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Could I get more information on food allergies?
What are allergies?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction to a substance that is normally harmless. It can be a sensitivity of the skin to a chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen, or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food. Only about 2% of adult, and from 2 to 8 percent of children, are truly allergic to certain foods.
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
A food allergy is different from a food intolerance but the term is often used in a vague, all-encompassing way. The difference lies in how the body handles the offending food. In a true food allergy, the body's immune system recognizes a reaction-provoking substance, or allergen, in the food--usually a protein-- as foreign and produces antibodies to halt the "invasion". The most severe hypersensitive reaction (called "Anaphylaxis") is potentially life threatening and can be triggered by a minute amount of an allergen.
A food intolerance is a much more common problem and the problem is not with the body's immune system, but rather with the digestion of a food item. For example in a lactose intolerance a person lacks the enzyme (lactase) necessary to digest the sugar found milk (lacatose). Also, with a food intolerance the person can usually tolerate the item to which they are sensitive in small amounts.
The symptoms of food allergies can begin within moments of ingestion but may be delayed as much as 1 - 2 hours. They can be triggered by very small amounts of the allergenic food. Common symptoms include itching, burning or swelling of the lips, mouth or throat, runny nose and sneezing. More serious reaction include hives swelling, asthma, severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. The most severe reaction is anaphylactic shock. During anaphylaxis the chemicals that are released overwhelm the body potentially causing death if untreated.
Foods Commonly implicated in causing allergic reactions
Lists of highly allergic foods often vary depending on which resource you check. There is agreement though, that the most common offenders include peanuts and peanut products, tree nuts, milk and milk products, eggs and egg containing materials, fish and fish products, shellfish, soy and soy products, wheat and other gluten sources, sesame seeds and sesame seed products and suphite.
For more information on food allergies visit the "Food and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network at www.foodallergy.org.
Which weight loss diets are good and which should I avoid?
ON A DIET? You're not alone. At any given time every third person you meet is either on a diet, has just fallen off a diet or intends to go on a diet. The bigger question is: Are you a dieter who can recognize the difference between diet "sense" and diet "nonsense"?
Diet Sense means making changes you can live with forever - smart choices that can promote a sense of wellness: physically, emotionally and mentally. Small changes in eating and exercise habits may seem minor when compared to the sensational diet plans you see in the popular press, but they work because they are more likely to be permanent.
Diet Nonsense refers to the latest fad diets. Rarely do they combine a sensible diet plan with regular exercise. Instead, they promise quick returns. Most strict diets simply don't work and here's why:
But, when these fad diets are not successful remember that... We haven't failed. Diets have failed us, so pass up any diet product or plan that:
GETTING ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Improving your eating habits may not be as difficult as you think
The Bottom Line...
There is no easy way to lose weight. No "magical potion" will solve this problem. The most sensible way to lose weight and keep it off is to make lifelong changes in your eating and exercise habits. Remember we are all unique. Although self-acceptance is easier said than done when society tells us it's normal to be on a diet and desirable to be model sized, we must constantly affirm our own strong characteristics, positive relationships and accomplishments.
Can you give me some tips on food safety?
When you shop ...
When you store food ...
When you prepare food ...
When you are cooking ...
Cook thoroughly. It takes thorough cooking to kill harmful bacteria. You are taking chances when you eat meat, poultry or fish that are raw or only partly cooked. Hamburger that is red in the middle, or rare and medium-rare steak are undercooked from a safety standpoint.
A great time-saver, the microwave has one food safety disadvantage. It sometimes leaves cold spots in food. Bacteria may survive in these spots. So ...
When you serve food ...
When handling leftovers ...
When in doubt ..
THROW IT OUT
When you suspect food poisoning ...
Foods that are usually safe from pathogens
Foods which may become unsafe if not handled properly and need to be thoroughly cooked
Foods that need to be properly refrigerated
What's the scoop on functional foods?
The tenet "Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food," quoted by Hippocrates nearly 2,500 years ago, is receiving renewed interest. In particular, there has been an explosion of consumer interest in the health enhancing role of specific foods, so-called functional foods. Clearly, all foods are functional, as they provide taste, aroma and nutritive value. Within the last decade, however, the term functional as it applies to food has adopted a different connotation - that of providing an additional physiological benefit beyond that of meeting basic nutritional needs.
Some examples of 'pecial Function' foods...
Not only is soy a high quality protein, it is now thought to play preventive and therapeutic roles in cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and the alleviation of menopausal symptoms.
Oat products are a widely studied source of a cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.
Tomatoes have received significant attention because of interest in an ingredient called lycopene and its role in cancer risk reduction.
The purported health benefits of garlic are numerous, including cancer prevention, blood pressure and cholesterol lowering properties.
Broccoli and other Cruciferous Vegetables
Evidence shows that frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables can decrease the risk of cancer.
Citrus fruits are also protective against a variety of human cancers.
Mounting evidence supports the observation that functional foods may enhance health. It should be stressed, however that they are not a magic bullet for poor health habits. There is no "good" or "bad" foods, but there are good or bad diets. Emphasis must be placed on over-all dietary pattern ?one that follows Canada's Food Guide, and is plant-based, high in fiber, low in animal fat and contains 5 - 12 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
What's the scoop on high protein diets?
Canadians have had a love/hate relationship with protein for several years now, and the protein pendulum has been swinging like crazy lately. Indeed, we cannot live without protein. But the trouble may be too much of a good thing. Some researchers have linked a high intake of animal protein to heart disease and other chronic disorders. On the other hand, high-protein weight-loss diets are the craze once again, as they were in the late sixties and early seventies and more recently with the "Zone Diet". If all the contradictory advice about protein makes your head spin, here's the lowdown.
High Protein Diets
A diet high in protein - especially animal protein - is associated with an increased risk not only of heart disease and some cancers, but also of osteoporosis and kidney damage. However, it is hard to prove this link, as we seldom eat pure protein. People who consume large amounts of animal protein do have higher rates of heart disease and cancer, but their diets also tend to be higher in fat and lower in antioxidants and fiber.
Plant protein verses animal protein
People who get their protein from plants generally have a lower risk of heart disease and are healthier. Vegetarian sources of protein are preferable because they are usually lower in fat and higher in fiber and other potentially beneficial substances. Nevertheless, a few studies have suggested that a very high intake of even plant protein is undesirable.
Link between protein and osteoporosis
As your protein intake rises, so does the amount of calcium excreted in urine. Although this notion is still controversial, studies are showing that if you eat lots of protein, this calcium loss may affect the density of your bones and thus may hasten the development of osteoporosis. In addition, it is likely that a high protein intake endangers your bones only if you consume inadequate amount of calcium. So continue to consume 2 - 3 servings of dairy products each day.
Do people who exercise need more protein?
Yes and no. You need adequate protein intake to build and repair muscles, but most active Canadians, including vegetarians, get more than enough protein. Although high-protein powders, drinks, tablets, capsules and bars are all the range these days, these supplements will not stimulate muscle growth - only exercise does. Some endurance athletes or serious weight lifters need more protein that the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI), but because of their greater food intake they get the extra protein with little trouble.
Proteins are constantly being broken down in our bodies. Most of the amino acids (building blocks of proteins) are reused, but we must regularly replace those that are lost. The daily recommended intake for protein is based on age and weight and usually works out to be about 8% of daily calories. Looking at it another way, adults require approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. For example, a 150-pound person would require (150/2.2) x 0.8 = 55 grams of protein per day.
Leading sources of protein
For most people, three ounce of lean meat, ?cup of beans, and 1 cup each of pasta, yogurt, and milk supply enough protein for a day.
Contrary to the claims of such books as "Protein Power", "The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet" and "The Zone Diet", a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet is far from ideal. In the short term, you could lose weight on these high-protein diets, but they could be dangerous particularly if followed beyond a few weeks. They are low-calorie diets in disguise and like all crash diets, they don't work over the long haul.
A diet rich in complex carbohydrates remains the best. Fruits, grains, and vegetables, along with low-fat dairy products and smaller amounts of meats, provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need. Numerous controlled studies have shown that such a diet helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers, as well as aid in weight control. It is not a crash diet, but a way of eating for the rest of your life.
Prepared By: Anne Zok, Nutritionist - Residence Food Services
Source: "Wellness Letter", University of California, June 1996
Do you have any tips on low fat cooking?
The first diet / disease relationship to markedly influence nutrition guidelines was the association between dietary fat and heart disease. Over a thirty year period this relationship has stimulated a phenomenal amount of research. While this era is not yet behind us, there is a strong case recommending a reduction in total dietary fat (especially saturated fat) as a key factor in reducing the risk of heart disease.
How to FIGHT FAT the easy way!
Vegetables & Fruit
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruit. They are naturally low in fat Choose:
Meat and Alternatives
Leaner choices are always best.
Choose lower fat whole grains products more often.
Always choose lower fat milk products.
For Starters - Soups, Salads and Dips
Moving on to Main Dishes
Winding up with Desserts
Enjoy the new tastes and textures of your own lower-fat creations!
(Source Nutrition Matters: Middlesex-London Health Unit)
Any tips on stress and nutrition?
Our health and nutritional status have a primary effect on how we handle stress and consequently what impact stress has on our health.
Although too much stress can be detrimental to your physical and mental well-being, your body is physiologically prepared to deal with stressful situations using a survival mechanism known as the "fight or flight response". This involves how your body reacts to stress. When you experience stress, your heart pumps faster, your blood vessels to the skin become more narrow, you breath faster, your pupils in your eyes widen and you become more alert. A constant fight or flight response may lead to a decrease in productivity and poorer health. Too much stress leads to burn out.
Nutrition and Stress-- Are they related?
Your diet can be your source of stress. Poor eating habits such as skipping meals, consuming too much caffeine, sugar, salt, fat, or alcohol, vitamin overdoses, overeating, undereating, or dieting put the body under stress. Nutrition is also a critical component in the body's immune system.
Your diet can affect your body's ability to handle stress. During stressful situations, your body requires energy to perform the "fight or flight" response. The foods you eat provide energy in the forms of carbohydrate, protein and fat. Your body draws upon its stores of carbohydrates (stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles), protein (stored mainly in muscles) and fat (body fat stores) to provide energy for the stress response. Calcium is also required during stress.
A healthy body is best prepared for stress. If your body does not have enough stored vitamins and minerals, you may not be equipped to defend yourself in stressful situations.
Key Nutrients of Concern
Both emotional and physical stress may affect a person's vitamin C status. It can increase requirements for vitamin C needed to maintain normal blood levels. When stress depletes vitamin C levels in the body, it reduced the body's resistance to infection and disease and increases the likelihood of further stress.
Good Sources of Vitamin C
The majority of the B vitamins function in the development and maintenance of the nervous system. The harmful effects of vitamin B deficiencies on the nervous system might increase the risk of developing stress related symptoms such as irritability, lethargy and depression.
Good Sources of B Vitamins
Stress and magnesium are interrelated. Both physical and psychological stress may stimulate the stress hormones. These, in turn, increase magnesium loss from the cells, stimulate urinary excretion and increase dietary requirement for magnesium.
Good Sources of Magnesium
Calcium is also required during stress. Your body remove calcium from the bones when it is needed
Good Sources of Calcium
Tips on how to Cope with Stress
Stress affects everyone and a stress-free life is practically impossible. We all need some level of stress in our lives. What is important is how we deal with stress.
I'm considering becoming a vegetarian. Any tips for me?
Interest in a vegetarian lifestyle is growing strong among both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian population. Since vegetarian meals consist primarily of the foods most often recommended by Health Canada for good health, this trend is a positive one. The key to a nutritionally sound vegetarian diet is VARIETY. As with any style of eating, vegetarians enjoy health benefits only when their diet is balanced, varied and meets energy and nutrient needs. Vegetarian diets should be based on the same principles of healthy eating as meat-based diets, with lower-fat, higher-fiber foods emphasized.
Not all Vegetarians are the same. There are several different types of vegetarian diets, including:
You should know...
Being a vegetarian is more than just skipping the meat; it's a way of life. When beginning a vegetarian diet it is important to be aware of potential deficiencies that could arise if your diet is not complete. Vegans are at the highest risk of deficiency in the following nutrients.
Vegetarian diets generally supply more than enough protein. Many grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are good sources of protein. However, except for soybeans, plant foods contain protein that is incomplete -- that is, it has low and sometimes insufficient amounts of one or more of the nine essential amino acids. (Amino acids are protein's building blocks; the essential ones are those the body cannot synthesize.) But if vegetarians eat a wide variety of foods each day, they are likely to absorb a full complement of amino acids.
Vegetarians and non-vegetarians often have difficulty meeting iron needs. Although plant foods contain small amounts of iron, this iron is not absorbed as well as the iron found in meat. Vitamin C-rich foods (citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi), enhance iron absorption. Tea and coffee can decrease it's absorption.
Good plant based sources of iron include:
Although only a very small amount of this vitamin is required, it is necessary for the formation of DNA and the production of healthy red blood cells.
Reliable non-meat sources include:
Milk and milk products are the best food sources of calcium. Although many plant foods provide calcium, phytic acid in grains and oxalic acid in some vegetables inhibit its absorption. However, calcium deficiency in vegetarians is rare, and low intakes of calcium have not been shown to cause major health problems among vegetarians.
Although vitamin D requirements can be met entirely from sunlight, the diet must provide enough vitamin D to meet the requirements of individuals who receive little or no direct sunlight. For vegetarians who avoid dairy products, a vitamin D supplement may be necessary.
But wait! There's more ...
There are numerous nutritional advantages of a vegetarian diet. Here are but a few. A vegetarian diet is typically:
Lower in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
Meats are a common source of saturated fat and cholesterol. The reduced amounts combined with increased amounts of fiber in a vegetarian diet, often leads to lower blood cholesterol levels. This has positive health implication in terms of decreasing the risks associated with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Higher in Antioxidants and Phytochemicals
These are found in fruits and vegetables, specifically those that are dark or bright in colour. Anitoxidants include vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene. Phytochemicals are plant compounds. Both play a role in healthy aging and may also assist in disease prevention, including protection against certain types of cancers.
Fewer Environmental Contaminants
Plant-based foods have less exposure to heavy metals and other environmental contaminants than do foods of animal origin. As we go up the food chain, these contaminating substances increase in concentration.
Higher in Fiber:
Fiber is found abundantly in whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, and seeds. Fiber aids in regulating blood sugar by slowing sugar absorption after a meal. It can also help to keep cholesterol at healthy levels and move waste along the digestive tract. According to numerous studies, fiber may prevent certain types of cancers, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Remember, being a vegetarian is more than just skipping the meat; it's a way of life. Make healthful choices by planning meals to include a wide array of nutritionally sound proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
For more information on vegetarianism, visit Vegetarian Times at www.vegetariantimes.com.
Balance your food intake with your daily activities and energy needs to maintain a healthy weight.