Nutrition For Dummies
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Some foods and some diet plans are so obviously good for your body that no one questions their ability to keep you healthy or make you feel better when you're ill.

For example, if you've ever had abdominal surgery, you know all about liquid diets — the water–gelatin–clear broth regimen your doctor prescribed right after the operation to enable you to take some nourishment by mouth without upsetting your intestines.

Or if you have type 1 diabetes (an inherited inability to produce the insulin needed to process carbohydrates), you know that your ability to balance the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your daily diet is important to stabilizing your illness.

Other proven diet regimens include

  • The high-fiber diet: A high-fiber diet quickens the passage of food through the digestive tract. This diet is used to prevent constipation. If you have diverticula (outpouchings) in the wall of your colon, a high-fiber diet may reduce the possibility of an infection. It can also alleviate the discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome (sometimes called a nervous stomach). Extra bonus: A diet high in soluble fiber also lowers cholesterol. A word to the wise: When increasing your dietary fiber intake, be sure to drink enough fluid to prevent the fiber from clumping in and maybe even blocking your digestive tract.
  • The sodium-restricted diet: Sodium is hydrophilic (hydro = water; philic = loving). It increases the amount of water held in body tissues. For people who are sensitive to the effects of sodium, a diet low in salt often lowers water retention, which can be useful in treating high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and long-term liver disease. By the way, not all the sodium in your diet comes from table salt.
  • The extra-potassium diet: People use this diet to counteract the loss of potassium caused by diuretics (drugs that make you urinate more frequently and more copiously, causing you to lose excess amounts of potassium in urine). Some evidence also suggests that the high-potassium diet may lower blood pressure a bit.
  • The low-protein diet: This diet is prescribed for people with chronic liver or kidney disease or an inherited inability to metabolize amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The low-protein regimen reduces the amount of protein waste products in body tissues, thus reducing the possibility of tissue damage.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Carol Ann Rinzler is a former nutrition columnist for the New York Daily News and the author of more than 30 health-related books, including Controlling Cholesterol For Dummies, Heartburn and Reflux For Dummies, The New Complete Book of Food, the award-winning Estrogen and Breast Cancer: A Warning for Women, and Leonardo’s Foot, which the American Association for the Advancement of Science described as “some of the best writing about science for the non-scientist encountered in recent years.”

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