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Home > > Health & WellnessWomen's Health - Nutrition Information

Women's Health - Nutrition Information

Good nutrition is foundation of healthy living. HAP has gathered some answers to common questions about nutrition from registered dietitian Darlene Zimmerman of Henry Ford Health System

Click on the subjects below and find out if you know the facts about these common nutrition "myths."

Myth: Depleted soil produces less nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Myth: Your body craves what you need.
Myth: Sugar is off limits for people with diabetes.
Myth: Wheat bread is rich in fiber.
Myth: People with lactose intolerance must avoid all dairy products.
Myth: Sugar-free foods are low in calories.
Myth: A low carbohydrate diet is the most effective way to lose weight.
Myth: Eating fruits and vegetables cost too much money.

 

Myth: Depleted soil produces less nutritious fruits and vegetables.

This is one fairy-tale that refuses to die. Vitamins are not found loose in the soil just waiting for plants to soak them up into their roots. Plants make vitamins from several building blocks in the soil. Minerals are taken up from the soil, but if there is a deficiency in a mineral needed for plant growth, it simply will not produce viable amounts of fruits or vegetables. Depleted soil is not commercially profitable. Therefore, farmers use fertilizers containing the needed nutrients for specific crops.

Myth: Your body craves what you need.

Another myth about nutrition that has a lot of appeal, but no basis in fact, is that your body craves what it needs. If that were the case, most women would want hamburgers and milk because the most widespread nutrient deficiencies in women are iron and calcium. While it is interesting to think that our bodies are designed to desire the foods we need, a moment's reflection disproves this. The number one female food craving is chocolate, yet chocolate does not provide a significant amount of any nutrient. Another popular craving is for salty foods. Considering the fact that the average American takes in twice as much sodium as is recommended, craving salt does not mean your sodium is low.

Myth: Sugar is off limits for people with diabetes.

In the past, nutrition experts believed sugar caused unhealthy blood sugar fluctuations in people with diabetes because it was more rapidly digested and absorbed than starches. We now know that this is simply not true. In fact, starches like bread, rice, and potatoes have the same effect on blood sugar as ordinary table sugar. Today, the American Diabetes Association allows some sugar in a diabetic diet, as long as those carbohydrates are counted toward the daily total. If you have diabetes, be sure to meet with a registered dietitian who can design a meal plan specifically for you.

Myth: Wheat bread is rich in fiber.

The nutritional difference between "wheat bread" and "whole wheat bread" is huge. Unrefined wheat flour used to make whole wheat bread still has the high fiber, nutrient-dense bran intact. On the other hand, refined wheat flour used to make white bread (often labeled "wheat" bread) has had the bran removed. On food labels, check the list of ingredients and look for words like "whole wheat," "whole grain," or "100% whole wheat" to ensure whole grain goodness. Dietary fiber found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But fiber may also provide other health benefits, including reducing your risk of several diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Recommended daily fiber intake

National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which provides national dietary guidelines, gives the following daily recommendations for adults:

  • 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women 50 and younger
  • 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women 51 and older
Myth: People with lactose intolerance must avoid all dairy products.

Lactose intolerance is often confused with a milk allergy, in which even a very small amount of milk can cause a severe, sometimes life-threatening reaction from the protein it contains. Those with lactose intolerance cannot digest all of the natural sugar (lactose) in milk due to a lack of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose) in the small intestine. Symptoms of lactose malabsorption include gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Yogurt, certain cheeses and lactose-reduced milk are often tolerated well by those with lactose intolerance. Some people with lactose intolerance can even handle small amounts (one-half cup at a time of regular milk). For those who cannot tolerate any dairy foods, try lactose-free products or a lactase pill that can be taken with dairy products.

Myth: Sugar-free foods are low in calories.

Unfortunately, sugar-free foods are not always calorie-free. The term "sugar-free" simply means that sweeteners other than sugar have been used. Foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are lower in calories than if sweetened with sugar. But, many so-called "sugar-free" cookies and candies are sweetened with sugar alcohols such

as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol. While these sweeteners do not cause as rapid a rise in blood sugar levels as sugar, they do provide about the same amount of calories.

Myth: A low carbohydrate diet is the most effective way to lose weight.

One of the most controversial topics in weight loss is whether cutting carbohydrates is more effective than other diets. A review of more than 100 articles in the medical literature found that among obese adults, reduction of calories and length of time on a diet were significant predictors of weight loss, whereas reducing carbohydrates was not linked to weight loss.

Serious concerns about the long-term safety of these diets remain. Eating plans that include all food groups are associated with better health and longer life. It will take a long time to determine if low carbohydrate diets offer the same health benefits.

Myth: Eating fruits and vegetables cost too much money.

Fruits and vegetables are actually goods buys if you consider the nutritional bang you get for your buck. Take vitamin C for example. One orange (at a cost of about {Content}.50) provides 80 milligrams of vitamin C, or the amount most women need for the entire day. To get 80 milligrams of vitamin C from potato chips, you would have to gobble up about 11-1/2 ounces of chips at a cost of .00. That hefty portion comes with a high calorie and fat tag as well over 1,700 calories and 103 grams of fat.

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