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Let’s Make Nutrition a Learning Must for Health Pros Says Top Dietitian

Gadewch i ni Wneud Maeth yn Rhan Hanfodol o Addysg Gweithwyr Iechyd



Doctors and Health Professionals should be taught more about nutrition and the dietary health benefits of multinutrient rich food such as Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, says one of Wales’ leading weight management experts.

“The nutritional value of lamb is impressive; it contains a range of beneficial nutrients including protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet,” specialist Dietitian Sioned Quirke told Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s virtual industry conference towards the end of last year.

“But one of the big battles that we as Dietitians have to fight is that the majority of health care professionals take their information from the media,” said Ms Quirke, who is a Dietetic Manager and Specialist Dietitian.

“Doctors, even in University, don’t get taught enough about nutrition – so we as a professional body are pushing for more nutrition to be included in the curriculum for all health professionals,” she said. “We can and need to be advocates of good nutrition and a healthy diet and speak to the public about it at every opportunity we get.

“And it’s my experience that people genuinely enjoy eating foods which they are worried about eating such as lamb and red meat as it has had so much negative attention in the press. We have good quality research that shows the nutritional benefits of lamb and red meat if consumed in line with the current dietary guidelines. For instance, when people come to clinic and I say “of course you can eat Welsh Lamb and Welsh red meat as part of a balanced diet!”  – then they are over the moon!” said Ms Quirke, who is also a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

The ‘You are what meat you eat’ conference session also featured Elwen Roberts, HCC’s Consumer Executive, who told the virtual audience that HCC has put together a suite of resources to help address the shortage of information for health care professionals.

“The point that Sioned has raised is very important. When we speak to health professionals, in particular practice nurses, what they say is that they don’t have a lot of information to give to patients and so we have created a vast area of resources on our HCC trade site,” she said.

Ms Quirke said it was really important “to be aware of portion sizes and that we have a balanced diet and ensure we get all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that we require.

“The eatwell guide shows us how to balance our diets. Our recommendation is to eat no more than 70 grams of red meat a day: this is approx. 500 grams over a course of a week and to help gauge that, a portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards,” she said.

Looking at the benefits of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef, Ms Quirke said

“Lamb contains a range of really beneficial nutrients including protein, healthy fats, omega 3, vitamins and minerals like B vitamins – particularly vitamin B12, Zinc and Iron.

“Fats may be branded as “evil” in the media and other places but they are absolutely essential to our diet,” she said. “Some vitamins, like A, D, E and K are fat soluble – they are carried in fat and could not be absorbed without it.”

She said that, compared to most meats, lamb, and especially grass-fed lamb like PGI Welsh Lamb, had a higher Omega-3 content. “Lamb is extremely rich in protein, and, depending on the cut, it contains anywhere between 25-30 grams per 100 grams which is a really high source.

“Zinc is important for immunity, fertility and reproduction, cognitive development, DNA synthesis, wound healing and bone metabolism and iron is a mineral that has many different roles in the body. When people are trying to increase their iron intake, we try to encourage them to eat red meat” said Ms Quirke.