Day 7-8: Malaysian Dietitians' Association Conference

The first full day of the conference started at 8 am.  They did serve us breakfast, which was good because I don't think I could have woken up any earlier to go get breakfast from the buffet.  There was some orange cake, as well as noodles, which was interesting, but not surprising.
I was glad that there was a veggie version of the noodle dish.
The first presentation was presented by the canning industry.  They were looking to inform people about the truths to canning and how this impacts nutrition.
The main conclusion was that canned does not replace fresh, but can be an alternative to fresh or frozen.  There are obviously some differences because they stated there are no preservatives added.  Unfortunately I am not sure why they are still high in sodium, as they mentioned having low sodium and no added salt products.  If the sodium is not added a preservative, why was it added?  Either way, the same conclusion is what I use in the US.  Canned products can fit in a healthy, balanced diet, but should be low sodium and no added salt products, and rinse canned foods before use.
Next up was Dr. Hellen O'Connor.  Her presentation was wonderful.  She brought the sports nutrition down to a very understandable level and gave us some of the history to the myths and cleared up the science.  One of the main focuses of the conference was sports nutrition so there were a few presentations on this topic.
These were all of the topics she covered.
She even brought some local relevance to her presentation by discussion training methods and how this has use during Ramadan, which starts soon.  
Whey protein use is a huge topic here and it was discussed the day before in more detail.  Since it is such a huge topic in sports nutrition, Dr. O'Connor addressed this as well.  After a certain point, there is no more added benefit.  That's where the curve levels off at the end.
This was interesting.  There is a benefit to having sports drinks chilled.  Since athletes need to be cooled, one beneficial way to do this is internally, rather than externally.  The main takeaway message for sports drinks, like Gatorade, is that these are beneficial for some, but not others.  The main group needing this is the elite athlete or competitive athletes that are training for a long time.  For kids or adults just exercising for a short time and not regularly doing activity for long times, water is better.  For competitive athletes, when drinking sports drinks, they should be chilled.
This was in regards to the female athlete triad and a similar condition that is seen in men.
I really thought she was a fantastic presenter and she had our attention the whole time.  Here is her summary.
Then the MDA president came to deliver the welcome message.
Then the Deputy Minister of Health Malaysia gave a welcome speech.
Here is the Minster of Health.
He was there for the presentation of the MNT guidelines for cancer and the updated diabetes guidelines.
The morning snack was chicken, so they had these faux chicken tenders for vegetarians.
There were little sandwiches.
Here I am with my poster, hoping a judge will come by so I can present my information to them.  They didn't come during this time, but I was able to share it later in the day.
At lunch we had a presentation by a biochemist about the structure of coconut.  It was interesting because coconut oil is not as well used here as palm oil it, both of which are saturated fats and we recommend limiting.  I was a little confused on this because I thought he was talking about the oil, but he may have been discussing coconut milk.
Some interesting science with the structure of the fatty acid chains, which is of course where the controversy is for coconut.  These are saturated fatty acids, but primarily medium chain fatty acids, which do not go out for circulation but rather go directly to the liver via the portal vein.  Therefore the mechanism of action is to not raise blood cholesterol.  I know that a lot of the evidence on the pro side is that there was never anything on the saturated fat side that clearly showed this raised cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) and increased heart disease risk, but at the same time, there is also limited evidence to show this does not increase risk (using human research) so I am still not convinced...however I think it is promising and I want to be a fan of it.  I will wait for more human studies.  I think part of the problem for me too is that the kind of coconut oil makes a difference and most of what is added to foods is not necessarily the right kind (yesterday I found hydrogenated coconut oil and I am pretty sure that is not going to be the same as the MCT's in regular coconut oil).  Plus, the traditional lifestyle in areas where coconut is used is a bit more active than the US and even now with sedentary lifestyles on the rise in these countries, heart disease risk is increasing, despite their continued use of coconut oil.  Amount used and physical activity still matter.

Some of the studies out there for saturated fat and CVD risk. 
In the end, moderation with coconut lipids just like any other saturated fat.  It is not really the miracle food that many people claim this to be, it's likely just not as bad as many may think or believe.  I am still hoping to learn more about palm oil, but that doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

Then we headed to the buffet for lunch.  For those of us that are vegetarians we were served some mock meats and veggie dishes.  All were very tasty, but some were a little too spicy.  
After lunch Dr. O'Connor presented on nutrition knowledge.
As we know, education is important, so unhealthy diets can be improved with education.  The items in the circles are all factors that impact our food choices.
Here are the kinds of knowledge.  When her students were researching nutrition knowledge they used these kinds of questions.  Here are some examples of these kinds of knowledge.
The take away message from this research, which included surveying the knowledge of athletes and then comparing it to the level of knowledge for dietitians (to have a comparison or reference value on scoring- like validation).
The last presentation was on sports nutrition for illness and injury.  The main focus was in sports nutrition and it was interesting to hear, but not necessarily the most relevant to my practice.
Dinner was a gala with the theme of Arabian Nights.  Some people dressed up, but many did not, including me.  I am not sure dragging a costume around with me was really realistic.
There wasn't much special about the meal, but there were some local foods.  This is salad with a fish cracker and papadum.
Minestrone soup
A few Chinese items.
They played some games and tried to get people involved.  I was lucky I met some lovely ladies that I was sat and chatted with.  A few of them are nutritionists for the Singapore elite athletes (like those in the Olympics and other major international competitions).  It was very interesting to learn about what they do.  A lot of this conference was focused on sports nutrition, so many in attendance work with competitive athletes.

Breakfast the next morning was the noodle dish again.
Also some tea cakes.
The first presentation was on probiotics.  Here were some of the highlights.  The circled words are key for making a recommendation on probiotics and selecting which to use.

Then I went to see some of the posters and stand by mine in case anyone had any questions.  Here are some of the other posters.  The light above made it very difficult to take good pictures.

At this time we also had a tea break so there was more cake.
There was also fruit punch, which I decided to call fruit soup.
Next up was a free paper oral presentation.  My friend Sangeetha (who I met here at the very start of the conference and spent most of my time with...she is awesome!) presented on this topic.  I will also mention now that she won first place in the free paper presentations.  
Here she is presenting.  She did a fabulous job and really knew her stuff.
After this I attended Sylvia's second presentation.  Although I know a lot about this topic it was good to see how this could be applied to international locations and to see if there are any updates.

Just before lunch we had a presentation on potassium chloride and using this to replace sodium in diets. This shows where US males and females rank by age compared to dietary guidelines.  Not looking too good!
Lunch was again a variety of vegetarian options.
After lunch, Dr. Helen O'Connor presented on athletes and weight, specifically safely making weight for competition.

This was rather funny, so I couldn't resist the picture.
Here is some of the excellent information she presented.  If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, I highly recommend it.

This was interesting information from a study.  The more options we have for food the more calories we end up consuming.
This was an interesting topic and the end result was reduced calorie intake is the most likely cause.  This condition has been known to end some athlete's careers, like the athlete pictured here.
Next up Dr. Gary Slater spoke on sports supplements.  It was an excelled presentation.  I really enjoyed this.  
Very interesting numbers here.  Look how many athletes don't know the information below, which is essential to taking supplements.
This was shocking, but shows the power of marketing.  Word of mouth or listening to peers and friends was also a major factor why people take these products.
Just some study results with interesting information.  Studies on active ingredients may not always be as positive as the supplement makers want you to believe.
Great take away message!  Imagine, a balanced diet is important!
Also a risk for contamination and resulting doping.
After this was another break.  This certainly looked pretty, but I was not hungry.
Crepe or pancake type of food that was served with chicken curry.
The last presentation that I have pictures of was about research.  This is a guide to help in determining what kind of study you are doing or should do.
Here I am with Sangeetha after she won first place in the free paper presentation.
Afterwards I went to dinner with the girls I met the night before.  I was so thankful to have met them, not just because they are nice, but because they were helpful in getting a true Malaysian dining experience before I headed back home.  We went to the Lot 10 food court, which was the same one that I went to earlier in the week.  I was very happy to know that the fish noodles I tried were a top dish to try there.  They are well known for this and it was something that should not be missed.  I am so glad I that I didn't overlook that.

So on this night, I tried Hakka traditional food, which is Chinese in origin.  My hotel suggested this too,  but I was not sure what it was.  One of the girls with me was kind enough to help me order something that was "safe" for me to eat.
For hakka you pick the items you want from this "food cart" (we were in a food court set up to look like we were on the street- I recommend this place 200%!).  A few had pork, but everything else was fish or vegetarian.
This gives you a little idea of the menu.  There are 3 ringgits to every $1, roughly (today is 0.31 USD to the ringgit).
I started with noodles.  I picked the green ones, which we think were spinach.
Then I picked some tofu and fish items.
I added in some veggies too.  Once you pick everything you give it to them and they cook it for you.  The broth was fish based, which was good.
Here is what it looks like finished.  It was awesome!
Then one of the local girls came to the table with 5 desserts.  Yes, 5 of them!  For us all to share.  I never would have known what to order, so this was awesome.  The one in the middle that is very white was my favorite.  It was barley in coconut milk.  So good!
This was a sweet barley based dessert.  
This was cendol with durian on top.  Cendol is ice, red beans and these green things.  I wasn't brave enough to try it before and with this I didn't even realize it was underneath the durian and ice until after I was too stuffed to eat anything else.
This is a traditional ice dessert with peanuts.
They also brought this dish for us to try.  They got it for us without any meat so that I was able to try.  It was veggies in a thin wrapping.  I liked it!
They also brought these drinks for us to try.  Mine was an herbal drink with an interesting sweet flavor to it.  I wasn't sure about it at first, but it definitely grew on me.
Well, that wraps it up for me in Malaysia.  I hope you enjoyed following along with me there.  Up next...I am headed to Thailand!  Can't wait!

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever visited a country and had no idea what you should order?  Have you ever tried hakka food? 

1 comment:

Andrea said...

The topics of the conference sound very interesting!

I love all the food you got to try!

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