Tuesday, 24 November 2015


By Mr. Maondu

Carrot is a super root vegetable with a wide range of nutritional values that play a vital role in enhancing body's' health. [1]
When I decided to feature this article, I was curious to hear the opinions people hold about carrots. I realized that what prompts people to use carrots is because of its availability. Most people didn't know if carrots have anti-cancer and immune enhancing nutritional values. All the subjects I interrogated used to peel their carrots before cooking which can change the carrot in the sufuria from super-root vegetable to just mere vegetable because of the trivial act of peeling it.

Despite these subjects use of carrots governed by availability, the consumption of carrots and its products have been in the rise. People have become health conscious to promote their health and prevent most chronic diseases like cancer, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, stroke, cataracts and others by being careful on what to include in their meals. [1]


Carrots are super-nutritious.

Carrots nutritional values includes:-
  • Carbohydrates. 
  • Proteins
  • Crude fiber.
  • Ascorbic acid.
  • Sugars.
  • Sodium.
  • Potassium.
  • Thiamine.
  • Niacin.
  • Riboflavin.
  • Carotenoids.
  • Polyphenols.
  • Trace nutritional elements; Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus. [1]

Carrots helps in prevention of cancer.

Free radicals has been implicated with the onset of chronic diseases like cancer. The air we breath, effect of sunlight on skin and metabolism of food substrates are some of the ways free radicals are generated in the body. Because of the reactive nature of free radicals, they cause cellular DNA damage which forms the grounds for cancerous cell transformation. [4]
In vitro studies to substantiate the antioxidant and anti-cancer effects of wild carrot oil extract found that carrot oil extract demonstrated anti-cancer effect on both colon and breast cancers and antioxidant property with a propensity to act as free radical scavenger [2].
Beta carotene and vitamin C are free radical scavengers. They donate the missing electron to the free radical rendering it non-reactive halting the process of cell DNA damage. [1][3][4]
Carotene are also loaded with polyphenols found mostly on the surface and this quality may decrease in carrots when they are peeled. Polyphenols are antioxidants and have anti-tumor and anti-mutagenic effect. [1]

Carrots help in promoting eye health.

Carotenoids, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc play a vital role in enhancing eye health. Beta carotene, a carotenoid, helps in reducing risks of age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation. [1][4]
Carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A in plants.[1] It functions in formation of visual purple pigment in the eye for enhancing night vision. It also helps in building a healthy cornea and epithelium in the eye. [5]

Carrots promotes healthy skin and prevents early ageing.

As the skin ages there are noticeable changes on the skin which may include:-

  • Skin wrinkles.
  • Sagging of skin as outer layer thins out.
  • Dry skin as the sebaceous gland is less active. [7]

Compromised skin strength and elasticity as a result of defective connective tissue. Skin prone to shearing between the layer and bleeding under the skin occur.
Free radicals have been implicated with damage of the protein and fats in the body cell. Evidence shows that damage to the cellular protein and fats forms the basis in which skin wrinkles form. [6] Beta Carotene, polyphenols and Vitamin C play a crucial role as antioxidants to neutralize the reactive free radicals and prevent protein and fat destruction imposed by the free radicals. [1]
Carrots contains ample source of Vitamin C which helps in formation of collagen fibers.[5] Collagen fiber is responsible for skin elasticity and tensile strength.[8]

Carrots can cardiovascular health.

Cholesterol and heart diseases is an area of growing public concern in everyday life. LDL cholesterol or 'bad' cholesterol causes thickening and narrowing of blood vessels. [ ] Oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the blood has by free radicals confers onset of chronic inflammatory process in the body and artherosclerotic changes in the blood vessel. (formation of fat plaque). [6][9]

The body perceives the fat plaque as a foreign material along the wall of blood vessel and it mounts its own defense to wall it off. In that event the plaque may dislodge or rapture into the blood forming a clot. This sequelae is detrimental to the health status of an individual and may lead to heart attack or stroke. [10]

Carrots in their mothers nature do confer a cardio- protective merit by the virtue of being loaded with carotenoids, Vitamin C and phenolics which play an antioxidant role to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is responsible for instigating the inflammatory process in heart diseases. [1][5][10]

Carrots and body immunity.

Carrots are well loaded with carotene; a provitam A compound. [1] Vitamin A function to boost the bodys' immune system.[5]

1. Chemical composition, functional properties and Processing of carrot- A review : Dept. of Food Science & Technology; Parma University. By Krishan Dutt Sharma, Swati Karki, Narayan Singh Thakur, Surekha Attri. Address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550877. Revised 14 Oct 2014.
2. The antioxidant and anticancer effects of wild carrot oil extract-PubMed- NCBI by Shebaby WN, El-Sibai M, Smith KB, Karam MC, Mroueh M, Daher CF. 2013 May; 27(5):737-44. Address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22815230.
3. Inflammation, free radicals, and antioxidants -PubMed. Conner EM, Grisham MB. 1996 April;12(4):274-7. Address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862535.
4. Fighting Free Radicals: Do You Need Antioxidants? - Pharmacy Times. Charles H. Brown, MSPharm, RPh, CACP Published Online: January 14, 2013. Address: http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2013/january2013/fighting-free-radicals-do-you-need-antioxidants.
5. Introduction to nutrition - Ross and Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness. By Anne Waugh and Allison Grant. 10th edition, 2006. Page 274.
6. Free radical theory of ageing- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Revised on: May 15, 2015 by Kulmanseidl. Address: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/free-radical_theory_of_ageing.
7. Ageing changes in skin- MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Updated: 9/15/2014. Address: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004014.htm.
8. The skin -Ross and Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness. By Anne Waugh and Allison Grant. 10th edition, 2006. Page 359.
9. Circulation: Inflammation as a Cardiovascular Risk Factor- American Heart Association by James T. Willerson, MD; Paul M. Ridker,MD, MPH. Address: http://m.circ.ahajournals.org/content/109/21_suppl_1/II-2.full.
10. Inflammation and heart diseases: American Heart Association. Address: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Inflammation-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_432150_Article.jsp#mainContent. Viewed on: 25/06/2015.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


By Sam Maondu.

There is a growing body of evidence linking red meat and processed meat to increasing prevalence of heart diseases and cancer. Red meat is any mammalian muscle meat like beef, veal, lamb, mutton, horse and goat. 

Processed meat is meat that had undergone processes either to enhance taste or preservation to increase shelf life. Salting, curing, fermentation or smoking are some of the processes used to transform processed meat.

There is a growing body of evidence linking red meat and processed meat to increased risk of cancer which led International Advisory Committee to convene a meeting in 2014 to evaluate the risks based on epidemiological studies already published.

The committee found out that:-
  • There is positive association between high consumption of red meat to increased risks of cancer.
  • High temperature cooking of red meat and processed meat generated compound like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines. These compounds increase risks of colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostatic cancer and stomach cancer. 
  • During processing of meat, N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are produced and are essential compounds in tumorigenesis over the colorectal cell lining and eventually causes cancer.
  • Eating processed meat daily increases risks for cancer. Research has shown that every 50 grams portion taken daily increases colorectal cancer risks by 18%.
  • Eating processed meat accounts for 34, 000 deaths per annum worldwide and red meat about 50, 000 deaths per annum according to Global Burden of Disease Project. 
  • In order to mitigate the known cancer risks, one should limit intake of processed and red meat meat.

Other compounds in red meat and processed meat.

L-carnitine- red meat and processed meat contains an ample source of L-carnitine. When ingested, the L-carnitine is acted up on by the gut bacteria to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO clogs blood arteries causing them to be hard and thin. (Atherosclerosis) 
Carnitine is also found in popular energy drinks.

Homocysteine- people who eat a lot of animal protein may have an elevated level of homocysteine in the blood. High level of homocysteine causes injury to the blood vessel wall with an imminent sequelae of blood clot formation.

Haem iron- It has been found to be toxic to the body cells and may lead to production of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and causes destruction of the cell protein, DNA and membrane.

Nitrates and Nitrites- these two compounds are found in processed meat which our bodies convert to nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have a propensity to initiate cancerous cell transformation along the colorectal cell line and eventually causes cancer.
Saturated fatty acids- Red meat naturally contains saturated fatty acids which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Saturated fatty acids are associated with abnormal lipid levels, elevated total cholesterol level,high level of LDL (bad) cholesterol, low level of HDL (good) cholesterol and high level of triglycerides in the blood. 

Q&A on carcinogenicity of consumption of red meat and processed meat- WHO. October 2015. Address: http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/
Red meat consumption linked to increased risk of total, cardiivascular, and cancer mortality- Harvard T.H Chan. Address: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/red-meat-consumption-linked-to-increased-risk-of-total
Saturated fat- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last edit: 30 October, 2015. Address: https://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturated_fat.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


By Sam Maondu

The current trend of lifestyle diseases to include cancer can be undone by a slight shift of lifestyle which also include checking what we eat or we don't eat. What we eat or we don't eat has an enormous impact on how our bodies are prepared to fight off disease processes.
Eating junk foods, sedentary lifestyle, drinking alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of adequate sleep are some of the aspects that perpetuate onset of diseases.


Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients that function as antioxidants like vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene, selenium and others which have an anti-cancer fighting properties. It is recommended to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day but because of low economic status, daily busy schedule, lack of ready accessibility to fruits and vegetables makes us fall short of these daily requirements.

Vegetarian have a 50% added advantage protection against development of cancer vis-a-vis non-vegetarians but this doesn't mean to avoid meat because the body needs variety of nutrients to protect itself some of which may not be available in a vegetarian diet.


Dietary fiber helps in digestion ensuring smooth peristalsis along the gastrointestinal tract. Whole grains like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread provide good source of dietary fiber in the body. Fruits and vegetables also play a vital role as a source of dietary fiber besides being rich in phytonutrients.

When there is smooth flow of food along the gastrointestinal tract, food doesn't take longer time in the body and cancer causing compounds doesn't get time to cause harm to the body. Dietary fiber helps in prevention of cancer of mouth, pharynx, stomach and colon.


Helpguide.org denotes that eating meat should be occassional, recomments removing the visible fat before cooking and meat should be used as a flavouring agent not a main meal in order to reduce the amount consumed.

People who eat meat have a triple risk of developing cancer as compared to those who rarely eat meat. Helpguide.org further denotes that red meat increases risks of colon cancer and daily serving of red meat increases the risk by 21%.

Meat contains cancer causing substances like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines. Meat from whatever source already contains these cancer causing compounds and when it is cooked at higher temperature and even for longer time, more of these compounds are formed and increase risk of developing cancer.

Meat has also been associated with development of cancers which are hormone-sensitive like prostate and breast cancer. Eating meat causes the body to produce more oestrogen in women and testosterone hormones in men. Oestrogen and testosterone hormones enhance growth of cancerous cells in the breast in female and prostate in male respectively.
Meat increases risk of other cancers on the grounds that it lacks dietary fiber, contains bad fat (saturated fat) which promotes transformation of normal cells to cancerous cells.


Fat is the most energy dense micronutrient. High fat diet increases risk of development of certain cancers in the body.

There is also a point of reducing consumption of bad fats like saturated fatty acids and trans fats which increase cancer risks. On the other hand, good fats like unsaturated fatty acids may have cancer protective role in our bodies. The idea is to choose good fats to use in cooking and avoid or limit unhealthy fats.

It is good to note that solid fats are high is saturated and may contain trans fats. They have longer rancidity period hence mostly used by food manufacturing industries and fast food outlets. It is advisable to trim off visible fats in meat to reduce the amount of bad fat in it.
Unsaturated fatty acids are good oils and may confer some cellular protection and halt development of cancer cells.


With changes and advancement in technology sedentary lifestyle has been propagated in various ways. It may include activities like sitting, reading, watching television, computer games and t the end there is little or no vigorous physical activity done. It is a major contributor to preventable diseases.

Overweight and obesity is a risk factor for development of esophageal, pancreatic, colon, rectum, kidney, gallbladder and reproductive health system cancers.

Meat consumption and cancer risks- physicians committee. Address: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk.
Sedentary lifestyle- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedentary_lifestyle. last edit: 9th November 2015.
Plant-based foods- Cancer.net. Address: http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition/plant-based-foods

Saturday, 7 November 2015


By Sam Maondu

According to WHO, DM is a metabolic condition characterized by elevated blood glucose level as a result of defects in insulin secretion, insulin action or both. [12]

Types of Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 diabetes
Although it is common in children and adolescents, type 1 diabetes may also occur in adults. It is characterized by absolute deficiency of insulin and individual will require long term insulin for survival. [12]

Type 2 Diabetes
 Formerly called adult-onset diabetes mellitus or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is a metabolic condition characterized by chronically elevated blood glucose levels as a result of decreased responsiveness of cells to insulin (insulin resistance) and relative deficiency to insulin. [1]

Gestational Diabetes
The etiology of gestational  diabetes mellitus is not clear but it is thought that pregnancy hormones are the ones which interfere with insulin action.[12]

Insulin is an hormone produced by the Islets of Langerhans in the endocrine pancreas which functions to control blood glucose level[2].


After a meal, the blood glucose level rises gradually and the beta cells in pancreas release insulin. Insulin then diffuses into the blood where it attaches to the insulin receptors on the surface of cell membrane where it enables transport of glucose into the cell for production of energy. [3]

Insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus is characterized by the liver, muscle cells and fat tissue not responding appropriately to insulin. [4]

Harvard Health Publications in their article on Type 2 DM noted that the pancreas will keep on producing more insulin as a result of increasing blood glucose level in people with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance continues to worsen and and more insulin continues to be produced until it reaches a point whereby the pancreas gets 'burn outs' and can't keep up with the body's insulin demand. As a result blood glucose level remain high. [7]
 Overweight and obese individual have some degree of insulin resistance and their progression from non-diabetic to diabetic is dictated by the ability of the beta cells in the endocrine pancreas to keep up with their increasing demand for insulin. [4]

According to Wikipedia, when insulin sensitive tissues like the liver, fat tissue and muscle cells becomes resistant to insulin, there is a reduced uptake of glucose in the respective tissue. Obese individuals have certain degree of insulin resistance. In insulin resistance the body goes into a compensated mode and the beta cells produce more insulin to lower the rising level of blood glucose. If this compensated state fails then the individual progresses to developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. [5]

People who progress into type 2 diabetes mellitus usually exhibit signs and symptoms like:-
  • Frequent urination
  • Constant hunger.
  • Excess thirst.
  • Unexplained loss of weight.
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurring of vision. [6]

Risk factor for type 2 Diabetes Mellitus includes:-

Genetic factors- having a blood relative with type 2 DM puts one at risk of being diabetic. [8]

Overweight and obesity- when the body is over-nourished with nutrients, the cells in the body are overworked as the need to process all those nutrients supplied to the body through diet rises. The overworked cell starts to complain because it handling too much nutrients. Therefore, it signals the cell membrane to dampen some insulin receptors on its surface so that less glucose is brought into the cell for metabolism. This sequelae leads to glucose accumulating in the blood causing elevated blood glucose level hence DM. [9]

Age- people over 40 years of age are at risk of being diabetic.[8]

Poor diet- according to everyday health, eating too much of food that are calorie-dense and refined may put one at risk of developing type 2 DM. [10]

Criterion for the diagnosis ofdiabetes mellitus.

According to World Health Organization and International Diabetes Federation meeting held in Geneva 2006, specific plasma glucose cut offs for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus are as follows:-
  1. A fasting plasma glucose of 7.0mmol/l {126mg/dl} or more.
  2. A 2-hour plasma glucose of 11.1mmol/l {200mg/dl} or more.
An individual with intermediate hyperglycemia or plasma glucose levels which don't meet the criteria for diagnosis of diabetes mellitus but the values are above the normal cut off, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is done to rule out an impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)

For diabetics, a glycated hemoglobin A1C is used to establish an average glucose level for the previous 2-3 months. A joint force by WHO/IDF declared HbA1C not a suitable tool for diagnosis of DM and intermediate hyperglycemia. Anemia, hemoglobin abnormalities, uremic syndrome and pregnancy are some of the factors to be put into consideration if a physician wants to do HbA1C for a patient. [11]

An elevated plasma glucose level done at random requires further test or a repeat of the same test at a different date to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. This is to exclude other causes of elevated plasma glucose which may occur when the body is under stress like during infections.[12]

In pregnancy, an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is done at 24-28 weeks of gestation if there is any suspicion of gestational DM. This is done after 8 hours of fasting after which a fasting plasma glucose is taken and 75g of oral glucose solution is given orally. If after 2 hours plasma glucose concentration is 7.8 Mmol/l and above shows that the pregnant woman has gestational diabetic mellitus.[12]

Prevention is always better than cure. Type 2 DM can be prevented by:-
  • Diet- eating healthy diet.
  • Avoiding stress
  • Exercise- doing exercise regularly.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight i.e not overweight or obese. [7]

1. Medicine, Second edition, 2004
Diabetes Mellitus, Lipoprotein Disorders and other Metabolic Diseases.
By John S. Axford and Chris A. O'Callaghan.
2. The Digestive System, Pancreas -Anatomy and Physiology Ross and Wilson
in health and illness. Tenth Edition,2006 by Anne Waugh and Allison Grant
3. What is insulin? Endocrine Web,
Diabetes >> Type 1 diabetes. Written by: Amy Hess-Fischi MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM,CDE.
Viewed at: http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin. On 13/04/2015
4. Diabetes Mellitus type 2 -Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
Viewed at: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/diabetes_mellitus_type_2. Viewed on 1/04/2015.
5.Insulin resistance -Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
Last modified: 9th, April 2015 @05:16. Viewed at: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance. On 13/04/2015
6,Symptoms of type 2 DiabetesWebMD, Diabetes Health Center.
Viewed at: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/diabetes-warning-signs. Viewed on 14/4/15.
7. Type 2 diabetes mellitusDrugs.com, Havard health publication
Viewed at: http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/type-2-diabetes-mellitus.html. viewed on 16/04/2015
8.National Health Service, Type 2 diabetes- causes
Viewed at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes-type-2/pages/causes.aspx. Viewed on 16/04/2015
9. Why does obesity cause Diabetes?-MedicineNet.com. Viewed at: http://www.medicinenet.com/sript/main/art.asp?articlekey=39840. Viewed on 16/04/2015
10. What causes type 2 diaetes mellitus?-Everyday Health. Viewed at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/causes/
Viewed on 16/04/2015. Last updated on: 13/10/2014
11. Definition and diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and intermediate hyperglycaemia report of WHO/IDF consultation. Viewed at (PDF): http://www.who.int/diabetes/publications/diagnosis_diabetes2006/en/
Virwed on 24/04/2015.
12.Diabetic Programme, about diabetes. World Health Organization, Viewed at: http://www.who.int/diabetes/action_online/basics/en/. On 28/03/2015