Nutrition isn’t just one of the most important aspects to a healthy life—it’s also one of the most misunderstood. We’re bombarded with so much information, from books to infomercials to websites, that many “facts” actually have no basis in truth.
This is one reason that we believe it’s important to give our patients extensive access to accurate information and why we’re thrilled to have a registered dietitian, Nicole Matala, aboard.
“I decided to become a registered dietitian because I think it’s fascinating how food affects our bodies and our health,” she said. “I wanted to learn more about how what we eat can help prevent disease and make us feel good.”
We feel one of the most important roles we play in our patients’ lives as internal medicine physicians is to help them live healthier lives, and a large part of that is providing the education needed to be proactive about their well-being.
We’d like to warn you about some of these common misconceptions about nutrition.
Nutrition: The Truth Matters
IS GLUTEN-FREE GOOD FOR YOU?
Gluten-free diets are one of the latest nutritional trends. Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. However, you only need to be on a gluten-free diet if you have a food sensitivity or celiac disease, according to information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body can’t process gluten. If someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it leads to intestinal damage. It affects roughly 1 in 100 people and tends to run in families, according to information from the Celiac Disease Foundation.
In short, we do not recommend a gluten-free diet unless you have a condition that prompts the need for it. The grains in foods like wheat, rye and barley have important vitamins and minerals that can help your body.
IS FAT-FREE ALWAYS BETTER FOR YOU?
We often advocate a diet that is low in fat, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight, because of its high calorie content. However, just because something says it’s fat-free doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest choice.
Many things that say low fat often replace fat with excess sugar, starch and carbohydrates. Your best bet is to check the nutrition label and compare calories per serving, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Choose foods that contain unsaturated fat, which is the healthy type of fat.
A diet low in fat is a part of a healthy eating plan; just be sure that you’re not replacing the fat with additives that present their own nutritional problems.
IS DIABETES REALLY CAUSED BY EATING TOO MUCH SUGAR?
Diabetes is caused by a variety of factors, and while consuming high amounts of sugar isn’t the healthiest choice, sugar consumption alone does not cause diabetes.
What are the risk factors for developing diabetes?
The main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are:
- Eating a high-calorie, high-fat diet
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being over 45
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Want to evaluate your risk for developing diabetes? Take the diabetes risk test from the American Diabetes Association and discuss the results with us.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then it is extremely important to follow your doctor’s instructions and limit your intake of both sugar and carbohydrates.
We specialize in treating patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and work closely with you to minimize your risk for the serious complications that can result from this disease. Our registered dietitian can help you create a diet that will help eliminate blood sugar spikes and work with you to keep your A1C within healthier limits.
ARE CARBS DAMAGING TO YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS EFFORTS?
Carbs alone are not the cause of weight gain. In actuality, the reason low-carb diets often result in weight loss is that they also restrict calories. Reducing your caloric intake will help you lose weight, regardless of what type of food you have eaten.
However, if you are a diabetic, you should pay careful attention to your carb intake to achieve your blood sugar goals.
HOW TO SEPARATE MYTH FROM FACT
When it comes to diet and exercise, there are millions of websites, books and other guides to provide information. However, not all information is created equal. Some is erroneous at best and harmful at worst. That’s why it’s important to get your information from reliable resources such as the Centers for Disease Control or the American Diabetes Association.
Of course, your most reliable source of information is your physician at Raleigh Medical Group. For decades we’ve helped our patients lead better, healthier lives. We believe it is important to establish a long-term relationship with you so we can monitor your well-being.
Our nutritionist will work closely with you to help you achieve your goals, whether it’s to lose weight, eat better or manage diabetes. Contact us today to start your journey to a healthier body!