Concerned about Food Additives & Food Safety? You Should Read This!

WORDS TI MEI JUN & DR NURUL HUDA RAZALLI

FEATURED EXPERTS

TI MEI JUN
Student of Master Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
DR NURUL HUDA RAZALLI
Senior Lecturer
Dietetic Programme
Centre for Healthy Ageing and Wellness (H-CARE)
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

More than 200 diseases, ranging from cancer to diarrhoea, are brought on by contaminated food that contains dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical.

Malaysia had an incidence of 60 cases of food and water borne disease per 100,000 people, with 56% being food poisoning.

Hence, food safety is crucial to ensure that food, when prepared or consumed in accordance with its intended usage, would not harm consumers.

4 FACTS THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FOOD ADDITIVES
  1. According to Codex Alimentarius Commission—also known as the ‘Food Code’ published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization—any substance that is not typically used as an ingredient in food or consumed as food on its own is considered a food additives, regardless of its nutritional value.
  2. Food additives are added to processed foods to serve several functions, most prominently the prevention of food spoilage, improvements in flavour or texture and other desired qualities, and the provision of certain colours and flavours.
  3. Food additives are applied in the production and processing of almost all food types.
  4. Only specific foods may have food additives added to them, and only to the extent allowed by the Food Regulations of 1985.
EXAMPLES OF COMMON FOOD ADDITIVES
Soybean To maintain food consistency
Beet A colouring agent
Tartazine A colouring agent
Aspartame An artificial sweetener
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) A flavour enhancer
Lecithin Thickening and stabilizing agent
Guar gum Thickening and stabilizing agent
Benzoic acid A preservative
Sorbic acid A preservative
5 TIPS FOR CONSUMERS TO REDUCE EXPOSURE TO HARMFUL ADDITIVES
  1. People with allergies or sensitivity to certain food ingredients should closely read labels when shopping for processed foods.
  2. Buy fresh and whole food to minimize exposure of food additives and contaminants.
  3. Proper storage and handling of food materials are crucial to prevent contamination. Wash and peel foods, such as apples and eggs, to remove dirt and pesticides.
  4. Purchase food from stalls that demonstrate good hygiene practices, such as covering and properly packaging their food.
  5. Buy food that is prepared fresh upon ordering, rather than food that was cooked earlier and not maintained at the appropriate temperature.

References:

  1.  Halim, N. R. A., Mutalib, S. A., Ghani, M. A., & Hashim, H. (2024). Food safety regulations implementation and their impact on food security level in Malaysia: A review. International food research journal, 31(1), 20-31. https://doi.org/10.47836/ifrj.31.1.02
  2. Laganà, P., Avventuroso, E., Romano, G., Gioffré, M. E., Patanè, P., Parisi, S., Moscato, U., & Delia, S. (2017). The Codex Alimentarius and the European legislation on food additives. In P. Laganà, E. Avventuroso, G. Romano, M. E. Gioffré, P. Patanè, S. Parisi, U. Moscato, & S. Delia (Eds.), Chemistry and hygiene of food additives (pp. 23-32). Springer International Publishing.
  3. Lalani, A., Pouyani, N., Askari, A., Tavajohi, S., Akbari, S., & Jafarzadeh, E. (2024). Food additives, benefits, and side effects: A review article. Journal of chemical health risks, 1(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.22034/jchr.2023.1967340.1619
  4. Liang, X. (2023). Impact of food additives in ultra-processed food on human health. Theoretical and natural science, 6, 437-444. http://dx.doi.org/10.54254/2753-8818/6/20230321
  5. Ukwo, S., Udo, I., & Ndaeyo, N. (2022). Food additives: Overview of related safety concerns. Food science & nutrition research, 5(1), 1-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.33425/2641-4295.1052

Let’s Talk about HPV with a Doctor

WORDS DR RAHIMAH RAHIM

FEATURED EXPERT
DR RAHIMAH RAHIM
Medical Doctor
Klinik Amaya
Question 1
WHAT IS HPV?

The human papilloma virus or HPV is a very common virus transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual activity.

Most HPV infections do not cause any symptoms and can clear up on their own.

However, some strains can lead to serious health issues like genital warts and cancers, particularly cervical cancer.

The risk of HPV infection increases with certain behaviors such as having multiple sexual partners, engaging in unprotected sex, and smoking.


How HPV infects human cells. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.


Question 2
IF HPV INFECTION CAN SHOW NO SYMPTOMS, WHAT CAN WE DO TO FIND OUT WHETHER WE HAVE BEEN INFECTED?

Screening for HPV is vital because it helps detect abnormal cell changes early, before they have the chance to progress into cancer.

Cervical screening, which includes HPV testing, is essential for identifying high-risk HPV strains.

High-risk HPV strains can lead to abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which, if left untreated, may progress to cancer. Hence, early detection through HPV testing allows for close monitoring and timely intervention, preventing the development of cervical cancer. This proactive approach is essential in maintaining women’s health and well-being.

Question 3
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE HPV VACCINE?

The HPV vaccine is the most effective way to prevent HPV infections and the associated cancers.

It is safe, effective, and recommended for both males and females starting at age 9.

The vaccine is administered as a series of shots and provides protection against several high-risk HPV strains.

Vaccination, combined with safe sex practices, using condoms or dental dams, and limiting the number of sexual partners, greatly reduces the risk of HPV transmission.

Question 4
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH HPV?

Healthcare providers can offer comprehensive guidance on screening, diagnosis, and treatment options for those affected by HPV infections.

This includes regular monitoring for abnormal cell changes, treatment for genital warts, and appropriate interventions for any pre-cancerous conditions.

Digital health solutions can be leveraged to enhance our approach in managing HPV. These solutions facilitate seamless patient-doctor interactions, enabling us to schedule and conduct HPV screenings efficiently. Patients can conveniently access consultations and receive timely reminders for screenings, which are crucial for early detection. This technology not only streamlines our workflow but also empowers patients to take proactive steps in their healthcare journey.

For further information, individuals can consult with healthcare professionals. Our goal is to provide comprehensive care and support to those affected by or at risk of HPV.

 

Men, Don’t Ignore This: A Consultant Endocrinologist’s Diabetes Advice That Could Improve Your Quality of Life

WORDS DR RADHAMANI RAJAKUMAR

FEATURED EXPERT
DR RADHAMANI RAJAKUMAR
Consultant Internal Medicine Physician and Endocrinologist
Columbia Asia Hospital – Bukit Rimau
Sobering Fact 1
MEN FACE NEARLY DOUBLE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING TYPE 2 DIABETES COMPARED TO WOMEN

Globally, an estimated 17.7 million more men than women grapple with diabetes mellitus.

This disparity extends to urological complications, with both genders equally susceptible once diabetes sets in. Over half of individuals with type 2 diabetes, regardless of gender, will experience urological complications.

Sobering Fact 2
UROLOGICAL DISEASES MARKEDLY INCREASED IN PREVALENCE WITH ADVANCING AGE & DURATION OF DIABETES

This marked increase is seen with advancing age of 50 years old and above and of diabetes duration of more than 10 years.

YOU MAY HAVE DIABETES & SHOULD CONSULT A DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE:

  • Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS, see below)
  • Erectile dysfunction and reduced libido
  • Fever and painful urination suggestive of urinary tract infection
  • Genital thrush (see below)
  • Overactive bladder (frequent urination, frequent nighttime urination, urine leakage, or incontinence)
Sobering Fact 3
MORE THAN 50% OF MEN WITH DIABETES EXPERIENCE BLADDER DYSFUNCTION

They develop lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) such as urinary urgency, frequency, nocturia (waking up at night to urinate), and incontinence due to diminished bladder sensation and/or poor contractility.

They are also at higher risk of developing bladder infections, called cystitis, and bladder cancer.

In men, lower urinary tract symptoms are common age-related complaints that are often attributed to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), especially after the age of 50.

Why do these men develop lower urinary tract symptoms?

The effect of diabetes on the development or presence of lower urinary tract symptoms and benign prostatic hyperplasia remains controversial.

Some studies suggested that diabetes increases prostate size consistent with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Other studies reported conflicting results that diabetes increases the risk of lower urinary tract symptoms due to bladder dysfunction rather than an increase in prostate volume.

Sobering Fact 4
35% TO 45% OF MEN WITH DIABETES EXPERIENCE ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

The prevalence of erectile dysfunction is 3 times more common compared to men without type 2 diabetes.

However, the treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. It’s important to discuss the problem with your doctor. Often the answers to a few simple questions will help to determine if the problem is physical or psychological.

Sobering Fact 5
MEN WITH DIABETES COMMONLY EXPERIENCE ERECTILE URINARY TRACT INFECTION

Urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra, ureters, or kidneys.

It typically involves bacteria entering the urinary system, leading to symptoms such as frequent and painful urination, cloudy or bloody urine, and strong-smelling urine.

Sobering Fact 6
MEN WITH DIABETES CAN DEVELOP REPEATED CASES OF GENITAL THRUSH

Genital thrush is a fungal yeast infection linked to excess sugar in the blood getting passed in the urine.

Because yeast thrives on sugar, it is more likely to grow on the penis of a man with diabetes.

YOU MAY HAVE GENITAL THRUSH & SHOULD CONSULT A DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE:

  • Redness, swelling, and itching around the head of the penis
  • Your penis has an unpleasant odour
  • A white, lumpy appearance to the skin of the penis
  • Soreness and discomfort during sexual activity
Sobering Fact 7
UROLOGICAL COMPLICATIONS, IN PARTICULAR SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, CAN LEAD TO PSYCHOSOCIAL DISORDERS AND RELATIONSHIP DISHARMONY

While these complications are generally not life-threatening, they pose significant mental distress and limitations in daily functioning, thus decreasing one’s quality of life.

Furthermore, men living with type 2 diabetes may experience stress, anxiety, or depression related to the daily demands of diabetes management, fear of complications, or concerns about the future.

These emotional struggles can affect mood, behaviour, and interpersonal interactions.

Sobering Fact 8
HEALTH SCREENINGS ARE KEY TO MANAGING DIABETES

Health screenings provide valuable insights and early detection of potential complications.

By undergoing regular health screenings, diabetic men can also actively manage their condition, prevent complications, and improve their overall quality of life by addressing potential health issues early and effectively.

BEST APPROACHES FOR DIABETES MANAGEMENT

  • Adhere to and monitor your medications
  • Keep up with medical appointments and health check-ups
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Perform regular physical activity
  • Manage stress and seek mental health support
  • Aim for sufficient sleep duration
  • Limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking

Two Experts Explain Why Coaching in Palliative Care Is Necessary for the Wellbeing of Our Population

WORDS DR JESRINA ANN XAVIER & DR LIEW KEAN YEW

FEATURED EXPERTS

DR JESRINA ANN XAVIER
Senior Lecturer
School of Management & Marketing
Faculty of Business & Law
Taylor’s University
DR LIEW KEAN YEW
Palliative Care Specialist
Hospital Ampang
INTRODUCING PALLIATIVE CARE
  • Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with serious illnesses.
  • It aims to improve the quality of life for patients and their families associated with life-threatening illnesses.
  • Palliative care services were first offered in Malaysia in 1995, and they are gradually being included in the standard healthcare system.
RISING NEED OF PALLIATIVE CARE
  • The need for palliative care is on an upward trend all over the world due to the ageing population and the rising burden of chronic diseases.
  • In Malaysia, the proportion of palliative care needs to deaths hovered at 71% in the observed years. By 2030, it is observed that the growth for palliative care specifically will increase to 240%.
  • Sarawak, Perak, Johor, Selangor, and Kedah will become the top five Malaysian states with the highest needs in 2030.
COACHING IN PALLIATIVE CARE
  • Coaching in palliative care refers to the practice of providing support, guidance, and education to individuals facing terminal or life-threatening illnesses, as well as their families and caregivers.
  • It aims to improve quality of life by early detection and treatment of pain and symptoms.
  • It also enables patients and their families to take an active role in choosing how they will be treated, reclaiming a sense of control over their lives.
THE BENEFITS OF COACHING IN PALLIATIVE CARE
Improved Communication and Expression Skills
  • Anthony Grant, a revered psychologist, informs that coaching can be considered an emerging cross-disciplinary occupation, with the main goals being to improve performance, enhance well-being, and support organizational and individual change.
  • Palliative care coaching adopts a comprehensive strategy, acknowledging that every person’s experience with illness is distinct and multifaceted.
  • Coaching helps individuals develop their communication skills and express their needs, preferences, and concerns more effectively.
  • It can lead to increased satisfaction in care outcomes.
Assists in Enhancing Patient Wellbeing 

Through a coping mechanism, palliative care coaching assists patients and their families through goal setting, problem-solving, and symptom management.

Empowers Patients and Their Loved Ones to Make Informed Decisions
  • Making decisions about treatment options, advance care planning, and end-of-life care is rather challenging when undergoing treatments.
  • By providing information, the clarification of options, and assistance in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of various possibilities, coaching makes it easier for patients to advocate for their rights and choices.
Providing Patient-Centered Care
  • Coaches can deliver patient-centered care that respects people’s cultural backgrounds, attitudes, and beliefs.
  • Palliative care coaching helps patients, families, and healthcare professionals coordinate and collaborate, which promotes continuity of treatment to achieve shared objectives.