Reimagining Your Retirement with Entrepreneurship in Your Golden Years


Deputy Director
Active Ageing Impact Lab
Taylor’s University.

The word “retirement” conjures images of endless days of relaxation, hobbies pursued at leisure, and perhaps occasional travel. However, this traditional view of retirement is rapidly evolving.


Today, retirement is increasingly perceived not as an end but as a beginning—a phase of life during which individuals can leverage their decades of experience, skills honed over a lifetime, and a wealth of knowledge to contribute to society in meaningful ways.

The appeal of entrepreneurship has never been greater to individuals, attracting those who desire greater autonomy, choices, and possibilities for unlimited growth in their golden years.


The reasons for this shift are manifold.

Longer lifespan. For one, a longer lifespan has prompted individuals to redefine retirement. With the accumulated resources, such as financial savings and extensive professional networks, individuals might want to expand their activities to include continued work in some capacity, engaging in lifelong learning, pursuing new hobbies, or even starting new businesses after retirement.

Greater access to digital media. Additionally, the advent of the digital era has made access to information, resources, and networks easier than ever for individuals to start businesses from the comfort of their homes.

New goals. Individuals are encouraged to remain engaged, mentally alert, and physically active during their retirement years. Launching a business can offer a renewed sense of purpose, providing a compelling reason to greet each morning with enthusiasm and a goal to work towards. It embodies the pursuit of continued growth, learning, and self-challenge.

Leaving a legacy. In certain cases, embarking on entrepreneurship in later life serves as a powerful means to impart wisdom to the younger generations. This exchange across ages not only narrows the divide between the young and the elderly but also cultivates a culture of ongoing learning and cooperation. Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit in one’s retirement years not only enhances personal fulfilment but also benefits the economy and society at large through job creation, innovation stimulation, and economic growth.


Before deciding to jump into a business and get caught up in the excitement, it’s crucial to adopt a sober view of potential problems. You first must ask some questions early that might mitigate or prevent potential problems and avoid unnecessary grief.

Here are some practical questions designed to help you determine if starting a business during your golden years is the right decision for you:

  1. Do I have the skills and strengths required to start and manage a new business, or is it primarily seen as a hobby? How does this interest align with the practical aspects of running a business?
  2. Am I financially stable enough to start a business without jeopardizing my retirement savings? What funding options do I have in place?
  3. Do I have the physical and mental stamina required to start and manage a new business? How might this impact my health and lifestyle?
  4. How comfortable am I with taking risks at this stage in my life? Am I prepared for the possibility of failure
  5. Am I looking to build something that leaves a legacy, or am I interested in a venture that meets immediate goals? Who can provide advice and assistance?
  6. How can I leverage my professional and personal connections for support and growth opportunities? Who can be my mentor in the entrepreneurial journey?
  7. Is there a real demand for the product or service I plan to offer? How saturated is the market?
  8. Are there any cost-effective business models that can lower the business risk? How can these models significantly reduce financial exposure and operational risks?
  9. What is my exit strategy if the business doesn’t go as planned? How will this impact my future and finances?
  10. What are the legal implications of my business structure (for example: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation), and how does it affect my liability and tax obligations? How do I ensure that my business practices comply with stated laws?

As you approach your golden years, it is you that will make the crucial decisions about whether to have a phase of relaxation or a stage for active participation, personal fulfilment, and societal contribution. Starting a business will not only transform your life but also enrich society, showcasing the untapped potential of your later years.

MADSA Calls for More Efforts to Safeguard Dietary Supplements in Malaysia


Malaysian Dietary Supplement Association (MADSA)

Since the onset of COVID-19, Malaysians have been taking extra care of their health.

In fact, there has been a steady demand for dietary supplements propelled by this new collective awareness towards our overall wellbeing.

However, recent price hikes have raised the average living costs in Malaysia. For some, they may have to cut back on added expenses, which includes dietary supplements.

This situation opens doors for devious, illegal activities to take place within the market, especially through e-commerce websites where counterfeit supplements are sold at absurdly low prices.

For instance, a single joint support supplement may cost RM120 to RM180 at pharmacies, but some unscrupulous sellers offer the same product for only RM38.

Additionally, certain platforms and sellers may take advantage of unassuming consumers by offering attractive discounts and vouchers, further expanding this perpetual market of deceit in terms of people’s health and wellbeing.


The allure of a good bargain can be extremely compelling, especially when one only needs to pay a fraction of the original price. However, the consequences of purchasing from unverified vendors or websites can be severe.


A multitude of these sellers often operate without the necessary quality control measures.

Without proper scrutiny, these unscrupulous vendors can easily pass off fake supplements as genuine, putting consumers at risk of ingesting unknown and possibly harmful substances.

These products also may not follow proper standards of procedures, leading to higher chances of improper handling and contamination.

Effects on the Local Supplement Market

In addition to the health risks, these unverified sources also undermine the integrity of Malaysia’s legitimate nutritional supplements market, which is valued at USD $644.88 million in 2023.

Certified brands are finding it increasingly harder to earn customers’ trust who have been victims to disingenuous sellers.


In spite of these malicious activities, Malaysia upholds strict laws and regulations to govern the manufacturing and labelling of dietary supplements.

This includes mandatory registration of documented evidence and stringent timelines for health supplements. While some counterfeit products may slip through the cracks, the Ministry of Health, via the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), has laid out various safeguarding measures to help consumers identify the legitimacy of a product.

The Ministry of Health has also mandated that all certified health supplements must be marked with the holographic sticker called the FarmaTag, which is extremely hard for counterfeit producers to replicate. The sticker also includes an MOH-issued QR Code, a gradient design, and holographic serial and pin numbers.

Additionally, the Health Ministry has released a mobile app called FarmaChecker to help consumers confirm a product’s certification status online by scanning its QR code or typing in its serial number.

At the same time, the NPRA continues to ensure the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements, mandating safety data for supplements with new or innovative ingredients. Similarly, the Malaysian Dietary Supplement Association (MADSA) has also worked hand-in-hand with the government to promote and increase awareness of health supplements and its benefits to all Malaysians.

With the collective effort by both the government and consumers alike, we can work towards a future where all our nutritional supplements are safeguarded from the unethical practices of counterfeit producers.

By being mindful of the sources of our purchases, especially when the products involve our health and wellbeing, we can nurture a safe and healthy supplements market in Malaysia.

After all, bargaining our health for cheaper costs will never be worth the price.


MADSA advises Malaysian consumers to always make sure that online supplements have been registered by the NPRA.

Check if the product has an MAL number, which verifies that it has been approved by the NPRA.

If the product that’s delivered doesn’t have such identification, return and request for a refund and report this matter to the Ministry of Health.

Ministry of Health and Local Experts Rally to Call Malaysians to “Check, Confirm, Consult and Change”


On 24 April 2024, YB Dato’ Lukanisman Awang Sauni, the Deputy Minister of Health Malaysia, launched the public health promotion campaign, Stand Against Prediabetes; Don’t Sugarcoat It (SAPd), in Putrajaya.


Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Nonetheless, this higher-than-normal blood sugar levels will put one at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in the future, if preventive measures are not taken to control their blood sugar levels.

  • HbA1c 5.7%-6.2% (39 to 44 mmol/mol).
  • Fasting plasma glucose of 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test shows that your blood glucose levels are 7.8 to 11.0 mmol/L.
  1. An estimated 3.5 million Malaysians may have prediabetes.
  2. Because prediabetes has no symptoms, many may not be aware that they have it unless they go for a medical check-up.
  3. 1 in 10 people with prediabetes are likely to develop full-blown diabetes within a year, while up to 7 out of these 10 people may face the same outcome in 10 years.
  4. These individuals are already at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and chronic kidney disease even before diabetes sets in!
President of the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS)

Dr Nurain Mohd Noor said during the launch: “MEMS initiated SAPd and invited the collaboration of seven other medical and allied health societies, as well as the involvement of Ministry of Health Malaysia.”

These societies include Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES), Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA), Malaysian Family Medicine Specialists’ Association (FMSA), Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS), National Heart Association Malaysia (NHAM), and The Chapter of Chemical Pathology & Metabolic Medicine, College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia (CPath AMM).

The SAPd programme is supported by Merck Malaysia.

Dr Nurain further remarked that SAPd managed to attain several important achievements over the last 2 years:

  • Successfully promoted the adoption of standardized prediabetes blood glucose test values in over 200 private chain, independent and hospital laboratories, as well as over 2,000 government clinics and 100 government hospitals.
  • Trained more than 2,000 healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dietitians to enhance their effectiveness in the management of prediabetes.
  • Published a clinical guide for the reference of healthcare professionals, as well an educational website, booklet, and pamphlet for the public.

Consultant Endocrinologist and Chairperson of the SAPd Programme

Professor Emerita Dr Chan Siew Pheng provided further elaboration into the key message of campaign: the 4Cs or Check, Confirm, Consult, and Change.

CHECK Your Prediabetes Risk

  1. Take the online risk checker at the SAPd website (link opens in a new tab).
  2. If the results show that you are at risk, ask for a simple finger prick blood glucose test at your community pharmacy, private GP clinic, or government health clinic.

SAPd aids to enlist 700 community pharmacies nationwide to provide complimentary finger prick blood glucose tests by mid-May of this year.

CONFIRM the Presence of Prediabetes

If your finger prick blood glucose test results show a higher-than-normal blood glucose level, you will need to get a proper blood test from a laboratory, clinic or hospital.

CONSULT Your Healthcare Professional

The guidance and support of a healthcare professional is important to determine the best approach for you to manage prediabetes with lifestyle intervention and medication, if required.

By attending follow-up visits, your healthcare professional will be able to monitor your progress and keep motivating you to achieve the results you desire.

CHANGE to Reclaim Your Health

The five pillars of prediabetes management are:

  1. Lose excess body weight and maintain healthy weight.
  2. Increase physical activity and exercise.
  3. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits (getting enough good quality sleep, managing stress, and quitting smoking, vaping, alcohol and other substance abuse).
  4. Take your medications as prescribed.
  5. Team up with healthcare professionals.
Visit the SAPd website for more information and free educational downloads (link opens in a new tab). The website is available in English and Bahasa Melayu.

The Importance of Making Sustainable Parenting Choices


Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Earth & Me

Malaysia’s landfills are filling to capacity, putting the country in danger of running out of space for the disposal of solid waste by 2050.

In fact, about 38,000 metric tonnes of solid waste on average are sent to more than 100 landfills in Malaysia daily. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are about 2,500 metric tonnes of solid waste produced daily, which could pile up to the height of the Petronas Twin Towers in only one week!

This amount of waste is set to continue increasing in tandem with population growth.

Most babies using up at least 7,000 diapers in the first two and a half years alone.

How does this affect parenting, and how do we navigate trying to steer away from this for both the current and future generations?


In the realm of parenting, particularly with baby products, there’s a notable trend towards single-use or disposable items.

These products, though convenient, often contribute significantly to environmental degradation.

Take traditional diapers, for instance, which are predominantly composed of plastic materials. The sheer volume of disposable diapers being discarded annually staggering, with a global average of 300,000 disposable nappies sent to landfill or incinerated every minute. Their decomposition process can take hundreds of years, exacerbating landfill overflow and pollution issues.

To address this environmental concern, it’s crucial for parents to consider alternative options that are not only safe and nontoxic for their little ones but also eco-friendly.

Making a conscious switch to products that are multifunctional, reusable, biodegradable, or a combination of these attributes can significantly reduce waste generation.

By conducting a bit of research and exploring sustainable alternatives, parents can play a pivotal role in minimizing their family’s ecological footprint and fostering a greener future for their children.


Celebrating your child’s milestones is a joy, but it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact. Many traditional practices contribute to waste and pollution, but there are eco-friendly alternatives.

For example, zero-waste celebrations are gaining popularity, with parents opting for reusable decorations and tableware instead of disposable items.

Second-hand gifts and hand-me-down outfits are also becoming more common, reducing waste and adding sentimental value to celebrations.

Another idea could be simply borrowing resources from friends or participating in swaps, which would minimize waste while creating memorable experiences for children.

Through making these mindful choices, parents can still mark special occasions, just in a more sustainable way.


As your child grows up, instilling eco-conscious habits also becomes increasingly important.

You can encourage them to take part in activities that promote environmental awareness, such as sorting trash into different categories like plastic, paper, and kitchen waste.

Potentially, these lessons can be turned into a game or a fun family activity, perhaps by organizing a beach clean-up day where you collect and dispose of rubbish together.

In addition, introduce your child to the concept of the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This lays the groundwork for a sustainable mindset. Teach them the importance of reducing consumption, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling materials to give them a second life.

Once these principles are a part of everyday life, you have essentially empowered your child to become a responsible steward of the environment.


Granted, the journey towards sustainable parenting presents its challenges, but every small step taken today contributes to a brighter future. We must continue to make conscientious choices in our daily lives, such as reducing waste, conserving resources, and prioritizing environmentally friendly products, so that together, our collective actions can lead to a healthier planet and a better quality of life for all.

Cultivating Better Immunity: Nutrition Strategies for Children Under Five



Master’s Student in Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

The role of nutrition in the first phase of a child’s life, especially in the first thousand days, is huge and influences the immune response system and later health.


Nutrition during the first 1000 days, including the intrauterine period, is crucial for a child’s development, affecting the gut microbiota composition and immune system.

The immune system receives benefits from dietary omega-3 long-chain fatty acids, prebiotics, and micronutrients.

There is an intricate relationship among diet, microbiome, and epigenetic elements influencing this interaction. Numerous non-communicable diseases (NCDs) linked with dysbiosis begin their ‘programming’ in childhood.

Nutrition also plays a significant role in shaping the composition and development of children’s microbiota, thus exerting a powerful influence on the development of NCDs.


In the first 2 years of a child’s life, breastfeeding plays a crucial role in providing essential nutrients and immune support for infants.

Breast milk offers a unique blend of antibodies and nutrients that help strengthen a baby’s immune system and overall health. Introducing a variety of nutrient-rich foods after breastfeeding can further enhance a child’s immune health.

Diversify Nutrient Intake

Enhance your child’s immune system by incorporating a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into their diet. These foods provide essential nutrients crucial for building strength and immunity.

Citrus Fruits for Immune Support

Include vitamin C-rich citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons in your child’s diet. These fruits act as natural immune boosters, safeguarding your child’s health.

Promote Gut Health with Probiotics

Opt for probiotic-rich yoghurt to support a healthy gut environment, which plays a significant role in overall immunity. A balanced gut ensures a robust defense system against illnesses.

Harness the Power of Antioxidants

Incorporate antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries and strawberries into your child’s meals to enhance their immunity. These berries provide a powerful boost to your child’s health and immune function.

Essential Vitamins from Leafy Greens

Ensure your child consumes leafy greens such as spinach and kale to benefit from vitamins A, C, and E, which are essential for strengthening the immune system.

Prioritize Hydration

Encourage your child to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and natural fruit juices. Proper hydration helps flush out toxins from the body, supporting overall health and immunity.

Healthy Swaps for Immunity

Replace sugary treats with wholesome options like fresh fruits and natural sweeteners to boost immunity in a healthier way.


  1. Cunha, A. J. L. A., Leite, Á. J. M., & Almeida, I. S. D. (2015). The pediatrician’s role in the first thousand days of the child: The pursuit of healthy nutrition and development. Jornal de Pediatria, 91, S44-S51.
  2. Kong, X., Zhuang, L., Wang, M., Zhang, S., Peng, J., & Feng, Z. (2020). Effect of bovine lactoferrin supplementation on intestinal inflammatory factor expression in premature rats model of necrotizing enterocolitis. Chinese journal of applied clinical pediatrics, 35(2), 151-155.
  3. Fragkou, P. C., Karaviti, D., Zemlin, M., & Skevaki, C. (2021). Impact of early life nutrition on children’s immune system and noncommunicable diseases through its effects on the bacterial microbiome, virome and mycobiome. Frontiers in immunology, 12, Article 644269.
  4. Camacho-Morales, A., Caba, M., García-Juárez, M., Caba-Flores, M. D., Viveros-Contreras, R., & Martínez-Valenzuela, C. (2021). Breastfeeding contributes to physiological immune programming in the newborn. Frontiers in pediatrics, 9, Article 744104.
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  8. Tomovska, J., & Vllasaku, I. (2021). Review of antioxidants in fruit berries and its impact in immune system. Asian journal of plant and soil sciences, 6(1), 136-147.
  9. Faber, M., Phungula, M. A., Venter, S. L., Dhansay, M. A., & Benadé, A. S. (2002). Home gardens focusing on the production of yellow and dark-green leafy vegetables increase the serum retinol concentrations of 2–5-y-old children in South Africa. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(5), 1048-1054.
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  11. Arshad, S., Rehman, T., Saif, S., Rajoka, M. S. R., Ranjha, M. M. A. N., Hassoun, A., Cropotova, J., Trif, M., Younas, A., & Aadil, R. M. (2022). Replacement of refined sugar by natural sweeteners: Focus on potential health benefits. Heliyon, 8(9), e10711.

5 Useful Tips for Employers to Support their Employees’ Efforts to Fast Safely and Healthily This Ramadan


Medical Director, Singapore & Malaysia Assistance Centres
International SOS

As we enter the fasting month today, Dr Chan Yanjun has some valuable tips to share with those that will be embarking on their fast.

“During the holy month of Ramadan, while many find it a time for spiritual reflection and growth, it is important to acknowledge that the changes in routine and physical demands of fasting can impact on employees’ mental and physical wellbeing,” she says.

Tip 1

Encourage open communication by having a clear and inclusive policy on religious observance in the workplace. This demonstrates respect for employees’ personal beliefs and allows them to comfortable discuss their needs during Ramadan.

Tip 2

Remind employees to stagger their hydration during non-fasting hours and to consume nutrient-rich meals during Sahur and Iftar.

Rehydration should be a cumulative process. The best way to rehydrate fasting bodies and maintain this hydration for longer is to pace one’s liquid intake by consuming at least two litres of water—one or two glasses at a time— between Iftar and Imsak.

Quality sleep is also vital for maintaining energy levels, mental clarity, and focus, all crucial for workplace performance.

Tip 3

Consider offering flexible working arrangements, such as adjusted start and finish times to accommodate individual needs.

Additionally, be understanding if employees require more breaks or need to adjust their break timings for prayers.

Tip 4

These resources can include recommended dietary guidelines or tips for maintaining energy levels while fasting. The provision of these resources will empower employees to make informed choices during this important time.

Tip 5

Encourage employees to utilise mental health resources offered by the organization, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), or provide information about external resources for stress management and emotional support.

Strengthen Your Defence Against Illnesses with a Hidden Ally



Master’s Student in Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Dietetic Program
Centre for Healthy Aging and Wellness
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

When we feel a scratchy throat or struggle to breathe, our first thought is usually hospitals. But what if I told
you there’s a simple remedy in your kitchen?

Let’s explore how the anti-inflammatory diet can actually boost our immune system, especially when it comes to respiratory health.


Our body’s immune system is like a superhero that fights off infections and heals injuries, and inflammation is its natural power.

But here’s the twist: if not kept in check, inflammation can turn into a villain that causes chronic diseases. Hence, the foods we consume can either be a superhero sidekick or a troublemaker!

A pro-inflammatory diet influences our immune system’s balance in bad way, increasing the inflammation in our body.

Such a diet, measured by the Adapted Dietary Inflammatory Index (ADII), is associated with systemic inflammation and reduced kidney function in older adults. Chronic low-grade inflammation is believed to be one possible pathway linking this dietary pattern to kidney dysfunction.


  • Red and processed meats
  • Refined sugars
  • Fried foods
  • Margarine or shortening
  • Alcohol
  • Sodas

Researchers found that a higher ADII is related to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, and lower estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR), an indicator of kidney function.

Hence, a proinflammatory diet can lead to both systemic inflammation and reduced kidney function.


Generally, an anti-inflammatory diet should include sources of low-fat protein, colourful no- starchy carbohydrates, healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids, and foods rich in polyphenols.

An anti-inflammatory diet keeps insulin levels stable and cuts down on omega 6-fatty acids, which is crucial for beating silent inflammation.

Found in vibrant non-starchy veggies and fruits, polyphenols included in this diet put the brakes on inflammation by targeting a key player called nuclear factor (NF-κB). These polyphenols activate AMP kinase, a central switch controlling metabolism, including blood sugar levels.

The anti-inflammatory diet goes the extra mile by reducing chronic inflammation at the cellular level and tweaking gene expression. The result is lower risk of chronic diseases like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

Lean sources of proteins Chicken, fish, or protein-rich vegetarian sources like tofu
or legumes.
Consume approximately the size and thickness of the palm of your
Colourful carbohydrates Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots, bell peppers; fruits like guava and dragon fruits. Fill two-thirds of your plate with
non-starchy vegetables and
substantial amounts of fruits
These foods will help maintain a
low glycemic load and provide adequate levels of polyphenols.
Healthy fats Vegetable oils. Use in cooking or drizzle over salads and vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Avoid deep frying; omega-3 fatty acids will be lost if you do this.


  1. Bikman, B. (2020). Why we get sick: The hidden epidemic at the root of most chronic disease–and how to fight it. BenBella Books.
  2. Eleazu C. O. (2016). The concept of low glycemic index and glycemic load foods as panacea for type 2 diabetes mellitus; prospects, challenges and solutions. African health sciences, 16(2), 468–479.
  3. Estruch R. (2010). Anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet: The experience of the PREDIMED study. The proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69(3), 333–340.
  4. Galland L. (2010). Diet and inflammation. Nutrition in clinical practice : official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 25(6), 634–640.
  5. Grimes, K. (2011). The everything anti-inflammation diet book: The easy-to-follow, scientifically-proven plan to reverse and prevent disease lose weight and increase energy slow signs of aging live pain-free. Simon and Schuster.
  6. Lyons, C. L., & Roche, H. M. (2018). Nutritional Modulation of AMPK-Impact upon Metabolic-Inflammation. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(10), 3092.
  7. O’Neil, A., Shivappa, N., Jacka, F. N., Kotowicz, M. A., Kibbey, K., Hebert, J. R., & Pasco, J. A. (2015). Pro-inflammatory dietary intake as a risk factor for CVD in men: A 5-year longitudinal study. The British journal of nutrition, 114(12), 2074–2082.
  8. Oprea, E. (2021). The power plate diet: Discover the ultimate anti-inflammatory meals to fat-proof your body and restore your health. Rodale Books.
  9. Rudnicka, E., Suchta, K., Grymowicz, M., Calik-Ksepka, A., Smolarczyk, K., Duszewska, A. M., Smolarczyk, R., & Meczekalski, B. (2021). Chronic low grade inflammation in pathogenesis of PCOS. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(7), 3789.
  10. Sears B. (2015). Anti-inflammatory diets. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34 Suppl 1, 14–21.
  11. Shivappa, N., Bonaccio, M., Hebert, J. R., Di Castelnuovo, A., Costanzo, S., Ruggiero, E., Pounis, G., Donati, M. B., de Gaetano, G., Iacoviello, L., & Moli-sani study Investigators (2018). Association of proinflammatory diet with low-grade inflammation: results from the Moli-sani study. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 54, 182–188.
  12. Xu, H., Sjögren, P., Ärnlöv, J., Banerjee, T., Cederholm, T., Risérus, U., Lindholm, B., Lind, L., & Carrero, J. J. (2015). A proinflammatory diet is associated with systemic inflammation and reduced kidney function in elderly adults. The journal of nutrition, 145(4), 729–735.

Mealtime Strategies to Transform the Lives of People with Type 2 Diabetes



BSc Applied Chemistry UM
Student of Master Clinical Nutrition
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Community Health Studies (ReaCH) Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Dietitian and Senior Lecturer
IMU Division of Nutrition & Dietetics
International Medical University (IMU)

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) poses a significant public health challenge in Malaysia, mirroring a global trend of increasing prevalence.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are almost 463 million people suffering from T2DM worldwide. In Malaysia, this chronic condition is on the rise, with approximately 1 in 5 adults living with diabetes according to 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey.


Globally, total annual cost for treating diabetes in 2022 was estimated to be USD412.9 billion, which include USD306.6 billion for direct medical costs and $106.3 billion for indirect costs attributable to diabetes.

T2DM has a huge socioeconomic implication with an estimated cost of RM 4.38 billion in 2017 to treat T2DM and its complications, according to a report published by the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Additionally, people with T2DM suffer from complications such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, vision and/or hearing problems, and mental health issues when the disease is poorly managed. Consequently, it leads to poor quality of life among Malaysians living with T2DM.

There is a need for public awareness and caution when managing T2DM. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights of the risk factors associated with T2DM and lifestyle strategies for effective diabetes management.


T2DM is a chronic health condition characterized by increased sugar (glucose) levels in the blood.

An overview of T2DM. Click on the image for a larger and clearer version.

Following a meal, our body processes the ingested food, generating sugar, specifically glucose molecules. Glucose molecules are then released into the blood stream.

Concurrently, the pancreas secretes insulin hormone to control and maintain our blood glucose level. Insulin helps our cells to utilize sugars as a source of energy for the body.

In people with T2DM, their body cannot produce sufficient insulin or there is a problem in the effective utilization of insulin. Thus, blood glucose level remains high, causing multiple complications.


Various risk factors, including overweight and obesity, have been identified in association with T2DM.

Overweight and obesity

The mechanisms that link obesity with insulin resistance are still uncertain. However, some studies suggest that people with obesity have fewer insulin receptors, especially in the skeletal muscle, liver and adipose tissue, than lean people.

Excessive weight gain is posited as a potential factor contributing to the impairment of insulin function, possibly linked to the detrimental effects of fat accumulation in tissues such as the muscles and liver.

Other risk factors

Besides obesity, other risk factors for T2DM includes combination of environmental and genetic risk factors. Even though strong correlation between genetic risk factors and T2DM are found in many studies, environmental risk factors remain as crucial in the development of T2DM.

Therefore, specific strategies such as promotion of physical activity, healthy lifestyle and healthy dietary patterns combined with interventions to reduce the rate of obesity could reduce increasing number of T2DM incidences in near future.


Here are some important strategies recommended by Ministry of Health Malaysia.

Portion control is crucial.

People with T2DM are recommended to have:

  • 2 servings of carbohydrates for breakfast.
  • 2 to 3 servings for lunch and dinner, respectively.
  • 1 to 2 servings of snack.

You can use your hand as a visual guide to determine portion sizes of your foods.

Carbohydrates Rice The size of your fist.
Protein Tenggiri fish The size of your palm.
Fats Butter The size of the tip of your thumb.
Dietary fibre Green vegetables 2 hands full.

Additionally, you can also adhere to their specific recommended portions by following the Malaysian healthy plate such as the quarter, quarter half concept.

  1. Pick a dinner plate of 9-inch or 23-cm diameter.
  2. Fill half the plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, or carrot.
  3. Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans, tempeh, tofu, or eggs.
  4. Fill the remaining quarter with carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, pasta, noodles, corn, or other wholegrains. Note that a cup of milk counts as carbohydrate.
  5. Choose water or a low-calorie drink such as unsweetened fruit juice or tea to go with your meal.
  6. You can also add 2 serving of fruits per day as part of your diet.

Consume high-fibre food such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Foods containing high amounts of soluble fibres such as apples, citrus fruits, barley, and beans help to prevent sugar spikes as they slow down the digestion process.

However, these foods also contain carbohydrates and thus, you need to watch the portion sizes.

Choose wholegrains instead of simple carbohydrates.
  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Non-diet sodas
  • Sugar cereals
  • Sweetened drinks
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Brown rice
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chia seeds
Avoid or limit intake of foods high in sodium as these foods may lead to high blood pressure.

Examples of high sodium foods include salty snacks, fast food, pickles, and gravies.

Low sodium foods include whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted foods or snacks, herbs and spices.

Consume healthy fats such as foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

Examples of fgood sources of unsaturated fatty acids include fish, nuts and seeds.

Avoid or limit intake foods high in saturated fats such as processed meat, cheese, and fatty meat.

Avoid or limit sugar sweetened beverages such as canned drinks or carbonated drinks.

These beverages add to your total calorie intake and lead to increased blood glucose levels.

People with T2DM can opt for unsweetened coffee or tea.

Avoid or limit alcohol drinks and cigarettes smoking.
Lead an active lifestyle by doing exercises.

Perform moderate-intensity exercises such as cycling less than 20km/hour, water aerobics, mowing the lawn, actively playing with children for 150 minutes per week.

Perform for at least 90 minutes per week vigorous exercise such as race walking, hiking uphill, aerobics, swimming, and cycling uphill.

Additionally, aim for at least 2 sessions per week of muscle strengthening exercises such as push-ups, squats and abdominal crunches.

Consult a healthcare professional on the appropriate types and frequency of exercise. as some individuals may need personalized exercise regime—especially the older adults, elderly and those with chronic conditions.

It is also recommended to check blood glucose levels before engaging in vigorous exercise regimes.

Consume adequate fluids to maintain good hydration status during exercise.

Monitoring carbohydrates intake is essential.

A dietitian can provide guidance on estimating carbohydrates intake through techniques such as carbohydrates counting or maintaining a food diary. These approaches enable people with T2DM to understand how different foods impact their blood sugar levels. It is important to pair carbohydrates counting with the blood glucose levels and medication intake.

Always monitor at home the blood sugar level for those who are at risk of hypo- or hyperglycaemia, using a blood glucose meter.

Self-monitoring of blood glucose level is important to ensure blood glucose stays within the recommended levels and it helps to prevent hypo- or hypoglycemia.

It can be done in a fasting state before and/or 2 hours after a meal.

People with T2DM should adhere to anti-diabetic medications dosage intake and insulin injection regimen to help improve blood glucose control.

Always seek guidance from healthcare professionals to manage your diabetes effectively.

Keeping a close watch on overall carbohydrates and sugar consumption remains a fundamental strategy for achieving optimal blood sugar control in people with T2DM.

Besides, people with T2DM should possess awareness and understanding of all the recommendations and guidelines provided by their healthcare professionals.


  1. CPG Secretariat, Health Technology Assessment Section. (2020). Clinical practice guidelines: Management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (6th ed.). Ministry of Health Malaysia.
  2. Nasir, B.M., Abd. Aziz A., Abdullah, M.R., & Mohd Noor, N. (2012). Waist height ratio compared to body mass index and waist circumference in relation to glycemic control in Malay type 2 diabetes mellitus patients, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia. International journal of collaborative research on internal medicine & public health (IJCRIMPH), 4, 406.
  3. Bener, A., Zirie, M., & Al-Rikabi, A. (2005). Genetics, obesity, and environmental risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. Croatian medical journal, 46(2), 302–307.
  4. Ganasegeran, K., Hor, C. P., Jamil, M. F. A., Loh, H. C., Noor, J. M., Hamid, N. A., Suppiah, P. D., Abdul Manaf, M. R., Ch’ng, A. S. H., & Looi, I. (2020). A systematic review of the economic burden of type 2 diabetes in Malaysia. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(16), 5723.
  5. Gardner, C. D., Trepanowski, J. F., Del Gobbo, L. C., Hauser, M. E., Rigdon, J., Ioannidis, J. P. A., Desai, M., & King, A. C. (2018). Effect of low-fat vs low-carbohydrate diet on 12-month weight loss in overweight adults and the association with genotype pattern or insulin secretion: The DIETFITS randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 319(7), 667–679.
  6. Kojta, I., Chacińska, M., & Błachnio-Zabielska, A. (2020). Obesity, bioactive lipids, and adipose tissue inflammation in insulin resistance. Nutrients, 12(5), 1305.
  7. Feisul, I. M., Azmi, S., Mohd Rizal, A. M., Zanariah, H., Nik Mahir, N. J., Fatanah, I., Aizuddin, A. N., & Goh, A. (2017). What are the direct medical costs of managing type 2 diabetes mellitus in Malaysia?. The medical journal of Malaysia, 72(5), 271–277.
  8. Shafie, A., & Ng, C.H. (2020). Estimating the costs of managing complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Malaysia. Malaysian journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 18, 15-32. 10.21315/mjps2020.18.2.2
  9. Goossens G. H. (2008). The role of adipose tissue dysfunction in the pathogenesis of obesity-related insulin resistance. Physiology & behavior, 94(2), 206–218.
  10. Parker, E. D., Lin, J., Mahoney, T., Ume, N., Yang, G., Gabbay, R. A., ElSayed, N. A., & Bannuru, R. R. (2024). Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2022. Diabetes care, 47(1), 26–43.

Tame the IBS Beast: Your Guide to a Happy Gut



Master’s Student in Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Master of Clinical Nutrition Dietetics Programme
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Have you ever woken up feeling like your stomach was about to explode? Or experienced that nagging discomfort after eating certain foods? If so, you’re not alone.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common gastrointestinal disorder, affects 1 in 10 people worldwide.


My teenage years, already burdened by academic pressure, took a painful turn when I developed IBS.

The unpredictable digestive woes—rumbling stomachs, embarrassing episodes, and constant discomfort—cast a shadow over my social life and amplified my anxieties.

Shame and isolation became my unwelcome companions.

Seeking medical help finally brought the diagnosis: IBS.

While the condition persisted, understanding it became the first step towards managing it.

Now, on the flip side of this journey, I offer my story not for pity, but for hope. To anyone wrestling with IBS, know this: you’re not alone. Let’s navigate this together, sharing strategies, finding support, and reclaiming control. Together, we can turn the tables on IBS and discover a life brimming with delicious possibilities and digestive joys.

An overview of IBS. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.


This can be a daunting task, as this common gastrointestinal disorder can significantly impact your quality of life.

While not life-threatening, IBS can manifest in a range of distressing symptoms. It is a common condition characterized by frequent tummy troubles, bloating, cramps, and bathroom emergencies.

It not only affects the gut but also causes social anxiety, worry about finding a bathroom, and a decline in productivity due to doctor visits, tests, and medications.


Living with IBS means your gut can flip its lid over certain foods. Here are some of my worst offenders.

  • Spicy foods: capsaicin in chili peppers lights up pain receptors in your sensitive gut, leading to gut pain, bloating, and diarrhoea.
  • Caffeine revs up your gut, potentially worsening diarrhoea and anxiety. Plus, it acts like a sneaky thief, steals fluids (causing dehydration) and makes constipation worse.
  • Alcohol, research suggests alcohol disrupts gut barrier integrity, which can worsen IBS symptoms. Also, alcohol disrupts digestion, which may slow down bowel movements and contribute to constipation. It irritates gut, triggering inflammation and worsening discomfort.

IBS can rumble your confidence and hijack your life. Fear not! Conquer IBS and reclaim your freedom with simple dietary tweaks and lifestyle hacks.

Regularity and consistency are key. To ease your IBS symptoms, eat slowly and regularly in a relaxing environment, and be mindful of how your food affects your gut.

Small and frequent wins. Smaller portions, more often, can be your gastrointestinal allies, embrace bite-sized snacks throughout the day to keep your digestion humming smoothly.

Small changes as a starter. To avoid losing motivation, make gradual changes and observe their effects. This will help you maintain consistency and find what works best for you.

Start recording. Keep a diary of your foods and symptoms as you are making changes, so that you can see what have helped (and haven’t).

Hydration is your hero. Water is your gut’s best friend! Aim for 8 glasses daily.

Caffeine and fizz, the troublemakers. Limit yourself to 3 cups of coffee and/or tea a day and keep the fizzy drinks at bay – your gut will thank you!

Alcohol? Not the best buddy. Moderation is key, so if you do imbibe, choose wisely and drink plenty of water alongside.

Fibre matters but choose wisely. If your IBS involves frequent trips to the loo, steer clear of whole grains, brown rice, bran, and fruit and veggie peels. However, don’t ditch fibre altogether!

To conquer constipation: embrace soluble fibres in moderation. Apples, pears, bananas, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and oats can be your constipation-busting friend.

Sorbitol, the sweet deceiver. If diarrhoea is your IBS partner, avoid the artificial sweetener sorbitol found in sugar‑free sweets, including chewing gum, and drinks, and in some diabetic and slimming products.

Trigger foods. Fatty foods and spices might be it’s not your best choice.

Stress, the IBS enemy. Exercise, meditation, and yoga are your stress-busting maestros, helping your gut find its happy rhythm again.

Sleep. Aim for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. A well-rested you translates to a well-rested gut, ready to face the day with digestive harmony.

Probiotics: The gut’s new best buds. Consult your doctor about incorporating these into your routine. They’re friendly bacteria, keeping your gut’s ecosystem in balance and preventing IBS from crashing your day

Seek expert guidance. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized advice and support.

Remember, IBS is yours to manage, and with these empowering strategies, you can reclaim control, say goodbye to gut chaos, and embrace a life brimming with delicious possibilities and happy digestion!


  1. UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). (2008, February 23). Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management.
  2. Werlang, M. E., Palmer, W. C., & Lacy, B. E. (2019). Irritable bowel syndrome and dietary interventions. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 15(1), 16–26.
  3. Koochakpoor, G., Salari-Moghaddam, A., Keshteli, A. H., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Adibi, P. (2021). Association of coffee and caffeine intake with irritable bowel syndrome in adults. Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 632469.

A Dermatologist Addresses 3 Common Misconceptions About Dry Skin


Consultant Dermatologist
Sunway Medical Centre

Dr Felix Yap Boon Bin points out that this is not always true.

“Lack of water or skin dehydration will cause dry skin to peel, crack, irritate, itch and become sensitive,” he explains. “If we scratch the itch, it may lead to damage of the skin’s epidermis, causing it to become thinner or eventually recede away.”

Our skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.

“When the epidermis is compromised, germs and dust can penetrate into the second layer of the skin or dermis, causing inflammation, in addition to causing other skin problems, such as eczema and psoriasis,” Dr Felix shares.

A comparison of healthy and dry skin. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.

What causes dry skin?

Dr Felix says that being under the hot sun for a long period of time can cause dry skin.

Being in an air-conditioned room for long periods of time can also be a factor, as air conditioning can cause the skin to dry.

However, many cases of dry skin are due to genetic factors. “Some individuals are born without a protective skin layer, causing their skin to be easily dehydrated,” Dr Felix says. Therefore, it is possible for someone to develop this condition without spending much time under the sun or air-conditioning.

Additionally, the use of improper skincare products can lead to dry skin. Dr Felix cites the frequent usage of body scrubs or soaps with a higher pH level (pH above 7) as an example.

If you spend much time under the sun or in air-conditioned rooms, Dr Felix recommends, applying moisturizers regularly to ensure that the skin is healthy and has a good level of hydration. “However, if dryness is at a serious level, it is recommended to use medicated moisturizers,” he says.

Not true. 

“For dry skin types, oil-based moisturizers are more suitable because the oil content will moisturize the skin and reduce itching or peeling,” Dr Felix explains.

He adds: “Individuals with oily skin can choose oil control moisturizers to prevent acne growth.”

For sensitive skin, Dr Felix recommended the use of specialized moisturizers, products without fragrance or chemicals produced by certified medical brands.

Hence, he reminds everyone to identify their own skin type before choosing their skincare products, in order to ensure that these products are suitable for long-term use.


Research has proven that this assumption is inaccurate.

“Lack of water in the body will certainly affect the quality of the skin, but drinking a lot of water at one time does not help the skin to stay hydrated,” Dr Felix elaborates.

“Also, consuming a lot of vegetables does not necessarily help to hydrate the skin. Healthy and hydrated skin requires a balanced diet, which includes a variety of nutrients and not just vegetables,” he adds.


“The water content in our skin will also decrease as we age,” Dr Felix reminds us. “The protective layer will become thinner and its efficiency to trap water will also become lower when we reach between 40 to 50 years old.”

Therefore, he offers some tips to help us take care of our skin in order to avoid skin problems in the future.

  • Sleeping for 7 hours a day and have a consistent bedtime, preferably before 12 midnight.
  • Lead an active lifestyle to improve the immune system. Low immunity can cause skin diseases such as eczema.
  • Use moisturizers before going to bed, especially in rooms with air conditioning.
  • Apply sunscreen before leaving the house.