The Basics - Getting Familiar with Nutrition


Last week I held my first nutrition education session, and last night the second. Two down, four to go (but it's not too late for you to join us! ;) )

I am actually having fun going through all of my resources, preparing, and teaching these classes. Based on my love for spreading information about health, and a client request, today's post is going to include my PowerPoint from the class as well as my notes, or anything that I emphasized.

If this content interests you consider coming to a class or I may even record my classes or make PowerPoints with audio available for those that can't attend classes. Please, please, PLEASE, let me know your opinions. :)

Children today are consuming many of their Calories from "junk food." Even fruit drinks that are thought to be a healthy alternative are high in added sugars. Fruit has natural sugars that are found in juices, but many companies add sugar to increase sweetness and argue a better taste than other juices. 

The fast food industry has continued to grow, unfortunately these restaurants are greatly depended on for nutrition on a daily basis. The meals that these restaurants serve easily provide half of your daily Calories, or more. 

Added sugars and refined grains have become a major link in the obesity epidemic that we are seeing today.

Obesity is on the rise and costing more and more all the time. Obesity comes with increased risk for other disease which can increase cost for health care as increased care and medication is needed.

Chemical reactions are constantly happening within the body. Nutrients are the substances that allow these chemical reactions to occur. 

There are a variety of nutrients provided by different types of food. It is important to eat a variety of foods so that the body can take advantage of an array of nutrients. No one food or food group provides everything that the body needs so variety is important!

Micronutrients do not provide energy. These are things like vitamins and minerals. They are referred to as "micro" because the body only needs a small amount of these on a daily basis.

Macronutrients are needed on a larger scale daily. These are the nutrients that provide energy; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. 

We need to be able to measure how much energy the macronutrients provide and how much energy the body gives off. The measure we use to do so is a Calorie. Even when resting, the body has a base rate of the amount of Calories it will burn. Additional Calories are burned depending on physical activity levels. Some foods provide more energy or Calories than others and our body breaks down and uses those different forms of energy in different ways.

Macronutrients themselves are measured in grams. You can find how many grams of each macronutrient are in a food using the nutrition label. 

For carbohydrates, for every gram, there are 4 Calories taken in. Carbohydrates are mainly used for energy in the brain and muscles. The energy can be used quickly from simple carbohydrate (sugar), or can be stored for later use from complex carbohydrates. Insoluble fiber is a type of carbohydrate that does not provide the body with Calories because it is indigestible. If the body can not digest it, then no energy can be absorbed for use. Even though insoluble fiber is not digestible and does not count toward total Calories it is still considered in the total grams of carbohydrates.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. It is used quickly in the body. If there is too much sugar the body changes its process and stores this excess as fat. Sugar has been a leading contributor to obesity and the amount of added sugars in foods has been on the rise. Whether it be natural sugars from fruit or added sugars from sweets or juices, only about 25-75g of sugar should be consumed daily. 

Take a look at the products listed and notice how much sugar is in each. Then compare that to how much you should be getting each day. Sugar is EVERYWHERE and almost all of us get too much.

Protein also has 4 Calories for every one gram. Proteins are important for growth, repair, structure, function, and regulation of the body and it's tissues. If necessary, stored protein can also be broken down to provide energy. 

Most Americans get too much protein. you can use the equation in the slide to help you figure out how much you need, or just dividing your body weight by two will give you a good estimate of how much protein you need in grams on a daily basis. 

The body can only handle so much protein at once. Too much protein in the system at once is excreted or can even be stored as fat. 

Despite the "low-fat" and "fat-free" craze we tend to see, fat can be good for you! Your body needs fat for basic functions. Fat is more Calorie dense than carbohydrates or protein with 9 Calories for every gram rather than 4. 

There have been new scientific findings to show cholesterol levels in your body are not directly affected by the amount of dietary cholesterol you take in but other factors like sugar intake.

There are different types of fats that can be better than others for a variety of reasons, but I'll go deeper into that during my class on fats. (That class is July 6th!)

WATER IS SO IMPORTANT. As I mentioned above, our bodies are just a bunch of chemical reactions and water is an important component in many of those reactions. Plus, over half of your body weight is water so, it's important to keep yourself hydrated. 

For the typical diet of 2000 Calories a day, you should be having at least 2 liters of water. You can picture what a 2 liter of soda looks like, right? Do you think you're drinking that much water everyday? Or how about taking your bodyweight, dividing that by two, and that is how many ounces you need daily. BUT, that's just baseline, if you sweat or exercise, you need to replace the water you're losing, so drink a few glasses more!

I think many underestimate how important water is and how much we really need. If you don't think you're getting enough water I challenge you to make that the first nutritional change you make.

Phytochemicals are substances that have great health benefits but no nutritive value. Kind of along the same lines as vitamins and minerals but different...

These substances are found in plants as well as supplements. But, going back to the whole chemistry thing again, the phytochemicals in foods act better in the body as there is evidence to show that foods that contain phytochemicals also contain other substances that work together and allow the chemicals to work more efficiently. 

The final point of this presentation, but maybe the most important, is that differentiating a diet and a lifestyle change. 

When I think of a diet I think of attempt and failure, changes that are unsustainable, expensive supplements and programs, and no permanent change. With lifestyle changes, you're forming new habits that will continue to provide health benefits even after any weight loss goals are met. This is something that you can sustain for a long period of time and will be beneficial on a large scale. Plus, by changing the way you eat you aren't having to buy any expensive products but still getting results.

I hope that you were able to find a little bit of information to take from this post. Please feel free to ask questions and give feedback. 

Enjoy your weekend and I'll be checking back in soon! :D