Inflammatory Foods on GI Health

Inflammatory Foods on GI Health

Question:

Which foods have the most inflammatory effect on the digestive system?

– Anonymous

Answer:

The upper digestive tract (mouth, throat and stomach) is probably less apt to get irritated from compounds in food since what you’ve eaten isn’t yet broken down there. Hot sauce is an exception! Inflammation in these areas is likely due to bacteria or autoimmune responses. It’s rare that foods cause direct inflammation on the interior lining of the intestinal tract from within the gut itself. Usually it’s by way of immunoregulatory pathways and depends on the health of that lining.

When nutrition and medical experts speak of an inflammatory effect from food, they’re usually talking in reference to the two inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The causes may be genetic, environmental or both. It’s assumed a pathogenic agent – bacteria, viruses, antigens – triggers the body’s immune system to produce an inflammatory reaction in the digestive system. Certain types of foods may cause greater symptoms, but each person’s response varies.

Outside of IBD, maybe you’re referring to foods that cause other gastrointestinal problems like gas, bloating and pain such as from indigestion, reflux or irritable bowel syndrome? Here the list of problem foods can vary depending on the person’s tolerance. Lactose-containing milk products, nuts, legumes, fructans in grains and vegetables, sugar alcohols, heavy spices, caffeine, and greasy foods are the top contributors to gut issues.

Though you may want to avoid inflammatory foods, I’d suggest focusing on the positive by seeking foods that fight inflammation systemically. These include beneficial spices, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts, olive oil, fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), oysters, wheat germ, liver and citrus fruit.

Resources:

  • Inflammation in the intestinal tract: pathogenesis and treatment. Blumberg RS. Digestive Diseases 2009;  27(4): 455–464. doi:10.1159/000235851
  • “Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 July 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes.
  • Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods That Fight Inflammation.” Harvard Health, Harvard Medical School,    June 2014, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Meats, Fruits, and Vegetables to reach 100% Daily Value of Vitamins and Minerals

Meats, Fruits, and Vegetables to reach 100% Daily Value of Vitamins and Minerals

Question:

Which unprocessed meats, vegetables, and fruits should I eat each day to get 100% daily value of vitamins and minerals without supplements?

– Charles E.

Answer:

Great question, Charles! There are over 20 vitamins and minerals which need to be obtained in the diet because the human body cannot make them. The Reference Daily Intake levels – either Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI) – for each micronutrient show how much is needed for men, women and children of various age groups. Your question’s wording refers to the Daily Values, which are not so specific.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “one value for each nutrient, known as the Daily Value (DV), is selected for the labels of dietary supplements and foods. A DV is often, but not always, similar to one’s RDA or AI for that nutrient.” The Daily Values are set by the U.S. FDA for labeling so that consumers can see how much of a nutrient is provided in a serving of a food compared to their approximate requirement for it. The Nutrition Facts panel shows the percent DV for certain vitamins and minerals. Readers – if you’re interested in more about food labels, check out our Living Health Podcast Episode 21!

Okay, so on to whether it’s possible to plan a 100% micronutrient complete day from whole foods. Yes! Though the amount of produce may not be realistic for a person to consume on a daily basis, or the energy provided may be inadequate or excessive for you. That’s one reason why a variety of food selected across several days is best for meeting one’s nutritional needs.

If you’re looking for a list of what to eat in one day that meets 100% DV, the best one could do would be to construct a day using nutrient analysis software which would still be compared to the RDA or AI for your age and gender, not DV. The following list shows how you can meet the DV for about half the essential micronutrients:

Vitamin C: 1 large orange

Vitamin D: 3 1/2-ounces salmon

Vitamin E:  1 cup raw broccoli, plus 2 ounces almonds

Vitamin K: raw broccoli from above

Folic Acid: 1 cup peas, 1 cup cooked spinach, and 5 long asparagus

B12 and B6: 1 cup plain yogurt and a banana, 1 ounce sunflower seeds, and 3 ounces roast beef

Calcium: cooked spinach and yogurt from above plus an 8-ounce glass skim milk, and 1 fig

Iron: red meat from above plus a large spinach salad, and 1 cup lentil soup

Magnesium: almonds from above plus 2 slices of whole-wheat bread, 1 ounce raisins, a baked potato, and 4 ounces grilled halibut

Zinc: whole wheat bread from above plus a burger patty, and 1 slice cheese

 

Restricting intake to only the three food groups you mentioned is more work, so you are on your own there. If you are adamant about doing so, I’d suggest using a sample menu as a template for starters then substituting for foods you won’t eat. Truly a personalized custom menu!

 

References:

  • “Daily Values.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/dailyvalues.aspx.
  • Harvard Health Publishing. “Getting Your Vitamins and Minerals through Diet.” Harvard Health, Harvard Medical School, July 2009, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/getting-your-vitamins-and-minerals-through-diet.
  • “How to Eat Your Vitamins.” Real Simple, www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/vitamins/eat-vitamins.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Struggling with Food? Try the “Un-diet” Approach

Struggling with Food? Try the “Un-diet” Approach

Question:

I just started to go to LA Fitness. I’m a 23-year-old female, I weigh 205 lbs., and I’m 5’4″. I struggle with food. I’ve been on multiple diets, lost weight, restricted myself and end up giving up because it wasn’t sustainable, gaining it back. Calorie counting just seems very tedious and writing things down as well. Is there a way of eating that doesn’t involve measuring out everything in order to lose weight? Or any advice/suggestions?

– Marissa R.

Answer:

I agree that you should remove the focus on portions and calorie restriction. For chronic dieters, experts in weight management recommend making permanent lifestyle changes the goal. Creating realistic goals and developing healthy habits that last are key to an “un-diet” approach. No mention of calories or measurements in The National Weight Control Registry’s summary of its registrants’ four most common habits*: eat breakfast every day, weigh themselves once a week, watch less than 10 hours of TV per week and exercise about 1 hour daily.

Knowledge is power! I believe that a simple foundational understanding of nutrition can help frame your outlook and shift your thinking away from weight, towards nourishing your body. Have you read our Living Healthy articles on nutrition basics, weight loss tips, a Mediterranean style of eating, mindfulness, and social support? For more in-depth learning consider a mass open online course (MOOC) on nutrition fundamentals. Several are free (taken as an audit, not for credit) and available from trusted sources like respected U.S. universities with credentialed instructors.

*The NWCR is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm  accessed 6/4/2019

Resources:

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Metabolism Advice for Those Over 50+

Metabolism Advice for Those Over 50+

Question:

I am a member at LA Fitness in San Antonio Texas, just signed up! Ever since I turned 50 I have been gaining weight with the same diet. I don’t drink sodas and I eat at home most of the time; lean poultry, tilapia, quinoa and sometimes rice. I try not to add too much salt to food. I have a busy life and I don’t have time to cook complicated meals or eat 8 times a day. Even though I hardly eat bread, I do like corn tortillas. Obviously, my metabolism has slowed down. 

– Rosa T.

Answer:

Sounds like the “same diet” you’ve followed isn’t working for you now. From what you describe, the lean protein and plain grains are okay if the volume is appropriate. Check your portions as you should target 3-4 oz. poultry/fish and ½-1 C quinoa/rice (or 2-3 corn tortillas) per meal. Look at all the other foods that make up your diet and compare to recommended serving sizes.

Consider filling up on fruits and vegetables which provide bulk with fewer calories. Great that you avoid soda, but make sure other beverages aren’t loaded with sugar either – particularly coffee drinks or juices/smoothies. Regarding your metabolism, remember that reductions in activity and lean body mass are usually to blame. Use your new membership by getting in both calorie-burning aerobic exercise and muscle-retaining strength workouts.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Advice from an RDN on How to Gain Healthy Weight

Advice from an RDN on How to Gain Healthy Weight

Question:

My name is Patrick. I am a new member to the gym since in January. Since joining, I go 4 times a week (Monday – Thursday) and want to optimize my results. I work out for about an hour and fifteen minutes each time, mostly focusing on the upper body and abdomen. I drink a protein shake every day and try to also eat an avocado. I have trouble it seems gaining weight even though I’m consuming 2,500+ calories a day usually. I also drink a Gatorade every time I go to the gym and try to eat a lot of nuts with my turkey at every meal. I don’t have a lot of time to prep food so like buying pre-packaged cold turkey. I can eat straight out of the package or pre-packed snack mixes of dried fruit and nuts. I have gained about 10 pounds in the last 5 months, but results are slow to come. I do the same workout every time hitting nearly every muscle group in my body sometime during my workout. What are the best workouts/machines to use for upper bodybuilding and what should I be eating?

– Patrick

Answer:

Ten pounds gained is a testament to your efforts thus far! Based on the loose description of your intake it sounds like you’re getting dense foods like nuts, dried fruit, and avocado in. You say you drink 500 calories worth and I’ll assume that is from the two beverages you’ve mentioned – a protein shake and Gatorade. Not bad. Hopefully, you are drinking other fluids! Make sure they also have calories like milk (alternatives) and juice.

For solid foods – even quick/packaged items – maximize every bite by making sure it’s topped, soaked or loaded with condiments. For instance, make instant oatmeal with milk instead of water and use extra mayo packets on a turkey sandwich or wrap. High-calorie ready to eat food includes cheese cubes, full-fat sweetened yogurt, potato salad, bars suitable for hiking, and shelf-stable meal pouches (though they may taste better heated).

Not fixing your own food is a disadvantage to healthier eating, as most other energy-rich items are loaded with sugar, salt and fat or contain few fruits and vegetables: canned chili, fried chips, fruit strips/leather, jerky, burritos, egg rolls, etc. Try to take time the night before to pack a small cooler of a few healthier staples. For example, hard-cooked eggs or a single-serve peanut butter tub with a bagel, raw apples or celery sticks as snacks.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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