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Individual nutrition needs very different
Stop by the Health
1st Wellness Wednesday table between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Aug. 20 in the
Children’s Hospital lobby to receive a brief assessment of personal
by Janet Carter
We are all very different. Our nutrition needs are very different, as
well. As nutrition experts, registered dietitians (RD) can help
estimate your nutrition needs while explaining the nutrients and their
effects on your body. Reading a nutrition facts label doesn’t explain
the quantitative relationship between nutritious value and your body’s
need, i.e., what is a lot or what is a little.
The following is a brief summary of the amounts of specific nutrients
that the average healthy adult needs each day. (An RD can provide a
more accurate formula of what you would need, and would provide
recommendations based on important factors such as weight loss,
diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.)
Calories are a measure of the energy in food and the energy that our
body uses to function. Plain and simple, if we eat more calories than
our body uses, we would gain weight. Conversely, if we eat fewer
calories than our body uses, we would lose weight. If we keep both
calories in and calories out the same, our weight would stay the same.
Calculating someone’s calorie needs is a tricky process. There are ways
to directly measure one’s calorie needs while at rest. Others include
Bod Pod, underwater weighing, and metabolic cart, but these are not
always available and can be expensive. Another way is to use a
calculation that estimates your calorie needs based on your height,
weight and age. This calculation is pretty close to the direct
measurements, but you have to also factor in activity level. That
becomes tough to do, since it is usually an educated guess. Again, this
is where an RD can offer expert guidance.
The commonly used equation for estimating calorie needs at rest for
adults (Harris-Benedict Equation) is: Women: 655 + 9.56 (weight in
kilograms) + 1.85 (height in centimeters) – 4.68 (age); Men: 66.5 +
13.75 (weight in kilograms) + 5.0 (height in centimeters) – 6.78 (age).
Fat has gotten a bad reputation through the years. Of course, too much
fat is not healthy, but getting enough of the good fats can protect you
against heart disease and other health problems. We need some fat in
our diet to help us transport and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D,
and K). But most of us don’t have an issue about getting enough fat,
but rather too much fat. Also, there are good fats and bad fats. The
good fats are unsaturated. These include foods like olive oil, nuts and
flaxseed oil. Bad fats are saturated. About 30 percent of your calories
should come from fat (also remember that 1 gram of fat has 10
calories). The calculation is 1,600 calories: 48 grams; 1,800 calories:
54 grams; 2,000 calories: 60 grams; and 2,200 calories: 66 grams.
For those label readers, here’s a quick way to find out if something is
too high in fat or not (based on the 30 percent recommendation):
Take the calories from fat and multiply it by 3. Compare that number to
the total calories. If it’s higher, that item is too high in fat. This
equation will not work with peanut butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing,
cheese, olive oil, etc., since these items are primarily fats.
We need some saturated fat in our diet, but very little. Too much
saturated fat can cause our body to produce more cholesterol than it
needs, which can then build up in our blood vessel walls. Remembering
that 1 gram of fat contains 10 calories, adults need less than 10
percent of their calories from saturated fat, or 1,600 calories: 16
grams; 1,800 calories: 18 grams; 2, 000 calories: 20 grams; 2,200
calories: 22 grams.
Trans fats are found very minimally in nature. The major source of
these fats is through a process called hydrogenation that was created
to make products more shelf-stable. Trans fats are not good for our
bodies. Trans fats also cause our body to produce more cholesterol than
it needs, which can than build up on our blood vessel walls. In
addition, trans fats can stick in your vessel walls, increasing your
risk for heart disease or stroke. Trans fats should be avoided.
Even for those with high cholesterol, dietary cholesterol is not
necessarily your worst enemy, unless you’re getting too much of it.
Adults should have no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day in their
diets. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods, so you don’t have to
look for it in your fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.
Too much sodium can raise blood pressure in salt-sensitive people.
Healthy adults should try for less than 2,400 mg per day. A teaspoon of
table salt has about 2,300 mg, so we should try to limit the salt we
add in cooking and at the table. Some folks with certain health
conditions may need to decrease their sodium intake even further.
Fiber is important for our body in that it helps us stay regular, and
it also can help lower blood cholesterol. If your daily diet includes
whole grains and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables,
you’re probably doing OK with your fiber needs. Otherwise, adults need
a minimum of 20-35 grams of fiber per day, or 11.5 grams per 1,000
Protein has many important jobs in our body. Most of us get plenty of
protein, and more likely, more than we need. Too much protein can also
be stored as fat in the body. Adult recommendations are 0.8 grams per
kilogram body weight. (That there are 7 grams of protein in one ounce
of meat, so a 3-ounce chicken breast, which is about the size of a deck
of cards, provides about 21 grams of protein.)
More information on individual nutritional needs and calculations can
be obtained from Outpatient Nutrition Services, sixth floor Rutledge
Tower (RT), Greer Gowen, registered dietitian (RD), 876-0671; Weight
Management Center, IOP Suite 410 South Side, Tonya Turner, RD,
92-5434; Bariatric Surgery Clinic, Digestive Disease Center/ART, Debbie
Petitpain, RD (876-4867) and Nina Crowley, RD (876-4307) or visit
http://www.muschealth.com/weightlosssurgery; Pediatric Endocrine
Clinic, Katherine Nashatker, RD, 876-0479; Cystic Fibrosis Clinic (for
children, fourth floor, RT) (adults, fifth floor, RT), Kristin Crady,
RD, 792-9002; and Heart Health (Pediatric Weight Management) Pediatric
Cardiology, sixth Floor Children’s Hospital, Janet Carter, RD,
Group sessions are held at 5 p.m. Wednesdays; Pediatric Cardiology
Clinic Waiting Room; and fitness sessions at Gazes Research Center.
Also, visit http://www.nutrition.musc.edu.
Editor's note: The preceding column was brought to you on behalf of
Health 1st. Striving to bring various topics and representing numerous
employee wellness organizations and committees on campus, this weekly
column seeks to provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and
helpful information concerning all aspects of health.
Friday, Aug. 15, 2008
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