12 October at 1pm (SA time) – follow our @ADSA_RD Twitter handle or the hashtag #LovePulses.

Why pulses?

  • “Pulses are very economical in this tough economic time. Add pulses to meat dishes like mince and stews to bulk up your dish and make it go further”, says Registered Dietitian and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson, Monique Piderit.
  • Beans, peas and lentils add a great variety to meal preparation, are affordable and good for our earth. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are a good, inexpensive source of protein. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
  • Pulses help to keep your blood sugar steady (making them a great option for diabetics) and lower your cholesterol. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are high in soluble and insoluble fibre, aiding good digestion and keeping you regular. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
  • Beans, peas and lentils are low in sodium, and provide important minerals like potassium and calcium, which can improve blood pressure. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
  • Pulses are a good source of plant-based iron and have a low glycemic index, keeping you fuller for longer. – Cath Day, RD (SA)

Cooking tips for pulses

  • Tinned chickpeas, beans and lentils are just as nutritious as the dried versions. Stock up on tinned pulses for quick emergency meals, e.g. chickpeas and tuna, mince with tinned lentils or add tinned beans to your favourite salad. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
  • Soak in the morning (ahead of cooking in the evening) using boiling water or use canned varieties to cut down on cooking time. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Add salt at the end of the cooking process. Adding it at the begin increases cooking time and hardens the skins. – Mpho Tshukudu, RD (SA)
  • Soaking and rinsing dry beans before cooking, as well as rinsing canned beans in water, can help to reduce hard to digest carbohydrates, which could cause flatulence in some individuals. – Jessica Byrne, RD (SA)
  • Rinse tinned legumes well before serving, as this increases your tummy’s tolerance to beans, lentils and chickpeas. – Cath Day, RD (SA)

Great, easy snack ideas for pulses

  • Drain a tin of chickpeas and place in a roasting pan drizzle with olive oil, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Roast for around 40 minutes for a quick and easy roasted chickpea snack. Store in an airtight container for a quick snack on the go. – Monique Piderit, RD (SA)
  • Pulses can be used to make tasty dips, e.g. pureed chickpea and butternut, or white bean dip (flavoured with a little vegetable oil, garlic, lemon juice, sprinkling of salt and herbs).  Dips can be enjoyed with veggie sticks or crackers. – Nazeeia Sayed, RD (SA)
  • Or keep it even simpler and just mash or blend pulses with garlic, herbs and spices for a delicious, healthy spread or dip. – Kelly Schreuder, RD (SA)
  • Lentils are quick and easy to cook together with your brown rice, pearled barley or crushed wheat. – Zelda Ackerman, RD (SA)

“Pulses should be a regular part of a family’s healthy eating plan and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Aim to include them in your diet at least four times a week,” says ADSA spokesperson, Jessica Byrne.


Love your beans for good health

South Africa celebrates National Nutrition Week from 9 to 15 October, and aligning to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which has declared that 2016 is the ‘International Year of Pulses’, this year’s campaign theme is ‘Love your beans – eat dry beans, peas and lentils!’ echoing the country’s food-based dietary guideline to ‘eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly’.

“There’s a good reason to put dry beans, peas, lentils and soya into the spotlight. Unfortunately, they are largely overlooked as they are often seen as a ‘poor man’s food’ and they can take a long time to cook. We should be eating them, along with a variety of foods, at least four times a week; and yet, many of us hardly include them in our diets. There’s just not enough awareness of how they contribute to healthy lifestyles, or how to use them well to make delicious meals,” says Ms Lynn Moeng-Mahlangu, Cluster Manager of Health Promotion, Nutrition and Oral Health at the National Department of Health. “However, this National Nutrition Week, we hope to share tips and recipes to inspire South Africans to eat more beans, peas, lentils and soya. For information on these tips, access the National Nutrition Week website”.

National Nutrition Week is a joint initiative by the Department of Health, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA), the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) and the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA (CEP). “We are delighted that this year’s theme highlights these affordable, versatile and tasty foods that make such a vital contribution to our health when they are a regular part of the family’s healthy eating regime,” says ADSA President, Maryke Gallagher.

So much nutrition advice is centred on what we need to eat less of, but when it comes to pulses – your dry beans, peas and lentils – the message is about eating more!

Carol Browne from the NSSA highlights some benefits of pulses. “Beans, peas and lentils also provide exceptional nutritional value for money, having a high micronutrient to price ratio. What’s more, they improve soil fertility, are water efficient and have a smaller carbon footprint, promoting environmental sustainability.”

The top nutritional benefits of eating dry beans, peas, lentils and soya are that:

  • They are low in fat, high in fibre and have a low glycaemic index
  • They are naturally cholesterol-free
  • They are naturally gluten-free
  • They are a good source of plant protein, providing twice as much protein as wheat
  • They are good sources of vitamins such as folate and minerals such as potassium and calcium

According to Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the HSFSA, “Including dry beans, peas, lentils and soya regularly in your diet, along with other health promoting behaviours, contributes to better health, helping to improve blood pressure and the maintenance of a healthy weight, reducing the risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes.”

When it comes to cooking, pulses are wonderfully versatile and can be incorporated into the diet in many ways. “Pulses are excellent when used as the main ingredient in a vegetarian meal,” Linda Drummond from the CGCSA points out, “Or they can be used as an affordable way to extend meat in something like a meat stew or a bolognaise sauce. Cook up a large batch, portion and freeze to use to make a quick meal like soup or a bean salad.” As part of National Nutrition Week activities, a host of recipes celebrating beans, peas and lentils in tasty dishes are available on the National Nutrition Week website.

“Some people experience bloating and gas as a result of eating beans, but we would like to highlight steps that can be taken to prevent this from being a reason why many don’t include these nutritious foods in their eating plans”, says Maretha Vermaak from the CEP of Milk SA. Vermaak advises people to start with small amounts to build up one’s tolerance over time and to soak dry beans before cooking.

On Wednesday, the 12th of October, ADSA (@ADSA_RD) will be hosting a Twitter Talk from 13h00 to 14h00 where dietitians and National Nutrition Week partners will be answering questions such as: Why are beans, peas and lentils good for health? How do we avoid getting bloated and windy after eating beans? What is the best way to prepare dry beans for cooking? How do I introduce more dry beans, lentils and peas into my children’s diet? What are some ways we can use beans, peas and lentils in meals and snacks? Join the conversation live on Twitter, follow the @ADSA_RD handle or track the hashtag #LovePulses to get great ideas and tips that will help you and your family to love dry beans, peas and lentils. The Department of Health in the various provinces will also celebrate National Nutrition Week during the month of October.

For more information on National Nutrition Week 2016, please visit the website: http://www.nutritionweek.co.za/


Time To Make Lifestyle Your Medicine

DR. DAVID KATZ

103041_262 — GOOD MORNING AMERICA — DR. DAVID KATZ GM05 (CREDIT: ABC/ Ida Mae Astute )

“We could, as a culture, eliminate 80 percent of all chronic disease,” says Dr David Katz, one of the world’s leading proponents of lifestyle as medicine, during a recent visit to South Africa. “But my family and yours cannot afford to keep on waiting on the world to change. By taking matters into our own hands, we can lose weight and find health right now. We can reduce our personal risk of chronic disease, and that of the people we love, by that very same 80 percent. We can make our lives not just longer, but better.”

As current President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, the premise of Dr Katz’s work is based on the evidence of a litany of studies published since 1993 that show that around 80% of all chronic disease can be attributed to a particular short list of lifestyle behaviours. This is why cancers, cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, dementia and other common killers are now commonly known as ‘lifestyle diseases’. Researchers have argued that they are not, in fact, ‘causes’ of death, but rather the tragic effects of disease-causing behaviours embedded in our lifestyles. As Dr Katz points out, the good news for us is that it means that 80% of chronic diseases are preventable if we make the necessary lifestyle changes.

“If you consider,” he says, “that a wealth of research has shown that people who eat well, exercise routinely, avoid tobacco, and control their weight have an 80% lower probability across their entire life spans of developing any major chronic disease, then we realize that this combination of not smoking, eating healthily, being physically active and managing weight is perhaps the greatest advance in the history of medicine.”

Internationally, Dr Katz is renowned for drawing our attention to what we are doing with our ‘fingers, forks and feet’. What we most need to reduce our risk of the most common diseases is to make sure our fingers are free of cigarettes, our forks are full of healthful food and that our feet carry us a fair distance each day. Stopping smoking may be hard, but it is a clear and possible goal. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a rougher measure, but it still serves to give us a fair enough indication of what our healthy weight should be. We know that at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day will go a long way to both managing weight and staying physically strong and limber.

However, with one fad diet after another capturing media attention and shifting us wilfully from low-fat to low-carb, from high-fat to high-protein, from vegan to carnivorous, there is unnecessary confusion and complexity about what really constitutes healthy eating.

Dr Katz cuts through the clamour of ‘the latest, greatest diet’ phenomenon by championing the simple, common sense advice of writer, Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (In his book ‘In Defence of Food: Eater’s Manifesto’, Pollan expanded on what he means by ‘Eat food’ to assert that we should ‘avoid eating anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food’.)

What most countries’ most recent dietary guidelines have in common is the recommendation of eating patterns that are higher in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole-grains and seafood; and lower in red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, as well as refined starches. As Dr Katz pointed out: “Additional strong evidence shows that it is not necessary to eliminate food groups or conform to a single dietary pattern to achieve healthy dietary patterns. Rather, individuals can combine foods in a variety of flexible ways to achieve healthy dietary patterns, and these strategies should be tailored to meet the individual’s health needs, dietary preferences and cultural traditions.”

“It was wonderful to experience a leading international authority supporting a message that is at the very core of the work of South African dietitians,” says Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson, Cath Day, “Just because it can be such a profitable industry, there’s always going to be a ‘new’ idea for the next ‘right’ diet, which is usually based on some or other distortion of scientific evidence. But what Dr Katz emphasises is that, as nutrition professionals we already know exactly what balanced healthy eating is, and it is never going to be one single eating regime for everyone to follow. What we eat is rooted in our diverse cultures, affected by availability and influenced by our individual tastes. It is always possible for a person to transform to a healthy diet while fully taking into account their unique circumstances around food; and this is exactly what our dietitians work with clients to achieve.”

Dr Katz pointed out to the South African nutrition community that what conspires mightily against a culture of healthy eating in Western societies is far less about the distracting ‘noise’ of the latest fad diet. Instead he urged that the focus should remain steady on the proliferation and accessibility of a vast array of highly processed, fast and convenient foods which have invaded our eating regimes and are overwhelming our habits of sourcing fresh, natural foods and preparing healthful home meals from scratch.

“If lifestyle is the medicine, it is culture that is the spoon that makes the medicine do down,” concludes Katz. The trouble is that we currently have a culture that largely values convenience over health, and we make lifestyle choices, including what we do with our fingers, forks and feet accordingly.

Dr David Katz was in South Africa to speak at the 2016 South African Nutrition Congress hosted by the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA) and ADSA. He invited the South African Nutrition community to join http://www.truehealthinitiative.org/ an international coalition uniting nutrition experts in the global consensus on lifestyle a medicine.
To find a dietitian in your area who can assist you with a healthy eating lifestyle plan, visit www.adsa.org.za


Get ready for National Braai Day!

In celebration of one of South Africa’s favourite past times (braaing) and the day dedicated to it (National Braai Day) our dietitians, Monique Piderit and Brigitte Leclercq, have put together some practical tips for a healthier braai:

  • A braai is a great excuse to get your greens in. Be creative when doing this, such as making interesting salads.
  • Try alternate your protein sources instead of only eating red meat, which may become boring after a while- try something like stuffed fish (stuff with nectarines for something different)- always make sure you are making a sustainable choice such as choosing fish from the green SASSI-approved list.
  • Grilled chicken and vegetable kebabs are an easy way to get your vegetable intake, without anyone noticing.
  • Have a healthy snack before you go out for a braai. This will prevent you from being overly hungry when you arrive and less tempted to over-eat on snacks. If you are hosting the braai, be sure to start your fire early enough to eat at a reasonable hour. The later the lunch, the longer you may sit mindlessly nibbling away on unhealthy snacks.
  • To keep your guests cool in the summer sun, serve cold water. Add colour and flavour using mint, lemon slices or strawberries, and top with lots of ice.
  • Choose chicken or fish over red meat. Select barbeque basting to still ensure flavour. Flavour your food with fresh herbs and spices, and limit the use of salt.
  • Leave condiments and toppings off starters, salads and side dishes. Substitute for flavour with lower fat condiments such as lemon juice, pepper, mustard, salsa and Tabasco. Make a potato salad with low-fat mayonnaise, or mix half mayo with low-fat yoghurt for a creamy alternative.
  • Surprisingly, even salads at a braai can be laden with unnecessary calories by the addition of croutons, bacon bits, cheeses and salad dressings. Look for garden salads with more vegetables than high fat ingredients. Fill up half of your plate with healthy salad and veggies.
  • Request that the host not dress the salad or ask for a portion before doing so. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and some black pepper instead of a pre-prepared salad dressing. Alternatively, offer to bring a salad to ensure you have a healthy option of veggies at the braai.

The weather promises to be amazing, so join friends and family to celebrate our heritage and braai!

 


Why breastfeeding should be everybody’s business

It is common sense that ‘breast is best’ when it comes to feeding infants and young children. After all, breast milk is uniquely, organically fit for a singular purpose. Yet, South Africa has an extraordinarily low rate of babies breastfeeding exclusively in the first six months of their lives. In fact, at just 8% against a global rate that is almost 40%, the South African statistic is regarded by UNICEF as one of the lowest in the world. (http://www.unicef.org/southafrica/media_10469.htm)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines optimal infant and young child nutrition as breast milk exclusively up until the age of six months; and then breast milk supplemented by safe and appropriate foods up until the age of two years, or beyond. (http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/)

“There is a significant body of scientific evidence that informs these global nutritional guidelines and attests to the many benefits of breastfeeding when it comes to the health and well-being of not just baby, but Mum as well,” says Cath Day, ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa’s) spokesperson. “For instance, new research presented in The Lancet, an international medical journal, states that optimal breastfeeding could save the lives of 823 000 children a year, and there’s substantial evidence that breastfeeding can help to ward off breast and ovarian cancers in mothers too.”

With World Breastfeeding Week spanning the 1st to the 7th of August, we face the reality that the majority of women all over the world, but particularly in South Africa, don’t meet accepted international, or national, nutritional guidelines for breastfeeding their babies because they experience strong, often, culturally-institutionalised barriers to breastfeeding. And, that is why we all have a part of play in transforming the country into an enabling environment that properly supports, encourages and upholds breastfeeding mothers.

Over the past years, South Africa has taken steps to rectify the provision of inaccurate information by health care providers and implemented measures to mitigate the aggressive corporate marketing of breast milk substitutes which undermine breastfeeding. In addition, the country’s employment laws have enshrined the rights of mothers with infants under six months, who have had to return to work, to take two 30-minute breaks during work hours to express milk. (http://www.labour.gov.za/DOL/downloads/legislation/acts/basic-conditions-of-employment/Amended%20Act%20-%20Basic%20Conditions%20of%20Employment.pdf)

But clearly this is not enough, as reviews show we have stagnated at the exceedingly low rate of 8% for years on the most important marker of infant nutrition.

“The proper support needed to achieve the scale of breastfeeding that would meet global guidelines and significantly improve infant mortality in South Africa has to be multi-level and multi-pronged,” says Thembekile Dlamini, also a Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson. “That is why breastfeeding should rather be viewed as ‘everybody’s business’ versus an activity that a mother feels she needs to guard and hide, perhaps even in her own home, family environment, workplace and community. A positive attitude to breastfeeding needs to permeate all aspects of South African society, across all socio-economic levels.”

This highlights the reality that breastfeeding as the source of optimal and exclusive infant nutrition is unfortunately, too often, transformed from a natural, basically unremarkable human activity securely bolstered not just by straightforward good sense but by modern scientific evidence too, into a contentious nutritional fashion or a fad, buffeted by fleeting, often self-serving opinions, agendas and perceptions.

Everyday barriers that breastfeeding women experience range from partners who are unsupportive due to self-interest to grandparents who morally disapprove of public breastfeeding. Corporate environments may not provide suitable facilities, nor accept the routines for lactating mothers who are back at work.

Let’s find ways and work together to support women who are trying to give their children the best start in life:

  • Fathers and partners who are informed about the benefits of breastfeeding and supportive of a breastfeeding mother can have a major influence on successful outcomes
  • Other family members, particularly grandmothers and aunts, who a mother might turn to for advice and support also have a considerable influence to bear when it comes to encouraging or discouraging breastfeeding
  • Mothers also often rely on advice and support from their friends, especially those who might be more practiced mothers than they are. While there is much value in friends’ sharing their experiences of motherhood, the breastfeeding advice you give should be objective. Mothers who are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding should be encouraged to get professional help before considering giving it up
  • Employers can support breastfeeding mothers who have returned to work to establish a routine to express milk in private and comfortable surrounds

 

Breastfeeding support is available in South Africa:

  • Mothers can obtain professional help with breastfeeding from lactation consultants, who are health professionals with advanced training in breastfeeding support http://www.salactationconsultants.co.za/index.php
  • La Leche League South Africa is a voluntary organisation which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed their babies. La Leche League Leaders are experienced breastfeeding mothers, trained and accredited by LLL, who are happy to help other mothers with questions and concerns about breastfeeding http://www.llli.org/southafrica.html
  • Milk Matters is a community-based breast milk bank that pasteurises and distributes donations of screened breast milk from healthy donors to premature, ill and vulnerable babies whose own mothers cannot supply the breast milk to meet their baby’s needs. Their website has valuable information for breastfeeding mothers http://milkmatters.org/breastfeeding-breastmilk/

 

Breastfeeding provides the foundation for lifelong health and wellbeing. This year, the World Breastfeeding Week theme is ‘Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development’. The website is packed with useful and interesting information on wide range of positive impacts of breastfeeding on society and the planet http://www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org/resources.shtml

 


The Importance of Healthy Eating to Corporate Wellness

Today is the first day of Corporate Wellness Week, which is running until 5 July.

Employees eat nearly half of their daily meals and snacks at the workplace, which means that what is consumed during working hours can have a great impact on overall diet and health. It’s not uncommon to find that many of us, who may well be healthy eaters at home, give way to speed and convenience when it comes to the food choices that are made, often under pressure, during working hours.

Corporate Wellness Week emphasises the need to put workplace nutrition in the spotlight. The calories we consume at work do count, as does the quality of the nutrients in the types of food we are choosing. While employers need to focus on the food that is being made readily available to employees, we also need to reflect on our choices and habits when it comes to eating on the job.

It is vital that companies focus on making healthy eating choices accessible and affordable. Canteen or cafeteria menus need to be in line with the SA Food-based Dietary Guidelines or developed together with a Registered Dietitian. Vending machines in the corporate environment should offer a majority of healthy eating options. Likewise, drinks and snacks made available at corporate meetings and events should be wholesome and healthy options. The benefits to businesses that care about healthy nutrition are far-reaching. There’s a wide array of research studies that provide comprehensive evidence of the effects of what we eat on performance. Who doesn’t want healthy, focused and productive employees?

There’s also a lot that each of us can do to ensure that we are eating healthily during working hours.

Monique Piderit a Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) works regularly in the corporate sector and has particular insights into the challenges of workplace nutrition and its important place in Corporate Wellness. She recommends:

  • Be aware of everything that you are eating and drinking during working hours. Yes, you are under pressure but every calorie, and every nutrient still counts just the same
  • Take note of your eating habits at work, especially those triggered by workplace stress and pressure. If you find yourself routinely buying a packet of chips or a chocolate from the vending machine around the corner from your desk every time the going gets tough, it’s time to change your habits and make better choices that will really help you to feel better. For example, replace a crunchy crisp craving for healthier nuts, popcorn or pretzels, and a sweet tooth with fresh fruit or dried fruit like cranberries.
  • If your healthy eating choices are limited by what’s available around you at or in close proximity to work, consider taking charge and preparing your own daily healthy lunchbox. It is actually not as much work as you may think, and it can be cost-saving too. When you get the balance of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat and vitamins and minerals right in your lunchbox, you’ve aligned your workplace nutrition with your healthy lifestyle goals. When preparing dinner allow for a portion of food to be allocated for the next day. As you serve dinner, immediately set aside a portion of food into a container for lunch the next day.
  • Make an effort to reduce your processed foods intake and go for the real thing. For instance, buy more lean chicken pieces than what you will eat for dinner, and then tuck a left-over drumstick in your lunchbox rather than spending extra on buying vienna’s and other processed meats for your lunchbox.
  • Declare an outright ban on sugary drinks in the workplace which are often all too easily available. Make water your first port of call. You can bring it to work infused with citrus, ginger or mint. Choose rooibos or herbal teas as your hot drinks at meetings or have cooled as a homemade iced tea in summer.
  • Stock up on nutrient-dense, fresh fruit, veg and nuts that are so easy to snack right at your desk. Maybe you can stock the fridge at work, or also choose long-lasting fresh produce options like citrus or bananas that can stand on your desk all week long.
  • Also keep easy options at hand like wholewheat/high fiber crackers, salt and sugar-free peanut butter and lean biltong. These foods can keep for weeks at a time. Making the healthy options the closest to hand so that when you are under pressure you will grab something that is really good for you

As Monique points out: “We can’t talk about Corporate Wellness during this awareness week without talking about nutrition. A healthy employee is a focused and productive employee. What we eat is fundamental to our well-being in the short and long term. It is also fundamental to our performance in the moment. Work dominates the lives of adults and how we manage and choose our food at work is critical to our well-being.”

To find a Registered Dietitian in your area visit http://www.adsa.org.za/Public/


How can a Dietitian guide you through the Nutrition Minefield?

From Great Aunt Phyllis, to your Facebook friend that lost 30 kilos last year, to the latest in the multitude of global ‘so-called experts’ who just published a fad diet book, everyone seems to know exactly what we should all be eating. And, unfortunately, very few of them agree with each other.

When it comes to food, just about everyone has strong opinions, views, and diverse assertions about what constitutes healthy nutrition. Caught in the crossfire of a flurry of intense beliefs and often forceful advice, we don’t know who to trust and where to turn to when we know we need to manage our nutrition better. It’s a minefield; and if we are not careful, we can find ourselves trying a bit of this and a bit of that, chopping and changing, and never reaching our healthy living goals – whether that is to lose weight, optimise our physical activity or manage a serious condition such as diabetes.

Because nutrition affects our health in many ways, there’s just about no place more important to find that calm, clear space in the eye of the storm. And, that is where you can find a steady, consistent ally in the nutrition expert, a Registered Dietitian. These are health professionals, regulated by law, who have spent a minimum of four years studying a relevant science degree at an established university. They commit themselves to on-going professional development that keeps them abreast of scientific evolution. They are therefore, a reliable source of the latest nutrition expertise that is wholly evidence-based; and it is this that can help you cut through the noise of the fad diets, sweeping universalities and old wives’ tales when it comes to working out what eating routine would be healthy and sustainable for you at your particular life-stage.

“A common misconception is that a dietitian’s work is simply focused on helping people lose or manage their weight, comments Cath Day, Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for ADSA (Association of Dietetics in South Africa). “While weight loss is an important aspect of dietetics, the reality is that the role of the dietitian is much, much broader.” As a result, dietitians do not only work in private practice; they are also employed across governments; businesses; social, educational, healthcare and research institutions.

Day points out that professional advice from a dietitian is important at different life stages, for instance to determine healthy eating plans for the different nutrition requirements of childhood and for old age, as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. “Dietitians also help patients over the long-term to prevent or improve the management of disease,” she says, “It is important to have professional nutritional advice if you are dealing with conditions such as eating disorders, hypertension, gastro-intestinal disorders, pre-diabetes and diabetes, kidney failure, cardiac disease, as well as cancer and HIV/AIDS.” For women, optimal nutrition can play an important role in preventing or improving osteoporosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. The advice of dietitians is also often sought after in a wide range of states of health from those wanting to optimize their recovery from illness or injury, to athletes and others in peak health who want to improve their performance in sports and physical activities. After all, our greatest wealth is our health.

The great advantage that a dietitian offers is that they deal with each person and their nutritional needs on a completely individual basis. “Diets and dietary supplements are marketed as if they will work for everyone,” Day says. “But in truth, we are all very different when it comes to our eating habits, food preferences, physical activity and metabolic rates, and our lifestyle choices at any given time in our lives.” A dietitian works closely with you to determine an optimal nutrition plan that takes all these variances into account so that it is easier for you to make the necessary changes and sustain them over the long term. In addition, they are an advisor and a coach providing vital support and encouragement while you are on this journey.

Did you know?

Dietitians Week, 6th to 10th June, highlights the work and worth of dietitians and the impact of the dietetic profession. To find a dietitian in your area who can assist you with your nutrition journey, visit http://www.adsa.org.za/Public/FindARegisteredDietitian.aspx

ADSA will be joining theBritish Dietetics Association (BDA) and the South African Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (SASPEN) to celebrate Dietitian’s Week. Please keep an eye on our social media channels for more information.

Facebook www.facebook.com/adsarogza | Twitter www.twitter.com/ADSA_RD | Website: http://www.adsa.org.za

Trust a Dietitian


GETTING THE FACTS RIGHT ABOUT DIABETES

Diabetes remains a major cause of death in South Africa, and the prevalence of the condition continues to rise. ‘People with diabetes have to follow a special diet or have to eat special diabetic food’ is just one of the common misconceptions surrounding diabetes. In commemoration of World Diabetes Day (14 November) ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson and Registered Dietitian, Ria Catsicas, looks at some of these misconceptions that can result in people avoiding health testing or seeking treatment.

Ria has a special interest in the medical nutrition management of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity and is the author of the book “The Complete Nutritional Solutions to Diabetes”.

#1: People with diabetes have to follow a special diet or have to eat special diabetic foods
“Actually, people with diabetes do not have to follow a ‘special’ diet. The whole family should eat healthy unprocessed foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables; whole grains; lean meats and poultry; low fat milk and dairy products; seeds, nuts, legumes and plant oils. Everyone should avoid or limit eating processed foods such as fatty red meats, processed meats, all foods made from white flour and foods with a high sugar content. Healthy eating is good for all of us as it is essential for supporting our immune systems and protecting us against disease, as well as to ensure that we have optimal energy levels throughout the day.”

#2: If I am diabetic, my food is going to be more expensive
“It is not necessary to buy expensive foods marketed to diabetics. Healthy eating can be economical, and is often cheaper than buying unhealthy treats. Buying fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season is certainly cheaper than buying processed fruit juices and soft drinks. If you eat fruits and salads as snacks and as dessert, you can save on the money you would have spent on buying biscuits, rusks, cakes, desserts, sweets and potato crisps.   Legumes, such as lentils and beans, are cheaper than red meat and high fat hard cheeses. A tasty bean curry is, for instance, a much cheaper meal than a red meat alternative.”

#3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes
“There is truth in this statement, but it is too simplistic. Research shows that there is a correlation between the high intake of sugar-based soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices and the development of obesity. And, obesity, in turn, can be a significant contributing factor in the development of T 2 diabetes. However, a person’s complete diet must be taken into account. A diet that is characterized by the high intake of sugar, such as soft drinks, chocolates and sweets; as well as a high intake of refined starches, such as white or brown bread, pap, fast foods, biscuits, rusks and potato fries; while also poor in healthy foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains, can contribute to the development of diabetes.”

#4: People with diabetes cannot eat carbohydrates
“Not all carbohydrates are unhealthy. Both the type and the amount of carbohydrate foods you eat at a meal will affect your blood glucose levels afterwards. Therefore, for optimal blood glucose control it is important to control the quantity, and be aware of the type of carbohydrates you are going to eat. Small portions of whole grains, fruit and vegetables that are evenly distributed throughout the day can contribute to optimal blood glucose control. Research has also shown that the consistency of your carbohydrate intake from day-to-day can help to optimize blood glucose control.”

#5: People with diabetes should restrict their fruit intake
“Yes, too much fruit can contribute to an increase in blood glucose levels. However, portion size is important. It is recommended that you consult your dietitian to calculate the amount of fruit that you should include in your daily diet.”

#6: People with diabetes should be on a high-fat diet
“There is no research to date which has proved that a high fat diet can contribute to either weight loss or improved blood glucose control. To lose weight, your calorie intake from both foods and drinks must be less than your energy expenditure on both voluntary and involuntary activity. The restriction of any food group, whether it is carbohydrates or fats or proteins can contribute to weight loss. To achieve successful weight loss, people with diabetes need to adhere to an eating plan that restricts their usual calorie intake. Research has shown that diets promoting extreme macronutrient manipulation, whether it is carbohydrates or fats or proteins actually lessen people’s adherence to the eating plan. It is much wiser for people with diabetes to develop sustainable healthy eating habits that can easily be incorporated into lifestyle for the long term. The best diet for a person with diabetes is a healthy eating plan that the person can adhere to. To facilitate adherence, a dietitian would take into consideration the individual’s cultural preferences; their budget constraints; their age and gender; the logistics of their daily life, such as their work circumstances or travel requirements; as well as their weight status, the medications they use and their activity levels.”

#7: There are no proven health dangers of consuming too much saturated fat
“It is well-established that a high intake of saturated fats can contribute to increased LDL cholesterol levels in some individuals. While it has not been proven is that increased LDL cholesterol levels contribute directly to cardiac events, this is because there are NUMEROUS compounding factors that would cause a heart attack. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition and a high intake of saturated fats in a nutrient poor diet can aggravate inflammation. It has been proven that a high saturated fat intake in a nutrient poor diet can also contribute to decreased sensitivity of the body cells to the action of insulin.”

 #8: If I am diabetic, I should stop my medication and go onto a low-carb high-fat diet
“As a person with diabetes you should never stop your medication without your doctor’s recommendation and agreement that this is the best medical course for you. It has been established that when diabetes is diagnosed most individuals would have already lost 50% of the insulin-producing capacity of the Beta cells in the pancreas. Therefore, the optimal way to manage diabetes is to follow a healthy diet; to lose weight if overweight; to engage in physical activity, such as walking three to five times a week for 40 to 60 minutes at a time; and, to take appropriate medication on your doctor’s advice.”

#9: If one of my parents has diabetes, there is nothing I can do about it – I will develop diabetes eventually
“If you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, you have all the reason you need to embrace a healthy lifestyle. While genetics may only contribute 30 to 40% to the development of any condition, including diabetes, environmental and lifestyle factors may have a 60 to 70% impact. If you maintain a healthy body weight, stick to a healthy eating plan, manage your stress and get regular physical exercises, you have a very good chance of not developing diabetes.”

#10: If I have diabetes, I can’t exercise
“This is not true at all. Diabetes is a compelling reason to exercise regularly as physical activity plays a very important role in lowering blood glucose levels. Exercise also predisposes your body cells to being more sensitive to insulin, and of course, it helps to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. If you use insulin it is important to check your blood glucose levels before and after physical activity. If you get results below 6 m mol/l it is recommended that you lower your insulin dose or eat a healthy snack to prevent a hypoglycemic attack during or after exercise.”
To find a dietitian in your area who can assist you with personalised nutrition advice, visit www.adsa.org.za


HPCSA inquiry

A concern was lodged with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a matter of public interest after a tweet from Professor Tim Noakes advising a mother to “wean” her baby on to a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet.

The concern was referred to the HPCSA to adjudicate in February 2014 on behalf of members of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA). Following a preliminary hearing last year, the HPCSA has decided to convene an inquiry into the conduct of Professor Tim Noakes. They will then rule on the matter.

The advice, via Twitter, is not considered to be in accordance with both international (WHO Guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child) and national (South African Paediatric Food Based Dietary Guidelines) feeding guidelines for infant and young child nutrition. Furthermore giving one on one nutrition advice on social media to a patient who has not been assessed, as well as providing information outside of the scope of practice for which you are registered with the council is in contravention of the HPCSA ethical guidelines.

“I look forward to a resolution of this matter that will provide clarity on complementary feeding recommendations for infants and young children. It should also set a precedent on how social media should be used by health professionals. Clarity on these issues will help to advance health care in South Africa in the interest of the public. It should also clear any public and professional confusion on these issues,” said Claire Julsing Strydom, President of the ADSA.


World Milk Day

Today, 1 June, South Africa joins a number of other countries around the world in celebrating World Milk Day.

Why?

Because milk is an important source of nutrients we all need to survive. These include calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and protein.

The South African Department of Health’s daily dietary guidelines stipulate we should all have milk, maas or yoghurt every day as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Thought we would share four excellent reasons why you should include dairy in your daily diet:

  1. As an adult you need 1000mg of calcium per day. One serving of dairy (that’s 250ml of milk or 40g of cheese or 200ml yoghurt or maas) provides 300mg of calcium. In other words, just three servings of dairy give your body almost all the calcium it needs every day.
  2. Milk, maas and yoghurt have low sodium-to-potassium ratios and contain bioactive peptides. This composition may help to protect against the development of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  3. The calcium in dairy products is highly bio-available, contributing significantly to your bone-mineral content.
  4. The calcium in milk, maas and yoghurt could play an important role in the regulation of body weight and metabolic syndrome.

World Milk Day aims to celebrate milk as a nutritionally important, global food. Find out all you need to know about the health and nutritional benefits of dairy by visiting http://www.rediscoverdairy.co.za – an online portal, brought to you by the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA, featuring up-to-date and scientifically sound information on the health and nutritional value of all dairy products.


Carte Blanche – Sugar Addiction

Tonight at 7pm Carte Blanche is airing an insert on ‘Sugar Addiction’ which includes an interview with ADSA President, Claire Julsing-Strydom. They asked some interesting questions and we would like to share those with you:

Is sugar addiction real?

The answer is that yes sugar can lead to addictive like eating behaviour. Food addiction is real, especially in individuals who have a predisposition towards addiction and addictive like eating behaviour. Studies refer to the hedonic pathway of food record, what we know is that excessive sugar intake alters dopamine and opioid neurotransmission thereby increasing food intake.  But it is important to note that BOTH sugar and high fat foods mobilise the latter establishing hard wired cravings in these areas.  Current literature indicates that addictive like eating behaviour can be attributed to refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) as well as fats.  The Yale Food addiction scale suggests that highly processed foods that combine sugar and fat are more likely to lead to addictive like eating behaviours.

How much sugar is too much?

The intake of added sugar appears to be increasing steadily across the South African population. Children typically consume approximately 40-60 g/day, possibly rising to as much as 100g/day in adolescents. This represents roughly 5-10% of dietary energy, but could be as much as 20% in many individuals. The South African Food Based Dietary guidelines recommend that sugar and foods and drinks high in sugar be used sparingly.  The World Health Organisation have in their most recent guidelines recommended reducing total energy from sugar to below 5% from the previous 10%.  This equates to about 25g pf sugar per day which is approximately the same as 5 teaspoons of sugar. Keep in mind then that a single can of cold drink will exceed 25g of sugar.

In a balanced diet what kind of sugars should we be eating?

Naturally occurring sugars in whole foods such as lactose in yoghurt or fructose in fruits which occur in a fibre matrix have a very different metabolic process then refined carbohydrates and sugar.  It is important to avoid the excess intake of sugar – there is allowance for moderate intake in accordance with dietary guidelines. However research does intake that intakes of added sugars in on the rise and people need to start adjusting their intakes.

Why does ADSA have sponsors that have products that contain sugar?

Woolworths and Pick n Pay are sponsors of ADSA they stock chocolate and colds drinks, but just because they stock these particular food items and are sponsors of ADSA, does not mean that we as ADSA endorse or promote these particular products.  Our sponsorship policy states that we don’t endorse products and in accordance with the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines and evidence based information we make recommendations to our patients based on their individual nutritional requirements.

A food product that contains sugar can be included in a balanced meal plan as discussed earlier in line with local and international guidelines. Excess sugar intake however should be avoided as it is associated with adverse health risks. What is important to note is that when we have sponsorship discussions with industry it is made very clear that our sponsorship policy does not allow for endorsements in any way. ADSA is an NGO and all the dietitians that work for ADSA do so on a voluntary basis and do not get paid for the work that they do to serve the dietetics profession and the public by informing them on nutrition related matters. Various companies sponsor ADSA and all the funds that we collect through sponsorship are pooled. These funds are used in order to support the dietetics profession and ultimately the improvement of nutritional status for all South Africans. To read more on our sponsorship policy please visit our website: www.adsa.org.za


ADSA represents registered dietitians working in various spheres of nutrition and dietetics in South Africa

The Association for Dietetics is the professional organisation for registered dietitians in South Africa. The activities of the organisation are centred around representing and developing the dietetic profession to contribute to optimal nutrition for all South Africans.

Registered Dietitians are qualified health professionals registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) who have a minimum qualification of a four year scientific degree with training in all aspects and fields of nutrition and dietetics. Whether they consult privately to one client, work within a community or as part of the food supply chain, they have to adhere to best practice guidelines delivering sound dietary advice based on the latest scientific evidence.

ADSA members nominate and vote for members to serve on branch committees regionally or on the ADSA executive committee nationally, once every two years. These elected members serve on a voluntary basis, in their own time, without remuneration.

All committee members are registered dietitians working in different areas within nutrition and dietetics. The current executive committee has representatives from private practice, academia, government and the food industry.

As an association working in South Africa, we know South Africans eat a wide variety of foods from the entire food supply. We can’t ignore entire sections of the food industry, because they’re part of the daily diet of many South Africans.

We agree that while there are lot of nutritious, high quality foods on the market in South Africa, there’s a lot that can and needs to be improved when it comes to nutritional value and quality of some of foods sold in both the informal and formal food supply.

It’s therefore important that there are registered dietitians working in various sectors within the food industry, to influence changes that will benefit all South Africans.

Furthermore, registered dietitians working within the food industry have numerous important roles such as ensuring that foods are labelled correctly, as well as for ensuring compliance to various nutrition-related regulations, which provides the consumer with the information they require to make informed food purchasing decisions. They are also involved in managing nutrition-related queries about products, including ingredient queries, and can also be involved in corporate wellness programmes within the respective organisations, to name a few of their roles.

ADSA will continue to represent registered dietitians working in various spheres of nutrition and dietetics in South Africa, at all levels of the association, to ensure that the association is able to effectively represent and develop the dietetic profession to contribute to optimal nutrition for all South Africans.


Salt Awareness Week 2015

This week is Salt Awareness Week. My Kitchen magazine’s Lauren Shapiro chatted to ADSA spokesperson and Registered Dietitian, Alpha Rasekhala, about thinking twice before grabbing that salt shaker:

Salt_MyKitchen_2015

Also visit http://www.saltwatch.co.za

MK Mar Cover


Kidney Health For All

“Kidney Health For All” is the theme of today’s World Kidney Day

Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. The mission of World Kidney Day is to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems.

Nutrition plays an important role in keeping kidneys healthy

Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, Brigitte Leclercq recently visited the Seychelles to provide counselling to dialysis patients at Victoria Hospital. She is graduating with her Masters in Nutrition on kidney disease in June 2015 and will be presenting her research at the World Congress of Nephrology in March 2015.

Brigitte’s visit to Victoria Hospital was to help 100 dialysis patients with their meal plans, giving them guidelines on what they can eat and what they should avoid. During her two weeks in the Seychelles, Brigitte provided individual meal plans to each of the 100 dialysis patients at Victoria Hospital. In the Seychelles the rate of patients with kidney failure is extremely high, considering that over 100 patients are receiving dialysis in a population of 90 000 people. Seychelles is currently one of the most obese nations in sub-Saharan Africa. For optimum health, diets should consist of more healthy food options such as grilled fish and vegetables. Unfortunately there is a prevalence of diets high in fat in the Seychelles as most of the food is fried and too much takeaway food is being consumed.

High blood pressure and diabetes are the two biggest causes of kidney failure. Many people in the Seychelles and in South Africa who are overweight develop high blood pressure and diabetes, and eventually need dialysis unless they drastically change their nutrition and their lifestyle.

What can you do for your kidneys today?

www.worldkidneyday.org has the following 8 tips: to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease:

Keep fit and active

Keeping fit helps to reduce your blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of Chronic Kidney Disease.

Keep regular control of your blood sugar level

About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage, so it is important for people with diabetes to have regular tests to check their kidney function.

Monitor your blood pressure

Although many people may be aware that high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, few know that it is also the most common cause of kidney damage.

Eat healthy and keep your weight in check

This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with Chronic Kidney Disease.

Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (around a teaspoon). In order to reduce your salt intake, try and limit the amount of processed and restaurant food and do not add salt to food. It will be easier to control your intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients. For more information on nutrition and kidney friendly cooking, visit our nutrition page

Maintain a healthy fluid intake

Although clinical studies have not reached an agreement on the ideal quantity of water and other fluids we should consume daily to maintain good health, traditional wisdom has long suggested drinking 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day.

Do not smoke

Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it impairs their ability to function properly. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis

Common drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are known to cause kidney damage and disease if taken regularly.

Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the ‘high risk’ factors

  • you have diabetes
  • you have hypertension
  • you are obese
  • one of your parents or other family members suffers from kidney disease
  • you are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal origin

*Brigitte Leclercq’s visit to the Seychelles was made possible by The Ministry of Health and the dialysis centre in the Seychelles and a travel sponsorship from Eden Island, who also sponsored posters and dietary notes for all the patients.


A word from Claire Julsing-Strydom (ADSA’s President) on Sponsorships

“There has been a lot of conversation in the media and on social media channels, about ADSA’s sponsorship policy. This will probably be an ongoing conversation, but I would like to take this opportunity to share how we manage sponsorships.”

ADSA Sponsorships

I think it is important to talk about sponsorships for not-for-profit associations and am glad that consumers are asking important questions. I would like to give you a better understanding of how exactly sponsorship works for ADSA and also how it works when dietitians consult to food or pharmaceutical companies.

ADSA is an NGO and all the dietitians that work for ADSA do so on a voluntary basis and do not get paid for the work that they do to serve the dietetics profession and the public by informing them on nutrition related matters. Various companies sponsor ADSA and all the funds that we collect through sponsorship are pooled. This money is mostly used for administration costs associated with the day-to-day running of the association.  ADSA currently receives 34% of its funds from sponsors and the remaining 66% from the members.  Any nutrition-related content that is disseminated by ADSA is evidence based and ADSA is not allowed to endorse any food product.

We have previously been asked if we are influenced by ‘big food’, but because we follow a rigorous process when it comes to sponsorship, evidence-based information and never endorse product we can confidently say that we are not influenced by ‘big food’. Sponsors should never be allowed to dictate an organisation’s messaging and content, especially in the health sector where all information should be evidence based and ‘first do no harm’.

When it comes to dietitians in their capacity outside ADSA, they have to abide by certain ethical rules, practice evidence based nutrition therapy, provide full disclosures of conflicts of interest and are not allowed to endorse products. These are all part of the ethical rules compiled by the HPCSA.

Many people are asking ‘How does sponsorships affect a dietitian’s credibility?” If a dietitian is for example sponsored by the dairy association to do research on the milk intake in teenagers and their level of calcium then that dietitian should state that she was sponsored, but still follow the ethical rules of the profession and therefore produce factually correct information based on the results of the study and nothing more. Therefore a dietitian’s credibility will not be impacted by the latter considering that the ethical guidelines are always in place.

Current ADSA sponsors include:

Sea Harvest, EquiSweet, Kellogg’s, Pick n Pay, DSM, Woolworths, Nativa, Unilever, Parmalat, Pronutro, Health Connection

If you have any questions please send us a mail at info@adsa.org.za

ADSA Sponsorship Policy February 2015

All potential ADSA sponsors are to be evaluated to ensure that they are consistent with ADSA’s evidence-based approach to nutrition.

ADSA adheres to and enforces the following principles in its relationships with sponsors:

  1. Scientific Accuracy

All sponsor materials, presentations and information shared with members are internally reviewed for scientific accuracy, adherence with ADSA’s positions and policies and for appropriateness for ADSA members. This review is done by the ADSA Executive Committee Sponsorship Portfolio holder and by the ADSA President.

  1. Non-endorsement

ADSA does not endorse any brand, company product or service.

  1. Non-influence
  • ADSA’s programs, leadership, decisions, policies and positions are not influenced by sponsors.
  • ADSA’s procedures and formal agreements with external organizations are designed to prevent any undue corporate influence.

General Requirements for Acceptance of ADSA Sponsors:

  • Fit with ADSA strategic goals
  • Scientific accuracy
  • Conformance with ADSA positions, policies and philosophies
  • ADSA has editorial control of all content in materials bearing the ADSA name
  • Clear separation of ADSA messages and content from brand information or promotion
  • No endorsement by ADSA of any particular brand or company product
  • The inclusion of relevant facts and important information where their omission would present an unbalanced view of a controversial issue in which the sponsor has a stake

Disclaimer:

  • Sponsorship enables ADSA—as it does for most non-profit organizations and associations across the country —to build awareness of ADSA and our members, and to share science-based information and new research with our members. ADSA is not influenced by our corporate sponsors, nor does ADSA endorse any of the sponsors’ products or services.
  • ADSA communication and messages are based on evidence-based reviews of the latest and most authoritative science.
  • ADSA builds and maintains its reputation by scrupulous attention to facts, science and honesty. It is at the discretion of ADSA whether to take on a sponsor. ADSA reserves the right to remove a sponsor at any given time at the discretion at the ADSA Executive Committee
  • All communication sent out to ADSA members by sponsors must be evidence-based. The ADSA Executive Portfolio Holder and ADSA President review all communication sent out by sponsors to ADSA members.
  • ADSA reserves the right to ask for substantiation of any claims made by sponsors’ products. Any products that are unable to substantiate their nutrition or health claims will not be communicated
  • Any form of endorsement by ADSA is prohibited
  • Sponsors are not allowed to have the ADSA logo on their communication to the public or on any promotional material. Similarly, sponsors are prohibited from publicising that they are an ADSA sponsor on the said communication.
  • National sponsorship does not include interest group sponsorship and vice versa. The same criteria used to assess national sponsorship will be applied to interest group sponsorship

Healthy eating, healthy living in 2015!

Signing up for the gym, eating more tuna and drinking 9 cups of water per day are the seasonal New Year’s resolutions that sit on the top of South African lists. Not to say eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis are not top priorities, but going on a whim when it comes to your health based on what you see on TV and the internet will see those resolutions be pushed down the list as the year progresses.

This is because simply downloading a meal plan for a quick fix diet will not necessarily work for your body, since most of the time they are generalised templates. Seeking expert advice from a Registered Dietitian should replace your first New Year’s resolution on your healthy list and this is where the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) plays a vital role.

Consulting a Registered Dietitian (RD) will ensure that you get professional guidance as well as an analysis of what is best for your specific needs with regards to eating and gaining optimum health. “A Registered Dietitian is a trained professional in the nutrition field, providing expert advice and support to ensure you embody a balanced healthy lifestyle as a permanent one. It is essential for consumers to ask for a Registered Dietitian in order to receive nutrition info they can trust”, says Claire Julsing-Strydom, ADSA President.

A Registered Dietitian is:

  • A qualified health professional registered with the HPCSA
  • Has a minimum qualification of a four year scientific degree
  • Has been trained in all aspects and fields of nutrition therapy

Registered Dietitians are involved in many different fields and areas of expertise including: Private Practising Dietitians, Therapeutic Dietitians (who mainly work in a hospital setting), Community Dietitians (who work in the public sector) and Food Service Management (managing healthy and specialised diets in institutions).

Nutrition is a science and there isn’t one solution that fits everyone. Registered Dietitians are the recognised experts in the field of evidence-based nutrition and will develop personalised nutrition plans for each one of their clients to ensure that they are able to stick to the plan and reach their goals. “Consumers need to be aware that there are many unscientific health and nutrition gimmicks around, with new fad diets launching all the time”, concludes Julsing-Strydom.

To find a dietitian in your area, visit www.adsa.org.za


Launch of NutritionConfidence Recipes

We have partnered with award-winning chef, Vanessa Marx (from Dear Me), to develop the NutritionConfidence series of recipes.

The series, which launched in November, with three diabetic-friendly recipes, aims to showcase that delicious food can also be healthy, making it easier to eat the right food more often for a healthy body and mind.

“As part of our daily work we spend a lot of time looking at the scientific side of what we eat and how it affects our bodies, sometimes forgetting that eating food for most people is about so much more than just putting fuel in the body”, says Claire Julsing-Strydom, ADSA President. “In celebration of delicious food that inspires us to make our own meals and is also good for us, we created the NutritionConfidence recipes.”

Each recipe encourages local, close-to-home ingredients; offers alternative flavour tips; and highlights the ‘good-for-you’ hero ingredients. The three diabetic-friendly recipes include:

  • Veggie Burgers – made with butternut, sweet potato, lentils and almonds, wrapped in iceberg lettuce and served with guacamole and salsa
  • Rooibos, Pomegranate and Cinnamon Ice Tea – an everyday cold drink solution with all the flavour, but not all the sugar!
  • Orange & Almond Torte – made with eggs, xylitol, ground almonds, baking powder and orange zest this is a great sugar and wheat free torte that will be loved not only by diabetics.

“Being a diabetic and a chef, I’ve always looked at ways to create food that is fresh, innovative, delicious and on trend, but also caters for different lifestyles”, says Vanessa. With a focus on using fresh, local ingredients and working with spices and herbs to create flavours, Vanessa’s style is the perfect combination for the NutritionConfidence recipes.

ADSA will roll out NutritionConfidence recipes every month, so pop onto the website www.adsa.org.za to find recipes to suit every occasion with a focus on light meals in January, Valentine’s Day in February, the outdoors in March and chocolate in April.