Health Blog

Introduction to Protein

All cells and tissues contain protein. Therefore, proteins are important in the growth and repair of the body. Proteins are large molecules made up of chains of amino acids, which are our body’s building blocks used to make muscle, skin and various molecules that serve many important functions. However, not all amino acid can be made by the body and we need to obtain essential amino acid from our diet.

Consequences of low protein intake

Inadequate intake of protein is associated with increased risk of sarcopenia, an age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass and strength that result in decreased mobility and increased risk of injury. In addition, low intake of protein is associated with low immunity and greater risk of bone fractures.

How much protein do I need?

Based on the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) by Health Promotion Board (HPB), the daily protein requirement of normal healthy individuals in men and women aged 18 and above is 68g and 58g respectively. There is an extra requirement for pregnant and lactating women (first 6 months) – an additional 9g and 25g of protein respectively.

Do you know?

The most abundant compound in the body is water, followed by protein.

Reference: Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J., Corfe, B., Green, M., Watson, A., Williams, E., Stevenson, E., Penson, S. and Johnstone, A., 2018. Protein for life: Review of optimal protein intake, sustainable dietary sources and the effect on appetite in ageing adults. Nutrients, 10(3), p.360.

Carbohydrate and Added Sugars

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Carbohydrates are widely known to provide energy for the body. Our body breaks down the carbohydrate into glucose, which powers everything we do. Carbohydrates are subdivided into several categories – sugars, starches and fibre.

Sugars

Sugars are found naturally in food like fruits and milk products. Sugars are added during food processing to improve shelf life and taste of food and they are referred to as added sugars. It is not a secret that high consumption of sugars, especially added sugars, are bad for health and can lead to obesity and diabetes. In addition, added sugars are empty calories – it provides zero nutritional value but increases calorie intake. Excess calories will be stored as fat.

Added Sugars

Based on the Health Promotion Board, it is recommended to take no more than 8 to 11 teaspoons (40 to 55g) of added sugar a day. However, Singaporeans are consuming 60g of added sugar daily – according to the National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2018. One could start reducing their sugar intake by asking for less sugar (siu dai) in kopi or teh, or choose drinks with Health Promotion Board “Lower in Sugar” Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS).

Do you know?

All drink stalls in Food Canopy offer “Lower in Sugar” HCS drinks.

 

Reference: Erickson, J. and Slavin, J. (2015). Total, Added, and Free Sugars: Are Restrictive Guidelines Science-Based or Achievable?. [online] NCBI. Available at: http://Total, Added, and Free Sugars: Are Restrictive Guidelines Science-Based or Achievable? [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].

Introduction to Calories

Like all living organisms, the human body needs fuel to function and the fuel is coined as calories. Many may wonder: What exactly are calories? A calorie is a unit of energy. From a nutrition perspective, sources of calories come from all types of food – carbohydrates, proteins, fats and sugar – and they are important fuels for the body to perform tasks like breathing.

How many calories does my body need?

On average, the recommended daily calorie intake for an adult man is 2,200 calories while an adult woman needs about 1,800 calories. Active people would require more calories than a person that lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Calories and weight loss

Counting calories is one way to monitor weight loss. Excessive calorie intake is stored as fat in the body while cutting down calories can help people to lose weight. However, if our calorie consumption is too low or too high, there may be health complications in the long run. Although counting and cutting calories can be a practical approach to weight loss, it is important to have a well-balanced diet to stay healthy.

Do you know?

Food sold in Food Canopy is labelled with their respective calorie count.

 

Reference: Healthhub.sg. (2019). An Introduction To Calories. [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/69/intro-to-calories.