Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vitamins and Minerals

The Vitamin A post is the first in a series of Vitamin and Mineral posts. Stay tuned to learn more about the fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins, macrominerals, and microminerals. The information will explain what each one does and where you can find it in your diet.

Steph Wheler

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin necessary for the growth and repair of body tissues, bone formation, immune functions, night vision, and normal eye sight. Retinoids are animal sources which are stored in the liver and carotenoids are plant sources which are stored in fat. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A is 400 mcg/day for children (age 4-8), 600 mcg/day for adolescents (age 9-13) 900 mcg/day for males (over the age of 14) and 700 mcg/day for females (over the age of 14). As with most vitamins and minerals there are certain risks with both a deficiency and too much (toxicity) Vitamin A.

Vitamin A aids in the synthesis and breakdown of amino acids and it is an important antioxidant (protecting the body from damaging substances). As an antioxidant it helps the body fight infection and helps heal wounds. It helps maintain healthy skin (found in many face creams and acne remedies) and mucous membranes.

Animal sources include eggs, dairy products, margarine, liver, and fish.
Plant sources include dark green and orange vegetables (carrots, cantaloupe, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli...), and fortified breakfast cereals.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weight Gain

I know many people are concerned about losing weight or maintaining their current weight, but some people struggle to gain weight and eat enough to be healthy. If you think simply, it is just a matter of consuming more calories than you are burning. Research also suggests that you need to consume an extra 500 kcal/day in order to gain 1 lb (0.45 kg) in a week. While it is well known that extra weight is unhealthy, being underweight is also unhealthy.

Some tips for healthy weight gain are:
1) Eat frequently throughout the day (meals and snacks)
2) Have food readily available wherever you are (pack snacks)
3) Eat larger than normal portion sizes
4) Choose calorie dense foods (granola, bagels)
5) Focus on including healthy fats (peanut butter, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, salmon, tuna)
6) Drink calories (milk, juice, smoothies)
7) Don't drink water right before a meal because it will fill you up
8) Include beans and legumes in your diet, they are calorie dense and high in carbohydrates and protein

It is important to look at your day and figure out where you could eat more or add more calories. That could just mean sprinkling your breakfast with dried fruit. You also don't want to skip meals and snacks.

Start by setting yourself an achievable goal such as eating breakfast everyday. Once you master that move on to something such as having a bedtime snack. It is important to remember that you want to gain weight in a healthy way, you should not just start eating all kinds of junk food because while it is calorie dense, it lacks nutrients. Create habits that you can stick to.

Steph Wheler

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Understanding Fibre

You may have heard about fibre, you may even know that it's good for you. However, many people don't understand the different types of fibre, but more importantly, they don't know how much to consume and where to find it. The recommendation for healthy adults is 38 g/day for men and 25 g/day for women.

Soluble fibre has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. It can be found in foods such as oatmeal, beans, peas, barley, citrus fruit, flax seeds, etc.

Insoluble fibre is important for maintaining normal bowel function; it passes through the digestive system relatively unchanged. This type is found in foods such as whole wheat breads, wheat cereals, cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, etc.

Once again this shows the importance of variety in your diet to ensure that you get both types of fibre. When increasing fibre in your diet also make sure you drink plenty of water. A simple first step you can take is to compare food labels in the grocery store and challenge yourself to choose foods with a higher fibre content.

Steph Wheler

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Titles such as "Registered Dietitian", "Professional Dietitian", and "Dietitian" are protected by law. This means that the individual has met specific educational requirements and undergone nationally recognized training. A Dietitian has a Bachelor's degree specializing in food and nutrition and has undergone a practicum placement. While only qualified individuals can use the title Dietitian, anyone can call himself or herself a Nutritionist. Be careful when taking dietary advice from anyone. You should be sure to look at his or her credentials and you can always contact Dietitians of Canada to find a Dietitian in your area.

Steph Wheler