Nutrition And Our Nutrition Partners
You may have already checked out the Nutrition/Wellness page on our site, and if you’re here, you’re probably looking for some more food-specific information. At Park Avenue Endocrinology & Nutrition, we partner with two companies that provide wide-ranging product offerings that help our patients eat better.
The links to those companies are below. Before we get there, let’s get into a little more background of how you can eat better. Your body will thank you for it.
What Is Nutrition And Should I Consult A Dietician?
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food and how the body uses nutrients. A nutritionist looks at how our diet influences health and disease.
Dietetics is the science of nutrition, helping patients make informed choices about the foods they eat and lifestyle choices that impact their diets and how those diets are affecting their health.
At Park Avenue Endocrinology & Nutrition, Jordana Turkel, RD, CDN, CDE, is our resident food/nutrition/diet expert. With a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Delaware, she is our resource for helping our patients navigate the tricky terrain of today’s supermarkets and restaurants. She handles nutrition assessments, medical nutrition therapy, and diabetes self-management for our patients, along with various analyses, such as blood glucose, insulin dose records, and more.
Why Is Nutrition So Important?
You are what you eat is basically true. After you just ate that bag of pork rinds or had a bowl of empty calorie sugary cereal, you may suddenly wish you were someone else. That’s because the foods you eat affect your health, not just that stomachache or energy crash you’ll feel in the next 10 minutes, but tomorrow and beyond.
Good food choices and nutrition is a critical component to leading a healthy lifestyle. It’s not as if you have to eat kale five times a day: you can splurge on a bacon cheddar gonzo burger, as long as it’s not a daily thing. But your overall diet, combined with physical activity, is key to helping you reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and promote overall good health.
Why A Healthy Diet Is Crucial
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one-third of U.S. adults are obese and approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of children and adolescents are obese. This matters because dietary habits established in childhood often carry into adulthood. Eating poorly today probably means eating poorly, and paying for it, for the long haul.
This isn’t simply hype. Scientific research has linked poor dietary habits and obesity with virtually every type of chronic disease — from heart disease to diabetes, high blood pressure to cancer, even osteoarthritis.
That’s why our mission at Park Avenue Endocrinology & Nutrition is to help our patients understand their food choices and how they are impacting their health. It’s not as if we tell everyone to eat a tofu shake for breakfast every day, but we can help show you why that donut for breakfast made you want to crawl under your desk at work and take a nap about an hour later.
What Can I Do To Ensure I’m Getting The Right Nutrients In My Diet?
Many Americans consume less than the targeted amounts of certain nutrients necessary for good health. Without getting into a list of specifics here (we can get into that when you’re in our offices for a nutrition assessment), these are some guidelines to try and incorporate into your diet.
Healthy eating includes:
- A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruit
- Grains, half of which should be whole grain
- Dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of proteins, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. It’s not hard — oils naturally occur in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
And you want to limit these items:
Salt — You’d be amazed at the amounts of salt found in processed foods like pizza, soups, frozen dinners, restaurant meals, and the like. The goal is less than 2,300 mg per day of salt.
Saturated and trans fats — Less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Butter is far better for you than artificial, processed margarine, but you still need to be cognizant of the level of fat it contains. Same with whole milk and fatty meats.
Added sugars — Americans are bathing in sugar. A daily 44-ounce soft drink from the gas station has about 128 grams of sugar and 512 calories. The recommended daily amount of sugar for a 2,000-calorie maintenance diet? That would be 25 grams. And that is just a single drink in a day for many people, with lots of other sugar to come.
This isn’t rocket science. It IS nutritional science and that’s where our resident expert, Judana Turkel, will help you figure out a diet that works, and tastes good, for you.
How do I assess the nutritional value of foods?
Reading labels is easy to do, once you know what you’re looking for. These are the general guidelines for a healthy diet. The average person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight. This varies by age, gender, and physical activity, as you would assume. Eat more calories than your maintenance number and you will gain weight, simple as that. Eat fewer calories and you will lose weight.
Here are some general numbers:
Carbohydrates — About 50-60 percent of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrates, but avoid the fast-acting empty carbs you’ll find in soda, candy, and cookies.
Proteins — About 12-20 percent of your daily calories should come from protein. This is necessary for growth, maintenance, and energy. Foods that are mostly protein provide long-term energy and won’t cause a rise in blood sugar (which then crashes).
Fats — About 30 percent of your daily diet should come from fat. This equates to 50 to 80 grams. Avoid saturated fats, or keep them in moderation (like butter), but trans fats should be avoided if possible.
What are the benefits of proper nutrition?
There is no downside to a healthy diet. Plus, eating consistently well allows for that occasional splurge on that favorite dessert or a greasy burger. Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats, and lean proteins is scientifically proven to not only help you get to and maintain a healthy weight, but it dramatically lowers your chances of acquiring all sorts of health problems.
Here are a few benefits of shaping up that diet of yours:
You’ll lose weight — Whole vegetables and fruits are lower in calories than processed foods. Lean protein has fewer calories than processed junk. A good diet will let you lose the weight, and it will lessen your chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, poor bone density, and various cancers.
Reduce your cancer odds — Obesity not only increases your risk of many cancers, but it also makes for worse outcomes for those who do acquire cancer. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are shown to help protect against cancer.
Keep your heart healthy — As many as 92.1 million Americans have one type of cardiovascular disease, yet lifestyle changes, such as better eating and exercise can prevent up to 80 percent of cases of premature heart disease and stroke. Vitamin E in almonds, peanuts, green vegetables, and other sources is even shown to prevent blood clots, which lead to strokes and heart attacks. Coronary artery disease is directly linked to heavy trans fat intake. Excessive cholesterol in fatty foods also fills your arteries with plaque.
Do your kids a favor — Kids learn their food habits from their parents. Everyone wants their kids to lead healthy, happy lives, so cook your own foods, eat at home together more often, and ditch the fast food. They’ll follow your lead when they become adults.
Better bones, better teeth — Getting enough calcium keeps your bones and teeth strong. Too little calcium leads to osteoporosis and a brutal old age. Calcium is in abundance in low-fat dairy products, broccoli, cauliflower, canned tuna, tofu, and legumes.
Improved moods and memory — Research has linked diets with high glycemic loads to increased depression and fatigue. You know what these include: processed foods, soft drinks, cakes, white breads, and the like. Diets with lots of vitamin D, C, and E and omega-3 fatty acids also have been linked to the prevention of dementia.
Those are just a few of the benefits. The truth is — there is absolutely no downside to eating better. At Park Avenue Endocrinology & Nutrition, it’s our mission to help you get there!