Get Your Nutrition Tips from the DeKalb Medical Wellness Center
We’ve compiled some of the best resources to help you with your nutritional needs, including (in-page links)
Links to free, accurate, scientific advice
Common nutrition terms
Portion control for easy reference
Vitamin Chart for people over age 50
Mineral Chart for people over age 50
Websites that provides free accurate scientific advice:
www.eatright.org American Dietetic Association.
www.cnpp.usda.gov is administered by The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. This is an organization within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, established in 1994 to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans focusing on advancing and promoting dietary guidance for all Americans and conducting applied research and analyses in nutrition and consumer economics.
www.hearthub.org American Heart Association.
www.aicr.org American Institute of Cancer Research.
www.complementarynutrition.org Nutrition in Complementary Care (NCC), a dietetic practice group of the American Dietetic Association; excellent for researching individual drugs and supplements.
www.herbalgram.org American Botanical Council; information on safe Medicinal Plants.
www.nih.gov National Institutes for Health; safe dietary supplements.
www.cdc.gov Centers for Disease Control; disease conditions and treatments
www.ncahf.org The National Council Against Health Fraud provides science-based health information
www.ftc.gov Federal Trade Commission; lists health frauds
Links to More Information
Nutrition Services and Classes
Common Nutrition Terms
An alcoholic drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Women at high risk of breast cancer may want to consider not drinking any alcohol. Regular intake of even a few drinks per week is linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer in women, especially in women who do not get enough folate. Alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, and breast, and probably of the colon and rectum. The combination of alcohol and tobacco increases the risk of some cancers far more than the effect of either drinking or smoking alone.
Antioxidants protect our tissues and cells against the damage brought on as a result of the body's normal oxidation processes. Because such damage is linked to increased cancer risk and antioxidants are known to block the actions of this oxidation they are viewed as protectors. Antioxidants include: vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A, and all are found in a plant based diet. Studies have shown that those who eat more vegetables and fruits (rich sources of antioxidants) many have lower incidences of some types of cancer. To reduce cancer risks, the best advice at present is to obtain antioxidant from food rather than supplements.
Aspartame is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. Current evidence does not show any link between aspartame use and increased cancer risks. However, people with the genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria should avoid foods and drinks that contain aspartame.
Bioengineered foods are made by adding genes from other plants or organisms to make a plant more resistant to pests and spoilage. Some genes improve flavor and nutrient composition, or make the food easier to transport. In theory, these added genes might create substances that could cause harmful reactions among sensitized or allergic individuals. But there is no evidence at this time that the substances found in bioengineered foods are harmful or would either increase or decrease cancer risk because of the added genes.
Cruciferous vegetables belong to the cabbage family and include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These vegetables contain certain compounds thought to reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. The best evidence suggests that eating a wide variety of vegetables, including cruciferous and other vegetables, reduces cancer risk.
Dietary fiber includes a wide variety of plant carbohydrates that humans cannot digest. Specific categories of fiber are "soluble" (like oat bran) or "insoluble" (like wheat bran and cellulose). Soluble fiber helps to reduce blood cholesterol, which lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. Good sources of fiber are beans, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.
Many substances are added to foods to preserve them and to enhance color, flavor, and texture. New additives must be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before entering the food supply. Rigorous testing in animals to determine any cancer effects is done as part of this process. Additives are usually present in very small quantities in food, and no convincing evidence has shown that any additive at these levels causes harm.
Genetics is the science of genes. Damage to the genes that control cell growth can be either inherited or acquired during life. Certain types of mutations or genetic damage can increase the risk of cancer. Nutrients in the diet can protect DNA from being damaged. Physical activity, weight control, and diet might delay or prevent the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease or some cancers in people with a family history of these chronic illnesses. The interaction between diet and genetic factors is an important and complex topic, and a great deal of research is under way in this area.
Irradiated foods are foods that have undergone a particular radiation process. Radiation is used to kill harmful organisms on foods in order to extend their "shelf life." Radiation does not remain in the foods after treatment, and eating irradiated foods does not appear to increase cancer risk.
Processed meats are meats that have undergone a manufacturing process that changes a part of their composition. Some studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meat to an increased risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. This connection may or may not be due to nitrites, which are added to many luncheon meats, hams, and hot dogs to maintain color and to prevent bacterial growth. Eating processed meats and meats preserved by methods involving smoke or salt increases exposure to potential cancer-causing agents and should be reduced as much as possible.
The term organic is popularly used to designate plant foods grown without pesticides or genetic modifications. At this time, no research exists to demonstrate whether such foods are more effective in reducing cancer risk than are similar foods produced by other farming methods.
Pesticides and Herbicides
Pesticides and herbicides are used on crops to kill insects or pests. Pesticides and herbicides can be toxic when used improperly in industrial, agricultural, or other occupational settings. Although vegetables and fruits sometimes contain low levels of these chemicals, overwhelming scientific evidence supports the overall health benefits and cancer-protective effects of eating vegetables and fruits. At present there is no evidence that residues of pesticides and herbicides at the low doses found in foods increase the risk of cancer, however fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating.
The term phytochemicals refers to a wide variety of compounds made by plants. Some of these compounds protect plants against insects or perform other important functions. Some have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions both in plants and in the people who eat them. Because consuming vegetables and fruits reduces cancer risk, researchers are looking for specific compounds responsible for the helpful effects. At this time, no evidence has shown that phytochemicals taken as supplements are as good for you as the vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains from which they are extracted.
Saccharin is a sweetener that has been removed from the list of established human carcinogens by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Saccharin contains a warning on its label that is linked with causing cancer. However, this link has only been found in rats at high doses of the artificial sweetener saccharin to cause bladder stones that may lead to bladder cancer. Saccharin has not been found to cause bladder stones or cancer in humans.
Sugar increases calorie intake without providing any vitamins and minerals. White (refined) sugar is no different from brown (unrefined) sugar or honey with regard to their effects on body weight or insulin. To prevent unwanted weight gain, limit foods such as cakes, candy, cookies, sweetened cereals, and high-sugar beverages such as soda to help reduce sugar intake.
Many healthful compounds are found in vegetables and fruits, and these compounds most likely work together to produce their helpful effects. There is strong evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods may reduce the risk of cancer. But there is no proof at this time that vitamin and mineral supplements can reduce cancer risk. Some high-dose supplements may actually increase cancer risk. Food is the best source to meet vitamin and mineral requirements. However for some people, such as women of childbearing age or people whose dietary intakes are restricted by allergies, food intolerances, or other problems, a vitamin/mineral supplement would be beneficial. If a supplement is taken, the best choice is a balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement containing no more than 100% of the "Daily Value" of most nutrients.
Trans fats are trans-saturated fats made when oils such as margarines or shortenings are hydrogenated to make them solid at room temperature. Recent evidence shows that trans-fats raise blood cholesterol levels. Their relationship to cancer risk has not been determined, but people are advised to eat as few trans-fats as possible.
Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian eating styles can be healthful. The bottom line depends on your food choices over time. Studies show a positive link between vegetarian eating and health. Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and cholesterol levels, lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancers.
The four main types of vegetarian eating plans are:
1. Semi-vegetarian - those who follow a vegetarian eating plan but occasionally eat meat, fish or poultry
2. Lacto-ovo vegetarian - those who eat eggs and dairy products in addition to plant foods
3. Lacto-vegetarian - people who consume dairy products in addition to plant foods
4. Vegan - those who avoid eating all animal products.
Special considerations for vegans
Unsupplemented vegan diets do not provide vitamin B-12. Dairy products and eggs supply vitamin B-12; however, depending on food choices, some lacto-ovo-vegetarians may have inadequate intakes as well. Vitamin B-12 is well-absorbed from fortified nondairy milks and from breakfast cereals, as well as from supplements. In addition to regular supplementation with vitamin B-12, vegans require a dietary source of vitamin D when sun exposure is insufficient. This occurs at northern latitudes and in certain other situations. Many fortified nondairy milks and breakfast cereals provide vitamin D, although the form used to fortify cereals is often not vegan. Vegetarians may also choose vitamin D supplements.
If you are thinking about starting a vegetarian eating plan, talk to a registered dietitian who can help you devise an eating plan that is right for you.