The Importance of Nutrition

CommUnityCare provides nutrition counseling to our patients. All people should be aware of the importance of a good diet. However, there are particular patients, such as diabetics, for whom good nutrition is vital to their health. Good nutrition needs involves making healthy food choices. A regular exercise program is also important to good health. It is recommended that children and adults get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

The U.S. is in the midst of a growing epidemic of obesity in both children and adults. It is estimated that over 22 million children are now obese (overweight). With this, we are seeing an alarming increase in type 2 diabetes in kids. 34% of U.S adults age 20 and over are now obese.

As the saying goes, "We are what we eat." Our food choices have a huge impact on how we look and feel - both physically and mentally. Be sure to watch your serving sizes. Avoid "diets" and approach eating one day at a time by making healthy choices. Healthy eating is a lifetime commitment, not a temporary diet to lose weight.

Fruits and vegetables - Try to eat 3 to 5 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables provide much of the needed vitamins, minerals and fiber required for good health. Choose fruits and vegetable of a wide variety of colors to provide a broad range of nutrients. Also include dried beans and peas such as pinto beans and kidney beans. Fresh or frozen is best for both fruits and vegetable. Avoid fruits packed in heavy syrups.

Grains - You should have 6 servings of grain each day and at least 3 of them should be a whole grain. Look for pastas, cereals, breads and crackers that include whole grains.

Dairy products - Dairy products are an important part of a healthy diet, but when possible, choose reduced fat milk and cheese products. 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or a milk equivalent are recommended each day.

Meats, beans and eggs - Meats, beans and eggs are an important source of protein. Always try to use the leanest cut of meat available. Choose ground beef that is at least 90% lean. Canadian bacon is much lower in fat than bacon. Choose fish or chicken that is canned in water instead of oil. Consider using an egg substitute or egg whites instead of whole eggs. Remove the skin from poultry and eat more fish. Reduce the amount of red meat that you eat.

Fats and oils - Eat a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. You should consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. Try to avoid using butter, stick margarine, shortening and lard. Choose peanut, olive, vegetable or canola oil for cooking. Choose reduced fat or fat free salad dressings.

Salt or sodium - The U.S Food and Drug Administration recommends that the average adult consume less that 2300 mg of salt each day. People with certain health conditions like high blood pressure, may be asked to restrict salt in the diet even further.

To learn more about healthy eating and nutrition go to: Nutrition.gov