The benefits of eating a healthy diet
It is a commonly heard saying: You are what you eat. You are healthy if you eat healthy and vice versa. A healthy diet enables you to maintain a good body structure and weight. It also prevents many common non-communicable diseases that may be caused by malnutrition. Eating healthy allows one to improve both physical and mental health by providing energy and boosting mood.
While looking for tips for a healthy diet, you may have come across a term called “balanced diet.” A balanced diet by definition is a diet that contains all essential nutrients in appropriate quantities required for body function. It involves dividing different nutrients into suitable amounts to provide you a guide for consuming each type in your daily diet. Calories are the symbol of the energy content of the food. You get your energy content from foods and then utilize it through physical activities. The caloric requirements differ according to sex, age, and physical activity.
Depending upon the calories, our diet is divided into two categories of foods. These include nutritious and non-nutritious foods. For consuming a healthy diet, you require food items that are rich in calories or nutritious and avoid or limit the consumption of non-nutritious foods. Such foods do not fulfill our energy requirements and allow us to eat more. Some examples include Sugar, butter, cookies, cakes, energy drinks, Ice cream, pizza, etc.
SOME IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS
The essential nutrients required by the human body are classified broadly as macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, while vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. The sources and functions of each of them are described below.
Proteins are nutrients essentially required for building the body structure. Some essential sources include animal and plant proteins. Red meat such as beef and mutton, poultry like chicken and turkey, and fish are essential animal protein sources. Nuts, beans, and soy products, including lentils, beans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pea, are important plant-rich protein foods.
Carbohydrates include two introductory classes: Complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes, while simple carbohydrates have sugary products. Carbohydrates provide instant energy, which is described in terms of the glycemic index, which is the measure of blood glucose that is raised after consumption. Simple carbohydrates have a high glycemic index, while starchy foods have a low index. These are also high in their fiber content. A balanced diet should include more complex and less simple carbohydrates.
To sustain a healthy diet, you need to consume the right type and amount of fat. There is both good and bad fat. Healthy fats include vegetable, olive, and fish oils and food containing healthy unsaturated fats. Harmful fats that raise cholesterol levels include butter cheese, heavy creams, and processed foods like donuts.
Vitamins and Minerals
Fruits and vegetables are essential nutrients that should be a part of the daily diet. These are rich in both vitamins and minerals. Fresh and seasonal fruits are a source of nutritious foods that are also rich in fiber. Fresh and green vegetables used as a fresh source like salads, as a side dish, provide adequate vitamins and minerals. Juices and smoothies provide an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
TIPS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY DIET
Some beneficial recommendations for the maintenance of a healthy diet are described below:
Breastfeed babies and young children
The first diet of every human is breast milk. It is both nutritious and nourishing for the baby as it contains the right amount of proteins, fats, and energy for the newborn baby. Breast milk intake for the first four to six months and beyond protects from childhood and adult obesity.
Eat fewer fats
Limiting the consumption of bad fats and substituting them with good fats helps maintain a healthy body.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
All fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and essential minerals required by the body. Our daily diet should contain at least one portion of fruits and vegetables. These provide additional benefits, mostly if consumed in raw forms.
Drink an adequate amount of water
A healthy diet includes drinking an adequate amount of water. Being hydrated keeps us fresh. Water constitutes about 60% of our body weight. It is suggested that adults should drink at least 8-10 glasses per day. The requirements may vary according to seasons and physical activities as well.
Limit sugar intake
Although carbohydrates are instant suppliers of energy, they significantly increase blood glucose levels. High consumption of sugars disturbs the body’s physiology. Substituting fresh fruits and juices instead of eating simple carbohydrates is a good option.
Reduce salt intake
High salts increase the water content of the blood and eventually leads to hypertension or high blood pressure. It may also cause stroke and heart complications. Limiting the sodium content in the daily diet helps maintenance of blood pressure.
BENEFITS OF EATING A HEALTHY DIET
The benefits of a healthy diet are not only limited to the maintenance of a healthy weight, but there are multiple other additional benefits as well. Some of them are listed below:
Preventive measures for preventable diseases like diabetes type two, hypertension, stroke and heart diseases, osteoporosis, and some cancers are
Lower cholesterol levels
Reduce blood pressure
Improve physical fitness
Increased energy levels
Improve immunity and ability to fight infections.
A healthy body requires a healthy diet. Sound knowledge of different foods and their specific functions helps one design their diet plans while getting proper guidance. A healthy body ensures good physical and mental well-being.