Nutrition Glossary (cont.)

The DASH eating plan is recommended by the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) which states: "Use the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan as a guide. DASH encourages you to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products, and to limit saturated fat and salt. The DASH eating plan can help you lose weight and maintain a healthier body. In fact, according to the report, sticking to the DASH eating plan can be as effective as some medications in lowering your blood pressure."

Dextrose: Better known today as glucose, this sugar is the chief source of energy in the body. Glucose is chemically considered a simple sugar. It is the main sugar that the body manufactures. The body makes glucose from all three elements of food, protein, fat and carbohydrates, but in largest part from carbohydrates. Glucose serves as the major source of energy for living cells. It is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. The cells cannot, however, use the glucose without the help of insulin. When sampled in blood, glucose is tested in transit.

DVs (Daily Values): a new dietary reference term that will appear on food labels. It is made up of two sets of references, DRVs and RDIs.

The term DV is a new term appearing on food labels. It stands for Daily Value, a new dietary reference value designed to help consumers use food label information to plan a healthy diet. Daily Values (DVs) comprise two sets of reference values for nutrients: Daily Reference Values (DRVs) and Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs). Only the Daily Value term will appear on the food label.

The Daily Value serves as a basis for declaring on the label the percent of the DV for each nutrient that a serving of the food provides. For example, the Daily Value for fat, based on a 2,000-calorie diet, is 65 grams (g). A food that has 13 g of fat per serving would state on the label that the "percent Daily Value" for fat is 20 percent.

The DV provides a basis for thresholds that define descriptive words for nutrient content, called descriptors, such as "high fiber" and "low fat." For example, the descriptor "high fiber" can be used if a serving of food provides 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for fiber-- that is, 5 g or more.

DRVs and RDIs have an important regulatory role. They serve as the basis for calculating percent Daily Values. DRVs are for nutrients for which no set of standards previously existed, such as fat and cholesterol. RDIs, on the other hand, replace the term "U.S. RDAs" (Recommended Daily Allowances), which were introduced in 1973 as a reference value for vitamins, minerals and protein in voluntary nutrition labeling. Despite the name change, the actual values (except the value for protein) will remain the same--at least for the time being.

U.S. RDAs should not be confused with RDAs. The latter are short for Recommended Dietary Allowances, which are set by the National Academy of Sciences. FDA used the RDAs as the basis for setting U.S. RDAs (now called RDIs). The confusion caused by the similarity of those terms was one of the reasons for the switch to RDI.

DRVs (Daily Reference Values): a set of dietary references that applies to fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, protein, fiber, sodium, and potassium

DRVs for the energy-producing nutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber) are based on the number of calories consumed per day. For labeling purposes 2,000 calories has been established as the reference for calculating percent Daily Values. This level was chosen, in part, since many health experts say it approximates the maintenance calorie requirements of the group most often targeted for weight reduction: postmenopausal women. The label will include--at least on larger packages--a footnote on the nutrition panel in which daily values for selected nutrients for both a 2,000- and a 2,500-calorie diet are listed. Manufacturers have the option of listing daily values for other calorie levels, if label space allows and as long as the Daily Values for the other two levels are listed too.

Whatever the calorie level, DRVs for the energy- producing nutrients are always calculated as follows:

  • fat based on 30 percent of calories
  • saturated fat based on 10 percent of calories
  • carbohydrate based on 60 percent of calories
  • protein based on 10 percent of calories. (The DRV for protein applies only to adults and children over 4. RDIs for protein for special groups have been established.)
  • fiber based on 11.5 g of fiber per 1,000 calories. Thus, someone who consumes 3,000 calories a day--a teenage boy, for example--would have a recommended intake for fat of 100 g or less per day. [0.30 times 3,000 = 900; 900 (calories) divided by 9 (calories per g of fat) = 100 g].

The DRVs for cholesterol, sodium and potassium, which do not contribute calories, remain the same whatever the calorie level. Due to the association between certain nutrients and diseases, the DRVs for some nutrients represent the uppermost limit that is considered desirable. Eating too much fat or cholesterol, for example, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Too much sodium can heighten the risk of high blood pressure in some people.

The label will show DVs for fats and sodium as follows:

  • total fat: less than 65 g
  • saturated fat: less than 20 g
  • cholesterol: less than 300 mg (milligrams)
  • sodium: less than 2,400 mg

Dehydration: Excessive loss of body water. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract may lead to dehydration. One clue to dehydration is a rapid drop in weight. A loss of over 10% (15 pounds in a person weighing 150 pounds) is considered severe. Symptoms include increasing thirst, dry mouth, weakness or lightheadedness (particularly if worsening on standing), or a darkening/decrease in urination are suggestive. Severe dehydration can lead to changes in the body's chemistry, kidney failure, and become life-threatening. The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent it from occurring. If one suspects fluid loss is excessive, notify a physician. Intravenous or oral fluid replacement may be needed.

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