Nutrition Labels: Understanding Percent Daily Value
Reading nutrition labels can feel overwhelming. Here is a quick tip to understanding a number called the percent daily value. Check out the % Daily Value on the right hand side of the label. This can help you compare products and decide on a healthy serving size. Use this guide: “5% or less is a little, 15% more is a lot”. You might see this written at the bottom of the nutrition label.
Nutrients that are good to have a lot of:
Vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C
Nutrients that are good to have a little of:
½ cup of chickpeas contains 2% of your daily fat. This is a little.
½ cup of steel cut oats contains 16% of your daily fibre. This is a lot.
1 cup of prepared chicken noodle soup contains 33% of your daily sodium. This is a lot.
Healthy Digestion Many people struggle with their digestive health every once in a while. You might experience occasional constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, or burping. Try some of the following strategies to help you stay regular.
Eat at regular times each day. Most people should aim for three meals and one to two snacks spaced evenly throughout the day. Try not to eat too late at night.
Avoid eating too much at one time.
Avoid eating too fast. Eating quickly can cause you to take in more air which can cause bloating. It can also cause you to eat too much and feel uncomfortably full.
Drink lots of water throughout the day. If you have diarrhea, you may benefit from limiting your caffeine intake.
Limit your intake of high fat foods. Eating too much fat at one time can cause cramping and diarrhea. Many people note these symptoms when they have “fast foods”. Other high fat foods include cheese, cream sauces, fried foods, gravies, and regular-fat meat products. When possible, choose lower fat foods such as low-fat dairy products, lean ground beef, and baked foods instead of fried foods.
Limit or avoid alcohol, as it can irritate the digestive tract.
Find a fibre intake that works for you. There are two main types of fibre:
Soluble fibre helps bowel movements “gel” together by drawing in extra water. Soluble fibre can help with constipation and diarrhea. Good sources of soluble fibre include: Metamucil, ground psyllium husk, and oats.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your bowel movements and can help with constipation. Good sources of insoluble fibre include: whole grain products, wheat bran, and many types of vegetables. If these foods make your digestive symptoms worse, choose foods with soluble fibre more often instead. If you've tried these tips and are still struggling with your digestive health, consider asking your health care provider for a referral to our dietitian.
Should I take probiotics? Probiotics are live forms of “good” bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. Taking probiotics is thought to replenish the “good” bacteria in your gut. However, we don’t have a way to know which type of bacteria each individual person needs, so you might be taking the wrong kind for your body. The evidence on probiotics is very mixed. Some people notice some improvement in their digestion, and others don’t.
Focus on prebiotic foods instead, which help feed the healthy gut bacteria you already have. Some prebiotic foods include: garlic, onion, asparagus, tomatoes, whole grains, chicory root, and fermented dairy products.