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Basics | Essential Nutrients | Good - Bad Food | Food Facts | Food Pyramids | Alternative Medicine
Note: This is a bunch of facts I started collecting, but I haven't made
sense out of them yet.
Categories of Nutritients
The primary puropse of eating is to provide nutrients necessary for energy, growth, and
mainenance of the body, and proper
functioning of body organs. Food consists of:
See Basics for more.
- Macronutirents - Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats.
Functions: Growth, repair and mainenance and energy (calories).
Energy requires calories - 40-50% from carbohydrates, Fat - only after 20-30 minutes of continuous activity does your body begin to rely more on fat than on carbohydraes.
- Micronutirents - Vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins regulate chemical processes. Minerals assist with this, and pay a role in body maintenance as well, notably in the formation of new tissue, including bones, teeth and blood.
ADD RDA link here
- Water - Water provides a fluid medium for all chemical reacctions, circulation of the blood, removal of waste, lubrication, and regulation of body temperature.
In addition to all the benefits of food, our diets have been implicated in a variety of cronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity.
In the '50s and '60s, researchers started fingering fat as a cause of heart disease, and started advocating low-fat diets. Countries with low-fat diets (Japan, Greece) have low heart disease rates and countries with high fat diets (US, Sweden, Finland) have high heart disease rates.
They also identified a correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease risk. Animal fat, saturated fat, which raised LDL (bad) cholesterol was blamed.
Starting in 1977, the government started telling all Americans to eat less fat.
This all led the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue recommend a diet with more carbohydrates and less fat than the average diet in the 80's.
Percent of calories by source:
They published the popular food pyramid which recommended eating foods from plant sources, such as breads, grains, cereals, rice, pasta, or beans, several times each day.
| ||1980's ||1992
|Carbohydrates ||45% ||>50%
|Fat ||40% ||<30%
|Protein ||15% ||20
There were several studies done in the late '80s, where they actually calculated how much longer you would live if you cut back on saturated fat. The result was a week to a few months.
In the '50s, '60s, and '70s, there were a school of British researchers said it was sugar, flour, white rice, what we now call "easily digestible carbohydrates" or "high glycemic-index carbohydrates", which were to blame for "Western diseases" such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers (colon, breast.)
Somewhere between 1976 and 1986 obesity rates in the US shot up from 12-14% to 22-25%. The fast food industry and it's high carb (french fries and jumbo sodas) is commonly blamed along with the common use of high-fructose corn syrup and our sedentary life style.
Diet guru Robert Atkins has been an advocate of reducing carbs for 30 years.
Award-winning science writer Gary Taubes, has also been critical of the science. In 200? he published "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat" in Science, In July 2002 he wrote the New York Times Magazine cover story, "What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?".
Current evidence indicates there were flaws in resulting recomendations. Substituting carbohydrates
can mess up the body's glucose and insulin levels and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol. Increasing the ratio
of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL increases the risk of heart disease. Insulin is the hormone that controls the deposition of sugar and carbohydrates and fat in your body. Most agree that if insulin levels are high, you'll preferentially store calories as fat; and that as long as insulin levels stay high, you won't be able to get to that fat to use it for fuel.
Excess carbohydrates can be converted to fat, so substituting carbs for fat doesn't necessairly
mean weight loss. Excess carbohydrates may also be contributing to the increase of diabetes.
See: Diet Wars: Frontline interview of Gary Taubes.
Current thinking is:
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is now reassessing the food pyramid (below),
but the results of this effort is not expected unti 2004.
- Eating the right kind of fat (monounsaturated) and carbohydrates (complex) may be more important
than the ratio for reducing heart disease and weight loss.
- Reduced calorie intake is just as important as reduced fat to avoid obesity.
- The mixture of macronutrients does not seem to affect cancer, however many micronutrients
have been touted to reduce cancer rates.
Best Sources of nutrients
Old USDA Food Pyramid - 1992
- Carbohydrates 40% (4 cal. / gram)
Complex carbohydrates - Thousands of sugar units linked together in single molecules.
* High Fiber (high-cellulose) - best - Nondigestible (by humans) carbohydrate. Slows down entry of sugar into blood. - good
- e.g. legumes , salad, fruit, lettuce and broccoli
* Low Fiber (Starchy)-
- e.g. banana, tomato, squash and all cereals and grains (bread and pasta), potatoes and rice.
Simple - 1 - 3 sugars linked together.
- alcohol, sweets - bad
- fruits - In moderation
Starchy - complex - bread, pasta, rice - not as good
Non-starchy - legumes, salad, fruit - Best
There are no "essential" carbohydrates. 100 grams of carbohydrates should be enough to prevent breakdown of the body stores of proteins and fats (for calorie needs).
Fiber is an important part of a good diet.
Although honey is sweeter than sugar, there is not a significant nutritional difference between the two sweeteners. Molasses, on the other hand, contains significant amounts of iron and calcium.
Many carbohydrate-rich foods are also a good source of protein.
- Protein 30% (4 cal. / gram)
- Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are the foundation of all life.
There are 9 essential amino acids.
lean best - white meat
Source of "essential" amino acids.
- Fat 30% (9 cal. / gram)
- fats are composed of triglycerides that are, in turn, made up of fatty acids. Three types of dietary fatty acids-saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated-are known.
As a rule of thumb, animal products have an abundance of the saturated fats, and vegetable oils are richer in the healthier mono- and polyunsaturates.
saturated - butter, cheese, egg yolks,
trans-fatty acids (partially hydrogenated vegitable oils) - margarine, french fries - bad
unsaturated - olive oil, nuts, avocados - good
poly-unsaturated - vegetable oil. - good
There are two families of Essential fatty acids: Linoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3).
The saturated fatty acids have been shown to increase the levels of the "bad cholesterol" (LDL cholesterol).
Fats delay pangs of hunger because a food mixture containing fat remains longer in the stomach.
- Food conversion in the body -
- Carbohydrates converted to simple sugars
complex are converted faster than simple
Too much sugar produces insulin which signals to body to store calories as fat.
Dr. Atkins - Low Carb. - High fat
The Zone - High fat
South Shore - Low Carb.
Dr. Dean Ornish - High carbo, Low fat
Weight Watchers - Low calories
Suzzane Summers - Don't eat fat and carbs together
Eat raw vegitables as much as possible. All enzymes and most vitamins are extremely sensitive
Be careful when browning or burning food especially when barbecuing; fat dripping onto an open flame produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a carcinogen.
When amino acids and otrher chemicals found in muscle are exposed to high temperatures, heerocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), another
carciogen, are created. Even browned or buned bread crusts contain carciognetic substances.
Avoid aluminum cookware.
Fruits and Vegitables
Antioxidents (vitamins, minerals and enzymes which protect cells from oxidation)
Phythochemicals -(e.g. Sulforaphane in broccoli) Actuvate enzymes which protect cells from carcinogens.
Flavanoids, found in citrus fruits and berries, keep cancer causing harmones from laatching on to cells.
Genistein, found in soybeans, kills tumors by preventing the formation of the capillaries needed to nourish them.
Good - Bad Food
Diet and Fitness at iVillage.
Grass-fed vs Grain-fed beef
Diet and Exercise at Accu Measure Fitness
NEW DIET REVOLUTION, 1992, Atkins, R. C. Dr.
The Zone, 1995, Sears, Barry, PhD.
DR. ATKINS' NEW DIET REVOLUTION, Revised 2001, Robert C. Atkins Atkins Web Page
"Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition:" How to Buy, Store, and Prepare Every Variety of Fresh Food,
University of Calif. 1991; Margen, Sheldon
What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?, New York Times Magazine July 7, 2002
Rebuilding the Food Pyramid, Scientific American, Jan. 2003
Effects of Alcohol on Muscle Building Explained - Wellsphere
Organic food in Home & Garden
Low-Carb and Low-Glycemic Index Diets Best for Keeping Weight Off | Healthland.TIME.com
Food ratings at the GoodGuide
Food Facts (Caffeine)
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