Keith T. Ayoob, Ed.D., is a pediatric nutritionist and clinical practitioner who serves as director of the nutrition clinic at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Einstein and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and specializes in obesity in children. He developed the NuVal nutritional scoring system and coauthored The Uncle Sam Diet. He co-designed the global nutrition policy for the Walt Disney Corporation and has testified before Congress on the marketing of diet pills to children. He is a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a recipient of the New York State Dietetic Association’s Award for Excellence in Media.
Eating refined sugar alone, such as chocolate-covered espresso beans, should not cause fat gain if you are staying within your calorie needs for the day. It is recommended to keep added sugar intake to 5-7% of total calories. Transcript: "Can eating refined sugar alone, like chocolate-covered espresso beans, cause fat gain? Even if eaten within BMR, BMR being the basal metabolic rate, and that's not the number of calories that you need for the day. Basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the number of calories that your body needs to just accomplish life-sustaining functions. You need more calories to do physical activity, etc. So BMR is only a part of the number of calories that you need during the day to maintain a stable weight. Now getting back to the question, can eating refined sugar alone cause fat gain? It shouldn't if you're staying within your calorie needs for the day. So the number of calories you expend, if you don't go over that, then having sugar alone shouldn't cause fat gain or weight gain. Now that said, that doesn't mean you want to overdo sugar. Most of us need to cut back on the amount of sugar we eat, and recommendations are about 5% of our calories. So if you're maintaining your weight on 2,000 calories a day, that means no more than about 100 calories worth of added sugar. And that's not a lot. So typically we eat quite a bit more than that. We eat closer to about 12-14% of our calories. If we keep that down to about 5-7%, it still gives us a little bit of room for some indulgence. And if it's chocolate-covered espresso beans, fair game. But keep in mind, a lot of those calories in the chocolate-covered espresso beans are not coming from just sugar. They're coming from some added fat, etc. So depending on where you want to spend your calories, spend them wisely. I often recommend people use that added sugar to drive the consumption of things that they already need, something like some added sugar in Greek yogurt. Fair game. But keep the sugar to about 5-7% of your total calories and you shouldn't gain weight."
We don't have all the evidence yet to show how micronutrient deficiencies are linked to chronic diseases, however eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods can help guard against nutrient deficiencies. It is also recommended to consult with a doctor if more information is needed. Transcript: "What's the current evidence for the role of micronutrient, deficiencies and development, chronic diseases. I'd have to say it's incomplete. We just don't, we don't have all the information, which is not what people want to hear. We know, there are basically two types of micro micro nutrient deficiencies, the Frank ones, like scurvy in the case of vitamin C, org order in the case of iodine. But then, there are these sort of subclinical ones that are much more difficult to diagnose. We know that there are nutrient deficiency These that are associated with chronic Health, two problems problems but does one caused the other? That's a different story. And we don't have all the evidence for that. What we do know however is that, for example, in part of the u.s. u.s. dietary guidelines indicates that there are four nutrients of concern. It's a nutrient of concern. If at least half the population is not getting enough of these nutrients and those would be calcium. Vitamin D, potassium and fiber in previous iterations of Guidelines. Magnesium was also included, although that didn't quite make the grade yet enough people are getting old and least some of it not not a majority are lacking in magnesium yet, but best way to guard against that eat a well-balanced diet. And I mean, it diverse diet, particularly with micronutrients, pay attention to fruits and vegetables because that's the, those are the two food groups that most people are not getting enough of as well as low-fat and fat-free dairy foods. Because, actually something like, you know, fruits and vegetables are Dynamite sources, whether they're frozen can fresh etcetera of micronutrients. Plenty of them, and could eat a good balance, Dairy Foods loaded with potassium naturally, as well as calcium and vitamin D. That would probably be the best advice I could give you give anybody and check with your doctor if you want more."
Enjoyment and fun are essential to a healthy, sustainable eating style. Find the balance between foods you need and foods you don't want to live without. Incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle as well to make it enjoyable. Finally, allow for some indulgences such as an ounce of chocolate each day. Transcript: "First of all, fun and enjoyment in nutrition are absolutely essential because it's the only way for any kind of an eating style to be sustainable. You've got to like it. Okay? And you should like it and you deserve to like it. So, how do I approach it? Well, I always think it's learning to strike a balance between the foods that we know we need and, and might not be getting enough of, and the foods we don't want to live without, and Both have a place and they should have a place. Because again it's about sustaining a healthy eating style. The trick is to find the right balance between those two. Most, I always tell people, look at what your diet might be lacking, and a lot of people know that, you know, in fact, most people don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. They don't get enough low-fat and fat-free Dairy Foods, Etc. So, look at those food groups, most likely lacking in most people's diets and say, what am I, you know, like The favorite foods that I have in those food groups, what's your favorite fruit? What's your favorite vegetable Etc? And start with that? Because that's not going to be so much resistance for you. So and then you build from there, try a new food and don't try it once. Try it about 10 times, because that's how long it takes for us to really kind of, you know, decide whether or not, we like a food or not. And you do get used to it after a while and then also incorporate a few foods that, you know, you'll love and do it in the right balance. What's the Ace in the Hole? Whole physical activity. Okay, you can't have a good healthy lifestyle without being Physically, Active, you don't throw marathons and I try to be active every single day, and I try to incorporate something fun for me. I like an ounce of chocolate and what time of the day. Do I like it? Well, whatever time it's going to be necessary. So, and we're, I feel like, I, you would enjoy the most, okay? I hope that's helpful for you. A little bit of what you need, what you need, and what you like."
Plant cells and vegetables influence their ability to be broken down during digestion by the amount of fiber they contain. Eating vegetables in either raw or cooked form is beneficial, as both methods can break down the cell walls and release nutrients. Cooking tomatoes, for example, makes the lycopene more bioavailable. Transcript: "How does the structure of plant cells and vegetables influence their ability to be broken down during digestion? It does. Because even if you take the same vegetable but compare it in fresh form, like raw form versus cooked form, it's going to have a different level of digestibility. Raw form is more difficult to digest because it's going to have more fiber, it's going to have more cellulose and lignins and things like that that are not able to be broken down in our digestion. And those are things that make up the cell wall and that cell houses all the nutrients. Now we can break down some of that when we chew. Chewing breaks apart the cells, releases a lot of those nutrients. Cooking is another way. And when you cook a vegetable, you're going to break down a lot of that. So do you lose some of the fiber in the process? Yes, but you retain a fair amount too. So the most important thing is to get those vegetables in raw or cooked form, whatever works for you and however your preference is, and get a good variety. When you cook the vegetable, it's going to break down a lot of those cell walls. You'll still retain a lot of the fiber, but it also is going to release a lot more of the nutrients inside the cells. So it makes some of the nutrients, the vitamins and minerals, a little bit more what we call bioavailable and able to be used and absorbed by the body. Either way, raw or cooked is a good idea. One example with tomatoes is that the lycopene is actually more bioavailable in the cooked tomato versus the fresh. But whatever way you want to eat tomatoes, great. Anyway, most important thing, eat the vegetables in whatever way works for you."
Family Dynamics are very influential when it comes to nutrition. Eating together as a family, preparing meals at home and involving kids in food preparation and clean up can help shape healthy eating habits for the long-term. Transcript: "How do family dynamics relate to nutrition? Wow. Degrees have been made on less, but they are very influential about nutrition. Because a lot of our attitudes and our food preferences are based on how we ate as kids and how our families ate. So there's a lot of culture in there. There's a lot of family tradition. And there's a lot of also influence about what's available in the house. So the family dynamics are really influential there. And also is how we eat as a family in terms of family meals. Do we eat family meals? So are the family dynamics ones that include family meals? I really encourage families to eat together at least once a day, because it really does make a difference. Actually, nutritionally, meals eaten as a family, and especially meals prepared at home, even if you use some convenience foods to prepare the meal, have been shown to actually be healthier than meals we bring in from the outside. Meals prepared at home tend to be lower in fat, lower in added sugar, higher in fruits and vegetables, higher in protein and calcium, and lots of other nutrients. And I really encourage families to cook together whenever possible, or have kids, for example, help in food preparation and food cleaning up and things like that, and make it part of a family event and a family activity. And that's been shown to really influence, over the long term, kids' eating habits. I very seldom see kids that have better eating habits than their parents. So parents are very, very influential in helping to shape the eating habits that their kids have. So parents, we really need to work on helping you have better eating habits if you want your kids to have better eating habits as well. And relate better to food."
Anti-nutrients are compounds found in certain foods, such as green leafy vegetables, beans, whole grains and seeds, that impair the body's ability to absorb some of the nutrients found in these foods. The effect of anti-nutrients is not very significant and can be counteracted by consuming an acid form of the food, such as a vinegar dressing. Dairy products are better sources of calcium since they do not contain anti-nutrients. Transcript: "What are anti-nutrients? Well, that's an interesting question because they sound really scary and they're really not. What anti-nutrients are are compounds usually in plants that impair the ability or reduce the ability of the body to absorb some of the nutrients that are in those plants. Now a perfect example would be phytates in green leafy vegetables or phytic acid in green leafy vegetables, some beans, whole grains, seeds, etc. Good foods that we want people to eat. And those can bind iron, for example, as well as zinc and magnesium and some other minerals and render it less absorbable by the body. So it's less available. You can help counteract that by taking an acid form, even something like juice or in the case of something like a green leafy vegetable like spinach with a vinegar or a vinaigrette on a spinach salad. And that helps liberate some of that iron and make it more absorbable. Now in the case of oxalates, that's another anti-nutrient and it's often binding calcium in many vegetables, for example, again, spinach and green leafy vegetables. Those are a source of calcium in the diet, a fairly minor source, and this is one of the reasons is because some of that calcium is bound by oxalates. And these sound like foods like green leafy vegetables and many fruits and beans and whole grains and seeds. Sounds like foods we want people to eat. We do. Is the effect of anti-nutrients significant? No, you shouldn't have to worry about those if you're eating a good variety of foods. Now calcium is best found in dairy foods. So those are your better sources of getting calcium because they're not going to be as anti-nutrients preventing that calcium absorption. But eat a variety of foods because many of these foods with anti-nutrients are also nutrient rich."