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NUTRITION HOTLINE.



This month's Nutrition Hotline concerns the safety of long-term fasting, and the substances in caffeinated beverages that inhibit iron absorption

QUESTION: I am a vegan and am thinking of fasting all of next year. I intend to eat just fruits and juices. Are there any problems in doing this? Any suggestions?

MJ, Via e-mail

ANSWER: As nutritionists like to say, "No one food has it all." Granted, you are talking about eating a range of different fruits and fruit juices, but you need a host of nutrients found in a wider variety of foods, including vegetables, legumes Legumes
A family of plants that bear edible seeds in pods, including beans and peas.

Mentioned in: Cholesterol, High

legumes (l
, and grains. Long term, fruits and fruit juices alone are not likely to provide you with adequate nutrition, particularly if this is a weight loss plan and you are limiting your calorie intake. I'd consider one year to be "long term"--too long to exist on only fruits and fruit juices.

In the short term (a few days to a week) a fast consisting of nothing but fresh fruits and fruit juices may be fine. However, the primary benefit is psychological: some people feel as though a short term fast gives them a "jump start" on a new or improved dietary regimen. It breaks the old pattern and makes them feel as though they're getting a fresh start.

You don't mention the reason for the fast. If you want to lose weight, are battling food allergies, or have another reason to alter your eating style, it may be helpful to get individual counseling from a registered dietitian. Call The American Dietetic dietetic /di·e·tet·ic/ (di?ah-tet´ik) pertaining to diet or proper food.

di·e·tet·ic
adj.
1. Of or relating to diet.

2.
 Association's referral service at (800) 366-1655 for the name of a local dietitian dietitian /di·e·ti·tian/ (di?e-tish´in) one skilled in the use of diet in health and disease.

di·e·ti·tian or di·e·ti·cian
n.
A person specializing in dietetics.
. Since you are a vegan, ask for a dietitian with expertise in vegetarian diets and/or alternative nutrition therapies.

QUESTION: Is it the caffeine in coffee and tea that reduces iron absorption?

KC, Via e-mail

ANSWER: There is a range of substances in foods that either enhance or inhibit the absorption of dietary iron. In green and black tea, the culprit is tannic acid, which can reduce iron absorption in a meal by half or more. In coffee, it's been more difficult to identify: "I am not sure if we really know what it is in coffee that inhibits iron absorption," says Winston Craig, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan Berrien Springs is a village in Berrien County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,862 at the 2000 census.

Berrien Springs High School's team name is the Shamrocks. (Green and White)

Muhammad Ali formerly resided in the Berrien Springs area.
. In any case, the negative effect of coffee on iron absorption is less than the effect of the tannins tannins,
n.pl polyphenolic phytochemicals whose name derives from their use in tanning animal skins. Used as astringents, antioxidants, and styptics; treats burns, relieves diarrhea.
 in tea. In coffee, it's possible that caffeine, a methylxanthine, is the culprit.

According to Craig, "Tannic acid is polyphenolic, so it has great binding power. Because of tautomerism tautomerism

Existence of two or more chemical compounds that have the same chemical composition but different structures (isomers) and that convert easily from one to another.
 (hydrogen shifts within the molecule), xanthines xanthines (zan´thinz),
n.pl a family of chemicals that includes caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, which stimulate the central nervous system, act on the kidneys to produce diuresis, stimulate cardiac muscle, and
 such as caffeine appear to have phenolic phe·no·lic
adj.
Of, relating to, containing, or derived from phenol.

n.
Any of various synthetic thermosetting resins, obtained by the reaction of phenols with simple aldehydes and used as adhesives.
 structure, but the preferred chemical structure in xanthines is the ketone ketone (kē`tōn), any of a class of organic compounds that contain the carbonyl group, C=O, and in which the carbonyl group is bonded only to carbon atoms. ."

The bottom line is that both green or black tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption to varying degrees. If you're concerned about your iron absorption, avoid drinking these beverages during, or within two hours of, meals.

Rossander, L, Hallberg, L, Bjorn-Resmussen, E. 1979. Absorption of iron from breakfast meals. Am Journ of Clin Nutr 32: 2484-2489.
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Article Details
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Author:HAVALA, SUZANNE
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:515
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