Monday, October 26, 2009


In recent years, too much negative attention has been focused upon fats. The average American diet contains too many fats lacking in nutrients and dietary fiber complicated by excessive stress and lack of exercise. The outcome is a profoundly negative impact on health resulting in numerous health disorders. Nevertheless, correct types of fats are vital for good health.

Until the age of two, the body requires small amounts of fat for normal brain development. Fats are indispensable for they distribute the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Throughout life fats are important for providing energy and supporting growth.

Interestingly fats are the most concentrated source of energy for the body. Just one tablespoon of oil, which is liquid fat, contains 120 calories of pure fat and energy. Moreover fats are a more efficient energy source than either carbohydrates or protein.

Actually fats have the highest calorie density of all foods containing 9 calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins 4 calories per gram. Fats produce around 4,000 calories of energy per pound compared to carbohydrates and proteins less than half creation of 1,800 calories per pound. Complicating this, our body also converts carbohydrates, and protein into fat for storage into our something like 35 billion fat cells to be drawn upon later for energy.

Consuming excessive amounts of fat can contribute to poor health. Accordingly the 40-50% fat consumed in the typical American diet is too much. Regrettably most diets contain too much of the wrong type of fats. To be able to understand the relationship between fat intake and health disorders, it is necessary to understand the different types of fats and how they act within the body

The foundations of fats are simple lipid triglycerides. All ingested fats are broken down into fatty acids, glycerin, and water. Fatty acids are classified according to the number of hydrogen atoms in the chemical structure of fatty acids molecules as either saturated or unsaturated. The three groups of fatty acids are:

polyunsaturated, and

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Mostly found in vegetable and nut oils, but not in red meats, monounsaturated fats are desirable. Research indicates these seem to reduce blood levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) without affecting “good cholesterol” the high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Sorry to say they only have a modest positive impact on undesirable LDL. Consequently, the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines recommend between 10 to 15 percent of total caloric intake should be monounsaturated fat. Good sources include:

Olive oil
Peanut oil and

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Studies show polyunsaturated fats actually lower total blood cholesterol. Unfortunately large amounts of polyunsaturated fats also adversely reduce the levels of the “good cholesterol” high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Since all fats are high in calories, the NCEP guidelines recommend polyunsaturated fats should not exceed 10 percent of total caloric intake. Sources of polyunsaturated oil include:

Corn oil
Safflower oil
Sesame oil
Sunflower oil
Wheat germ oil

Trans Fats

Another ingredient to be aware of so as to avoid them are trans fats. Confusingly most of these are made when polyunsaturated oils are corrupted through hydrogenation creating a new type of fat not found in nature. This process hardens liquid vegetable oils for longer shelf life. The resulting oil is usually labeled partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Additional examples include solid products such as margarine and shortening. The bottom line is trans fats are unhealthy and contribute to health problems such as heart diseases. In 1994, Harvard health experts found trans fats contribute to at least 30,000 premature deaths each year meaning 82 deaths per day.

Studies have found trans fats behave much like saturated fats and raise undesirable LDL cholesterol levels while they reduce desirable HDL. By 2005 the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans warned to ”keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.”

In fact Ban Trans Fat, a group started in 2003, has been successful in researching this problem to the point legislation has passed in California to remove the problem from their market as of 2010 and 2011. As a result this has had a trickle down effect with other states and companies beginning to review this harmful product and encouraging businesses to make an oil change. Ban Trans Fat has very interesting facts and figures about trans fat consumption of Americans. No doubt as the public becomes more aware of these changes we will eventually see a nationwide trend develop.

Saturated Fatty Acids

Whether manufactured in our livers or absorbed from food by our intestines, the fatty compound cholesterol or saturated fatty acids are necessary for production of blood plasma and cell membranes, vitamin D2, bile acids, and is a precursor of many steroid hormones such as estrogens or testosterone. Unfortunately saturated fatty acids can significantly raise blood cholesterol levels especially “undesirable” low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The NCEP recommends daily caloric intake of saturated fats should be kept well below 10 percent. People with severe high blood cholesterol problems are warned this level may even be too high.

Primarily found in animal products such as in dairy products, fatty meats, and processed meats such as hot dogs, or bologna these saturated fats are usually solid at room temperatures. To illustrate this the fat marbling in fatty meats is mostly cholesterol and saturated fat. Hence, food sources to minimize in a healthy diet include:

Processed meats,
Veal, and
Vegetable shortening.

Most food products contain a combination of all three groups of fatty acids but usually one type predominates. This is why the food label will say “saturated” or “high in saturates”. Likewise products made of mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids are called “polyunsaturated” or “high in polyunsaturated fats”, while oil mostly made of monounsaturated fatty acids is called “monounsaturated”. To further illustrate all the above explanations let’s review the label of my own organic first cold pressing extra virgin olive oil. One tablespoon (15mL) contains:

Calories 120 grams
Total fat 14 grams or 21%
Saturated fat 2 grams or 9%
Trans fat 0 grams
Polyunsaturated fat 1.5 grams
Monounsaturated fat 10 grams

As research continues on and on, it is wise to have a goal of lower cholesterol particularly through less consumption of undesirable saturated and trans fats products. Better choices are products with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Protect Your Heart – Lower Your Blood Cholesterol recommends consumption of a heart-healthy diet to include:

low-fat dairy,
lean cuts of meat, and
fruits and vegetables.

Moreover, first cold pressing extra virgin or expeller-process oils are better to purchase instead of chemical extraction methods such as hydrogenation. In closing both the USDA and NHLB government agencies now warn your total calories from fats should be between 20 to 35 percent of daily calories.

© Debby Bolen

Saturday, October 17, 2009


All living creatures from the tiniest microbe to the largest animals are composed of protein. Next to water, protein is the next largest portion of our bodies. Vital for development and growth, proteins carry out most of the chemical processes and make up the majority of body tissues, muscles, skin, and organs. In addition, proteins are necessary for the manufacture of our antibodies, enzymes, and hormones, plus maintenance of our bodies’ acid-alkaline stability. Good nutritional sources of protein include:
  • beans,
  • eggs,
  • fish,
  • meat,
  • nuts, and
  • seeds.
There are about twenty-eight commonly known amino acids combined in various ways to create hundreds of different proteins in all living things. Our bodies assemble amino acids building blocks for various processes coming either from our food intake or from our bodies’ reserves. The human body produces about 80 percent of its needed amino acids in the liver. The other 20 percent are obtained from the food intake. Our needed twenty-five amino acids are misleadingly classified as:
  • essential or
  • nonessential.
These terms just refer to how we process our necessary amino acids. The nine essential amino acids we require mean our bodies cannot combine them so they must be obtained by dietary intake. Confusingly the other sixteen nonessential means they are combined by our bodies from ingested amino acids.

There are two different groups of amino acid supplying food:
  • Complete protein: containing a variety of essential amino acids, and
  • Incomplete protein: foods without as many amino acids.
People inaccurately think protein has to come only meat and fish. However, because of problems with antibiotics, heavy metals, and other chemicals, these foods should be eaten in moderation. A better strategy, mutual supplementation, combines partial protein foods to make complementary protein supplying adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. Such as when beans and rice are combined a complete protein is formed which is a high quality substitute to meat/fish. Combining beans with one of the following can assemble a complete protein:
  • corn,
  • brown rice,
  • nuts,
  • seeds, or
  • wheat.
Or combine brown rice with any of:
  • beans
  • nuts
  • seeds or
  • wheat.
A variety of grains, nuts, seeds, and mixed vegetables will make a complete protein. Don’t forget nut butters with bread. In addition, fermentation yields more beta-glucan, glutathione, b-vitamins, and other nutrients than average products. Fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh, and tofu are widely available. Unsweetened milk products such as yogurt and kefir are the only animal derived complete protein recommended for daily use. Cultured from curdled milk, these contain friendly bacteria, vitamins A and D, plus B-complex vitamins, and prevent health disorder such as candidasis.

Given the fact we eat a lot of meat and dairy products, the American diet usually contains too much protein. Nevertheless 50 grams of protein should be consumed per day so be sure to eat various combinations of protein rich foods. In closing, for a balanced healthy diet try different sources of protein available.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dietary Fiber

Found in many foods, dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate referred to in the past as “roughage”. Even though low in nutrients, this very important dietary fiber is the plant part resistant to our body’s digestive enzymes. Actually very little of fiber is actually digested. Instead the bulk of it moves through the stomach and intestine stimulating intestinal peristalsis. Absorbing water in our intestines, fiber increases the bulk of stools and causes them to move quickly through the colon. The seven basic classifications of fiber each with their own unique function are:


Dietary fiber is classified as:

insoluble or

Insoluble fiber has passive water-attracting properties. Examples of insoluble fiber include corn bran, flax seed, whole wheat, and vegetables such as celery, prune skins, and potato skins. An example of soluble fiber is the inside pulp of prunes.

Even though most fiber is not digested, several important benefits are obtained. In view of the fact fiber retains water, bulkier stools prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Thus, a higher fiber intake reduces colon cancer risk. Moreover binding with materials, which would result in cholesterol production, these substances are instead eliminated. Thus, a higher dietary fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels, thereby reducing heart disease risk. In addition it stabilizes blood sugar levels. Yet another additional benefit is fiber is reputed to remove certain toxic metals from our bodies.

A recent study in Journal of Nutrition found more fiber intake not only keeps you from gaining weight but also keeps you from gaining fat tissue. Every extra gram of dietary fiber rendered less body weight and reduced body fat percentage. This study found women regardless of activity level, age and so on, who consumed more fiber weighed less than people who consumed less fiber.

Unfortunately due to the refining process most of the natural fiber has been removed from our foods thus the typical American diet is deficient in fiber. However, intake of excessive amounts of fiber supplements will interfere with absorption of certain minerals. A better choices is to increase intake of high fiber food:

agar agar,
any bran,
brown rice,
fresh fruit,
dried prunes,
vegetables, and
whole grains.

The American Dietetic Association recommends the average healthy adult should have between 20-35 grams per day of fiber. Unfortunately, the average Americans intake of dietary fiber is only 12-18 grams. Daily consumption of several different high fiber foods can change this. Complex carbohydrates are also excellent sources of fiber. When eating organic produce, leave on the skin of apples and potatoes. Baked chicken can be coated with bran or oats. In closing, dietary fiber manages weight, avoids disease, and eases chronic conditions symptoms.

© Debby Bolen RN

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Water covers all four corners of the Earth. This clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless, most widely used liquid solvent, is essential for most plant and animal life. As one of the four essential basic nutrients of a healthy diet, water makes up at least two-thirds of our bodies physical composition.

Water is essential for every one of our body systems. It is crucial for absorption, circulatory, excretory, and digestive processes. Furthermore, water is also essential for managing an appropriate body temperature and assimilation of water-soluble vitamins. Moreover, high quality water is beneficial for almost all health disorders.

Do you know human beings can survive almost five weeks without food? In contrast, without water death is eminent within three to five days. Even though water content varies from person to person and even within body parts, the average person’s body contains about 70 percent water.

You can make certain your body has all the water it needs to maintain good health by drinking at least ten 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Make sure you start your day with a glass of water. Drink throughout the day to keep a balanced body water level. It is important to replace water lost throughout the day through sweating and elimination.

You can ensure easy digestion and elimination by drinking enough water every day. Water is a natural appetite suppressant and flushes out sodium and toxins. A study by German researchers found subjects increased their metabolic rates by drinking water.

To increase your water consumption, eliminate all caloric drinks from your daily intake including:
and alcohol.

The CDC conducted an interesting study on sugar sweetened beverages and caloric intake finding a correlation between sugar-sweetened consumption and increased weight in America over the last couple of decades. Instead of caloric laden drinks wiser choices are to drink:

sparkling water,
unsweetened juices,
or unsweetened tea.

If you don’t care for the taste, try slices of lemon or lime in your glass of water.

Debby Bolen RN


Four Essential Basic Nutrients

All food is composed of various combinations of nutrients. The four essential basic nutrients of a healthy diet are
protein, and
These four shape the foundation of a healthy nutritional regime. Proper nutrition enables optimal health and well being.

The main component of our food intake is carbohydrates. Supplying energy, they are usually found in plant foods such as:

fruits, and

There are two groups of carbohydrates:
simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates are sometimes referred to as simple sugars. Complex carbohydrates include fiber and starches. With the exception of fiber, most carbohydrates are converted into glucose providing energy for the body’s cells, brain cells, and red blood cells, or stored for future use in the liver, or in body fat.
Sixty percent of daily calories should come from mainly complex carbohydrates. Although unrefined whole foods should be chosen over refined processed foods. Undesirably a diet high in refined simple sugars is also high in fat and after a long period of time can lead to health disorders such as diabetes.

Fats are the most concentrated source of body energy. In recent years, too much negative attention has been focused upon fats. Too many fats are consumed in the American diet. However, fats are necessary to support growth and provide energy. Unfortunately, consuming excessive amounts of fat can contribute to poor health.

Vital for development and growth, proteins are the building blocks making up body tissues, muscles, skin, and organs. When consumed, protein is broken down into amino acids providing the body with energy for various vital functions. Misleadingly amino acids are classified as:
essential or nonessential.

Amino acids are necessary but these terms refer to how the body obtains them. Essential means our bodies cannot synthesize them therefore the must be obtained from our diets. The term nonessential is confusing because all it means is they can be synthesized by our body from other amino acids. Good sources of protein include:

nuts, and


Making up at least two-thirds of the composition of our bodies, water is the most necessary of the four essential basic nutrients of a healthy diet. Water is vital for every one of our body systems. It is crucial for absorption, circulatory, excretory, and digestive processes. Furthermore, water is also necessary for sustaining an appropriate body temperature and assimilation of available nutrients.


Yet another misleading term is micronutrients, which are the vitamins and minerals. They are referred to as micronutrients because they are needed in smaller amounts compared to the basis four nutrients. Nonetheless, vitamins and minerals are so crucial for optimal health the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formulates consumption levels for these key nutrients call Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs).

On the other hand, there is much controversy about these findings and the amount needed to maintain optimal health. Some of the complains are these levels only maintain borderline health and only the amount needed to prevent deficiency diseases. Additional problems include numerous factors not accounted for including level of activity, medicines being taken, and so on. Still other criticisms include when people are suffering from health problems they require more nutrients and the person’s size ad body weight are not figure into the RDAs equations.

Regrettably, health ailments develop when you consume too much or too little of any nutrients. A better plan is to consume a variety of foods to ensure you consume a variety of nutrients. In summary, for a healthy well balanced diet make it a habit to choose an assortment of unrefined whole foods.

Debby Bolen RN

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 Simple Rules
for a Healthy Balanced Diet

For better health follow these simple healthy rules to cut down on your daily calories:

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
One the major mistakes people make is to skip breakfast thereby setting their body systems and hormones into chaos. By starting your day with a meal you will have energy to function and will kick your metabolism into high gear to burn calories throughout the day. No one leaves on a car trip with an empty gas tank. Make sure your “tank” has fuel in the morning too.

The CDC Improving Your Eating Habits warns skipping meals is one of the common eating habits leading to weight gain. When your body has been fasting over night and you don’t eat, your metabolism thinks food is unavailable and powers down. On the other hand, by eating breakfast this indicates to your body food is plentiful and it has as many calories to burn as it can. However, ingesting a big meal at the end of the day sits on your body over night.

Learn to live by this maxim: "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.”

2. White don’t bite.
Instead of bleached white, think brown as in: whole grain bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat tortillas. Brown is food’s natural form packing fewer calories, more vitamins, and more fiber thus taking your body longer to digest. The results are you eat less, and feel better with less health problems. Start your children out eating brown multi-grains so they will prefer them throughout their lives.

3. Go with green.
When you go with green vegetables you can’t go wrong: salad, spinach, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, peas, kales, and so on. Go for the greens and eat plenty of them. They are loaded with fiber, minerals, and vitamins but are low on calories. Fill your stomach up with greens first such as a salad. Yet go light on the dressing, which is high in calories. A better choice is olive oil and vinegar.

4. More veggies please.
Discover how easy it is to fill up with veggies first. Discover different ways to serve vegetables. For example, some of the many different ways vegetables can be prepared is baked, braised, raw, roasted, or steamed.

5. Do snack.
Modify your view of a snack and load up on fruits and veggies as a replacement to processed foods. Munch throughout the day on healthy snacks of carrots, celery sticks, raw veggie crudités like red pepper strips and broccoli florets, or fruits instead. This lets your body know food is readily available and there are accessible calories to burn. With a full stomach you will eat smaller portions at meals. Eating healthy snacks throughout the day is the best way to control overeating and weight problems.

6. Water far and wide.
Do you know your body is made up of two-thirds water? Water is an essential nutrient involved in every level of functioning in our bodies. Eliminate all caloric drinks out of your diet including sodas, juices, and alcohol. For example, Elisa Zied, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, warns women there are 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar in an average serving of soda pop. The average woman consumes 2000 calories daily and 50 grams of sugar should be the maximum allowed. When women drink one average size soda, they have consumed almost their entire allowable sugar intake for the day. Wiser choices are to drink water, juices, sparkling water, or unsweetened tea. If you don’t care for the taste, try slices of lemon or lime in your glass of water.

7. Be done after one.
Instead of counting calories simply don’t go back for seconds. Americans have a bad habit of quickly shoveling down a meal while Europeans and other cultures make mealtime an occasion of communication and enjoyment. Sit back and relax for 15 minutes to contemplate if you really need more food.

8. Discard dessert.
Change the way you view dessert. Don’t eat it late in the day when your body will convert it to fat. Break the dessert habit and replace it with healthy options or walking. Fresh smoothies or fruit can be eaten as an alternative.

9. Don’t super size.
When you are dining out, bigger is not better. Resist the temptation to get extra food for an additional price. The CDC warns over the last 20 years portion size, as well as waistlines are expanding. Even Atkins now advises its clientele to eat smaller steaks. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has an interesting Portion Distortion Quiz showing how portion sizes of some of our common foods have changed in the last 2 decades.

10. Split meals and desserts.
When dining out, most restaurants will graciously give you another plate to split the meals with others. Savor the flavors with your friends and loved ones. In addition, you can ask your meal server to put half of the meal in a take out container to be consumed later or the next day.

~ Debby Bolen RN