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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.) How important is nutrition in terms of maintaining good health?

A.) Healthy eating habits can help you deal with stress, improve your immune system, get a good night sleep, lower your risk of disease and have energy to get through your day. Several of the most common diseases are affected by lifestyle choices such as eating habits and activity and exercise. A poor diet can cause an increase risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and several cancers. Health problems such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes were once thought to be diseases associated with aging. Now these health problems are frequently seen in younger people, even teens and younger children. All too often, these health problems are associated with people who are overweight or obese.

Q.) Are there any specific foods that are known to prevent or decrease our risk of developing certain diseases or conditions?

A.) There is no one food that is a magic bullet. But there are a variety of foods that are associated with lowering your risk of health problems. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidants that help to prevent cell damage associated with some cancers. Low fat and fat free dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis. Whole grain products provide fiber that helps with weight loss and controlling diabetes. Fatty fish, such as salmon, nuts and seeds provide omega-3 fat which helps decrease inflammation associated with heart disease. These are just a few examples of how some foods can lower our risk for disease. When used altogether in a healthy diet and along with exercise, the risk disease is lowered even more.

Q.) What are some guidelines regarding food safety?


  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  • Wash your hands before handling food.
  • Keep raw meats, fish and poultry separate from other foods in your grocery cart, refrigerator and when preparing a meal. Raw juices contain bacteria.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours or sooner
  • Never defrost foods at room temperature. Thaw in the refrigerator, in a sealed bag in cold water or defrost in the microwave.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure the food is cooked to the right temperature:

Beef, pork, veal and lamb -160º F

Ground turkey or chicken -165º F

Poultry, whole -180º F

Poultry, breast -70º F

Leftovers and casseroles -165º F

Q.) Are organic foods better for us than other foods?

A.) Organically grown and conventionally grown foods differ very little in quantity or quality of nutrients. Organic foods are now regulated by the USDA and farmers have to follow guidelines in order for their produce to be called “organic. Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. There is a chance of having pesticide residue on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. However, the use of pesticides is monitored by the FDA and EPA and the residue levels are below the levels that have been deemed safe for human consumption.

Q.) Can we get all of the vitamins we need from food?

A.) Having a diet with a variety of foods helps us to get the vitamins and minerals we need each day. However, people are creatures of habit and often we eat the same foods over any period of time. Therefore it’s a good idea to “think outside the box” and try new fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, grains, beans. No one has a perfect diet, so a daily multivitamin with minerals can help. Women over 50 years old and all men should choose a multivitamin without iron.

Q.) If my goal is weight loss, what’s the best way to find out what to eat and how much?

A.) Start with a visit to www.mypyramid.gov. This website allows you to tailor a healthy diet just for you based on age, gender, height, weight and activity level. This is a helpful website that also lets you track you daily food intake and activity level. It will show you what nutrients you need to work on to improve your diet.

Q.) Why is it often difficult to maintain weight loss?

A.) Weight loss is difficult to maintain when you have been “dieting.” Dieting usually involves restriction of certain foods and limiting calorie intake. Once you get tired of following the strict rules of dieting you may give up and go back to your old eating habits. Now the weight you lost comes back and maybe a few extra pounds too.

Diets don’t work because they are too hard to maintain over a period of time and usually unhealthy too. The best way to lose weight is to change some of your unhealthy eating habits and learn healthier habits. This allows for gradual weight loss of body fat rather than body fluid and muscle that is lost on fad diets. Exercise is very important in maintaining weight loss. Weighing yourself daily allows you to take action more quickly if you see the scale tipping.

Q.) How do our nutritional needs change as we grow older?

A.) As we age we need fewer calories, slightly more protein and more calcium. Some vitamins are not absorbed as easily, such as vitamin B 12. A doctor can determine if this needs to be supplemented. We need to monitor our sodium, fat and sugar intake. Remember to drink water throughout the day because our sense of thirst is less reliable. Continue to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains to maintain bowel regularity. Stay active physically to maintain muscle, bone mass, good balance and energy. Stay active mentally by socializing and learning new information or a new hobby.

Q.) I’m very active – are there foods that help to sustain energy throughout the day?

A.) To help keep your energy up throughout the day, eat 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks.

Try to eat regularly, every 3- 4 hours, by having either a meal or a snack. Drink plenty of water 6- 8 8oz. glasses to stay well hydrated because dehydration causes headache and fatigue. Be sure to include complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains. These are broken down gradually and provide sustained energy.

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