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Redskins Nutritionist Explores the Top Nutrition Myths for Women

12.28.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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By Jane Jakubczak, Washington Redskins Team Nutritionist

A large part of my time as a Registered Dietitian (RD) is helping my clients navigate through the jungle of nutrition information that are bombarded with everyday. Throughout the year, I will be addressing various dietary myths to help you decipher truth from fiction.

As a Registered Dietitian (RD) I am committed ethically to base all my dietary advice and nutrition information in sound scientific research.  To earn the credentials RD, one must earn a four-year degree focusing on the science of food as well as the science of the human body including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biology and food science.  My job as an RD is to interpret the science of nutrition for the public and offer the information in a “user friendly” format.  

It is important to look at the credentials of the person or organization you are receiving nutrition information from.  Many people call themselves “nutritionist” but without the RD credential they may not possess formal education in food or nutrition science and their advice and information may not be based in sound research.  To learn more about what if takes to become a Registered Dietitian visit http://www.eatright.org/BecomeanRDorDTR/content.aspx?id=8143

The following are the top 5 myths I found my clients believing as truths and the scientific explanation behind why they are myths: 

Myth:  “Fats Make Me Fat”

Truth:  Fats do not make us fat; consuming more calories than our body needs will cause us to store fat.  Dietary fat is an essential nutrient and plays an important role in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (A, K, D, E).  Dietary fat is also important in keeping your skin and hair soft and supple and maintaining a strong metabolism.  Some fats are less healthy than others, saturated fats may contribute to cardiovascular disease and should be limited in our diets.  Saturated fats are found in marbled meats, whole milk products (including cheese), creamy dressings and sauces, fried foods and commercially packaged baked goods and savory snack foods such as potato chips. Healthy fats should be integrated into our daily diets and include unsaturated fats found in nuts (such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts), seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), nut butters (peanut butter or almond butter), avocado, hummus and olive or canola oil.  (most women need between 45 – 60 grams of total fat per day, limiting saturated fats to less than 20 grams per day) 

Myth:  “Iron is for Pumping”

Truth:  Iron is a component of your blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to your muscles and cells.  If you do not have enough iron in your blood you will feel very fatigued, weak and may experience frequent headaches, irritability and trouble concentrating.   Good sources of iron include lean red meats, dark meat chicken, and fish because the type of iron in these foods is easily absorbable.  You can also get iron from dried lentils and beans, soy, spinach, egg yolks, raisins, whole grains and fortified foods.  To increase the absorbability of iron in non-meat foods, pair them with a vitamin C rich food such as tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges or orange juice, strawberries or broccoli. Iron needs = 18 milligrams/day.

Myth:  “Liquid Calories Don’t Count”

Truth:  Liquid calories do count towards our total daily caloric intake and need to be taken into consideration if we are working on managing our body weight.  Beverages can sneak in extra calories without us realizing  because liquid calories don’t make our stomachs feel full like solid calories do.  Our body weight is a simple equation = calories in + calories out, no matter what the source of the calories are.  Watch portion size when consuming juice, regular soda, regular lemonade, coffee drinks, sweetened ice tea, and alcohol. Save sports drinks for when you are sweating for over one hour.  Best beverage to consume is water (calorie free!).  If you need a bit of flavor, consider adding a lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slice.  (you can calculate your base fluid needs per day by dividing your body weight in pounds by 2.  Exercise, environmental factors and health status will increase your hydration needs above this base sum).  

Myth:  “Milk is for Kids”

Truth:  Most women are deficient in calcium and Vitamin D and putting themselves at high risk of osteoporosis.  Every muscle contraction your body performs requires calcium.  If you are not supplying your muscles with calcium through your diet, you are forcing your body to pull calcium from your bones.  When your body pulls calcium from your bones to allow your heart to keep beating (a very important muscle!), your legs to walk across the street, your arms to lift your groceries, etc. the bones get thinner and thinner.  This is the progression to osteoporosis.  To prevent this debilitating disease, strive for 3 servings from the dairy group everyday.  One serving = 8 oz of low-fat milk or soy milk, 8 oz of low fat yogurt and 1.5 oz of cheese.   If you are unable to consume dairy, consider calcium fortified 100% orange juice or fortified cereal.  (calcium needs = 1000 – 1200 mg/day) 

Myth:  “Carbohydrates are Fattening” 

Truth:  Carbohydrates do not make us fat; consuming more calories than our body needs will cause us to store fat.  It is very true that it is easy to over eat carbohydrates however it is not the fact that it is carbohydrates, it is the fact that carbohydrates contain calories and eating too many calories cause us to store fat.  We get calories from 4 places; carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol.  Over consuming any of these will cause weight gain. Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet that provides instant energy – similar to high-octane gasoline in a car.  Carbohydrates are our main source of fiber – important for weight management and a healthy digestive tract.  The grain food group (the main source of carbohydrate) also offers an abundance of B Vitamins, which aid in the release of energy from foods and keeps the immune system strong.  The healthiest carbohydrates to consume are whole grains – whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers, and low fat popcorn.  To ensure you are getting whole grains, check the food label and make sure the first ingredient on the ingredient list says the word “WHOLE” (carbohydrate needs for most women = 250 - 350 grams/day depending on activity level).

I hope this blog entry has clarified some information for you. I would love to address any nutrition information or dietary advice WOW members have questions about. This is YOUR blog and I want to touch on topics that YOU are interested in!

I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year!

- Jane

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