Nutrition: The foundation of a Healthy Lifestyle
Lifestyle refers to all those actions, behaviors and attitudes carried out in your daily life, which define your state of health. It is the basis of their quality of life and the perfect start to prevent and combat many diseases.
The core of a healthy lifestyle lies in proper nourishment and nutrition. Although there is more information about eating and being overweight, the penchant for junk food, excesses and diseases caused by poor nutrition are present in many people’s lives.
While nourishment refers to the liquid or solid substances’ ingestion, nutrition is the process by which our body transforms those substances into components that make our organism function, in other words, into a nutrient.
These nutrients provide the energy needed to keep your body functioning and be able to cope with daily activities.
To be healthy and maintain optimal performance every day is necessary to follow a healthy and balanced eating plan. You can achieve this by combining food effectively to ingest the necessary nutrients according to age, sex, and level of physical activity.
Researchers directly relate many diseases to poor nutrition, such as obesity, cardiovascular disorders, cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, and type II diabetes.
What types of nutrients do you need?
Our bodies need different types of nutrients, and in specific amounts, to function properly. The basic nutrients we need are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and one of the most important: water. Nutritionists divide them into two main groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.
The body demands these nutrients in large quantities for the proper functioning of organs and systems. It is very important to have a higher consumption of these foods to avoid health problems. However, you must balance your consumption. You should consume these macronutrients:
These are the fuel of the body as they are foods in charge of giving energy. These definitely cannot lack in a balanced diet. Nutritionists recommend consuming them in greater quantity to perform in the different daily activities. A good physical nutrition will help you to have a mind in an optimal state.
Some examples of carbohydrates are:
- Fruits and vegetables: Certified nutrition experts recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That sounds like a lot, but in reality, it is only about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables.
- Cereals: they contain vitamins B1, B2, B12, and E, as well as folic acid. It is preferable to consume whole grains as they lose many properties during the refining process. They also contain complex carbohydrates, such as starch, which when metabolized by the body release a good part of the energy that the body needs when carrying out both physical and mental activities, without altering the glucose index in the blood, so they also help regulate the level of blood sugar and maintain the balance of these processes.
They are essential for building muscles, keeping them strong and repairing tissues. It is necessary to consume them, especially if you practice any physical activity. In addition, they are necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the nervous system.
You can find proteins in:
- Meat and beans
Meat is a good source of protein and fatty acids, which are necessary for energy and health. Red meat also contains iron, which is especially important for women. However, meat also has large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, and a 2006 study found that eating more than 1 1/2 servings of red meat per day might increase the risk of many diseases.
American guidelines recommend 5 1/2 ounces of meat (defined as chicken and fish) per day or meat substitutes (vegetable protein products) or beans if you prefer not to eat meat. If you eat meat, poultry or fish, try to choose lean cuts and opt for chicken or fish most of the time. If you do not eat meat, you may need to add nuts, seeds, or beans to your diet to make sure you get enough iron and protein.
- Milk and dairy products
One of the main sources of protein during initial growth (from birth to two years) is milk. Although we can find benefits in its derivatives, they will never be the same. It is important to learn to discriminate the fat content of some of its derivatives such as cheeses, to maintain a limited consumption.
Fats are necessary to maintain a good diet and for our survival. Stored fats are our main energy source, keeping our joints lubricated and body heat. The American guides recommend getting only 35% of daily calories through fat.
There are three main types of fats:
- Saturated fats are the “bad” fats that raise cholesterol values. You can find these fats in animal products, such as whole milk, cheese, ice cream, fatty foods, and some vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut oils. Saturated fats also include trans fats, present in hydrogenated vegetable fat, such as margarine.
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the “good” fats that help lower LDL cholesterol. We find these types of fats in fish, vegetable foods such as vegetables, nuts, and grains, and oils made from these nuts and grains (canola, corn, and soybeans).
Our body requires other substances in smaller quantities, which are also necessary for our proper functioning. Nutritionists call them micronutrients, fundamental elements for the organism. Among them:
- Vitamins and minerals
We find these in small amounts in different types of foods, although the body itself may produce some. It is preferable to eat whole foods to ingest vitamins and minerals directly, rather than consuming them in isolation, as with vitamin supplements.
The vitamins we require are A, complex B, C, D, E, K.
Both vitamins and minerals are necessary to synthesize macronutrients and help us maintain balanced health. Some of the minerals we consume include sodium, potassium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iodine, Zinc, Magnesium, and Fluorine.
- What about the water?
Although it does not provide sugars, fats or amino acids that form proteins, it provides some minerals and the hydration that the body needs to survive. Drinking water is essential for good health. It also helps to cleanse the body of toxins. To find out how much you need to drink, multiply your weight by 0.66 and you will get the number of ounces of water your body needs each day.
Remember: We are what we eat
We eat almost 132,000 pounds of food in a lifetime. How we choose those pounds depends on our life, health, illness, and even mood.
Lengthen and improve your quality of life. Adapt to a healthy way of living, the benefits and reasons are countless. Your body counts on you.