weight loss

Calories versus nutritional intake

Many people on diets when they are trying to lose weight, think about low-fat foods rather than the nutritional value of the foods they are consuming.  Some then may consume large amounts of these foods, because they may be ‘free’ on their particular diet plan, or they perceive them to be heathy, though these foods may not always be the best choice

When just calorie counting, because high fat food are calorie dense they are often avoided,  and you could end up eating a very nutritionally poor diet and even become malnourished, especially if you live on a low-fat diet for long periods of time, and take no additional supplements or minerals. The government recommended 2000 Calories for women is based on nutritional need as well as energy.

Some vitamins are fat soluble in particular A, D, E and  K, and foods that are high sources of these vitamins are often avoided in those following a low-fat diet, and small amounts of theses vitamins are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction, and health.

Vitamin A – It occurs naturally only in foods of animal origin, such as liver, butter, whole milk, and egg yolks, but the body converts certain carotenoids (found in some fruit and vegetables), especially β-carotene, to vitamin A.

Vitamin D –  occurs naturally only in animal foods such as liver, butter, fatty fish (fish containing high levels of cholesterol or fatty acids as glycerides), and egg yolks. It is also synthesised in the body from sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for bone health since it serves to maintain serum calcium concentrations, which in turn influence bone mineralization.

Vitamin E  –  is an important antioxidant that is thought to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidative destruction in cell membranes. Vegetable oils are the richest source of vitamin E. Other good sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and wheat germ.

Vitamin K  – is needed in the liver for formation of several blood clotting factors. Larger amounts of vitamin K are present in dark-green leafy vegetables; lower levels are found in cereals, dairy products, meats, and fruits.

Yogurt itself is a nutritional powerhouse as part of a balanced diet,  yogurt can be a great source of protein, calcium, iodine and vitamin B12. Fermented dairy products have long been considered to be beneficial to digestive health, and yogurt has even been associated with lower risk of obesity and cardio metabolic risk in both children and adults. Natural, ‘plain’ and Greek-style yogurts were found to have a dramatically different nutrient profile from all other types of yogurt, containing much higher levels of protein, lower carbohydrates level and the least amount of sugar, with the average of five grams per 100g, largely made up of naturally occurring lactose.

Take a look at three yogurts, first a low-fat fruit yogurt.  It’s virtually fat-free, provides a good amount of calcium, but if your diet is lacking in vitamin D you won’t see the benefit. Per 100g of this product 7.1g is labelled as sugar, the source of this sugar does not have to be separated so this level will be spread between milk sugar (Lactose), the added strawberries (10% of product), and the added fructose.  A full fat plain yogurt with nothing added tends to have around 4.7g-5g of sugar per 100g, so this low fat yoghurt has over 2g of added sugar per 100g (a pot being 175g), very little of this will be from the strawberry, with the remaining added as fructose and to ensure a sweet tasting product added aspartame. The danger arises when individuals see these as healthy alternatives, they may have 1, 2 or even more per day, but with each pot containing the equivalent of around 1 teaspoon of added sugar, this can soon add up.

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A full fat organic strawberry yogurt, is nearly 100% more calories per 100g, and has 4% fat, with similar protein levels and over 3g more sugar, than a low-fat version. The fat content will help you stay fuller for longer so long-term you may only need one yogurt rather than three, and the fat will contain vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium.  This strawberry yogurt product is honest and specifies they add 4.9% of sugar per per 100g, but many do not ,they just state added sugars just total sugars, making you believe that the sugars are from fruit and therefore healthy. This yogurt is served in 100g portions so not as bad as you may think.

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The third option plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit, nuts, seed, no need to add any additional sugar.

Below, shows that a 100g of greek yogurt with 4 strawberries and 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkins seeds, this is 2g less sugar than the low fat version, but will have more strawberries, and added protein, it also gives you a little fibre. This is a higher fat and calorie version but the fat should help you to feel fuller for longer, making it a suitable breakfast. Greek Yogurts tend to be lower in lactose and higher in protein than other yogurts, but make sure you read the labels since some manufacturers add thickening agents to regular yogurt, and market it as “Greek-style” yogurt, which may not share the same health benefits as Greek yogurt.

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The three strawberry yogurts compared based on their serving size:-

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weight loss

Malnutrition in the elderly

Recent research has shown an increase in malnutrition in the elderly. Poor nutritional status and malnutrition in the elderly population are important areas of concern. Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss contribute to progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilisation of health care services, premature institutionalisation, and increased mortality.

One in ten adults over the age of 65 are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished , with over 90% of these individuals living independently. Malnutrition is often due to one or more of the following factors: inadequate food intake; food choices that lead to dietary deficiencies; and illness that causes increased nutrient requirements, increased nutrient loss, poor nutrient absorption, or a combination of these factors.

When financial concerns are present, meals are often skipped and food that is purchased may not provide a nutritionally adequate diet. Declines in functional status both physical and cognitive, affect a person’s ability to shop for food and to prepare meals.

Nutritional problems are further compromised by inadequate social support networks and by the resultant social isolation, which commonly leads to apathy about food and therefore decreased intake. Late life can be a time of multiple losses. The older person has experienced change and loss through retirement, disability and death of friends and family as well as change in financial, social, and physical health status. These changes may lead to depression, a well-known cause of anorexia and weight loss. Even transient depressed mood (as with bereavement) can cause clinically significant weight loss.

Dehydration is common among older people and especially older people with dementia. People may not recognise they are thirsty, may forget to drink, may be unable to communicate that they are thirsty, or may refuse to drink because they are worried about incontinence.

Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, irritability, falls, loss of appetite and constipation which can contribute to urinary tract infections – and these infections in turn can lead to incontinence. Older people who are incontinent need to drink more, not less, in order to encourage the bladder to empty regularly to prevent infection and to exercise the bladder muscles.

How can you help an elderly relative or neighbour?

If you have significant concerns with any sudden weight loss or other symptoms try and see if the individual would see their GP for a health check up.  An online screening tool is available which looks at the individuals weight now and three months ago to determine risk.

  • Having small, nutritious meals more often across the day can help if people have a poor appetite
  • Make sure drinks given between meals offer nutrients as well – for example, milky drinks, fresh fruit juices and smoothies
  • Make available nutritious snacks that the person can eat while moving around, for example some individuals with dementia pace around constantly and have high energy needs. Finger foods can be left out on the route that the older person may take when they wander.
  • It is important to remember that older people need to eat good food whatever their weight, and that overweight people can be under-nourished too, if they don’t get enough nutrients.
  • Ensure they stay hydrated, this can be from drinks such as tea, coffee, water, milk, fruit juice and smoothies and via the food they eat, soups, stews, fruit and vegetables, ice cream and yoghurt.
  • Older people with dementia may choose sweet foods over savoury ones and it has been shown that a craving for sweet foods is part of the clinical syndrome for dementia at some stages. If people eat only sweet foods – for example, if they just eat desserts – they will not get all the nutrients they need. However, it can be useful to add some sweet ingredients to dishes, to encourage people to eat a range of foods – for example, adding sweet apricots to a meat dish, adding fruit to salads and snacks, adding honey to porridge or milky puddings, or adding jam to peanut butter sandwiches, might encourage the person to eat the food and also make a useful contribution to nutrient intake.

If you want a personalised assessment of yours or a relative current diet and a weeks meal plan please contact Susan.