Give it up for fat!

With so much media attention on fat, it concerns me a little how we seem to forget the importance of fat in our diets.  Fat has been made out to be the bad guy quite a bit lately. Because of that, I’ve been considering writing a post discussing the difference between good and bad fats as well as the importance of including fats in our diet.

In looking up some information to refresh my memory of all those physiology and nutrition classes I took once upon a time, I came across a great article that I decided to send you to instead.  With so much great information already included in one place, I don’t see a need to duplicate it.  The people on this site essentially did everything that I wanted to (and much more) and they did it much more concisely than I could have.

My favorite part is where they give guidelines for choosing healthy fats:

“With so many different sources of dietary fat—some good and some bad—the choices can get confusing. But the bottom line is simple: don’t go no-fat, go good fat.

If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, rather than avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing saturated fats and trans fats with good fats. This might mean replacing some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.”

I would add, if you are concerned about your weight, pay more attention to how many calories you’re eating compared to how many calories you are expending than to whether or not you’re eating fat-free.

Anyway, I’ll stop typing so you can read what these smarter people say.  Its good stuff.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live.

Really? They don’t talk about diet and exercise?

Check out this article about how cancer is being shown to help cancer survivors.  Then, if you care, come back to read my ranting.  http://www.telegram.com/article/20120426/NEWS/120429637/-1/NEWS04

What blows my mind is not that diet and exercise is being shown to help prevent the recurrence of cancer.  I’m not surprised that people use exercise to improve their moods and overcome the depression that can so easily follow such a devastating diagnosis.  I’m not even shocked that the American Cancer Society issued new guidelines (finally).

What I find staggering,  astonishing and even distressing is the comment that “usually the last thing on (a doctor’s) mind is to talk about diet and exercise”.  Really?!  Is that really the case?  Has our medical system really strayed so far from helping people actually overcome disease?  Has it simply become a system where we try to alleviate symptoms rather than alter root causes?

I am not a doctor.  I have no interest in going to medical school.  I did, however, study exercise science and was able to take many of the classes required for pre-med.  I sat in the same room as many people in my area who are now studying to become or are practicing as medical professionals.  I cannot fathom that those people studied what I did, listened to the same lectures, read the same books, prepared presentations on the same topics (on top of everything else they later went through in medical school) and would still have the mentality of diet and exercise being the “last thing on their mind…to talk about” with their patients.

I understand that “there hadn’t been much [statistical] evidence on the effects of diet and exercise for people who had had cancer” but, seriously, how can you work with patient after patient dying from a disease that has long been shown to be tied to obesity and lack of activity and not promote a healthy diet and exercise?

Could you please enlighten me?  Is it really true that doctors don’t help patients with improving their diets and fitness levels?  Has this been your experience or have your doctors talked about diet and exercise?  I am having such a hard time imagining this to really be the case.  What have you experienced?

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live

Something missing in whole grains?

When researching for a previous post about whole grains I came across some interesting information from the Mayo Clinic.  This is what they had to say:

A word of caution – If all of the grains you eat are whole grains, you may need to take extra care to get sufficient folic acid, a B vitamin. This is because whole grains are not a natural source of folate, and some may not be fortified with folate. Look for whole grains that have been fortified with folic acid, such as some ready-to-eat cereals. Folate is also found in other foods, including fruits, vegetables and legumes. Folic acid is especially important if you’re a woman who could become pregnant or is pregnant.

This got me hunting down information on folic acid.  It turns out the combination of ingredients in Dee’s Cereal helps alleviate some of these concerns about eating whole grains.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The form of folic acid naturally occurring in our bodies is called folate so you’ll see the terms used interchangeably.   It helps with body functions such as cell division and growth.  It also helps in making healthy red blood cells.

Folate is especially important for women who could become pregnant because many of the birth defects that a folate deficiency can cause happen before a woman even knows she is pregnant.  Some of the major birth defects that can occur due to a lack of folic acid are spina bifida (where the spinal cord is left unprotected and nerves in appendages don’t work properly) and anencephaly (where the brain doesn’t fully develop).  This is why doctors recommend that women who could become pregnant take a multi-vitamin, such as a prenatal vitamin, that contains 100% of the daily folate needs, even if they don’t plan on getting pregnant.

If we don’t have enough folate in our bodies, we can also have problems making healthy red blood cells.  Folate deficiency can lead to a type of anemia.  That means that the red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen or that there is a lower number of red blood cells than are needed to get oxygen to the rest of the body.

Taking pills (including vitamins) should always be done with prudence and normally under medical supervision, but as far as we know, we can’t consume too much folate from food.  I have always preferred to find ways to consume the nutrients my body needs through food rather than having to take a pill.  Pregnant women aside (and those who could become pregnant), the rest of us don’t need quite as much folic acid.  Most of us can get a sufficient amount of folate through our diets, if we pay attention to what we are eating.

Leafy greens are a great source of folate.  Eating legumes, liver, kidney and sunflower seeds is also a good way to get folate in your diet.  We haven’t gone quite far enough as to add leafy greens, liver or kidney to Dee’s Cereal, but we do use garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds…alright, so maybe the sunflower seeds don’t sound so weird but I get plenty of funny looks when I tell people we’ve put garbanzo beans in our cereal.

If you missed the blog on the amazingness of garbanzo beans you can read it here, so I won’t bore you with more of that here.  What I will tell you is that a 3.5oz serving of garbanzo beans will get you 43% of your daily folate needs and the same serving of sunflower seeds will get you a whopping 57%.

I’ve always known that the combination of foods in Dee’s Cereal is what makes it such a great product.  Thanks to the Mayo Clinic inspiring some research, I now know a little more about why that combination is so good.  If we learn to watch what we eat and eat a large variety of foods, we can usually get the nutrients our body needs.

As you enjoy that next bowl of hot Dee’s Cereal or toss that next cup into your favorite recipe, remember that you’re getting an amazing combination of nutrients to fuel your body right.  Eat up and enjoy!

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live