Good nutrition is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet can protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as many noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can help to prevent chronic diseases, boost energy levels, and support mental and emotional well-being. A balanced diet is one that includes the right combination of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein. M
Many people find it difficult or confusing to figure out what they should actually eat to optimize health. Here are 7 basic principles of nutrition to follow –
- Eat a variety of whole foods – Whole foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the body requires to function properly. A healthy diet needs to include a combination of different whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats.
- Limit processed and packaged foods – Processed and packaged foods are foods that contain ingredients that are significantly modified from their original form. These foods are often high in additives like added sugar, highly refined oil, salt, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colours and unhealthy fats, which can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It is important to check food labels, reduce intake of refined foods and focus on whole foods.
- Focus on portion control – Overeating can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Control portion sizes by using a smaller plate, eating slowly, and paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues.
- Avoid sugary drinks – According to reports, dietary sugar, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Sugary sodas, fruit juice, and sports drinks can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. Drink water or unsweetened beverages instead.
- Remain hydrated – According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking enough water every day is good for overall health and can help manage body weight. It can also prevent dehydration, which can be a particular risk for older adults. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, and more if you are physically active or in hot weather.
- Balance your macronutrients – A balanced diet is one that includes a combination of macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Aim to include a source of each of these macronutrients in each meal. Carbohydrates provide energy and proteins that support muscle growth and help to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.
- Choose healthy fats – Not all fats are created equal. Limit your intake of unhealthy fats such as those found in fried foods, processed meats, and high-fat dairy products. Eat healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish.
Good nutrition is an essential element of health and wellbeing. However, it can be hard to fully change your eating habits. Start by making small changes to your diet and replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones.