Dr harold Gunatillake

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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A better way to check your diabetes:

Written by Dr Harold Gunatillake FRCS-Health writer

Most Sri Lankans do ignore a simple test to check for diabetes when required after the age of 40, as they do not realise the serious issues of the disease and the ability to control better when detected early. Those who have a family history of diabetes do check to find out whether they have got high blood sugar levels.

To check for fasting blood sugar finger prick test would do. If you have your own glucose testing monitor, you could check it at home when required. In a normal non-diabetic person the reading would be about 90mg/dl. (6 mmol/l). When it reaches 126mg/dl (6.9mmol/l) you would be considered a pre-diabetic. The complications with pre-diabetes and full blown diabetes are similar. So, it is important at the pre-diabetes stage to nip in the bud by eating low GI foods and exercise daily

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Breast Cancer-Treatment

When breast cancer is detected early removal of the breast is the most common management, with or without adjuvant, radio and chemotherapy.


Mastectomy is the name given to breast removal. In the past radical mastectomy was the standard treatment when the cancer was limited to the breast tissues and local underarm glands. This includes the removal of the breast tissues, regional lymph glands within the breast and the arm-pit, plus the pectoralis minor muscle for better exposure for the removal of the lymphatic tissue.

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Why do your legs swell?

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake –Health writer


When you are young and active swelling of the legs and round the ankles are a rarity unless you suffer from a disease like nephritis- chronic inflammation of the kidneys due to many reasons.

Venous blood pumping from the feet and legs work efficiently through the pumping action of the peripheral heart and that would be your calf muscles. There is an efficient lymphatic system which takes extra-cellular body fluids in the legs towards the heart an additional system to remove fluid (lymph) from the lower extremity.

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