You Are What You Eat
These pearls may help patients with a whole-body approach to well-being.
RICHARD S . KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S
In this column, we will concentrate on diet and fats and their affect on your patients’ health. As optometric physicians, we have an obligation to teach preventative health measures to our patients. So, be proactive in educating and communicating the preventive process.
• Eat smaller meals more frequently. Every two to two and one half hours, eat a meal consisting of a protein portion the size of your fist, and a carbohydrate of the same size. You can add vegetables as you wish. This type of lifestyle, not diet, will keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol stable. (I call this “Feeding the oven.”) Your metabolism will increase, and you will likely loose weight.
• Eat breakfast. Encourage your patients of all ages to eat breakfast. Research indicates that people who have morning meals tend to ingest more vitamins and minerals, as well as less fat and cholesterol throughout the day.
• Drink water. Water is essential for good health. If you don’t get enough water, your body goes into emergency mode and clings to every single water molecule it can find. The stored molecules appear as extra weight that is only released when the body gets enough water.
• Eat dairy. The calcium in dairy has been shown to prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney stones and certain cancers.
Trans fatty acids are a form of artificial fat used primarily in fast food and other processed foods. Trans fats inflame the arteries and accelerate heart disease. Trans fats also contribute to the high rates of obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension in this country. In the United States, the average per capita intake of 5g of trans fats per day increases the risk for heart disease by approximately 25%. A McDonald’s breakfast meal can have up to twice this amount of trans fat, though the company recently announced plans to remove this type of fat from its food.1 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says consumers can know whether a food contains trans fat by looking at the ingredient list on the food label. If the ingredient list includes the words “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” the food contains trans fat. Many cities and states have either banned this type of fat or are considering similar action. The technology to satisfactorily replace partially hydrogenated fat with healthy alternatives currently exists. In the United States, elimination of partially hydrogenated fats could potentially reduce the rate of heart disease. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. An increase in Omega- 3 fatty acids, however, can help reduce a patient’s risk of heart disease and hypertension. A 2007 study shows children born to women who ingested less than 340g of seafood per week during pregnancy were more likely to be in the lowest quartile for verbal intelligence quotient (IQ). The authors also recorded beneficial effects on child development with maternal seafood intakes of more than 340g per week.2 Recommend to your adult patients that they consume one serving of fish at least two times per week (though pregnant women should take extra care to choose fish low in mercury content to minimize any potential risks to the fetus). Other sources of this heart healthy substance can be found in soybeans, canola, walnuts and flaxseed and fish-oil supplements.
Many doctors don’t have the time to add this type of consultation to their practices. However, you can still educate your patients on wellness, nutrition and fitness (WNF) through an alternative method:
• Have an educated staff member present the WNF information verbally and support it with written information from your office, on your letterhead or from your printer. Do not use generic handouts.
• Create computer disk videos that can be presented to the patient without using doctor or staff time. Then, follow-up by having a technician summarize the information, answer patient questions and provide handouts. There is a saying in management “that patients do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This mode of practice certainly sets you above the crowd and supports the highest level of professionalism and caring. Always strive to perform above your peers. OM
1. McDonald's USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items. www.mcdonalds. com/app_controller.nutrition.index1.html. Accessed Feb. 27, 2007.
2. Hibbeln JR, Davis JM, Steer C, Emmett P, et al. Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. Lancet. 2007 Feb. 17;369(9561):578-58.
2. Roizen, Michael F and Mehmet, Oz. YOU: The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2007