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New Dietary Guidelines Released

New Dietary Guidelines Released


Today, about half of all American adults have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity.

The new Dietary Guidelines have recently been released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture.  The guidelines are updated every 5 years to reflect the most recent recommendations on how we should eat.

While the recommendations included in the guidelines are ultimately intended to help individuals improve and maintain overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, the focus is on disease prevention, not treatment.

The components of eating patterns can have interactive and potentially cumulative effects on health. They can be tailored to an individual’s personal preferences, enabling people to choose the diet that is right for them.

The Guidelines follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Previous editions focused primarily on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients.

Here are some of the recommendations to meet nutrient needs within calorie limits:

  • Choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  • Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
  • Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices.
  • Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

Healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan. The Dietary Guidelines are designed for all individuals’ ages 2 years and older and encourage families to consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet.

All food and beverage choices matter when developing your healthy eating pattern. Choose an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Pay particular attention to variety, nutrient density, and amount.

Key Recommendations for your eating pattern:

Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level: All forms of foods, including fresh, canned, dried, and frozen foods, can be included in healthy eating patterns.

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other Fruits, especially whole fruits Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products oils

Key things to limit for your eating pattern:

Saturated fats and Trans fats, added sugars, and sodium, specifically:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Key things to consider about beverages:

  • When choosing beverages, both the calories and nutrients they may provide are important considerations.
  • Beverages that are calorie-free, especially water, or that contribute beneficial nutrients, such as fat-free and low-fat milk and 100% juice, should be the primary beverages consumed.
  • Milk and 100% fruit juice should be consumed within recommended food group amounts and calorie limits.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks that are less than 100% juice, can contribute excess calories while providing few or no key nutrients.

Americans of all ages—children, adolescents, adults, and older adults—should also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings in our community. This includes home, school or work and these guidelines can help you develop eating patterns that promote overall health and prevent chronic disease.

To read more about the 2015 guidelines, please visit health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.

Hope Williams, RD, CD, CDE, CLS, is a Health & Wellness Specialist with Ministry Medical Group

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol 101

I was recently visiting with a patient who said she was told her bad cholesterol was too high and her husband’s good cholesterol is too low. She was confused as she thought all cholesterol was bad and wanted to know what exactly is “good” and “bad” cholesterol and what they could do with their diet to prevent the need from taking cholesterol-lowering medications commonly known as statins.

Total cholesterol is the sum of all the cholesterol in your blood.  When your total cholesterol is high, your risk for heart disease goes up as well.  Having total cholesterol less than 200mg/dL is desirable.  Cholesterol is then broken down into two groups, LDL and HDL.

LDL most often called bad cholesterol can be dangerous when levels are too high.  LDL cholesterol is what builds up in your arteries and may block the flow of blood.  Having a level less than 100mg/dL is optimal.  If the level is above 130mg/dL, your doctor may recommend lifestyles changes or even starting a statin to help lower the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood, and reduce your risk of heart disease.

HDL cholesterol is the good form of cholesterol and it helps protect from heart disease.  It carries cholesterol from parts of your body back to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed.  For HDL cholesterol higher numbers are better.  Having a level of 60mg/dL and above is protective and lowers your risk for heart disease.

There are numerous food items that can affect your levels of both LDL and HDL cholesterol.  High levels of LDL cholesterol are correlated with a diet that is high in saturated fat and trans fats.  Saturated fats are mainly found in high fat animal foods, such as red meat, chicken, butter, and whole-milk dairy products.  Trans fats are found in stick margarine, solid shorting, and many prepared foods, such as crackers, cookies, doughnuts, snack foods, and commercially fried foods.

High levels of HDL cholesterol are correlated with a diet that is high in unsaturated fats.  Unsaturated fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can be found in some fish, nuts, peanut butter, avocadoes and plant-based oil such as peanut, canola and olive oil.  Other factors, like exercise, and quitting smoking can help increase your level of HDL cholesterol.

A simple blood test called a fasting lipid profile measures these various types of cholesterol in your blood. While someone may have a total cholesterol level that is desirable, the breakdown of LDL and HDL cholesterol may not be desirable.  That is why it is important to have a complete lipid profile.  After age 20, everyone should have a fasting lipid profile at least every 5 years, sooner if you have elevated cholesterol or are taking a statin.  If you have a strong family history for heart disease, talk to your primary care clinician about having the test performed more often.

For more information on cholesterol and testing options, please visit ministryhealth.org.

Author: Sally Andersen

Sally Andersen is an advanced practice nurse practitioner (APNP) at Affinity Medical Group’s Greenville Clinic.




Oils. The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Oils. The Good, Bad and the Ugly

One of the most frequent questions I hear from folks is the one that has to do with oils. Which is the healthiest oil? Which oil should I use for cooking? Is coconut oil good for you? The question came up at the most recent grocery store tour this past weekend.

There are no straight answers to any of these questions. In some circumstances a very healthy oil is not one most chefs would use for cooking; and in some cases, a good cooking oil is not one a dietitian would recommend for health.

Oils that are suited for cooking have to withstand high heat. Certain oils, when heated, undergo changes that render them unstable and therefore not the best choices for cooking. Olive oil for example, (which is recommended for good health since it contains unsaturated fats, and has low levels of omega 6 fatty acids which tend to promote inflammation), is not well suited for frying. Olive oil has a low smoking point, meaning it will start to smoke at a lower heat than peanut oil for example. Olive oil is better used for dressings, marinades and baking. Conversely, palm oil which is a good frying oil scores low for health.

So that’s the dilemma.

After reviewing many sources, searching the internet and exploring nutrition and culinary references, I came across a chart that does a nice job in presenting the dichotomy between culinary and health preferences. It includes information about the nuances of different oils such as the level of refinement, the presence of omega 3 and 6, and even includes some information about genetic modification.

Click here to visit a blog post that explains how the chart was created. It is a quick read. The chart is linked to the blog post.

To read the chart: The chart is divided into four sections by two axes. The culinary considerations are on the X axis and the health component of the oils is on the Y axis. The further right you go on the X axis the better suited the oil in terms of cooking (higher temperatures). The further up you go on the Y axis the better the oil in terms of health. So you might see for example that although walnut oil is made from heart healthy walnuts which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, heating the oil compromises these, therefore it is not recommended for cooking but can be used as a ‘finishing’ oil in dressings, marinades and such.

I hope you find this chart as useful as I have and it is my wish that it answers some of your questions. Be well, stay well!

Author:Julia Salomon

Julia is a corporate dietitian and nutrition educator with Affinity Health System.


Staying active in winter

winter exercise, healthy, fit

Outdoor activities are a great way to get some fresh air and stay active during our long winter months. Following some safety tips can help minimize your risk of injury while still enjoying cold weather activities.

Before participating in winter sports such as skiing, skating, hockey or sledding, you should do a short warm up. Cold muscles are more likely to become injured. This warm up should consist of some light exercises and gentle stretching. Each stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds. Before, during and after your activity, you should drink plenty of water.

You should also wear protective gear including goggles, helmet, gloves and padding. In addition, wear several layers of light, loose and water resistant clothing. This allows you to accommodate your body’s changing temperature. Proper footwear that provides warmth and dryness is also very important.

When people are exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time, your body can lose heat faster than it can be produced. Hypothermia affects the brain and is a condition of abnormally low body temperature. It can cause unclear thinking and may inhibit body movement. Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in areas and people who remain outdoors for extended periods of time are some of the most common victims of hypothermia.

Frostbite is a seasonal concern for those who live in a cold environment. Frostbite is an injury to the body due to freezing and causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body; severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and those who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Frostbite and hypothermia often go hand-in-hand and should be evaluated by a healthcare clinician right away. Taking preventive action is your best defense against extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather related problems.

Many slips, trips and falls outdoors occur during the winter months from November through February. A simple way to avoid this is to tread safely and walk like a penguin to prevent snow and ice related injuries. Walk flat footed and take short steps; wear footwear that provides traction; step down, not out from curbs; use your arms for balance and carry only what you can to make it easier to navigate.

Snow shoveling, although not a sport can also be a great form of exercise but it comes with some safety concerns. Snow removal is one of the most common causes of back injuries during the winter months. Improper body mechanics can cause painful muscle sprains, strains or worse. There are, however, ways to help prevent such injuries. Invest in an ergonomic shovel. This is a shovel with a curved handle or adjustable handle length and will help reduce the amount of stress you put on your back. You should also use proper lifting techniques. Always bend at the hips and lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Do not try to lift loads that are too heavy for you. Whenever possible, use a snow blower instead of a shovel. Use the power of your legs to propel the machine forward, keeping your back upright and knees slightly bent.

Exercise and fresh air are great ways to stay healthy. By following some simple safety tips, you can enjoy the Wisconsin winters.


Author: Rhonda Repinski, ANP-BC

 Rhonda Repinski is an adult nurse practitioner at Ministry Medical Group in Tomahawk.

Losing weight doesn’t take perfection


Losing weight doesn’t take perfection. It takes preparation, patience and persistence. Here are some tips to help you get started on your goal.

  • Find out what motivates you – ask yourself “why” seven times. Each time you answer the question, answer at a deeper level to find your true purpose. This reason will motivate you for the long-term.
  • Start with a smaller goal. Studies show losing just five or ten percent of your body weight can reduce blood pressure, lower diabetes risk, lower your risk of sleep apnea, reduce joint pain and improve other conditions.
  • Eating 500 fewer calories a day can result in you losing one pound each week without increasing activity. This is good news for people whose weight makes it painfully hard to move.
  • But, it’s not just about counting calories; it’s about making your calories count. Eating 1,500 calories from fruits, vegetables and lean protein will satisfy you. Eating 1,500 calories of fried chicken, fries, cookies and donuts may leave you craving more.

If you’re ready, these changes will help create positive results.

Author: Olga Barchugova, MD

Dr Barchugova is a family medicine physician and medical weight loss specialist with Ministry Medical Group in Weston.

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