Shake It Daily Nutrition
What are the healthy carbs?
Carbohydrates are an important element in the diet, and many of the foods that are rich in carbohydrates are also rich in fiber and phytonutrients. Good carbs are simply fruits, vegetables and some whole grains. Carbohydrate needs should be met first by consuming five to nine servings per day of diverse and colorful fruits and vegetables, which provide a wealth of beneficial substances. If more carbohydrates are needed, they can be supplied by whole grains and legumes (e.g., beans). A low-carbohydrate diet restricts carbohydrate grams to such a low level that individuals consuming these diets cannot benefit from the many health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Carbohydrates are made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen but no nitrogen, and are broken down into sugars, such as glucose and fructose. Undigested carbohydrates are eliminated from the body and are referred to as dietary fibers.
Hidden Simple Sugars
Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, lactose and sucrose. These are listed as sugars on food labels, while the so-called complex carbohydrates are not included in this list, despite their similarity to simple sugars. Simple sugars can be directly absorbed by the mucous membranes of the mouth. However, short-chain carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin or corn sugar, consist of 15 glucose units, which are hydrolyzed in the stomach by enzymes and acid into simple sugars. These are often called complex carbohydrates on food labels but act like sugars.
The digestion of starches begins in the mouth in the presence of salivary amylase. As with proteins, much of the digestion takes place on the intestinal mucosal villi, which have both digestive enzymes and specific transport systems for sugars.
Lactose and sucrose are combinations of two different sugars linked together. Lactose is made up of galactose and glucose, while table sugar or sucrose consists of glucose and fructose.
High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn by a process that ends with 55 percent free fructose and 45 percent free glucose, approximately equivalent to table sugar. The tastes of corn sugar, sucrose and fructose are different. Fructose, the sweetest-tasting sugar, is found in fruits such as oranges. Corn sugar tastes like pancake syrup and is the primary sweetener in colas in the United States. In some countries, such as Mexico, sucrose is used to sweeten colas and they taste distinctly different from their U.S. counterparts. The issue with corn syrup is not its chemical character but the huge amount in the diet. Due to government subsidization of corn, large amounts of corn syrup are used in many foods,including soft drinks, which results in extra calories added to the diet. Studies suggest that the obesity epidemic can be linked to the following:
* Consumption of large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
* Consumption of high-fat foods.
* A sedentary lifestyle.
Since dietary fibers are not digested, they do not contribute directly to the nutritive value of foods in terms of calories, but they have many effects on human physiology. Ancient man consumed a great deal of fiber, and this fiber resulted in numerous large, bulky stools that filled the colon and caused it to contract against a large volume load. Modern man eats a small amount of fiber, approximately 10 to 15 grams per day, compared to 25 grams per day in a healthy, plant-based diet and well over 50 grams per day in ancient diets.
Carbohydrates have a bad reputation, due in part to the recent popularity of so-called high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss. Classifying foods as carbs, proteins or fats is misleading since few foods are composed purely of one macronutrient, and the quality of the food can vary significantly. A high-carbohydrate diet could be a plant-based, whole-foods diet with phytonutrient-rich fruits and vegetables at the base, with a moderate amount of whole grains and healthy low-fat proteins to balance nutritional needs. But, since sugars, refined flour products (such as white bread and pasta) and refined grains (such as white rice) are all considered carbohydrates, a diet that is based primarily on refined grains, while it could be low in fat, could also be very high in calories because these low-fiber grain foods are not particularly filling.
Individuals who consume a diet of this type may feel virtuous for avoiding fat, but they could easily gain weight on a diet based on refined grains. The recent popularity of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet came on the tails of the high-carbohydrate craze of 20 years ago, because people found they were gaining weight on bread, cereal, rice and pasta if they made no distinction between whole grains and refined products. Pasta, which had previously been considered good because it is low in fat, is now viewed as bad because it is often a refined flour product (there are whole grain versions available).
In sports nutrition, especially for aerobic exercises, large amounts of carbohydrates are used to provide energy that is burned in the course of exercise. In the Fitness Science section, this topic is discussed in detail.
Nutrition and the Brain
Nutrition and the Brain
The human brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons, which communicate with each other by sending out chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. When these chemicals send their signals, the message is further amplified electrically and sent throughout the body. The chemical messengers that send signals between nerve cells include norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, which are made from building blocks of protein called amino acids. Nutrition influences mental performance, energy and mood, as well as the long-term aging of brain tissue.
Nutrition affects mental energy and the function of your brain throughout the day. Caffeine consumed in beverages and supplements increases the performance of the brain as measured by positive changes in attention, performance and mood. Low blood sugar from skipping meals or eating unbalanced meals results in reduced mental performance several hours later. On the other hand, meals that maintain blood-sugar levels by balancing protein and the right carbohydrates maintain mental performance. This may account for the increased energy that is sensed after a high-protein and/or high-carbohydrate meal.
The Brain: A Nutritional Barometer
While certain macronutrients, such as Vitamin B12, are needed for normal brain function, the brain reflects the overall nutrition of the individual. For example, having excess fat in the upper body can damage nerve cells by causing inflammation. The brain is 70 percent fat and the type of fat in the diet can affect brain function. Plant-based antioxidants have been shown to improve memory in animal experiments. Increased blood flow to the brain, as occurs with regular physical activity, may also have beneficial effects on brain function. The study of nutrition and brain function in humans is in its infancy, but the central roles of weight management, physical activity, fish oils and antioxidant phytonutrients are being actively studied.
Smoothies Make Weight Loss Easy
What you should know about Vitamins and Minerals.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases, even in industrialized nations, such as the United States, were relatively common prior to World War II. Today, with the fortification of the food supply and the widespread use of multivitamins, classical vitamin deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and rickets, are rare except in the case of:
* Specific disease states.
* Drug effects on vitamins.
* Extreme malnutrition due to poverty.
On a global basis, vitamin deficiencies still occur in many large countries, such as India and China, in both rural and urban populations. What can be classified as suboptimal intake of some vitamins, such as vitamin D in areas of low-sun exposure, is a more recently discovered and important area of vitamin deficiency, where supplementation is being recommended by authorities in the field.
Establishing RDA Levels
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is normally issued every 10 years by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board to help guide healthy individuals and to help in planning various national nutrition programs for infant feeding and school nutrition. The RDA levels are normally set above the threshold needed to prevent deficiency diseases, but in some cases the levels are below those some experts would like to see for the prevention of disease. In fact, in 1980, the guidelines were not issued due to a philosophical difference of opinion among the expert members of the group as to whether the RDA should be raised to encourage intake of Vitamin A-rich (carotenoid) and Vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The controversy was finally settled with the issuance of the 1989 guidelines that reverted to the original aim of averting nutritional deficiency states through public policy recommendations.
Fat-Soluble Vitamin Deficiencies
The fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K have separate functions. Vitamins A and D are closely related to steroid hormones and act to induce the synthesis of specific proteins and to maintain normal cellular function. Rare deficiencies of Vitamin A cause night blindness and susceptibility to mumps infection. Deficiencies of Vitamin D cause a bony disease called rickets, and suboptimal intakes of Vitamin D have been related to various forms of cancer. Vitamin E includes a family of eight compounds found in plant cell walls where they act as antioxidants. Vitamin E deficiency does not occur in humans, but this family has interesting functions in the body beyond antioxidation. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. The “K” is derived from the German word “koagulation.” Coagulation refers to blood clotting, because Vitamin K is essential for the functioning of several proteins involved in blood clotting.
Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, which can be stored after a single administration for long periods of time, water-soluble vitamins need to be supplied in foods and supplements on a regular basis to avoid deficiency. Industrialized societies have few cases of water-soluble vitamin deficiency, except in homeless or alcoholic individuals. The recent increase in obesity surgeries, which lead to malabsorption of Vitamin B12 by bypassing the stomach, have led to a new group of individuals at risk of vitamin deficiencies. Strict vegans, individuals with food intolerances, and raw food enthusiasts can also develop vitamin deficiencies if their choices of foods are narrowed significantly.
Nutrition and the Skin
Nutrition and the Skin
The skin is the largest organ in the body and protects us from losing water and protein, while providing a barrier against ultraviolet radiation and infection. The skin requires adequate nutrients, including enough water and protein, to maintain its function. Some nutrients are concentrated in the skin. People who eat a lot of carrots will notice that their skin turns an orange tone due to the concentration of beta-carotene in the skin. This beta-carotene can protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation.
Nutrition not only affects the day-to-day functioning of the skin, but also can influence the risk of developing various types of skin lesions, including age spots and acne. Studies have shown that the incidence of precancerous aging spots (called solar keratoses) can be reduced in individuals exposed to lots of sunlight by reducing the total fat in the diet.
Acne is a common condition associated with obesity, especially in women with increased male hormone levels, leading to oily skin and plugging of hair follicles. Acne is more common in individuals with obesity and diabetes than in the general population, but is a normal occurrence during puberty when male hormone levels are increasing in both teenage girls and boys.
The stratum corneum, or outer layer of the skin, is made up of 14 layers of dead cells shed by the living cells, which are found many layers below the surface of the skin. These dead cells can harbor bacteria, undergo oxidation and affect skin health. The deep living skin cell layers are also fed by the bloodstream so that nutrients can reach them from above and below. Some vitamins applied to the skin have been shown to increase nutrient levels more effectively than vitamins taken orally, but both contribute to the vitamin levels measured in skin cells. Vitamin A, beta-carotene, colorful antioxidants, green tea and fish oils in the diet have all been considered to have positive effects on skin health. A diet providing adequate protein, healthy fats and oils and antioxidants from colorful fruits and vegetables can help maintain healthy skin.