Nutrition Fundamentals

Eating is an essential part of life and plays a role in our social, physical and mental well-being. Yet many people pay little attention to nutrition and don't understand the basic building blocks of food. All food is comprised of calories from protein, carbohydrates, fats, or a combination of these elements. Water doesn't supply energy in the form of calories, but it is absolutely vital to the human body. Food also supplies essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts.

To understand how what you eat affects your body, you need to become familiar with the basic fundamentals of nutrition:

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What Are Calories?

A calorie is a unit of energy present in all food, including fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Fats contain nine calories per gram, while carbohydrates and proteins contain four calories per gram.

What Is Protein?

Proteins are the essential building blocks of life - every cell in the body contains protein! These cells make up your skin, bones, muscle, organ issue and blood. Protein is essential to prevent malnutrition, and the consumption of protein results in very little insulin release. (Insulin regulates blood sugar and excess insulin has been known to lead to diabetes.)

Adequate protein intake following your surgery is key to preventing malnutrition. Lean sources of protein include low-fat cheeses, low-fat yogurt, eggs, poultry, lean meats, fish, tofu, and beans/legumes.

What Are Fats?

Fats when eaten in moderation are important for the growth, development, and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Some dietary fats are more beneficial than others. Mono-unsaturated fats are "healthy" fats that are good for your heart and have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. Sources of healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats are needed in small amounts. Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fish, oils, and nuts are two types of polyunsaturated fats that are essential to your body. They are needed to make hormones and they also have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. "Unhealthy" saturated fats come from butter, lards, meat fats, full-fat dairy products, and coconut oil.

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These foods have a negative effect on blood cholesterol. Trans fats are another type of "unhealthy" fat that is found in some margarine, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and any processed food made with partially hydrogenated oils. Because fat is energy-dense or has a high amount of calories, all fats need to be eaten in moderation.

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are a group of sugars attached together as a chain. Carbohydrates supply energy to the body but when consumed in excess, they are stored as fat. There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates cause a sharp rise in insulin production. This can lead to insulin resistance, which has been shown to contribute to diabetes. They are easily digested, causing food to empty from the stomach quickly and lead to an increased feeling of hunger soon after they are eaten. Simple carbohydrates include fruit juice, sugar, and processed or enriched white grains.

Complex carbohydrates lead to less insulin production and contain fiber, an essential part of a healthy diet. They require more work for the body to break down, causing a longer-lasting feeling of satiety, or fullness. Examples of complex carbohydrates include high-fiber whole-wheat grain products, beans, vegetables, and fruits.

Why Is Water Important For Health?

Water is key to all of your body's functions. Your body weight is 55-75% water - including 70% of your brain, 82% of your blood and 90% of your lungs. However, you lose water daily from perspiration, exhalation, urine, and feces. That's why it's essential to consume a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily to prevent dehydration. You need even more than this amount during hot summer months and during physical activity.

Your body cannot survive for more than five days without water, but dehydration sets in much more quickly. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea and alcoholic beverage can cause dehydration rapidly and should be avoided.

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Symptoms of dehydration include weakness, lethargy, difficulty focusing, dizziness, and headache. Follow the water guidelines daily, since it's very difficult to make up for a water deficit once dehydration has begun.

Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and create a plan to help meet your daily water goal. Slow, consistent sips of water are best, equaling about eight ounces per hour.

What Is The 30-20-30 Rule?

  • Stop drinking 30 minutes before a meal
  • Take no longer than 20 minutes to finish your meal
  • Do not start drinking again for 30 minutes after a meal

Nutritional Basics For Patients Who Underwent Gastric Bypass Surgery

Drinking with meals will not allow you to get enough nourishment from your foods, because your stomach will fill up with water and food and you will not be able to eat enough. It can also wash food through your stomach pouch too quickly, which increases your risk of dumping syndrome, and allows you to eat more.

Adjustable Gastric Banding Patients:

Drinking with meals will not allow food to stay in the upper-banded part of your stomach. It will wash the food through to the lower part of your stomach, which will allow you to eat more, and feel hungry more quickly.

Why Are Vitamins Important For Health?

Vitamins are present in many different types of food but should be supplemented during any period of weight loss, since food intake is reduced. After gastric bypass surgery your body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals is decreased. Vitamin/mineral supplements are essential for your health.

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What Are The Vitamin Requirements For Gastric Bypass Surgery Patients?

  • Multi-vitamins with minerals (1 serving every day)
  • Calcium (1,000-1,200 mg daily of calcium citrate)
  • Iron (18 mg per day for men and non-menstruating women; 36 mg per day for menstruating women)
  • B Complex (25-50mg serving per day)
  • Sublingual Vitamin B-12 (1,000 mcg under the tongue once per week)

What Are The Vitamin Requirements For Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding Patients?

  • Multi-vitamin with minerals (1 serving every day)

Schedule A Consultation

To learn more about the Fundamentals of Nutrition or to schedule a consultation to see if the services we provide are right for you, contact us today at 504-349-6860. Our practice serves Marrero, LA, and surrounding areas.

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