Nutrition and Weight Management

You are what you eat. If you eat junk, it will be reflected in your health. If you don't exercise, you will lose muscle mass and calcium density in your bones. The top 10 causes of illness and death in the U.S. have a nutrition component and many have a lack of exercise component as well. Controlling your weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you want to live a healthier life, eat healthy foods and exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.


You need a variety of fruits and vegetables every day because they each contain different protective nutrients.

The best advice is for your daily consumption of food to consist of:

  • At least 3 servings of dark-green, yellow, or orange vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes;
  • At least 2 servings of fruit; and
  • 6 to 11 servings of whole-grain breads and cereals.

To reduce your cancer risk, follow an overall dietary pattern that includes:

  • A proportion of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans),
  • Limited amount of meat, dairy, and other high-fat foods, and
  • A balance of caloric intake and physical activity.

How Much to Drink?

You may have heard that you need at least 8 glasses of water per day. This quantity won't hurt a healthy adult, but such a one-size-fits-all answer fails to tell the whole story about the body's necessary balance of fluid intake and loss. We normally lose about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air, and bowel movements. What is lost must be replaced with water. Food contains water as well. Your thirst is generally a good guide for when you need to replace fluids, and water is generally the best choice. If you are normal and have a normal set of kidneys and lungs, the maximum amount of water tolerated is huge and the minimum is at least 8 eight-ounce glasses a day. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are actually dehydrating because they increase urine output, so don't count on those to replenish fluid loss. Studies have shown that during vigorous exercise, an important amount of fluid reserve may be lost before you are aware of thirst. Make sure you are sufficiently hydrated before, during, and after exercise. During exercise it's recommended to replenish fluids at least every 20 minutes.

Fat Intake

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for fat. As little as one tablespoon of vegetable oil a day provides our needs for essential fatty acids. Too much fat provides excess calories, can aggravate weight, and increase risk for heart disease and some cancers. Health experts recommend getting no more than 30% of our calories from fat - with no more than 10% from saturated.

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