Health Advice



Quinn on Nutrition: Clearing up readers' confusion

Barbara Quinn, Monterey Herald on

Published in Nutrition

Reader Pat L. From Mt. Vernon, Washington, writes: “In today's paper there were two nutrition columns, yours included, that both said babies should receive nothing but breast milk for their first 6 months. But yours went on to say, ‘Studies show that gradually introducing (potentially allergenic) foods along with other new foods when baby is 4 to 6 months old can actually reduce the risk for developing allergies.’ You can see the reason for my confusion.”

I certainly can. And that’s because babies — like people — are individuals. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, human milk alone is the ideal form of nutrition from birth through about age 6 months of age. At 6 months, most babies are developmentally ready to begin solid foods. That means baby can control his head and neck movements, sits up alone or with support, is beginning to grasp objects (such as small pieces of food) and bring them to his mouth, and can swallow food rather than pushing it out onto his chin.

Some infants reach this stage before 6 months. Yet it’s not recommended to begin other foods before 4 months of age. Thus the advice to begin solids when baby shows signs of being ready for more than just milk — usually at 6 months but not any earlier than 4 months of age.

Frank D. from Indiana writes this: “I have a question on net carbs. I discovered a new bread called Live Carb Smart manufactured by Aunt Millie's Bakery in Ft. Wayne that states on the label 40 calories per slice and 12 grams of carbs.

“The label also states dietary fiber 10 grams, soluble fiber 1g, insoluble fiber 8g and total sugar 1g. They further state the actual carbs absorbed by the body is only 1g.

“Is this saying I could eat 2 slices and only count 2g of carbs and 80 calories or just hype? It’s the best low carb bread I ever ate.”


Dear Frank,

It is confusing, especially since there is no official definition of “net carbs” by the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees food labeling in the United States.

Here’s my take: The 12 grams of total carbs in one slice of this bread is the sum total of all the sugar, starch and dietary fibers it contains. Of that, 10 grams are in the form of fiber, which includes soluble and insoluble types. The body does not digest dietary fiber, so when you subtract that from the total carbs, there are 2 grams remaining — 1 of which is sugar.

Why does the label say only 1 “net carb” instead of 2? The answer may lie in the ingredients, which lists resistant tapioca starch as the second ingredient. Resistant starch is similar to dietary fiber since it resists being digested by the body. So whether it’s 1 or 2 grams per slice that is absorbed, you still have a very low carb bread.

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