DON’T BLAME THE NUTRIENT, BLAME THE GAME
By Christine Altimarino, PEAK testing specialist
Have you ever noticed how specific nutrients will get targeted and labeled as the blight of the Standard American Diet? This is a grave oversimplification happening on a large scale that can even affect how foods are produced. Think about it. A few decades ago the problem child was fats. This presented a problem for food manufacturers as their job is to make money and now the general public was checking the amount of fats on their nutrition labels. Something needed to change in order to have a marketable “low-fat” product. Since delicious flavor is vital to selling their products when fat went down, something else had to go up and it was often the amount of sugar. Now guess what, today sugar is the bad guy. We have found that large amounts of refined sugars (not those found in whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains but rather in a bottle of juice or a bag of reduced-fat crackers) are processed by the liver and metabolized into none other than the type of fats that are dumped into the blood stream and wreak havoc on our vascular systems. So what’s the concurrent trend? Low-carb diets. Unfortunately most people won’t thrive on this type of a diet either, so now what?
If we learn a lesson from pointing the finger at fat then we would realize that basing all of our dietary choices on a single nutrient is problematic. There’s so much more to a simple apple than the amount of sugar in it. There are vitamins, minerals and fiber. Now, let’s take a look at apple juice. Same fruit, same benefits right? Same natural sugars, vitamins and minerals. Ignore the fact that many juices do have added sugar, the beverage form of the fruit is missing an important nutrient; the fiber. This is what slows the dumping of glucose into the blood stream and therefore has a different effect on the entire system. When making food choices there are so many nutrients to consider it can get overwhelming quickly so what is the most practical advice?
Aim for balance and variety. An easy way to do this is to look at MyPlate. This new model helps you visualize the ratio of each food group you should be consuming on your plate so you can eat a balanced diet. When trying to add variety think about mixing it up within each food group. What kinds of fruits do you eat each day? Is it always the same? Then it’s time to try something new! Another important aspect of a healthy and balanced diet is to eat foods that still look the way they did when they came out of the ground. These foods tend to have a greater nutrient density meaning they have more essential nutrients per gram and typically per calorie as well. Overly processed foods tend to be stripped of many (if not all) of their natural nutrients so your favorite processed foods should ideally be eaten no more than one serving, once a day. Still have questions? As part of your wellness program you can see a dietician at PEAK Health and Fitness to discuss any part of your diet that you would like to improve.
5 HEALTHY SUMMER SMOOTHIES
Smoothies are the perfect summer treat. They will cool you down while providing nutrients and fiber your body needs. Try one of these five recipes for great tasting drinks that will keep you going.
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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.