In the Spotlight: Dr Ang Poon Liat Shares Nutrition Tips Every Mum Should Know

Nutrition is close to my heart and I’m not referring to having a feast with an emperor’s spread on the table.

Before I was pregnant with Vera, I’ve had a couple of health scares, including high cholesterol which had tipped to a seemingly dangerous zone that required medication. This revelation came out of the blue during our annual health check-up, as I’ve always been rather cautious with my diet. Truth be told, genetics play a large role, and high cholesterol, unfortunately, runs in the family.

The other panic was stressed-induced, which led to heart palpitations and eventually, I had to be hooked up on machines/gadgets, threadmills and whatnots for tests. Let’s just say that visits to the heart specialist dented a hole in the pockets and my heart ached.

Becoming a mother made me naturally more wary of the food my child (and baby bump!), my family and I were eating. We’re no longer lone rangers but a family, and as they say, “health is wealth”, and nothing beats a healthy being.

An exclusive chance to speak to a Paediatrician was definitely an exciting one for me and we fired away with our burning questions on nutrition.

Dr Ang Poon Liat practices at Thomson Medical Centre, and has been a paediatrician for 45 years, embracing special interest in nutrition. He’s a firm believer that the food we eat sets forth for feeding a healthy body; and parents can take on a proactive approach in building their children’s foundation for good health.

He has recently authored a two-volume book set with a social agenda: “The Wonders of Nutrition” and “Roadmaps to Recovery” which are dedicated to mothers, who nurture the health of our future generation.

We snagged a face-to-face session with Dr Ang Poon Liat to find out what his thoughts are on this nutrition equation.

Dr Ang Poon Liat nutrition tips for mothers

Our exclusive interview with a medical expert, Dr Ang Poon Liat. Definitely an insightful session for mothers, Jenn, myself and Charlene!

Prevent Diseases with the Right Nutrition

Dr Ang Poon Liat believes that “nearly all health disorders have an underlying link to nutrition. It could be undernourishment due to eating refined and processed foods – as well as the products of modern agriculture – that lack adequate amounts of essential nutrients.”

He quips, “The brain is what you feed; you get what you give. It’s the master of the house; an organ survivor.”

Chronic degenerative diseases, mental issues such as Alzheimer, behaviourial problems, obesity, early menstruation, cancers, are affecting the modern population these days, especially with the increasing amount of processed foods we are eating, our diets and stressful lifestyles.

With cancer on an upward trend, we need to be mindful how cancer is formed and how we can take steps to reduce the chances of it. Cancer is not simply about the BRCA genes; 90% is about the food and only 10% is due to genetics.

Society needs to be aware of making smart food choices. Treasure the health you’re given and work towards a good quality of life. For example, cancer survivors tend to change their diet and lifestyle for the better after the health shock, in a bid to improve their health and for healing purposes. Healing starts from inside out for the body to fight, and to rebuild and regain the pink of health.

It is important to harmonise our body and thoughts to make it healthy. This creates a balanced person, both inside and outside.

For example, our body produces cholesterol for a reason. Cholesterol is brain food and every cell membrane requires it for cell regeneration, especially the brain membrane. Cholesterol is high because the body needs it – demand and supply logic. When there’s inflammation, cholesterol is required to heal and seal it. Removing cholesterol from the body’s equation, may end up with our bodies going hay-wired especially the brain and heart.

Dr Ang Poon Liat suggests to eat healthy and natural cholesterol such as eggs but avoid frying them. Soft boiled, semi-boiled are the best ways. As for fish, the Japanese take sashimi which are raw fish, and these are healthier than fried ones, and there’s no doubt that the Japanese generally live longer. However, always ensure your raw fish sources are hygienic and prepared in the right manner. Alternatively, steamed fish is your next best bet.

You Are What Your Mother Ate

Dr Ang Poon Liat nutrition tips for mothers

According to Dr Ang Poon Liat, nutrition starts during conception and the first six years of a child are his formative years, which requires the right nutrients to set the foundation to good health and to prevent diseases.

The first six years of a child’s life sets the foundation for his health and overall well-being, pretty much like the theory of The First 1,000 Days of a child.

99.9999% of a fetus’ nutrition is from the mother (egg), whilst the remaining 0.00001% is from the father (sperm). This makes the mum’s diet an influential one to their offsprings.

From the point of conception, the fetus is fed with nourishment through the mother; and when the baby is delivered, breastmilk from the mother continues to nourish the baby. When the child starts solids, it is usually the mother who makes the decision on what to cook and how to cook for the child. And the first six years (the formative years) of a child is crucial as nutrients are fed to the body to aid in development in a multitude of ways.

You Are What You Eat

When eating out, it’s all about making the right choices. Nutritious food need not be expensive and only available at restaurants. When dining at hawker centres, consider food such as porridge or fish soup. It’s all about making smart decisions and choosing the lesser of two evils at times.

Try to eat at home as much as possible, as parents are able to decide what to cook, how to cook and what goes into those dishes.

Avoid imposters such as certain oils and frying of food. Those are worse off for our health and bodies. Aim to nourish your children with brain food especially during their formative years. With adequate knowledge easily accessible these days, parents are able to take on the appropriate approach and take charge of their nutrition intake.

Eating is cultivated and involves making smart choices. Peer pressure and access to knowledge are important, and hence Dr Ang Poon Liat hopes to share his acquired insights and experience from over the years.

The two animals that convert very well for our bodies are: fish (seafood) and chicken. So when deciding what to eat, these two are ideal for us.

Dr Ang shares why some of us are more prone to eczema, how to manage eczema, and why probiotics is essential for a healthy gut. Refer to Book 2 Chapter 3.

Choosing the Right Foods

Fuel your child with brain foods, which includes eggs and fish. However, the types of eggs and fish also attribute to the nutritional goodness for us. Here are some tips that Dr Ang Poon Liat shares when it comes to choosing ingredients:

Eggs: Opt for kampung eggs from markets, or buy fresh from the farms. Black chicken eggs and duck eggs are great alternatives too – why not?

Poultry: Choose free-roaming fowl such as black chicken.

Fish: Ask the fishmonger for fish that are caught rather than farmed; unfarmed options include Selar, Kuning, Mackerel, Black or White Promfret.

Oil: Coconut oil is the best. Find out how the other oils compare in Book 1 Chapter 8.

Adults tend to eat by the clock, while children usually take the lead when it comes to eating; whether they are hungry or not, and sometimes at strange timings. Scolding or forcing may result in backlash, as it creates an emotional impact on the child.

Here are ways to make mealtimes more enjoyable:

  • Timing: Eating at the right timing helps to manage mealtimes for the family.
  • Sharing: Eating is social, so try to have your meals together as a family or with friends. This includes your children as well, as humans are natural social beings.
  • Choices: Your child may eat more of a certain dish, and that’s him making the choice to choose what he prefers or likes. Offer him a variety if he is picky about a particular food.
Dr Ang Poon Liat nutrition tips for mothers

Vera digging into Baked Avocados with Fresh Eggs for breakfast. Makes a nutritious dish for adults too!

Some brain-food recipes you can create at home: Baked Avocado with Fresh Eggs, Savoury Egg Muffins/Frittatas and Salmon and Veggie Wholegrain Wrap

Cooking for Health

Spending a dollar now on health, helps you to save much more later in life. It’s an investment for the future and your children’s health and well-being.

Parents are role models, and should walk the talk when it comes to eating. Children are imitators who look up to their parents, so as a family, taking a proactive approach on nutrition goes a long way in setting the path for your children.

If a child sees his parents drinking soft drinks at mealtimes, he would associate that as acceptable, and would also take it as a green light that the choice is right.

Getting the right ingredients is the first step, but the cooking methods can affect their nutrients too. Dr Ang Poon Liat suggests the following cooking methods to avoid destroying those benefits:

Cooking Methods

    • Avoid frying food even with brain food such as eggs.
    • Water-based cooking such as steaming, saucing or stewing (without exceeding 100 degrees) to lock in the nutrients of food such as fish and minimise loss of nutrients, which ultimately allows your child to absorb them for his development.
    • Fry: 200deg; bake: 400deg. Nutrients get destroyed during the process and vegetable oil makes it more unstable.

Personally, I was curious about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and how it can help our body’s constitution. Here’s what Dr Ang Poon Liat has to share….

Building immunity with TCM for our children and during pregnancy

  • Dr Ang Poon Liat advises that it’s important to feed our cells well, and herbs and spices can play a part in our diet too.
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties: Our immune system are bounty-hunters. Herbs are full of anti-oxidants which help to fight against the bad guys. The biggest challenge: immune system needs to be built, and Dr Ang Poon Liat is a believer of TCM, natural herbs, and traditional food.
  • Food is all about balance – the Yin and Yang. Finding the balance is tricky, certain foods can de-balance one such as excess sugar intake, alcohol or even caffeine for some. They turn foggy and get high which throws them off-balance. Eat appropriate foods and in moderation, balancing out their benefits and effects to maintain a healthy body, mind and overall well-being.

To find out more about herbs and spices, read Book 1 Chapter 12.1.

Some pregnancy tonics soup recipes to try: Black Chicken Soup with Essence of Chicken and 6 Herbs Nourish Soup.

Nourish the brain

The brain is our core and requires proper nutrients and nourishment to develop, especially for young children.

Research shows that “Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants. DHA is also required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults.”

As parents, if we are unable to offer fish everyday, consider alternatives such as fish oil supplements or even krill oil, which has high dosages of DHA, essential fats for our brains.

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Dr Ang Poon Liat nutrition tips for mothers

Dr Ang Poon Liat shares his wealth of knowledge and experience about nutrition with these two books.

Surely Dr Ang Poon Liat is a walking testimonial of his own beliefs – he is 71 years old, but looks way younger and fitter!

He holds dear that mothers are the gatekeepers to their child’s health and she holds the key to that journey. These books are a gift to society, and Dr Ang Poon Liat hopes to give back to the community with his knowledge. With these books, Dr Ang Poon Liat hopes to help prevent diseases in our future generation and aims to guide mothers on their food choices and how they can nurture their children.

“The Wonders of Nutrition” and “Roadmaps to Recovery” retail at SGD$80/set and all proceeds go to charities. Available at Thomson Medical in the Outpatient Counter, Pharmacy, Thomson Paediatric Centre (level 3) and www.thomsonbaby.com.

Thank you Rise and Shine for this special opportunity to meet and speak with Dr Ang Poon Liat, and Dr Ang for taking time to share with us! Dr Ang Poon Liat can be reached here.

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