Dr harold Gunatillake

Alcoholic Drinks When Having Diabetes

by Dr. Harold Gunatillake – Health writer


If you’re diabetic, consider exchanging your cocktail for something less alcoholic

Yes, true, people having raised blood sugar need to be careful drinking alcohol. They still can enjoy a drink or two without guilt, but intelligent drinking is the solution. Men with diabetes can still enjoy two drinks a day, just like the non-diabetics and women too can have just one drink a day.

A sugary drink like a cocktail can raise your blood sugar, and if you are on insulin medication you could whack small insulin shot to maintain a steady blood sugar level. Those on anti-diabetic tablets unfortunately may not have this flexibility.

If you drink on empty stomach, on the other hand a strong alcohol drink will bring your blood sugar level too low.

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Do Sri Lankans need to change their traditional diet for healthier living?

Written by harold Gunatillake-Health writer


A delight of a plate of rice and curry with awesome sea crab

“My concern is that when I visit Sri Lanka annually to avoid winter in Australia, my wife is obliged to purchase reluctantly processed food ingredients from the local super-market. Foods from eateries and restaurants are also cooked mainly from processed grains.

Incidentally, whole grain foods like brown and red rice, gain less weight than those who fill up on refined grains like white rice.

Though added sugars are considered ‘unhealthy’ world-wide, Sri Lankans add at least 4 teaspoons of sugar in their cup of tea or coffee. People indulge in sweetmeat most pleasurably, and obesity among the old, young, school children, and among saree clad ladies seems to be more visible”.

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Biriyani rice is quite suitable for Diabetics

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake-health writer

Any variety of white processed boiled rice when consumed gets digested and absorbed fast into the body. You tend to get hungry sooner than you expect. Unprocessed brown, red or wild rice when digested will be suitable for those having diabetes.

Eating white boiled rice may cause sugar spikes in your blood, and may cause more insulin resistance among diabetes.


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How do cholesterol and Saturated fats affect your health?

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake –Health writer

Harold Gunethilake

Cholesterol is a fat and waxy to the touch. It participates in the cell structures of the body, and in many other functions like making hormones: cortisol, testosterone and oestradiol, vitamin D, bile acids: also prevalent in the liver, brain and other organs in high concentrations may be as stores. In the blood stream the larger cholesterol particles combined with a protein is called Very low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL): intermediate size particles are called Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and these are the culprits you need to watch in your blood stream. The smallest particles are beneficial-is called High Density Lipoproteins that protects your heart by carrying the bad cholesterol back into the liver and destroyed thus reducing the numbers in your blood stream.

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High Fibre Foods

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake – Health writer

Fibre is essential for your gut movements. It is recommended that you aim for 38 grams of fibre per day, and women 25 grams per day.


Dietary fibres are carbohydrates in the food you eat the humans haven’t got the enzymes to digest. They are found in all plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.

There are two varieties if dietary fibre- the soluble and the insoluble. The soluble ones do absorb water in the gut and forms gel-like paste which slows down the digestion of food.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ad low FODMAP diet

by Dr Harold Gunatillake

There is no proper medicine to cure chronic irritable bowel syndrome, other than by dietetic discipline. This is a very common malady among Asians including Sri Lankans due to spicy carb varieties of food they eat, and silently suffer with the condition. In this syndrome you suffer with abdominal pain and cramping, a bloating feeling, gaseous embarrassing moments, constipation, followed by diarrhoea and mucus in your stools, with bleeding and with progressing weight loss. These symptoms are present in any chronic abdominal dysfunction, and may take time to suspect IBS through evaluation process.

It is a chronic recurrent progressive condition and all investigations prove negative and the diagnosis is made on having a typical history through trial and error. The causes are not known, but many factors can play a part. The walls of the small and large bowel muscles contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as the food you eat passes through the stomach through your intestinal tract and your rectum.


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Calcium needs of your body

by Dr Harold Gunatillake

Harold Gunethilake

You need to take calcium daily and it is also most abundant mineral in your body. It is found sufficiently in your food (discuss later), dietary supplements and present in some medications like antacids.

Calcium is required for contraction and dilatation of arteries, muscle contractions, for nerve transmission, for hormonal secretions and other metabolic functions. Lack of calcium causes nerve irritability and nerve conduction is disorganised. You get a condition called tetany where your fingers and joints can twist to cause pain and dysfunction. Calcium blocking agents like Amlodipine (Norvasc) is used to slow down the heart muscle action to reduce the high blood pressure in patients.

The body regulates the calcium in the blood and does not allow to fluctuations with dietary calcium intake, as the body uses the calcium reserves in the bones when there is a shortage in the blood stream. Thus the nerves, muscles and fluids within the cells can function without hiccups.

About 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and required for its skeletal structure and keep the bones strong. Lack of calcium intake can lead to bone fractures in trauma situations. Fracture of the hip bones is very common among the elderly after even minor falls, and lack of calcium affects the vertebral bones: they get softer and gets compressed leading to back problems. A condition called osteoporosis results due to deficiency of calcium in the bones.

Daily calcium requirements are as follow:

0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg
7–12 mnths Males-260 mg: Female-260 mg
1–3 years Male-700 mg: Female 700 mg
4–8 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,000 mg
9–13 years Male 1,300 mg: Female 1,300 mg
14–18 years Male 1,300 mg: Female 1,300 mg: Pregnant 1,300 mg: Lactation1,300 mg
19–50 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,000 mg: Pregnant 1,000 mg: Lactation 1,000 mg
51–70 years Male 1,000 mg: Female 1,200 mg
71+ years Male 1,200 mg: Female 1,200 mg

Some of the best food sources of Calcium-
milk, 8-ounce glass: 300 mg: cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 65 mg: soy milk, calcium fortified, 8 ounces: 200-400 mg: yogurt, 1 cup: 450 mg: cheese, 1 ounce: 50-270 mg: kale, 1 cup: 55 mg: orange juice, 1 cup fortified with calcium: 300 mg: tofu calcium set, 4 ounces: 250-750 mg: cereals, calcium fortified, 1 ounce: 250-1000 mg: almonds, 1 ounce: 80 mg: sesame seeds,1 ounce: 280 mg: chia seeds,1 ounce: 180 mg: canned salmon, 2 ounces: 170-210 mg: sardines, 3 ounces: 370 mg

Calcium Supplements vs. natural products
Too much of calcium intake from supplements is considered bad for the heart, and best way to get calcium is through natural dietary foods.
The John Hopkins School of Medicine researchers found that taking too much of calcium dietary supplements can increase calcium deposit builds up in the plaques of coronary arteries. On the other hand calcium taken from food sources lowered the risk of developing calcium deposits in the arteries, an early sign of plaque build-up.
Calcium-rich foods also seems to protect both bones and hearts

Check your serum Calcium levels
Get a blood test done to check whether your calcium numbers are correct.
Avoid taking calcium supplements n high doses- may take in small doses.
Eat plenty of calcium rich foods as detailed above.
Remember, daily exercise, and sports activities among school children are the best ways to make your bones strong. Encourage your kids to participate in school sports and give them natural calcium rich foods like milk and cheese, daily.

Good advice from Dr harold

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Let’s talk about Apple Cider Vinegar and its multi-benefits

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake-Health writer

Apple Cider Vinegar

A bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar on your kitchen table kept ready at hand is one of the most vital items, as important as onions, spices and so on. It has many uses such as for cleaning, washing your hair, preserving food, to clean your skin of exfoliated skin and moles, in addition to being used as a health drink-just a few drops in your drinking water, daily.

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