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Spotlight on Walden // Mar 04, 2013

Your Diet & Nutrition Questions Answered

As March is National Nutrition Month, Dr. Timothy Radak, academic coordinator and faculty member in the PhD in Public Health program in the School of Health Sciences at Walden University, will be answering diet and nutrition questions from the Walden community in Spotlight on Walden throughout the month. Dr. Radak is credentialed as a registered dietitian and is an expert on nutrition.

Ask your diet and nutrition questions on Facebook and Twitter and check in throughout the month to see if Dr. Radak answered your question!

Q. What foods help reduce aging?

Dr. Radak: This is a great question and certainly one that many people ask! While there is no real anti-aging diet or way to fool Mother Nature’s chronological clock, there are many foods that help promote our health and keep disease at bay. We all know that whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are healthy for us and are proven fighters against disease. Consuming these foods can not only reduce risk for disease as we age but also provide us with energy and overall general health as we enter into our elder years. Feeling adventurous? Try some oven-baked kale for a snack. There are recipes all over the Web to make this at home, though many stores now carry it. It’s a neat way to get greens in our diet and have a snack too.

Q. Are protein shakes a good choice to replace one of your daily meals?

Dr. Radak: In general, I don’t recommend protein shakes for regular use, but in a pinch they can have benefits. What our bodies need are balanced and diverse meals, with a variety of foods. Obtaining our daily requirements is so much more than just protein. Obtaining the necessary vitamins and minerals is also crucial. If you are short on time and unable to have a balanced meal, protein shakes can occasionally replace a meal. Also note that for the majority of us, we do not need to be overly concerned with protein intake as the standard diet most commonly consumed in the United States provides nearly double what our requirements are. Interested in knowing what your protein requirements are? Follow this simple equation to arrive at a general estimate for normal-weight individuals: Multiply your body weight in pounds x 0.36 to provide an estimate of protein grams.

Q. What is the best way to go carb-free? And, any tips for great ways to curb those cravings (i.e., snacks or recipes)?

Dr. Radak: This is a very popular question. Contrary to what some Internet sites may suggest, going carb-free is not really the best choice for a balanced diet, for the promotion of good health, or for curbing cravings. Fiber rich carbohydrate-containing foods are actually one of nature’s best ways to feel full until our next meal. The key here is to distinguish between the two basic types of carbohydrates: refined foods and beverages (like sugary snacks and sodas, which are processed and called simple carbohydrates) and whole foods and unprocessed foods (known as complex carbohydrates). Some of my favorite complex carb snacks include freshly cut apples with some peanut butter, bell pepper slices with hummus, or even a trail bar from time to time.

Q. Fruits are generally considered nutritionally beneficial to mankind. Are there fruits to be regarded with caution?

Dr. Radak: I have yet to see a study showing a health risk from fruits or vegetables, though some fruits, like grapefruit, may interact with certain medications. It is important to check with your physician for food-drug interactions. I think following the principle of “too much of a good thing can …” could be a useful guideline if one over-consumes any foods. Some fruits contain a lot of fructose, so that could be a potential concern if someone really ramps up their fruit intake. Moderation and balance of intake is always a good strategy to follow.