How should I count sugar alcohols when on a low-carb diet? What are “net carbs” and should I trust that number?
When looking at the Nutrition Facts label, total carbohydrates include dietary fiber, sugars, sugar alcohols, and other carbohydrates. Fiber and sugar alcohols are indigestible or partially digestible.
Net carbs are calculated by subtracting both of these from total carbohydrates. Depending on how conservative you want to be in figuring your carbohydrate intake, you can either use net carbs, or subtract one half of the sugar alcohol and all or half of the fiber from the total carbohydrates. Given that the DRI (dietary reference intake) for carbohydrates is 130 grams per day, the impact of how one counts these carbohydrates will not be very significant. For further information on DRIs go to the USDA’s food and nutrition Web site.
Should people eat breakfast even when they’re not hungry?
No, not necessarily. Skipping a meal on occasion may not be the worst thing for most of us. This becomes a different issue when medication enters the picture, especially for those with diabetes. If lack of hunger persists or if one loses weight, then these could indicate other health issues to discuss with your doctor.
Hi! My name’s William, and I have a fairly off-topic question, so I thank you in advance for your input! I’ve been a personal trainer and natural competitive bodybuilder for a few years now and owe all my success to proper nutrition. I’ve been highly interested in the field, and have picked up quite a bit of nutritional knowledge along the way. I’m looking to learn more and earn a holistic nutrition degree...I’ve found a school accredited by American Naturopathic Medical Certification and Accreditation Board. Would I be able to land a job after I graduate? Would most hospitals recognize this degree? Thank you!
William, it is nice to hear of your interest in nutrition, especially from your view as a body builder and athlete. The naturopathic/holistic track is interesting but will not be recognized by most healthcare institutions. Most will require registered dietitian certification, and a license issued by most but not all states in the U.S. Visit the web site of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) to get information on educational requirements, and visit the ADA practice group SCAN’s sports, cardiovascular, and wellness nutrition site (scandpg.org) to get more information on sports nutrition. Good luck with your search.
Who do nutritionists work with—what types of patients? Where do nutritionists work? What do nutritionists do? How can I become a nutritionist in the U.S.?
Nutritionists work in wellness, sports, inpatient/outpatient hospital settings, nursing homes, schools, prisons, the armed forces, industry, advertising, supermarkets, radio/TV/print media...and anywhere else one can capitalize on the need for information about food and health. Go out to the American Dietetic Association Web site to get information on career paths and the type of work nutritionists do.
What are some foods to avoid on a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet is given to patients with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. This includes foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, and oats. The following organizations are good resources for information on celiac disease:
Gluten Intolerance Group - www.gluten.net
Celiac Disease Foundation - www.celiac.org
Celiac Sprue Association - www.csaceliacs.org
Canadian Celiac Association - www.celiac.ca
Celiac.com - www.celiac.com
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse - www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac
Is Splenda a good sugar substitute for diabetics? How does it affect a diabetic who uses it on a regular basis?
It’s an acceptable sweetener, and it is safe to use it within reason and stay within the acceptable daily intake (ADI). But it does not affect blood sugar.
The reason people with Type I diabetes watch carbohydrate intake is because they have to match it with their insulin. The recommended carbohydrate intake is anywhere from 50% to 60% of total calories. Someone with diabetes may have a better tolerance of somewhere between 40% and 50%. The reason they’re doing that is to keep their sugar correct.
If someone doesn’t have diabetes, they don’t have to worry about their blood sugar. But they should be worried about total calories in general, and they should also be looking at the percent of calories from carbohydrates during the whole day. That information is on the food label. If you look at a food label you’ll see total carbohydrates, which will give you a percentage figure. That percentage figure is based upon the percent of carbohydrates in that food, based on 300 grams of carbohydrates per day. That’s the recommended intake that’s used on the food label.
Where can I attend a seminar regarding diabetes?
It depends—do you want to just learn about diabetes, or do you want to learn how to care for your diabetes? For patient care, we have programs monthly at Meritus Endocrinology. If you go to the American Diabetes Association Web site (www.diabetes.org), there are opportunities for lectures and seminars all over the country.
I am forty-one-year-old female who has always been in great shape. I had several things occur within the last two years: I had a baby at age thirty-nine, I had a tubal at the time of my child’s birth (via c-section…my third one), and I pulled the vitreous gel from my retina and cannot run anymore. The problem: I cannot seem to lose weight!! It’s like I have NO metabolism. I walk between two and five days per week for at least one hour, and I eat well ( no sugars, very little starches, portion control, etc.) yet I CANNOT get my weight down. I am currently 150 pounds and would like to lose at least 20 pounds. HELP!!! What can I do?
This sounds frustrating! As I mentioned in the previous answer, find out what your actual intake is versus your estimated caloric need. It may be that you need more exercise even if it is less intensive than running. When you mentioned your good eating, you didn’t mention your fat intake or consistency of eating. Avoid skipping meals and watch that fat intake.
It seems that I am always hungry. I was wondering if there were something that I can do to curb my appetite?
It may be helpful for you to keep a food diary to see how much you are actually eating. Go to mypyramid.gov to use their food analysis and compare your intake to the recommended caloric intake, which you can also calculate on the site.
Do pickles have any nutritional value?
They have more culinary or sensory value than nutritional value. The amount of one nutrient, sodium, may be high, so anyone on a sodium restriction diet should use moderation.
I’ve read that tumeric is good for cell repair. Will incorporating this into my diet delay the onset of macular degeneration?
I don’t know of any association between tumeric and macular degeneration. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide antioxidants and omega-three fatty acids which support good eye health.
What can I eat that will help lower my cholesterol?
Fiber, approximately twenty-five grams per day, will help lower cholesterol. High-fiber foods include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Nuts, like walnuts and almonds, not only help lower total cholesterol, they contain good fats that help raise the good, or HDL cholesterol. Go to mypyramid.gov for some dietary tips.
Are there any long-term health effects of drinking diet sodas in moderation?
No. Within moderation, there should be no problem. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) of artificial sweeteners is set for all diet sodas. You can go online and search for the ADI of individual products, or they can be reviewed at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site. However, any time you’re going to have more than three to six servings of any type of sweetener during the day, you should be asking yourself, what other foods have I eaten that contain sugar substitutes, and why consume so many of these products?
My spouse is a Type I diabetic who watches his carb intake. As a spouse who is not a diabetic should I myself be watching/counting carbs or calories?
When someone counts carbs or limits carbs, they’re also counting calories, because carbohydrates have four calories per gram. So if you’re going to eat 300 grams of carbohydrates a day versus 200, obviously you’re going to get a reduction in calories which could help you to lose weight.
How can you avoid fish loaded with dioxins? What other foods are high in dioxins?Dioxins are a toxin, of course. We as a country have gotten a lot better with our waterways and ridding them of dioxins; however, they’re still there. Certain fish have more dioxins than others. The higher up in the food chain a fish is, the more likely it may have dioxins, especially if part of the fish’s life cycle is in rivers, such as salmon.
For example, sharks eat other fish, so they have a higher concentration of dioxins, mercury and those types of elements than trout or crab. If you go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site (www.epa.gov/ncea/dioxin.htm) and look at dioxins, you’ll get tons of information and also some very interesting statistics on how much dioxins have been reduced. Foods other than fish can have dioxins if they have been exposed to them, so it really depends on where they are. I would go to the EPA Web site if you are concerned about anything in our area.
I found a strange spotted mushroom in the woods. Is it okay to eat it?
Big NO, because even experienced mycologists—people who study mushrooms—have made errors in identifying mushrooms. Many poisonous ones can be very similar to the edible ones. In fact, there was an example on Long Island where a mycologist got and ate a wrong mushroom. This was an expert, so it can happen.
Now, lots of people in this area do mushroom hunt for morels. I don’t know how many varieties looks similar to morels, but there are many varieties of edible mushrooms and there are many poisonous ones that are very similar. So it’s a big “no” without knowing what you’re doing.
Are diet sodas an acceptable substitute for water or tea?
I would not characterize diet soda as a substitute for water. Water is the best fluid to hydrate with. Having some diet soda is fine but not to substitute for water; it’s the same thing with tea. As far as your total fluid intake, you can count the tea and you can count the diet soda, but it should not be in lieu of drinking water.
I've heard that soy converts to estrogen when it enters the body. Does this mean that it is harmful for men? Can it interfere with testosterone levels?
Soy products contain something called phytoestrogens, and phytoestrogens can mimic or have an estrogen-like reaction in the body, and it can interfere with some hormone reaction in both men and women. However, there are no studies that really point out specifically how severe that problem is. Also, soy products have been shown to help lower cholesterol, so they do have health benefits. Like any food, if they’re part of a mixed diet and there’s plenty of variety in the diet, there should not be an issue.
I am required to take an iron pill each day. However, the iron pill makes me extremely sick. Is there something else I can take or eat to supplement the iron pill (fruits, veggies, anything)?
Iron supplements can have side effects, including stomach cramping, diarrhea, etc. There are many types of iron supplements, so check with your pharmacist about alternative formulations. Iron taken on an empty stomach is most effective but may cause irritation. Try taking the supplement with foods or after meals. The downside to this recommendation is possible food-drug interactions. Again, your pharmacist will be a good resource for this information.
Can men take iron pills? I hear it is harmful to them.
Excess iron intake can be toxic for anyone. It is not recommended to supplement one’s diet with iron unless a deficiency has been diagnosed.
Two years ago I had gastric bypass. I have lost a great amount of weight (138 lb) and I am very happy with my results; the only problem is now I have an awful time growing my nails and hair. I do take an iron pill daily (low iron), MSM, and a multivitamin. Do you have any other suggestions to help me out? A friend of mine suggested taking a prenatal vitamin—it that wise?
Hair loss is common following gastric bypass surgery. This tends to be a temporary effect and may resolve when nutrition intake and weight stabilize. Your multivitamin should be meeting your basic vitamin needs.
When I take a multivitamin it seems to upset my stomach. Is this normal? I have heard that it could be that the levels of vitamins or minerals in my body might already be good and I might not need a supplement. Is this true?
An intolerance to vitamins is not uncommon. You may want to speak to your pharmacist about other options.
I heard that eating flax seeds or drinking flax seed oil can prevent cancer, heart attack, stroke, alleviate allergies, and even help with weight loss. Is there any truth to this? And if so, how should I take them, should I get the seeds and crush them, buy them in pill form, or drink teaspoons of the oil? Please advise.
Eating flax seeds is good. Flax seeds are a good source of fiber; that’s why they’ve been associated with a lower risk of heart attack (because they will reduce cholesterol) and also weight loss. Flax seeds also have very good fats in them called omega-3 fatty acids which help to raise good cholesterol and also help to prevent cancer.
They can be eaten many ways. If they’re ground up you’re probably going to get more benefit from them than if they’re whole, because if they’re whole, they may just go right through you. If they’re ground up, your body is more likely to be able to use them. Basically I just try to incorporate them into my diet. So if you’re eating oatmeal or if you’re making bread, add ground flax seeds.
What should I feed my one year old?
It depends on your baby. At this age the child may be able to handle some table foods but choking can be a concern. Contact your pediatrician for information on feeding and perhaps ask for a consult with a registered dietitian.
Do you miss any nutrition by drinking low-fat (1%) milk as opposed to whole milk? Do toddlers (fourteen months old) need whole milk rather than low-fat milk?
Toddlers under two years of age should have whole milk. Both 1% and whole milk are good sources of calcium and protein, and toddlers can use the extra calories provided by the higher fat content of whole milk.
Has there been any reliable study so far which proves nutrition can help children who are predisposed to anxiety and panic? Can you give any advice from your end in such cases? Is supplementation really effective?
Good nutrition may help but not cure anxiety. Carbohydrate-rich meals, milk, bananas, poultry, cheese, and nuts may help increase serotonin and have a calming effect. High-fiber choices are best. Small frequent meals throughout the day may prevent low blood sugar, which may cause anxiety or panic. Be sure to provide plenty of fluids and be sure to avoid caffeine.