Overview of Nutrition
Food is a major component of our lives. Not only does it provide us with the nutrients required to maintain our hectic lifestyles but it can provide an enjoyable experience and is a cornerstone of many social functions. On the other side, limiting food intake is a challenge for those struggling with health concerns and weight management. Learning to control eating habits without allowing food to become an enemy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Overweight and obesity are growing problems in the United States. Over half of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and Indiana is ranked 3rd in obesity prevalence among the United States. Regardless of these numbers, our society celebrates thinness through the media and the desire to lose weight quickly has launched a multi-billion dollar diet industry filled with unregulated pills, gadgets, and fad diet gurus. The reality is that there is no "quick fix" when it comes to finding the right nutrition combination for you. Each individual is different, and each person needs to find his or her own combination of the necessary components: a balanced diet, exercise, and an acceptance of natural body type.
Eating a healthy diet has a number of benefits that reach beyond just supporting weight loss. Eating foods from each of the core food groups provides you with energy, vitamins and minerals needed to support your body's proper functioning. A healthy diet is important for both your physical and mental well-being.
Improving what you eat and being active will help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and obesity. In Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 the USDA offers people advice on how to eat a healthy diet and be physically active.
Take action on the Dietary Guidelines, 2010 by making changes in these areas.
- Enjoy your food, but eat less overall quantity and fat.
- Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Here are some more basic guidelines for meeting your personal daily nutrition requirements:
- Choose whole grains for at least half of your daily grain servings.
- Eat a variety of vegetables.
- Focus on fruit.
- Choose calcium-rich foods.
- Go lean with protein.
- Find a balance between food and physical activity.
The American Heart Association also offers these recommendations for a healthy diet:
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
- Choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Limit cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat. Trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated, can increase bad cholesterol, clog arteries and cause heart disease. Avoiding partially hydrogenated oils (i.e. vegetable oil and fried foods) will reduce trans fats.
- Choose lean meats and poultry, and prepare them without using saturated or trans fats.
- Select fat-free, 1-precent or low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on drinks and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little salt (sodium).
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit yourself to one drink per day if you're a woman or two drinks if you're a man.
- Get tips for dining out.
- Prepare healthy recipes at home.
It may surprise you to know that cholesterol itself isn't bad. In fact, cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and needed by our bodies to keep us healthy. Some of the cholesterol we need is produced naturally (and can be affected by your family health history), while some of it comes from the food we eat. A person can have too little cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol: "good" and "bad." It's important to understand the difference, and to know the levels of "good" and "bad" cholesterol in your blood. Too much of one type — or not enough of another — can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.
A cholesterol screening measures your level of HDL and LDL. HDL, high density or hard, cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol which helps keeps vessels clear and prevents the LDL (bad) cholesterol from getting lodged into your artery walls. A healthy level of HDL may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women) have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
If you need to increase your HDL to your reach your goals, studies show that regular physical activity can help your body produce more HDLs. Reducing trans fats and eating a balanced, nutritious diet is another way to increase HDL. If these measures are not enough to increase your HDL to goal, your healthcare provider may prescribe a medication specifically to increase your HDLs.
LDL, low density or "soft", cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol. When too much of it circulates in the blood, it can clog arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
LDL cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to make too much. Eating saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases how much you have. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL blood cholesterol. Everyone is different, so work with your healthcare provider to find a plan that's best for you.
Why Cholesterol Matters
High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors (such as high blood pressure or diabetes) as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Also, the greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects your overall risk.
What Can Cholesterol Do?
When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can result.
High blood cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and tobacco smoke) are present, this risk increases even more. Your cholesterol level can be affected by your age, gender, family health history and diet.
Ways to Improve Your Cholesterol
As part of a complete prevention and treatment program for managing your cholesterol and lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke, your healthcare provider may suggest that you make some lifestyle changes. Regardless of whether your plan includes drug therapy, you can do a number of things every day that can improve your cholesterol levels — and your overall health:
Lifestyle Changes and Cholesterol
Eat a heart-healthy diet
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats and poultry, fish at least twice a week and fat-free or 1 percent dairy products — and low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol — is a delicious way to help your cholesterol levels.
Enjoy at least 30 minutes of physical activity more days than not. Walk, bike, swim, jog, dance — whatever you love to do, do it. Pressed for time? Try at least 5 minutes of activity a day.
Avoid tobacco smoke
If you smoke, your cholesterol level is one more good reason to quit. And everyone should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke.
Tips for Success
Following a healthy diet and lifestyle can give you the edge in the fight against heart disease and stroke — take an active part. Follow your healthcare provider's advice carefully, and if you don't understand something, ask. Let your healthcare provider be your coach in combating heart disease and stroke. It's your health. It's your heart. It's your future!
Information on Cholesterol is taken from the American Heart Association website.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels: fasting blood glucose of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population. Obesity is a major factor contributing to Type 2 diabetes and many overweight people no longer need medication after achieving weight loss.
Learn the ABC's of Diabetes in this video:
Why Diabetes Matters?
Diabetes can affect many major organs in your body, which can lead to an array of serious complications when left untreated. These medical problems include:
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, including peripheral artery disease (PAD) and stroke
- Renal (kidney) disease
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels, which can lead to atherosclerosis
- Metabolic syndrome
- Nerve disease
- Limb amputations
The good news is that diabetes is treatable and often preventable. Individuals with diabetes may avoid or delay other health complications by:
- Working with their health care team to manage the disease, which may include the use of medications
- Knowing their critical health numbers
- Choosing a healthy lifestyle
There are many things the "experts" tell us to do to prevent diabetes complications or type 2 diabetes: Choose healthy foods... make healthy meals... be active 30 minutes a day.
But where should you start? It's not easy to do all of this everyday living in today's fast-paced and fast-food world. And it can be even harder if you have a lot of changes you want to make. Here are some steps to begin taking care to prevent type 2 diabetes:
- One Step at a Time
It's easier to make lifestyle changes over months and years. Think of each small step as one piece of your effort to change your habits.
- Bad habits?
Accept that you have bad habits you need to change. If you believe you have a problem, you will probably succeed in making some changes.
- Ready, Willing and Able
To succeed at making lifestyle changes, the change must be important to you. For example, maybe you want to be a good role model for your children. Do you want to live long enough to see your grandchildren grow up? You must have more reasons to change than reasons not to change.
- Pick and Choose
Take what you want to do and break it down into small steps. Then think about a few things you are ready, willing, and able to change. Leave other habits that you don't feel ready to change for another time.
- Take a Look
Think about your current habits. How active are you? Pick some changes that you want to do the most and that will make the biggest impact. For example, take 15 minute break from the TV and go for a walk.
Information on Diabetes is taken from the American Heart Association website.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Provides the dietary guidelines developed and updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Choose My Plate
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's customizable ChooseMyPlate based on Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Nutrition.gov provides relevant information on healthy eating and nutrition.
- Food Journal & Calorie Counter
Food Journal and calorie counter through Livestrong.com helps you track your food and fitness to better reach your goals.
- American Heart Association
The American Heart Association has tons of information regarding heart health, nutrition, fitness, stress management, and heart attack/stroke prevention.
- Fruits and Veggies Matter
The website Fruits and Veggies Matter is a comprehensive source on trying to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
- BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator
- Interactive menu planner
- The Nutrition Source: Knowledge for Healthy Eating
An easy to understand site developed by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition to make sense of research on nutrition.
- Online eating disorder assessment can be found on the CAPS site or at psychcentral.com/disorders/eating_disorders/
- Food Safety.gov
Provides detailed information on hand-washing, cross-contamination, cooking temperature, and other information to help prevent the spread of bacteria and illness in the kitchen.
- Fight BAC!
From the Partnership for Food Safety Education, this site provides detailed advice to keep food safe from bacteria, including cleaning, chilling, cooking, and separating.
- Chef D's College Student Cookbook
A collection of Cheap, Healthy, Easy, Fast, and Delicious recipes for college students compiled by IUPUI's own Dr. Drew Appleby and the members of his Student-Athlete Learning Communities from 2000-2005.
- Nutrition Information for On-Campus Chartwells Locations Don't visit campus dining locations without a healthy eating plan! Visit the Chartwells web site for nutrition information on food available at eateries across campus.