Healthy eating guidelines are intended to encourage a nutritional and sound eating plan. A well-balanced diet improves your overall health by reducing the risk of serious health ailments such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes just to name a few.
The real truth of the matter of healthy eating does not mean depriving you of your favorite meals. In fact, it means quite the opposite.
Vitamins, minerals, and water, as well as protein, fats, and carbohydrates, are nutrients our body needs. Protein, fats, and carbohydrates provide the calories necessary for our body to function properly. In simplest terms, calories are equivalent to fuel for a car. They are the fuel our body needs in order to run. A certain amount of calories are required to keep the body working efficiently and effectively. Consuming more calories than your body requires however will be stored as fat.
Unfortunately, many of us are not familiar or perhaps confused as to what is considered a well-balanced diet. Healthy eating plans consist of the following nutrients:
Our daily requirements for a well-balanced diet consisting of 10 – 30% of protein-rich foods such as fish, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, beans, and nuts. Our body requires protein to build, maintain and repair tissues in the body such as muscle, internal organs and skin and is also necessary for our immune system.
Protein is composed of 22 amino acids which are necessary for our body to stay healthy. Fortunately, the body produces 14 types of amino acids and the other 8 we must get from food. The best protein-rich food comes from animal sources therefore if you are a vegetarian it is very important that you eat a variety of good protein sources from plants.
Believe it or not, you do need some fat in your diet. About 30% of your caloric intake in a day should be made up of fats. Unfortunately, this is the one area most of us aren’t
lacking in, we eat too much fat. Foods high in saturated fat and trans fats should be avoided as these can lead to many health problems.
The primary source of energy for the cells in the body is glucose which is a sugar. Carbohydrates are where body get our fuel which is in the form of glucose. Carbohydrates should make up about 60% of your daily caloric intake. So as you can see, carbohydrates should be the bulk of your calories. Keep in mind however it is important that you consume the right kind of carbohydrates. Good sources of carbohydrates are fruits, veggies, whole grain foods, and legumes. The occasional sweet is okay, but shouldn’t be your primary source.
Vitamins are essential for many chemical reactions that exist in the body. Generally speaking, the body does not produce vitamins and for that reason, we need to obtain them through the food we eat. In many cases, taking daily vitamin supplements assure proper nutrition.
Vitamins are categorized into fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are absorbed with fats from the intestine into the blood and then stored in fatty tissue. They are not generally excreted in the urine thus consuming large amounts of them are not necessary.
The water-soluble vitamins are C, B12 and the family of the B complex. These vitamins are stored in the body for a short period of time and are quickly excreted in the urine. Consequently, we need to make certain our diet is high in vitamin C and B vitamins in order to meet the requirements of the body.
At least 13 minerals are essential to health. Important among them are potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Such as iron, zinc, and copper, are needed in only small amounts. Minerals such as iron, potassium, and calcium are absolutely vital for healthy living and should be consumed daily. Most people obtain adequate amounts of minerals from their diet but if not, a good vitamin containing minerals should be sufficient.
The benefits of drinking water and maintaining the proper amount of body fluid is essential in supporting many of our bodily functions such as digestion, nutrient transportation, body temperature, and circulation to name a few. About 65% of our body is primarily water. Drinking eight glasses of water daily is the simplest way of assuring your body is receiving an adequate amount of water for a healthy body.
Recognizing unhealthy eating habits is foremost in managing your eating behavior. Once you realize these unhealthy tendencies you can make a conscious effort to modify them and implement a healthy eating plan into your daily life. The importance of good nutrition is imperative for your health today as well as the years to come.