For any diet to be considered healthy, it should incorporate all of the nutritional components needed to sustain life. Any diet which excludes any one of the following elements cannot be a good long-term nutrition solution.
Here are the six simple things every healthy diet MUST include:
Protein is found in its most concentrated form in meat, fish, eggs, nuts and dairy products.
Protein is broken down in the digestive process into individual amino acids. These are used for various processes including muscle growth and tissue repair as well as hormone creation. It can also be used as a source of energy by the body if excess protein is consumed. The recommended daily protein intake ranges from 60g to 150g depending on various factors.
Great sources of protein?
Two good sources of protein which are not commonly thought of are quinoa (a grain which contains 8g protein per cup cooked) and soy beans (22g per 100g cooked). These are both also suitable for vegetarians, who sometimes struggle to get the required amount of protein for optimum health.
Although the word ‘fat’ has a negative connotation in society today, only certain dietary fats (also called ‘lipids’) are unhealthy. Many fats are actually required by the body for optimum health.
The three types of fats are: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. All three have important functions in the body. These include hormone synthesis, good mental health and immune system support.
What fat must you avoid?
The one type of fat to avoid is called ‘trans fat’. This is an unsaturated fat which is hydrogenated – yes, it actually has hydrogen passed through it – in order for it to be able to solidify at room temperature. This type of fat is most commonly found in ‘low fat’ spreads and any product which has the word ‘hydrogenated’ on the ingredient list.
Great sources of healthy fats?
The best foods to get your essential fats from are cold-pressed olive oil, nuts, and oily fish such as salmon.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. They are also used as a building block of the nucleic acids that form our DNA.
Due to a number of currently popular fad diets carbohydrates are considered evil by many people.
The honest truth – the only truth confirmed by science – is that carbohydrates are a necessary component of a balanced diet.
How to ensure a healthy carb intake?
A good rule for carbohydrate control is to get the majority of your carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits, and restrict the number and size of portions of starchy carbohydrates that you eat.
Some good sources of carbohydrates are bananas, oats, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamins make up half of the nutrition partnership that we call ‘micronutrients’. These are organic chemicals contained in the foods we eat which assist with various bodily functions such as metabolism of macronutrients and the building of body tissue, bones and blood.
The main vitamins needed by the body are iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, copper, boron, manganese and chromium.
Great source of vitamins?
The best way to get all of these vitamins is by eating a varied diet primarily consisting of natural foods. If you are unable to do this a daily multivitamin tablet can be used as a supplement.
Minerals are the other half of the micronutrient partnership. Minerals are also chemicals, however: where vitamins are organic or natural, minerals are inorganic. This means that minerals do not occur naturally within the foods that we find them in. For example, a plant may contain a certain mineral due to its contact with the soil in which it was planted.
Minerals which are required from a healthy diet are sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, cobalt, chlorine, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, fluorine and chromium.
Great source of minerals?
A varied diet of natural foods should ensure good mineral intake. Most multivitamin supplements also contain minerals.
Proper hydration is possibly the most important component of a healthy diet. If you stopped eating, you could survive for up to a month, but you’d be lucky to stay alive for five days without water.
Your brain is 95% water, blood is 82% water, and your lungs are 90% water. Even a 2% drop in hydration causes your brain to shrink slightly.
Proper hydration is important for healthy skin, joints, teeth, bones, muscle function, brain function, digestion and concentration.
How much water should I drink per day?
You should be drinking at least two litres of non-alcoholic (and preferably unsweetened) liquids per day. That’s around eight cups. You can count tea and coffee towards this goal, but remember if you are using milk and sugar that those calories count too.
What action can you take right now?
If you feel like you could use some help achieving balance in your relationship with food take a look at www.atwnutrition.com. We offer tailor-made coaching that will help you achieve your optimum health and best body.