Monday, November 19, 2012

Lebanon News: Rotaract Metn's Health Fair

Yesterday, Sunday the 18th of November, The Rotaract Club of Metn headed towards Ayroun for their annual health fair. Doctors from several specialties were gathered in order to screen for potential diseases or to follow up on existing ones. Specialists in family medicine, ophthalmology, dermatology, dentistry and nutrition were available to provide free consultations to everyone!

As soon as patients arrived, general information was taken from them regarding known pathologies, a blood sugar test was conducted and their blood pressure was taken.

They were then redirected to the professionals they were looking for.
The dentists were available for check-ups and education regarding good oral hygiene. They were also distributing toothbrushes for free.

“It was a very good day. We focused more on preventive dentistry than the actual work.” – Dr Rahayel

The ophthalmologists were testing the acuity of vision but they were also trying to screen for:

- Glaucoma: a group of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve which is responsible for carrying visual information from the eye to the brain. It is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States.

- Cataract: it is the clouding of the lens of the eye. People who suffer from this condition normally have a blurry vision. It is more common in people above the age 45. However, some conditions may speed it up: diabetes, smoking, eye inflammation, eye injury, etc.

In assigning health priorities, skin disease is normally considered a small player compared with other diseases. However, not only do some skin diseases lead to a higher mortality rate in the population, but they also affect a patient’s quality of life and psychological status. This is why the presence of a dermatologist at the fair seemed essential.

Three doctors specialized in family medicine were present in order to screen for all types of diseases.

“We were lucky enough to detect a very serious case of untreated diabetes and another of heart disease.” – Dr Omar
And this, indeed, proves the importance of screening.

We, at Point a la ligne, were there to screen for potential cases of overweight and obesity. In fact, as you already know, obesity is very closely related to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, etc. Body composition tests were conducted and appropriate and personalized diets were provided.  

And last but not least, all present were fortunate enough to have a session by members of the Red Cross, regarding first aid. Tips on how to deal with common situations were given, not to forget the live demonstrations!

This is one example of many health campaigns that go on all over the country. And I believe that we are lucky to have so many NGOs, just like Rotaract, interested in early detection of diseases. Because after all, the earlier the detection, the easier and most likely the recovery would be!

So if you’re feeling anything or doubting anything in your body, don’t hesitate! Go for a check-up every once in a while. Community centers are available in all areas too!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Live Gluten Free! - All you need to know about celiac disease

1. What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a disease of the digestive system that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. It is an allergic reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat (قمح), oats (الشوفان), rye (حبوب الجاودار) and barley (الشعير).

It is not clear what causes celiac disease. However, it has been proven that it runs in the family. People who suffer from this condition are genetically predisposed and they may start experiencing the symptoms at any age. In other terms, they have it in their genes but it may not appear during childhood. The symptoms might start at later stages in life.

Symptoms may be different from one person to another. And they may also be common with other diseases. That’s why the diagnosis is not made right away. They may include decrease of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, unexplained weight loss, skin rashes, etc.

If left untreated, celiac disease may lead to malnutrition, loss of bone density, lactose intolerance, bruising easily, fatigue, hair loss, depression or anxiety, nosebleeds, cancer, etc.

Many tests are available to detect celiac disease; however, the only conclusive one would be a biopsy of the intestinal lining.

2. What is the appropriate diet?

There is no cure for celiac disease. The only way to make symptoms disappear and allow the villi to heal is to adopt a GLUTEN-FREE diet.

So basically, if you are suffering from celiac disease, you should omit all sources of gluten from your diet. This means that you should not consume wheat, oat, barley and rye.

Once gluten is removed from the diet, you may start feeling better in just a few days. However, complete rehealing and regrowth of the villi may take several months. You should note that the healing process is faster in children than adults.

Now, if you accidently eat a product that contains gluten, you might experience abdominal pain or diarrhea. Sometimes, you might not see any signs. But any traces of gluten in your diet can be damaging, whether you experience symptoms or not. So please be careful and save the following list!

Food group

Breads and cereals

-      Rice and rice flour
-      Corn and corn flour
-      Potatoes and potato flour
-      Tapioca and tapioca flour
-      Soy and soy flour
-      Rice noodles
-      Quinoa

-      Pita bread of all kinds
-      French bread
-      Kaak
-      Toast
-      Cracottes
-      Wheat starch and wheat flour
-      Barley: starch and flour
-      Bulgur (برغل)
-      Couscous
-      Semolina (سميد)
-      Pasta
-      Vermicelli (شعيريه)
-      “Moghrabieh”
-      “Keshek”
-      Falafel
-      All breakfast cereals
-      Bread crumbs

Meat, fish and poultry

-      All types of fresh and frozen products (unprocessed): beef, lamb, veal, chicken, fish and sea food
-      Canned fish like tuna and sardines
-      Eggs

-      Processed meats: jambon, mortadelle, etc.
-      “Kebbeh”
-      Sausages
-      Pastrami
-      Hot dogs
-      Cordon bleu
-      Chicken nuggets
-      Escalope


-      All legumes such as hummus, beans, soy, etc.

Milk and milk products

-      All types of fresh milk, pasteurized, powder and sterilized, concentrated and cream.
-      Labneh
-      Laban
-      Cheese: cheddar, edam, cottage, parmesan, gruyere, akkawi, halloum and double crème.

-      Soy milk
-      Cheese: blue cheese and roquefort

Fruits and vegetables

-      All fresh, frozen and unprocessed fruits and vegetables

-      Check labels of canned ones as some may contain gluten


-      White sugar
-      Honey
-      Jam
-      Molasses
-      Cocoa
-      “Halawa”
-      Sahlab, meghli, mhallabieh
-      Jell’O
-      Any other dessert that is sure not to contain the 4 grains

-      Arabic sweets: baklava, osmallieh, knefeh, maamoul.
-      Cakes, pancakes, doughnuts, ice cream (cornet), croissants and all types of biscuits.

Fats and oils

-      Butter
-      Margarine
-      Vegetable oils
-      Tehine

-      Wheat oil


-      Wine and distilled liquors, ciders and spirits
-      Tea
-      Juices

-      Beers
-      Sodas may contain minimal traces of gluten and an allergic reaction to them depends on your sensitivity.


-      Spices
-      Pickles, olives
-      Ketchup, mustard, tomato paste, gluten free soy sauce

-      Regular soy sauce
-      Ready to serve salad dressings

Fortunately, there are wide ranges of Gluten-Free products on the market. I’ve taken a few pictures of products you can find in your local supermarket. I’m sure there are more so always look for the “Gluten-free” label.

There are many other brands you can 
find in supermarkets. These are just 

It is very important to watch out for hidden sources of gluten. A product might not seem like it contains gluten but it might be contaminated. And that’s why it is crucial to read food labels (ingredients and potential allergens) in every product that you buy. In the next picture, the product is rice cakes. Check the label: it clearly states that the product might be "contaminated with gluten".

Celiac disease can be effectively managed through changing your diet. You might find it tricky at first but after all, eating is a habit and you will get used to it. And of course, all of us dietitians are ready to help you whenever you need us. So don’t hesitate to call us if you run out of food ideas J  


Friday, November 9, 2012

Food to survive the marathon!

So you’re not in it to win but your goal is to at least finish those 10 or 42 kilometers. You need the energy and therefore what you really need is a good eating schedule for the marathon day.
Here’s what you should go for…

     è  Preexercise meal

     The pre-marathon meal serves two purposes:

    -  Keep you from feeling hungry before and during the exercise.
    -  Maintain optimal levels of blood glucose for the exercising muscles. In fact, you can only keep up with the exercise as long as you still have glucose in your system. When you run out, you start feeling tired and you get cramps.

The best meal to have before the event would be a meal rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. It should be taken 2 hours before the event to allow your stomach to adequately digest the food.

Ideal pre-marathon meal: 

-  Whole wheat bread
-  Low fat cheese/labneh or Turkey
-  Vegetables


-  1 cup of oats
-  1 banana

            è  During the exercise

According to studies, consuming carbohydrates during an exercise lasting more than 1 hour ensures enough energy, improves performance and enhances feeling of pleasure during and following the exercise. In fact, it can delay fatigue and allow you to actually finish the marathon.

Now I’m definitely not asking you to have a sandwich while running! You can have a sports drink such as Gatorade that is rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). The latter will help replenish what you sweat out.

            è  After the exercise

After the marathon, your muscles need to replenish their glycogen stores (sugar stores). This is only possible if a good amount of carbohydrates is ingested in the hour following the activity.

Studies also show that adding proteins to your post-exercise meal may increase glycogen resynthesis rate, provide amino-acids for muscle repair and promote a more anabolic hormonal profile.

In other terms, the combination carbs-proteins can help you restore the nutrients you lost during the exercise as well as repair the damages caused to the muscles.

Ideal post-marathon meal:
-  2 cups pasta
-  60g minced meat
-  Salad

Finally, don’t forget to drink enough water before during and after the marathon. Now I don’t advise chugging on a bottle of water before the marathon. You don’t want to have a peeing issue while running!

So whether you’re running for a cause or just for the fun of it, I wish you a very good run!


Monday, November 5, 2012

The SEX Diet

How much would you pay for a pleasurable weight loss program?
I know I would pay a fortune.

But hey! We do have one, right at our fingertips! It is called the Sex Diet.
I’m sure I got your full attention here! So keep reading to know what the sex diet is and how you can benefit from it!

Origin of the sex diet!

Many celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Cameron Diaz and Pamela Anderson have tried it and sworn by it. But there’s someone who’s actually written about the Sex Diet. She’s a model and an actress called Kerry McColskey and she lost 10kg simply by having lots of sex. This generated the book “The ultimate sex diet” published in October 2004.

Pauline Potter, Guiness world record holder of the Heaviest Woman in the World title, calls it sexercise! In fact, she managed to shed off 100 pounds (around 45kg) out of the 700 (317.5 kg) with the help of her ex-husband!

How can sex help with the weight loss?

Did you need one more reason to love sex? Well, I will give you FOUR! In fact, sex seems to have both immediate and long term physical benefits, as well as positive psychological effects that would all help with the weight loss. Add to that the amazing orgasm that can also raise your health score.

1. Immediate physical benefits
It’s simple: sex burns calories. It is considered a type of physical activity similar to jogging, playing basketball, etc. In fact, a sexual intercourse can burn between 150 and 250 calories per half an hour depending on the intensity. And I bet you can burn a lot more the wilder you are ;)

2. Long term physical benefits
Sex is a high intensity workout. It gets your heart rate up and in consequence it helps you build muscles and raise your metabolism. So, you would be burning more calories on a daily basis.
Almost all muscles are worked out during sex: legs, thighs, arms, shoulders and lower abdomen. And of course, you can decide which muscles to emphasize on by choosing the right position.

3. Psychological benefits
Having sex on a regular basis improves your self esteem and makes you feel more confident and more able to accomplish whatever you set your mind to. This includes reaching your ideal body weight. So indirectly, sex will improve your compliance to a diet and help you lose weight.

On the other hand, having sex reduces frustration and depression. What does this mean ladies? This means less emotional eating of course! So, this is one way to break the infamous vicious circle:

And please don’t forget the fact that people tend to eat more when they are lonely!

4. Internal factors
Sex often leads to an orgasm. The latter is considered a good cardiovascular activity and that’s why people with poor cardiovascular health should avoid sex.

How can you benefit the most from sex?

Just like any physical activity, you can have all the sex you can without really benefiting from it. So if you want to get the most out of it, here’s how it should be done!

- Incorporate several positions in order to work out different body parts.
Women! Don’t let your partner be the only one on top! In fact the person on top is the most physically active. However, when a woman is on top, it is also hard work for the man since she is physically unable to carry her weight all by herself. So the only way for both of you to lose weight is to let her take the lead!

- Move around a little. Don’t let your partner do all the work.

- Prolong sexual activity from foreplay to climax in order to maximize your health benefits. The sexual intercourse should last for at least 15 minutes. In fact, intensity of movement and duration make a lot of difference.

- Have sex in the context of a relationship. It seems to be more efficient than having sex with several partners simply to fulfill a physical need as the latter may generate stress.

- In her book, McColskey advises having sex on an average of 3 to 5 times a week.

Sex is the only type of physical activity you can never get bored of. So take advantage of that! Get creative, try new things, and watch the results after just a few weeks!