Nutrition Seminar April 2012

Does What I Eat Make a Difference?

 Nutrition and Rheumatic Disease

 Featuring keynote speaker

Laura A. Coleman, PhD, RD

Dr. Laura Coleman is an Associate Research Scientist in the Epidemiology Research Center at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation inMarshfield,WI. She has written peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on nutrition and rheumatic disease, focusing on systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Coleman spoke about the specific challenges of RA and Lupus and gave nutritional and physical activity recommendations as well as information about complementary and alternative therapies.



 To view a video of the seminar:

For more information please see Dr. Coleman’s PowerPoint slides from the event:

Making Sense of Nutrition and Rheumatic Diseases

Dr. Coleman also provided some additional answers to questions that were asked during or after the seminar:

  1.  Is there a difference between wild and farmed salmon?  
    • The nutrient composition of farmed vs. wild salmon varies only slightly.  Total omega-3 fatty acid content, for example, is 0.63 grams/ounce for wild salmon compared to 0.61 grams/ounce for farmed salmon.   Farmed salmon is also slightly higher in calories and fat, but lower in protein content than wild salmon.  The differences are not large enough to suggest that one vs. the other type of salmon is preferable.
  2. How much fish is used (“sacrificed”) to produce fish oil?
    • A very small percentage – less than 1% – of total fish production is used for fish oil supplements.  While the majority of fish produced are used for human consumption, the second highest category of use is pet food.
  3. Is there a difference in nutrition or effects for a younger person with lupus as opposed to an older person with lupus?
    • There may be different nutrient needs in younger compared to older individuals with lupus.  An older individual with lupus is likely to have had their diagnosis for a longer period of time than a younger individual, and thus are more likely to have been exposed to the cumulative effects of chronic inflammation (loss of muscle, etc.) for a longer period of time.  Lupus-related complications that may affect nutrient requirements are also more likely to be a problem as a person gets older.  Moreover, older individuals in general, regardless of whether or not they have lupus, experience metabolic changes that add to the adverse effects of the disease.  Loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions, and age-related declines in general health status all may exacerbate disease effects in older people.
  4. More information about olive oil?
    • Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat with antioxidant activity with a variety of health benefits.  It has been suggested that olive oil may help prevent cancer (breast, colon); reduce inflammation, blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels; and even help to prevent respiratory infections.
  5. How would you go about testing food intolerances or the effects of food on yourself? How long do you need to go without the food before reintroducing it? What about if you have multiple foods you think are affecting you?
    • It’s not easy to determine whether particular foods are contributing to disease activity since some foods may trigger a flare for some people but not others, and some people may not have problems with any foods at all. That being said, people can pay attention to their diet, and if a specific food is suspected of triggering a flare, they should require that a pattern of ingestion followed by worsening occurs at least 3 times before eliminating a food from the diet.  If a “trial” elimination diet is going to be followed, is should be done for a few weeks before re-introducing the item.  One caution:  even if it appears that a food is causing some trouble, it could be that another factor, such as the source of the food, use of chemicals or other preservatives, or even the interaction of several foods, is the problem. Importantly, people should not unnecessarily limit their diets such that they are not able to obtain all essential nutrients. You should ask your physician if you have any questions about your particular need for a special diet.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Thrower at 617-525-6608 or [email protected] .
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