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Here's what the Dietary Guidelines advise. Tip: MyPyra-

mid offers easy steps to get there!

  • Make smart choices from every food group . . . in an eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, that includes lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and that's low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Find your balance between food and physical activity. . . by balancing the calories you take in from food with the calories you spend each day.
  • Get the most nutrition out of your calories . . . by choosing nutrient-rich foods (foods with more nutrients and fewer calories) from each food group every day. Pick fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products more often.

Source: Based on 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

of some nutrients for growth. Pregnancy and breastfeeding increase the need for some nutrients, too, and for food energy. Because their bodies are typically larger, men often need more of most nutrients than women do.

How much of each nutrient do you need? Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, include daily nutrient recommendations for healthy people in the United States and Canada, based on age and gender. The DRIs include four types of recommendations:

  • Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are recommended levels of nutrients that meet the needs of almost all healthy individuals in specific age and gender groups. Consider this advice as your goals.
  • Adequate Intakes (Als) are similar in meaning to RDAs. They're used as guidelines for some nutrients that don't have enough scientific evidence to set firm RDAs.
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) aren't recommended amounts. In fact, there's no scientific consensus for recommending nutrient levels higher than the RDAs to most healthy people. Instead, ULs represent the maximum intake that probably won't pose risks for health problems for almost all healthy people in a specific age and gender group.
  • Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) is used to assess groups of people, not individuals.

For carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (all macronu-trients), which supply calories (energy), you might also see an Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR). That range not only reflects what's enough. It's also the amount linked to reduced chronic disease risk. Consuming more than the AMDR may increase the risks for certain chronic diseases and/or for coming up short on essential nutrients.

Groups of experts regularly review the DRIs, using the most current research evidence, and update the dietary recommendations. A listing of the DRIs appears in the Appendices.

How do you use the DRIs? For the most part, you don't need to add up the numbers; it takes considerable effort to calculate the nutrients in all your food choices, then make an assessment with DRIs. If you choose to do that, remember, however, that the rec-ommendations—RDAs and AIs—apply to your average nutrient intake over several days, not just one day and certainly not one meal.

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