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Diabetes means your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose out of your blood stream and into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth.
Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism. Currently available GM foods stem mostly from plants, but in the future foods derived from GM microorganisms or GM animals are likely to be introduced on the market. Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to improve the amount harvested, through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases or of increased tolerance of herbicides.
In the future, genetic modification could be aimed at altering the nutrient content of food, reducing its allergenic potential, or improving the efficiency of food production systems. All GM foods should be assessed before being allowed on the market. FAO/WHO Codex guidelines exist for risk analysis of GM food.
Genetic modifications are not always bad, as in the case of creating the delicious Honeycrisp apple, however, some genetic modifications can mean harsher pesticides, so it is important to understand how your food is being altered.
Products marked as Sugar Free, Lite/Light, or Zero (for example Coke Zero) mean that the sugar has been removed partially (Lite/Light) or wholly (Sugar Free and Zero) from the food product. Usually, this results in reduced calories, like Sugar Free soda has zero calories. While fewer calories may seem like the right choice, often the real sugar is replaced with chemical substitutes. As these chemical substitutes are not natural, consumers should be wary of how many Sugar Free, Lite/Light, and Zero products they are purchasing. Look at the Ingredients list on the back of a product to identify sugar substitutes.
Products marked as Fat Free mean that the naturally occurring fat content of the food has been removed. This usually results in reduced calories, like Fat Free Yogurt has fewer calories than regular, full fat yogurt. While fewer calories and lower fat may seem like the right choice, often the fat is replaced with sugar or other additives to make up for the lost flavor that fat naturally brings to the food. While fat is high in calories, it also helps make us feel full and stop eating when our body doesn’t need any more. Fats are also important in helping us use vitamins and build cells (see Fats). However, eating foods where the fat is replaced with sugar or other additives, these components can quickly add up as pounds on the body.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains including wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and malt. Gluten Free means that the product does not contain these grains or that the gluten protein has been removed.
Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can't eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is found mainly in foods but may also be in other products like medicines, vitamins and supplements, lip balm, and even the glue on stamps and envelopes.
Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.
Celiac disease is genetic. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.
Gluten Free diets are recommended for those who have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance.
If you have anemia, your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives the red color to blood. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Anemia has three main causes: blood loss, lack of red blood cell production, and high rates of red blood cell destruction.
Anemia can make you feel tired, cold, dizzy, and irritable. You may be short of breath or have a headache.
Your doctor will diagnose anemia with a physical exam and blood tests. Treatment depends on the kind of anemia you have.
Quick-fix diets, also known as fad diets, tend to focus on an extreme eating plan, such as eliminating an entire food group or severely restricting calories. Often times these diets boast fast results, however these diets are usually unhealthy and ineffective. If you are concerned about your health, weight, or diet, please consult your physician or a registered dietician.
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a mathematical calculation which aims to reflect the ratio of lean muscle mass to fatty tissue in the body. This calculation uses an individual’s height and weight. While this measurement can give a general idea of a person’s body composition, it is not entirely accurate. Several factors impact a BMI calculation, like body frame and activity level and choice (i.e. weightlifting).
Sports drinks are high in sugar. Often they are marketed as “replenishing electrolytes.” However, most sports drinks contain more sugar and salt than most people need before, during, or even after activity. Water is the best sports drink available.
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. They are in your blood, urine and body fluids. Maintaining the right balance of electrolytes helps your body's blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes. Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and magnesium are all electrolytes. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink.
Levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high. That can happen when the amount of water in your body changes, causing dehydration or overhydration. Causes include some medicines, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating or kidney problems. Problems most often occur with levels of sodium, potassium or calcium.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers. Usually the systolic number comes before or above the diastolic number. A reading of 119/79 or lower is normal blood pressure 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is called prehypertension. Prehypertension means you may end up with high blood pressure, unless you take steps to prevent it.
Organic agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.
Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.
Organic farms and processors:
High levels of sodium may seem “hidden” in packaged food, particularly when a food doesn’t “taste” salty – but sodium is not hidden on the Nutrition Facts Label!
The Daily Value, or DV, for sodium is based on 100% of the recommended amount of sodium, which is less than 2400 milligrams (mg) per day.
The %DV listed is for one serving, but many packages contain more than one serving! Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually consuming – if you eat two servings you get twice as much sodium (or double the %DV).
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.
Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood and stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. You are likely to have high cholesterol if members of your family have it, if you are overweight or if you eat a lot of fatty foods.
You can lower your cholesterol by exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables. You also may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol.
Fats – saturated and poly/monounsaturated
Fat is a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not too much. Fats give you energy, help your body absorb vitamins and build cells.
Saturated fats, like butter, lard, and shortening, are the types of fats you want to limit. These should make up a small portion of the fats you eat every day.
Mono- and Polyunsaturated fats, like olive, canola, or sesame seed oil, are the types of fats that will do the most for your body. These are the fats you should incorporate into your diet.