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Nutrition Education Highlights For Families


If I was a mother trying to feed my family healthy, but wasn’t a dietitian, I would hope that someone would give me the highlights of what dietitians talk about when they get together!  Well, here you go, part 2 of highlight series on the ADA Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE).  If you missed the vision that was imparted on us, check out my first post, Vision: Do You Have It?.  This post discusses just some education sessions that apply to families.  Truly, I could do a 20-part series on everything because really everything ties back to families, doesn’t it? 
Since I have nutrition specialties in digestive health and immunology, I have a separate section on that for those families that may have a child or family member with a chronic condition.  I am always looking out for you!
Food processing.   There isn’t an official definition for processed foods – anything that has been done to get your food to your table is processing, really.  However, we all agree that minimally processed foods are usually the best choice.  But do know that some processing has been shown to be beneficial.  For instance, our fortification process of grains in the U.S.  has virtually eliminated illness and death associated with B-vitamin deficiencies like pellagra and beriberi.  When you get technical with the words “processed foods”, you do get foods that I recommend for busy families like bagged salad, pre-cut veggies and even dried fruits.  Don’t be completely averse to the reference of processed foods, but instead focus your attention on minimization.

Create a short video showing how

you build a healthy plate with fruits

and veggies on a budget and you

could win some serious cash for

your family!

Update on MyPlate.   The MyPlate website is getting even more full of practical applications for families.  There is an entire section on eating healthy on a budget, you can analyze your own diet quality and you can get personalized plans for each family member.   Anyone want to participate in the MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge ?   They are giving a lot of cash for prizes out on this one!  There will be 3 winners picked to win $1500, 3 for second place that will win $1000 and 3 “Popular Choice” winners that will each receive $500.

Farm to School Initiatives.   This is a super cool trend that is spreading (not fast enough) across the US.  California is a really good example of how connecting children to food at the farm level grows their appreciation for foods.  I sent an e-mail to my daughter’s school foodservice manager encouraging them to do something in this arena.  Even if you can get them to do a field trip to a local farm, this will give kids a bit more insight than just seeing food on their plates.  Go to the USDA Farm to School site  for more information on these type of programs.
Digestive Health and Other Conditions
Gluten-Free (GF) Diets.   There was some interesting investigation presented on current gluten-free products currently sold in the U.S.  Here are the highlights and recommendations:

•Whenever possible gluten-free consumers should choose labeled gluten-free grains, flours, & products made from them.  Even GF flours such as buckwheat, soy, sorghum and millet have been shown to have 29-2900 ppm of gluten!

•When choosing processed foods not labeled gluten free consumers should look for 6 ingredients on the food label, namely wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt, & brewer?s yeast; for starch, starch, & dextrin.  Glucose syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, caramel color, & sugar alcohols that contain wheat must have wheat listed in the ingredient label under FALCPA. (Even when derived from wheat or barley these ingredients are exceedingly unlikely to cause an otherwise gluten-free food to contain 20 ppm or more gluten)

•While gluten-free foods may be allowed to contain < 20 ppm gluten, the vast majority of products tested by Gluten Free Watchdog contain < 5 ppm gluten

Irritable Bowel Syndrome .*   Gerard Mullin, MD , Associate Professor at The John Hopkins Hospital, presented some current research on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS ) and it looks very promising:

• Nutraceutical supplements such as peppermint oil, STW5 and melatonin may be helpful to control IBS symptoms • Commercially available herbal preparation STW 5: bitter candytuft, chamomile flower, peppermint leaves, caraway fruit, licorice root, lemon balm leaves, celandine herbs, angelica root, milk thistle fruit . •   Elimination of “FODMAPs” may help a subset of IBS patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [The acronym, ‘FODMAP’—Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols—was coined to describe a previously unrelated group of short-chain carbohydrates and

sugar alcohols (polyols). They comprise fructose, lactose, fructo- and galactooligosaccharides (fructans, and galactans), and polyols (such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol).

• Probiotics ( VSL #3 showed great results) appear to control IBS symptoms.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).*   The great GI dietitian queen herself, Dr. Laura Matarese, RD , presented on functional and superfoods for IBD.  There was some decent research on things such as high levels of omega-3’s, curcumin, probiotics and diet.  For those that are interested, let me know and I could discuss these with you. 

Update on autism and diet.   Dr. Timothy Buie , Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School presented an accumulation of current studies and recommendations on autism and diet.  This is the take home as of now per Dr. Buie.   Current studies, including survey studies from complementary providers do not support diet changes for the treatment of autism (*Note: Current studies do suggest that 5-8% of pediatric patients may have food allergy). Some individuals with history consistent with food sensitivity may merit testing or trial of diet.  However, available research data does not support the use of a casein-free diet, a gluten-free diet, or combined gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet as a primary treatment for individuals with autism.  Could GI issues CAUSE autism? Environmental/nutritional factors modulating genetically predisposed individuals.  GI inflammation where some body processes (colitis, allergy, infection) release chemical or immune mediators that affect brain function.  Further studies need to be done.
* If you are interested in trying some of these supplements or nutraceuticals, do check in with your physician and your local registered dietitian first.  They can advise you if any therapies are right for your particular situation and specifically how to implement them if at all.
My last post in this recap series of the dietitian’s conference will be food products and tools that were presented in the exhibit are – that I thought were the best.  Don’t miss it!

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