- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Jan. 25, 2012
Questions about nutrition — Top 5 FAQs
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
We thought we'd share five of the most frequently asked questions we get about nutrition and healthy eating. These represent what's hot on the topic of "you are what you eat."
What should I focus on to control my weight?
The war on obesity is all about reducing calories. We eat foods that are mixtures of the four calorie-yielding nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol. Should you emphasize or eliminate one for weight control? That argument has been going on a long time and will likely continue as people search for the most effective weight-loss diet. In the meantime, if you want to control your weight, remember it's calories that count.
Are all carbs evil?
No. Carbs run the spectrum from simple sugars to complex indigestible fibers. The trouble comes from refined grains and simple sugars, which can play havoc with blood sugar and triglyceride levels, body weight, tooth health and inflammation. Humans seem to have an innate preference for sugar over other foods, and we scoop it up and guzzle it down.
Higher fiber carbs, on the other hand, offer some health benefits. They are slowly broken down in the gut. This slows absorption of sugar, which makes diabetes easier to manage. Fiber in the gut also links with cholesterol, which helps control cholesterol levels. Fiber provides fuel for intestinal bacteria, which may play a role in cancer protection and immune function. Not to mention that roughage improves regularity. Fiber fills you up, making dieting a bit easier. Bottom line: Switch to whole grains.
Is eating gluten-free risky?
At this time the only recognized reason to go gluten-free is if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. There are some inherent risks in going gluten-free, so make sure your doctor agrees it's appropriate for you. Because a gluten-free diet excludes many grains it can be lower in fiber and higher in simpler carbohydrates, which can lead to any of the risks described above. Whenever you have a restricted diet, you need to stay in touch with your doctor. Another important point: Don't stop eating gluten before being tested for celiac disease — it makes the diagnosis more difficult.
What is the Modified Atkins Diet used for other than weight loss?
The focus of the Atkins Diet is on production of ketones and their role in control of weight and appetite. However for quite some time an extreme ketogenic version of the diet has been effective in certain types of epilepsy that is resistant to full control with medication. Think of the Modified Atkins Diet as the "lite" version of the traditional ketogenic diet (where all foods are weighed, and proteins and carbs are severely limited). More research is needed on effectiveness of the Modified Atkins Diet, but it may mean better quality of life for those with this type of epilepsy.
What should I eat for eye health?
Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness. There are hundreds of substances called carotenoids (which the body converts to vitamin A). However, focus is on lutein and zeatxanthin — found abundantly in the lens and macula of your eyes. Foods rich in these carotenoids, certain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids — but not supplements — have been shown to lower risk for cataracts and macular degeneration. Eat more green leafy veggies and more fatty fish.
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