Our health is our greatest possession. If we neglect it, we do so at our own peril so, why throw it away through ignorance. Unfortunately, many people never worry about their health until they are in danger of losing it. Then, they are willing to spend small fortunes trying to win back their lost figures or restore the good health they once had. Healthy eating requires a combination of different foods to keep the body in good working order.
Today, it is not easy to have a healthy diet with so many processed foods loaded with fat and sugar. Foods that are highly refined, high in fats or sugar are usually devoid of some of the most important nutrients needed by the body to maintain good health. The human digestive system was never intended to sustain this kind of abuse. Gradually, this kind of diet may leave us weakened and vulnerable to health problems and, also contribute to premature old age and a shortened life.
To function, the body must have nutrients we supply from the food we eat. While diet alone is not the answer to all health problems, healthy eating through a well-balanced diet will provide a constant stream of essential nutrients to keep the body functioning efficiently and in good working order. The more variety you have in your diet, the less you are likely to suffer from some dietary deficiency.
The Essential Nutrients
There are six essential nutrients that your body needs to keep it healthy and strong and all the organs working at full capacity. They are water, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Unless these materials are present in our daily diet, we are likely to suffer from some deficiency and, sooner or later we will find ourselves in trouble.
Water is the body’s most important nutrient as it is involved in every bodily function. Every cell in your body needs water to live, it is essential for the digestion of food, transporting nutrients and oxygen and flushing toxins from your body and, maintaining body temperature. An average person needs 6-8 glasses of water a day in order to function at an optimum level.
Made up of amino acids essential for building, maintaining and repairing muscle tissue, regulating body functions and providing energy. The richest sources of protein are animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs. However, plant proteins such as beans (especially soybean), lentils, nuts and seeds are healthier because of their lower fat content. To get the most benefit, vary your protein sources so you get the full range of amino acids.
Starches and sugars are carbohydrates, the main source of the body’s energy. Simple sugars provide energy (calories) but no nutrients for that reason they are called “empty calorie” foods.
Complex sugars (carbohydrate) are better than simple sugars. Because it takes the sugar a lot longer to break down, they are released at a slower level therefore, your energy levels last a lot longer. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables are your best low-calorie sources of complex carbohydrates. Other sources include wholegrain breads, oats, muesli, brown rice, potatoes and pasta.
Most foods contain several different kinds of fats including saturated, trans fatty acids, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats Too much fat in the diet can lead to obesity, heart disease and strokes.
Saturated Fats are almost always found in foods that also contain cholesterol and, usually, of animal origin such as meat, dairy products and eggs. A diet rich in saturated fats can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, causing arteries to clog which in turn can cause strokes and heart disease.
Trans Fats are used in the food industry to prolong shelf life. They are found in many commercially fried foods, packaged snacks, high-fat baked goods and, any product where the label says “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” which involves most processed foods. Today, we are eating far more of these bad fats than we should.
Polyunsaturated fats can be found in salmon, fish oil and, safflower and sunflower oils. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids may be especially beneficial for the heart and for lowering blood pressure levels.
Monounsaturated fats are considered the healthiest fats helping to lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease. Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola, avocado, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews and pistachios.
Vitamins And Minerals
Your body needs a combination of vitamins and minerals essential for the maintenance of good health and the prevention of many diseases. Vitamins are divided into two groups:water-soluble (B complex and C) and fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K). Minerals can be classified as major (those we need more than 100 mg a day) and minor (trace minerals) those we need less than 100 mg a day. Both major and minor minerals are needed for good health. There is no substitute for eating healthy. People who endeavour to eat healthy and, follow a balanced diet will feel the benefits of good health all their lives.
Caution:Always consult with your doctor or a qualified health professional before undertaking any program of exercise or change in diet!