Nourishing the Gut for a Healthy Mind: Celebrating World Health Day 2024

On World Health Day 2024, let’s delve into the fascinating world of our gut microbiome and its profound impact on our overall well-being. The gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract, is an integral part of our health that influences everything from our metabolism to our mood. Understanding the gut-brain axis and nurturing our gut health through nutrition can lead to a happier, healthier life.


The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication network that links the enteric nervous system of the gut with the central nervous system of the brain. This intricate relationship means that our gut health can influence our mental state, earning the gut the nickname “the second brain.” The gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in this axis, producing various neurotransmitters and signalling molecules that can affect brain function and mood.


So, how can we support this crucial aspect of our health through diet? Here are some practical tips for fostering a healthy gut microbiome:

  1. Boost Fibre Intake: Incorporate a variety of high-fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These act as prebiotics, feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
  2. Embrace Dietary Diversity: Aim for at least 30 different plant-based foods each week to encourage microbial diversity.
  3. Enjoy Fermented Foods: Include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, natto, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, which contain probiotics that can help balance your gut flora.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water aids digestion and helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines.
  5. Limit Processed Foods: Ultra-processed foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, salt and preservatives can disrupt your gut microbiome. Examples include sausage, frozen ready meals, sugary sodas, instant noodles and candies. Opt for whole, unprocessed ingredients whenever possible.
  6. Practice Mindful Eating: Take the time to chew your food thoroughly, which can aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, benefiting your gut microbiota.

The link between gut health and mental health is supported by numerous studies. For instance, an imbalance in the gut microbiota has been associated with various mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. By nurturing our gut microbiota through diet, we can potentially improve our mental health and resilience to stress.

Now, let’s put these tips into practice with a delicious and nutritious vegan recipe that’s sure to delight your taste buds and your gut bacteria.

Vegan Tofu Stir-Fry

Serves 2


400g extra firm tofu, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 slice ginger, grated

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 cup snap peas

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add tofu and cook until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, sauté garlic and ginger until slightly softened. Add carrot and stir-fry for about 3 minutes until slightly softened.
  3. Add snap peas and bell peppers. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  4. Return tofu to the pan, toss everything together with soy sauce and heat through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Ready to serve.

*This dish can be served with cooked brown rice or soba noodles*


Nutritional Analysis (per serving):

Calories: 251 kcal

Protein: 19g

Total fat: 11g

Total Carbohydrates: 22g

Fibre: 5g


This recipe is not only a feast for the eyes with its vibrant colours but also a treat for your gut microbiota, providing a rich source of plant-based proteins and dietary fibre. By incorporating such gut-friendly meals into your diet, you can take a proactive step towards enhancing your gut-brain axis and, consequently, your mental and physical health.


滋養腸道,保持健康心態:慶祝 2024 年世界衛生日

在 2024 年世界衛生日,讓我們深入了解腸道微生物組的世界及其對我們整體健康的深遠影響。 腸道微生物組是存在於我們消化道中的複雜微生物生態系統,是我們健康不可或缺的一部分,影響著從新陳代謝到情緒的一切。 了解腸腦軸並透過營養培養腸道健康可以帶來更快樂、更健康的生活。

腸腦軸是一個雙向通訊網絡,將腸道的腸神經系統與大腦的中樞神經系統連接起來。 這種錯綜複雜的關係意味著我們的腸道健康可以影響我們的精神狀態,因此腸道被稱為「第二個大腦」。 腸道微生物群在此軸中發揮關鍵作用,產生各種會影響大腦功能和情緒的神經傳導物質和訊號分子。

那麼,我們如何透過飲食來支持我們健康的這一重要面向呢? 以下是培養健康腸道微生物組的一些實用技巧:

  1. 增加纖維:加入各種高纖維食物,如水果、蔬菜、全穀類、堅果和種子。 它們充當益生元,為腸道中的有益細菌提供營養。
  2. 膳食多樣化:每週至少吃 30 種不同的植物性食物,以促進微生物多樣性。
  3. 發酵食品:包括乳酪、克菲爾、納豆、味噌、天貝(印尼發酵黃豆餅)、德式酸菜、泡菜和康普茶等發酵食品,它們含有益生菌,有助於平衡腸道菌叢。
  4. 補充水分:喝大量的水有助於消化並有助於維持腸道黏膜內壁。
  5. 限制加工食品:富含糖、飽和脂肪、鹽和防腐劑的超加工食品會破壞腸道微生物組, 例如香腸、冷凍即食食品、汽水、即食麵和糖果。 盡可能選擇完整的、未加工的食材。
  6. 正念飲食:花時間徹底咀嚼食物,可以幫助消化和吸收營養,有益於腸道微生物群。


腸道健康與心理健康之間的關聯得到了許多研究的支持。 例如,腸道微生物群的不平衡與各種心理健康問題有關,包括焦慮和憂鬱。 透過飲食培育腸道微生物群,我們可以改善我們的心理健康和抗壓性。







2 瓣大蒜,切碎

1 片生薑,切碎

1 條甘筍,切絲

1 杯豌豆

1 個紅甜椒,切片

1 個黃甜椒,切片






  1. 易潔鑊用中火加熱油, 加入豆腐塊,煮至金黃色。 從鑊中取出並放在一邊。
  2. 在同一個鑊中,爆香大蒜和薑。加入紅蘿蔔,炒約​​3分鐘至稍微變軟。
  3. 加入豌豆和彩椒,炒約2分鐘。
  4. 將豆腐放回鑊中,加入豉油攪拌,將所有食材炒至熟透。
  5. 依照自己的喜好加鹽和胡椒調味,即成。










此食譜不僅顏色鮮豔吸引,還為您的腸道微生物群提供豐富的植物性蛋白質和膳食纖維來源。 透過將此類有益於腸道的飲食納入您的飲食中,以增強您的腸腦軸,從而促進您的身心健康。

World Cancer Day: Eating And Lifestyle Tips For Cancer Prevention

World Cancer Day, observed every year on February 4th, is a global initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to raise awareness about cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. This day unites people around the world in the fight against the cancer epidemic, emphasising the importance of early detection, education, and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cancer.

Cancer prevention is a critical aspect of reducing the global impact of the disease. While not all cancers are preventable, several lifestyle and dietary measures can significantly lower the risk of developing many types of cancer. Here are 10 tips for healthy eating and lifestyle choices that may help prevent cancer:


Photo by Ello on Unsplash

Healthy Eating for Cancer Prevention


1. Consume Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of certain types of cancer. These foods contain essential nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which can protect cells from damage. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends aiming for at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day to gain the maximum health benefits, including cancer prevention. One serving of fruits or vegetables is typically considered to be 80 grams. This is roughly equivalent to a medium piece of fruit (like an apple or orange), 1 small bowl of salad leaves, or 3-4 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables (like peas, sweetcorn, sliced cabbage, mushrooms, or runner beans).

2. Choose Whole Grains

Whole grains are packed with fibre, which not only aids digestion but also may help prevent colorectal cancer. Replace refined grains with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat. Dietary guidelines often suggest aiming for at least half of all grains consumed to be whole grains.

3. Limit Red and Processed Meat

Consuming large amounts of red meat and processed meats can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends that individuals who eat red meat should consume less than 500 grams (cooked weight) per week, including beef, lamb, or pork.  Additionally, they advocate for minimal intake of processed meats to reduce cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer. Processed meats are those that have been altered by methods such as salting, curing, fermenting, or smoking to enhance their flavour or extend their shelf life. Examples of processed meats include ham, sausages, luncheon meat, hot dogs, bacon, salami, corned beef, and beef jerky. These products often contain high levels of sodium and preservatives, including nitrates or nitrites, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

It is advisable to consider leaner protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish and seafoods, or plant-based proteins including tofu, legumes and lentils.

4. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of several cancers, including breast, liver, and colorectal cancer. Limiting alcohol or avoiding it altogether can reduce these risks. Here are some tips for reducing alcohol intake:

  • Set Limits: Decide on a fixed number of drinks per week and stick to it.
  • Measure Drinks: Use standard measures to avoid overpouring.
  • Alternate Drinks: Swap alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Plan Alcohol-Free Days: Choose specific days to abstain from alcohol completely.
  • Slow Pace: Sip slowly and limit yourself to one drink per hour.
  • Avoid Peer Pressure: Learn to say no and stick to your drinking goals.
  • Track Consumption: Keep a diary of your drinking to monitor intake.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is a known risk factor for various types of cancer. By eating a balanced diet and controlling portion sizes, you can maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial for cancer prevention.


Lifestyle Choices for Cancer Prevention


1. Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of cancer. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

2. Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer worldwide. Avoiding tobacco, or deciding to quit, is one of the most important health decisions you can make.

3. Protect Yourself from the Sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Use sunscreen, seek shade, and wear protective clothing to reduce your risk.

4. Get Regular Medical Care

Regular screenings can detect cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, oral cavity, and skin early. Early detection is key to successful treatment and can significantly increase the chances of survival.

5. Get Vaccinated

Vaccines can protect against certain viral infections that can lead to cancer. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other types of cancer.


World Cancer Day serves as a reminder that through healthy eating and lifestyle choices, we can take actionable steps towards cancer prevention. While these tips are not a guarantee against cancer, they can significantly reduce the risk and contribute to overall health and well-being.

Remember, these guidelines are for general information purposes and should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalised recommendations.







  1. 多吃水果和蔬菜



  1. 選擇全穀物



  1. 限制紅肉和加工肉類的攝取




  1. 減少飲酒


  • 設定限制:決定每週固定的飲酒數量並堅持。
  • 量度飲品:使用標準量度以避免過量倒酒。
  • 交替飲用:用水或非酒精飲料替換酒精飲品。
  • 計劃無酒日:選擇特定的日子完全不飲酒。
  • 慢速飲用:慢慢啜飲,並限制每小時一杯飲品。
  • 避免同儕壓力:學會說不,堅持你的飲酒目標。
  • 追踪消費:記錄你的飲酒日誌以監控攝取量。


  1. 保持健康體重





  1. 保持身體活躍



  1. 避免使用煙草



  1. 保護自己免受陽光傷害



  1. 定期進行醫療檢查



  1. 接種疫苗






A Wellness Self-care Guide For A Healthier 2024

As we enter the year 2024, prioritising our well-being has become more crucial than ever. Professional recommendations can help embrace a wellness self-care guide. By practising the following five recommendations on a regular basis, we can nurture our physical, mental, and emotional well-being and live a healthier life.


  1. Prioritise Physical Health

Taking care of our physical health is fundamental to leading a healthy life. It is recommended to engage in regular exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. You don’t have to do it all at once, it could be 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This can include activities such as brisk walking, dancing, cycling, or swimming. Incorporating strength training exercises twice a week is also beneficial for maintaining muscle strength and bone health.


  1. Nourish Your Body

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for overall wellness. Focus on consuming a variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages high in added sugars. Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day.


  1. Take Care of Your Mental Well-Being

Having good mental health is a state of overall wellbeing.  Practice mindfulness and stress management techniques to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Engage in activities that bring you joy, such as hobbies, reading, or spending time with loved ones. Prioritise quality sleep by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.


  1. Find a Work-Life Balance

In 2024, strive for a healthy work-life balance. Set boundaries between work and personal life, allowing yourself time to relax, unwind, and engage in activities that bring you happiness. Prioritise self-care activities, such as meditation, yoga, or taking breaks during the workday to recharge.


  1. Practise Preventive Care

Regular health check-ups and preventive care are essential for maintaining good health. Schedule routine visits with your healthcare provider, including vaccinations, screenings, and health assessments. Stay updated on latest local medical guidelines and recommendations to ensure you are taking necessary steps to prevent illness and maintain optimal health.


As we embark on the year 2024, embracing a wellness self-care guide is essential for living a healthier life. By prioritising physical health, nourishing our bodies, taking care of our mental well-being, finding a work-life balance, and practising preventive care, we can create a foundation for a happier and healthier future. Remember, small changes can make a significant difference in our overall well-being. Here’s to a year filled with wellness and vitality!

Healthy And Happy Holidays: Tips For Eating Right And Staying Fit During Christmas

The holiday season is a time for celebration and indulgence, but it does not mean we have to abandon our healthy eating habits. With some simple strategies, you can enjoy the festive season while still prioritising your well-being.


Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash


  1. Plan Ahead and Prioritize

Before the holiday season begins, take some time to plan your meals and activities. Set realistic goals and focus on maintaining rather than losing weight. Prioritize nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Fill your plate with these healthier options before reaching for the less nutritious ones.


  1. Practice Portion Control

During holiday gatherings, it is easy to overindulge in calorie-dense foods. Instead, practice portion control. Enjoy a small portion of your favourite treats while filling most of your plate with vegetables and lean proteins. Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and avoid eating mindlessly. Slow down, savour each bite, and engage in conversations to help you become more mindful of your eating habits.


  1. Make Smart Substitutions

Swap out unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives when cooking or baking. For example, use whole wheat flour instead of refined flour, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or applesauce instead of oil in baked goods. Experiment with herbs, spices, and citrus flavours to enhance the taste of dishes without adding excess salt or sugar. These simple substitutions can significantly reduce calorie intake without compromising on taste and enjoyment.


  1. Stay Active

Physical activity is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even during the holidays. Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, or playing outdoor games with family and friends. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days. Stay consistent with your exercise routine to counterbalance any extra calories consumed during holiday meals.


  1. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating involves paying attention to the present moment and being fully aware of your food choices, hunger, and satiety signals. Slow down and savour each bite, appreciating the flavours and textures of the food. Minimize distractions like television or smartphones while eating to fully focus on your meal. This practice can help prevent overeating and promote a healthy relationship with food.


With a little planning, mindfulness, and smart choices, you can enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your health and fitness goals. By following the above recommendations, you can savour the festive flavours while nurturing your well-being and setting a positive example for others. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!


5 Healthy Eating Tips For A Strong And Healthy Heart

Maintaining a healthy heart is paramount to overall well-being. By adopting a balanced and nutritious diet, you can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, control blood pressure, and manage cholesterol levels. In this article, we will explore five essential eating tips to support heart health.


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


  1. Embrace a Plant-Based Diet

Including a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts in your daily meals forms the foundation of a heart-healthy diet. These plant-based foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread over refined grains.

  1. Limit Unhealthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are known to raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Limit your consumption of red meat, processed meats, full-fat dairy products, and deep-fried foods, as these are high in saturated fats. Instead, opt for lean proteins like skinless poultry, fish, legumes, and tofu. Replace unhealthy fats with healthier alternatives such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts, which provide essential fatty acids that promote heart health.

  1. Reduce Sodium Intake

A high-sodium diet can lead to elevated blood pressure, increasing the strain on your heart. To keep your blood pressure in check, limit your intake of processed and packaged foods, as they often contain excessive amounts of sodium. Instead, flavour your meals with herbs, spices, and other salt-free seasonings. Be mindful of restaurant meals and processed snacks, which can be hidden sources of sodium. Opt for fresh, home-cooked meals whenever possible.

  1. Choose Heart-Healthy Proteins

Protein is an essential nutrient, but not all sources are equally beneficial for heart health. Fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Opt for lean protein sources such as fish, skinless poultry, beans, lentils, and low-fat dairy products. Fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, and sardine, provide additional heart-protective benefits.

  1. Watch Your Portion Sizes and Added Sugars

Controlling portion sizes is vital for maintaining a healthy weight and managing heart health. Be mindful of your calorie intake and avoid overeating. Additionally, limit your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, as excessive sugar intake has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Choose natural sugars found in fruits and minimize the consumption of sugary snacks, sodas, and desserts.


In conclusion, adopting a heart-healthy diet is a crucial step towards maintaining a strong and healthy heart. By incorporating these five eating tips into your lifestyle, you can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, keep blood pressure in check, and manage cholesterol levels. Remember, small changes in your eating habits can have a big impact on your heart health. Consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice and guidance on creating a heart-healthy eating plan that suits your specific needs. Start prioritizing your heart health today for a healthier tomorrow.


Foods That Fuel: Dietitian Sally Poon Shares Her Dance Nutrition Tips

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash





Driven by the athleticism, artistry and aesthetics of dance, many dancers find themselves in a whirlwind of personal health and fitness goals. It can be mind-boggling for young dancers to figure out how to fuel their bodies. Though we each have a unique physical composition, there are a few dietary tips that every dancer should take note off. Here to share her advice on nutrition for dancers is one of Hong Kong’s leading dietitians, Sally Poon.



How can dancers keep their energy up throughout the day?

S.P.: For competition or stage performance preparation, it is important to ensure that adequate dietary intake is being achieved. Eat frequent meals and snacks throughout the day. Do not skip meals. Always consume a snack to replenish your energy within 30 minutes after training.

In between training sessions and performances, dancers should give special attention to fluid and carbohydrate intake in order to maintain optimal cognition and motor skill performance. Dehydration can cause tiredness and hinder performance by reducing strength and aerobic capacity. Impaired skill level can also occur, along with mental fatigue that can impact concentration and decision making. The amount an individual sweats varies from person to person, therefore fluid needs are highly individualised. Generally, the more a person sweats, the more they will need to drink. When the body is well hydrated, the colour of urine should be pale yellow throughout the day. Water is suitable for low intensity and short duration exercise. Sports drinks can be useful in high intensity or endurance training, as they contain both carbohydrates for fuel and sodium to help the body retain fluid more effectively and stimulate thirst.




What types of dietary risks are dancers prone to?

S.P.: The risk of poor micronutrient status due to restricted energy intake may be higher for dancers. Micronutrients that warrant attention include iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Our body needs iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Low levels of iron in the body can cause iron deficiency anaemia. Symptoms include weakness, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, as well as impaired immune function and recovery. 

It is important that dancers seek dietary advice from qualified dietitians, due to the great amount of pressure to maintain a low body weight and low body fat levels, especially among ballet dancers. And this can lead to unbalanced eating habits and health issues if it is not properly supervised. Evidence suggests that disordered eating, menstrual disturbances, and low bone mineral density are the key health issues for dancers at all skill levels. Low bone mineral density is associated with clinical outcomes of osteopenia and osteoporosis. A study found that dancers had three times the risk of suffering from eating disorders.


Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash


What are some ways that dancers can develop or maintain strong and healthy bones?

S.P.: Adequate calcium and vitamin D are crucial to maintain proper bone health. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are the main food sources of calcium. Dark green vegetables, tofu, canned sardines, and calcium-fortified beverages are good sources of calcium too. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is important to keep our immunity strong. The body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Only a few foods naturally have vitamin D, which include fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), egg yolks, mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light, as well as fortified foods and beverages (such as breakfast cereals, yogurt, milk, soy milk, and orange juice). Dietary supplements may be necessary to help achieve specific nutritional goals when dietary intake is inadequate.


Photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash

5 Fuelling Foods Packed with Nutrition

  1. Nuts are a good source of protein, healthy monounsaturated fats and dietary fibre. They also contain vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Protein can enhance muscle repair and building; vitamin E is important for the immune system; and salted nuts with fluids can enhance rehydration.
  2. Fruits are rich in carbohydrates, dietary fibre, vitamin C, and potassium. Carbohydrates are an important energy source during exercise. Inadequate carbohydrate intake combined with regular training can lead to tiredness, loss of muscle mass and poor recovery. Carbohydrates are also needed to provide fuel to the brain, therefore low carbohydrate diets can result in poor concentration, mood swings and depression. Vitamin C is crucial to keep the immune system strong.
  3. Milk contains protein, calcium, and phosphorus that can promote muscle function and bone health. It also includes a source of fluid and sodium to enhance rehydration.
  4. Eggs are rich in protein for growth, repair and maintenance of muscles. Eggs also contain high concentrations of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin; as well as choline which is involved in the regulation of memory, mood, and muscle control.
  5. Quinoa is classified as a whole grain and is a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and iron. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.


Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

A List of Energy Boosting Snack Suggestions for Dancers

  • Cereal bars
  • Nut bars
  • Energy balls
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Trail mix with dried fruits
  • Yogurt with almonds and fruits
  • Egg/ tuna/ cheese sandwich
  • Peanut butter banana sandwich
  • Apple walnut muffins
  • Banana nut bread
  • Small tin of tuna on crackers with a banana
  • Vegetables sticks and pita bread with hummus


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

What are some key foods and food groups that dancers should incorporate into their daily diet?

S.P.: Grains should be taken as the major dietary source, such as rice, noodles, pasta, bread, cereals, oatmeal, granola bars, and crackers. Eat more fruits and vegetables – make your meals as colourful as possible! Have a moderate amount of lean meat, skinless poultry, fish and seafood, beans, tofu, eggs, and low-fat dairy. Include some healthy fats with meals and snacks, such as nuts and seeds, avocado, nut butter, olive oil, salmon and tuna.

Ready to fuel up and take the stage, let’s open our pantry and keep our dance bags packed with delicious and energizing snacks! A special thank you to leading dietitian Sally Poon for sharing her expertise on nutrition for dancers!


Sally, Shi-Po Poon 潘仕寶

Registered Dietitian (UK)

Accredited Practising Dietitian (Australia)

BSc Nutrition (King’s College, London)

Master of Nutrition & Dietetics (The University of Sydney, Australia)

Sports Nutrition (HKUSPACE)

For more nutrition tips follow Sally on:

Personal Dietitian

Facebook: @sallypoondietitian

Instagram: @sallypoondietitian


This article was posted on the Hong Kong Dance Magazine website on 25 May 2020:


5 Essential Nutrients To Keep Your Immune System Strong

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash



Article by Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)


Lately, I have received many inquiries about food and nutrition related to the COVID-19/ Coronavirus pandemic. Put simply, there is no specific food or supplement will prevent you from catching COVID-19. Good personal hygiene practice, such as washing hands frequently and wearing surgical masks, remains one of the means of avoiding infection. In addition, the local government has urged the public to go out less and reduce social gatherings at this stage.


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. This can be achieved through regular exercise, adequate rest and a balanced diet. There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system such as these:


1.Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and immune function. It also helps the lungs and other organs function properly. Food sources of vitamin A include liver, spinach, sweet potato, squash, carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is better absorbed when you eat it with healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a key role in immune function. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can help you achieve recommended amounts of vitamin C. Food sources of vitamin C include guava, kiwifruits, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and our body needs vitamin E to maintain its immune system healthy. Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, and corn oils), nuts (like almonds and peanuts), seeds (such as sunflower seeds and sesame seeds), and avocado are excellent sources of vitamin E.

4. Zinc

Zinc plays an important role in immune function. Older people who have low levels of zinc might have a higher risk of getting pneumonia. Zinc is found in many foods and you can get recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods including oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork, chicken, baked beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, yogurt, and cheese.

5. Iron

Iron deficiency anaemia can impair immune function and make you less able to fight off germs and infections. You can get recommended amounts of iron by eating a variety of foods including red meat, seafood, poultry, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, lentils and legumes, spinach, nuts, and raisins. Your body absorbs iron from plant-based sources better when you eat it with foods that contain vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwifruit, and tomatoes.


Photo by S’well on Unsplash

5 Essential Nutrients For Plant-based Diets

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)



If you are a vegetarian or want to cut back on meats, make sure you get all the nutrients you need through a balanced diet. If a plant-based diet is well planned and nutritionally adequate, it may provide health benefits and lowering the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes. However, if the diet is not planned appropriately, you can fall short on the following nutrients easily:


  1. Protein

It is important to get enough dietary protein to keep our muscle, hair, skin and nails healthy. Main plant-based sources of protein include lentils, legumes, seeds, nuts, nut butter, soy milk, firm tofu, and meat substitutes. Eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt are also good sources of protein if you eat these. Grains such as quinoa, millet, oats, wheat, and rice also contain some protein. It is important to eat different kinds of protein food every day to get all the amino acids required.


  1. Iron

Iron is essential for making red blood cells and insufficient iron intake can result in iron deficiency anaemia. Signs and symptoms include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, headache, dizziness, cold hands and feet, and brittle nails.

Plant sources of iron include white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, fortified breakfast cereals, dark chocolate, firm tofu, raisins, spinach, and cashew nuts. Your body absorbs plant-based iron better when you eat it with foods that contain vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwi fruits, guavas, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.


  1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain, eye, and heart health. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as chia seed, flaxseed, soybean, walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.

Your body can only convert very small amounts of ALA into EPA and then to DHA. If you do not eat fish and seafood, you should get EPA and DHA from fortified foods such as eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soymilk. If you think you have trouble getting enough omega-3s from food, consult with a doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist regarding dietary supplements.


  1. Calcium

 99% of the body’s calcium supply is stored in the bones and teeth where it supports their structure and function. Dairy foods are rich in calcium but if you are not eating these make sure you obtain calcium from other sources like fortified foods (e.g. breakfast cereals, fruit juices, tofu, soymilk, almond milk), dark green vegetables (e.g. Chinese cabbage, broccoli, kale, broccoli), almonds, and sesame seeds.

In addition to following a calcium-rich diet, you also need to get some vitamin D from the sun and fortified foods to enhance calcium absorption. And don’t forget about weight-bearing exercise which is the best type of exercise for your bones. Examples include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.


  1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps keep the nerve and blood cells healthy in the body. It also helps make the genetic material in cells called DNA. Inadequacy can lead to megaloblastic anaemia that makes people feel tired and weak, as well as nerve damage.

Vegetarians can get vitamin B12 from eggs and dairy foods. If you are a vegan, you can get vitamin B12 from a variety of fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts, soy yogurt, and beverages. If you think you have trouble getting enough vitamin B12 from food, consult with a doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist regarding dietary supplements.


Does “vegetarian” necessarily mean healthy?

Food products labelled with “vegetarian” or “vegan” do not necessarily mean healthy. Cookies, chips, sweetened cereals, vegetarian burgers and sausages might be vegetarian foods, but they are likely high in fats, added sugar and sodium. Therefore, eat smart by checking the food labels and look for products that carry less saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar and sodium. In addition, fortified foods vary in the formulation, so it is important to check product labels to determine which added nutrients they contain.


Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler:

5 Foods To Boost Your Mood Naturally

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)

What we eat may affect the way we feel. Latest research found that a Mediterranean diet comprising higher intakes of fruit and vegetables, fish and whole grains, was associated with lowered risk of depression in adults. Dietitian Sally Shi-po POON suggests the following foods to help you boost your mood naturally:


  1. Germinated brown rice

Germinated brown rice is rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that may help us relax and improve mood.  The amount of GABA in germinated brown rice was found to be 10 times more as compared to milled white rice and two times more than that of brown rice. It is very important to eat regular meals containing carbohydrates to make sure you will have stable amount of glucose in your blood throughout the day. Your brain needs glucose for concentration. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and low fat dairy. Not having enough glucose in the blood makes us feel tired and grumpy.


  1. Chicken

Chicken is rich in tryptophan – an amino acid that makes serotonin to boost your mood. More of this may cross to the brain when carbohydrate foods are eaten. Your body will get plenty of tryptophan if you eat a variety of protein-rich foods including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds.


  1. Spinach

Spinach is an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of depression. Asparagus, beef liver, Brussels sprouts, orange, kidney beans, and fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources of folate. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is lost easily during cooking. This can be reduced by steaming or microwaving vegetables instead of boiling.


  1. Sardines

Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower the risk of depression. Aim for at least two servings of fish a week, each serving is 3.5 ounce (100g) cooked. Other fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and albacore tuna are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.


  1. Green tea

Green tea contains L-theanine – an amino acid that may help us stay calm and relaxed. At the same time, it works with the caffeine to improve concentration on mental tasks. It is vital to drink adequate fluids throughout the day as research shows that even a minor degree of dehydration can affect your concentration and mood. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses (1.5 to 2 litres) fluid per day: water, low-fat milk, plant-based milk, soups, tea and coffee all count.


Keep in mind that tea and coffee contain caffeine and drinking too much can cause health problems such as insomnia, headaches, dehydration, restlessness, and anxiety. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others. Up to 400mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults, approximately the amount of caffeine in 4 cups of coffee.


Alcohol is a diuretic – drinking too much can lead to dehydration and B vitamin deficiencies, and can make you more depressed or anxious! Try to limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 to 3 drinks on no more than 5 days per week.


As a rule, having regular meal patterns in a Mediterranean style will provide all the essential nutrients for both good health and good mood. Bon appétit!


Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: 


5 Foods To Eat For Healthy Hair And Nails

By Sally Shi-po POON (Registered Dietitian)


Shiny hair and strong nails are hallmarks of beauty. The solution could be in your kitchen! Here are 5 beauty foods that dietitian Sally Poon recommends to eat for healthy hair and nails.


  1. Eggs

Eggs deliver all the amino acids our body needs to build protein. Protein is found throughout the body; and both hair and nails are made from a protein called keratin. Therefore, eating adequate amounts of protein daily plays a crucial role in healthy hair and nails. An extra-large egg contains 7 grams of protein, which can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from meat, fish and poultry. In general, adults are advised to consume 5 to 8 ounces of meat, poultry, fish, egg and alternatives daily.

Eggs also contain biotin – a key nutrient for maintaining healthy hair and nails. Eggs should be eaten cooked as avidin found in raw egg whites can interfere with biotin absorption. Cooking denatures avidin, making biotin absorbs efficiently in the gut. Other foods that contain the most biotin include beef liver, salmon, tuna, pork, sunflower seeds, almonds, and sweet potatoes.


  1. Pine nuts

Pine nuts are a good source of copper – one of the key nutrients involved in collagen formation. Collagen is found in our skin, hair and nails. Copper also works with iron to help the body produce red blood cells. Other dietary sources of copper include oysters, organ meats, whole grains, beans, and yeast.


  1. Oysters

Oysters are an excellent source of protein and zinc.  Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, cell growth, and wound healing. Zinc deficiencies have been linked with hair loss and Beau’s lines (indentations that run across the nails). Other dietary sources of zinc include beef, lamb, pork, poultry, crab, lobster, beans, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.


  1. Seaweed

Seaweed is the best food source of iodine. Iodine helps maintain normal thyroid function and its deficiency can lead to thyroid disorders as a cause of hair loss. Other food sources of iodine include fish, seafood, dairy products, eggs and iodized salt.


  1. Beef

Beef is an excellent source of iron – one of the key nutrients involved in blood formation in our body. Iron deficiency anaemia has been linked with hair loss and appearance of spoon nails (soft nails that look scooped out). Other food sources of iron include lean meat, poultry, liver, oysters, salmon, tuna, dried beans, dried fruits, egg yolks, fortified cereals, wholegrains, and spinach.

Our body absorbs plant-based iron better when you eat it with meat, fish, or poultry. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as guavas, kiwifruits, oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, and tomatoes, also increase iron absorption.


Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: