What is Nutrition?
Optimum Nutrition or put simply Healthy Eating means giving your body the best possible intake of nutrients to allow it to be as healthy as possible and to work as well as it can.
Why is Nutrition /Healthy Heating Important?
· Provides the body with the necessary nutrients to carry out basic functions of the body
· Improve your clarity and concentration
· Increase your IQ
· Enhance your physical performance
· Improves your quality of sleep
· Increase your resistance to infection
· Protect you from Disease
· Slows down the ageing process
· More than halves your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and arthritis
· Reduce obesity and manage normal weight
Knowing what you are eating?
Every morsel of food provides dozen of active ingredients that can promote or damage your health. The most important of these ingredients are the essential ones – the ones you need to survive and be healthy. These nutrients include:
· Essential Fats
Water, Carbohydrates, Protein and essential fats are classified as “macronutrients” because we need a lot of them. We need vitamins and minerals in relatively smaller amounts, so they are called the “micronutrients”.
Vitamins in Food
Although vitamins are needed in much smaller amounts than fat, protein or carbohydrate, they are no less important Vitamins balance hormones, produce energy, boost the immune system, make healthy skin, protect the arteries, and keep the brain and the nervous system (just about every part of the body) working well.
Minerals in Food
Minerals, like vitamins, are essential for just about every bodily process. Calcium, Magnesium and phosphorous help build our bones and teeth. Nerve signals (vital for communication between the brain and muscles) depend on calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Zinc is vital for all physical repair, renewal and development. Selenium and Zinc help boost the immune system.
Knowing what You’re Eating
Achieving an optimal intake of each vitamins and minerals is a big step in being healthy:
· Fruits and vegetables provide most of your vitamins and minerals (except vit D and B12)
· Meat, Fish, Eggs and dairy products provide vitamin D and B12, among other nutrients
· Dairy Products are good for calcium, but poor for other minerals
· Seeds and nuts are great sources of minerals (and essential fats)
· Processed and refined foods are low in nutrients – Understanding Clean and Lean
Another important element of your diet is fibre. Fibre isn’t classed as a nutrient, but it’s essential to keep your digestive system healthy and certain types of fibre can help to control your blood cholesterol levels.
Defining the Perfect Diet
You need to eat a range of foods to get all of the nutrients and fibre your body needs. The five main groups are:
Your body needs some fat to survive and function properly. Fat provides many essential functions such as supporting cell growth, providing the body of energy, maintaining body temperature, protecting organs, producing hormones and absorbing certain nutrients.
There are two main kinds: Saturated (hard) fat and unsaturated fat. Saturated fat is not essential – we should eat it in moderation. Saturated fat is typically solid at room temperature and occurs naturally in many foods but the majority come from mainly animal sources, including meat and dairy products, clear examples are fatty beef, lamb, pork, lard and cream, butter and cheese.
There are also two kinds of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats, high in olive oil; polyunsaturated fats, found in nut and seed oils and fish such as salmon/mackerel/pilchards. The optimal diet provides a balance of these essential fats, also known as Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. Pumpkin and flax seeds are rich in Omega 3 whilst sesame and sunflower seeds or even avocado are rich in Omega 6. These essential fats are easily damaged by heating a good example of that is Olive Oil.
Processed foods often contained hardened or hygdronated polyunsaturated fats these are unhealthy and best avoided. A surprising example of processed food is margarine – Did you know about the butter and margarine outdoor overnight experiment? Pre-packaged processed foods also usually have a long list of artificial ingredients and food additives such as: artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, Hydrogenated Oils.
Try to eat less fat overall but remember from above the type of fat is important try to replace foods that are high in saturated (bad) fats such as margarine, pastries and cheese with foods that are rich in unsaturated (good) fats, such as avocado and fish.
Protein is made out of amino acids which are the building blocks of the body. As well as being vital for growth and repair of body tissue, they are used to make hormones. Meat, fish and alternatives such as beans, pulse, eggs and nuts are all important non-dairy sources of protein. The best quality protein foods are eggs, quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah and is a grain that cooks like rice), soya, meat, fish, beans and lentils.
Animal protein sources tend to contain a lot of undesirable saturated fat and it is best to limit your meat intake to 3 times a week, occasionally replace with fish, free range eggs and beans/lentils/tofu. Many vegetables, especially seed foods like runner beans, peas and broccoli contain levels of protein. They also help to neutralise excess acidity which can lead to loss of minerals including calcium – hence the higher risk of osteoporosis among meat-eaters.
Carbohydrate is the body’s main fuel as starchy foods comes in two forms: fast-releasing (as in sugar, honey, malt, sweets and most refined food) and slow releasing (as in whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruit). The slow releasing carbohydrates contain more fibre, which helps slow down the release of sugar. Fast releasing carbohydrates are best avoided as constant eating of fast releasing can increased the rise health problems such as diabetes. Some fruits like bananas, dates and raisins contain faster releasing sugars are best kept to a minimum by people with glucose relate health problems.
Slow releasing carbohydrates – fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses and wholegrain should make up about 65% of your total calorie intake. Eating these kinds of foods in such quantities will also give you at least 25g of fibre which is an ideal daily intake. Fibre absorbs water in the digestive tract, making the food contents bulkier and easier to pass through the body and slowing absorption of sugar into the blood maintaining good energy levels. Where possible wholegrain or wholemeal varieties where possible and brown rice as these contain lots of fibre.
The Perfect Diet - What does that look like on your plate?
Well Balanced Diet
Based on the Eat Well Plate this would mean your day would look like:
I serving of essential fats – such as 1 heaped tablespoon for ground seeds or olive oil
3 servings of Protein – such as beans, lentils, quinoa, fish, tofu, seed vegetables or lean meat
4 servings of complex carbohydrate foods – whole grains such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, pasta, quinoa, oats and baked potatoes with skins on.
6 servings of fresh fruit, such as apples, pears, bananas (no more than one), berries, melons or citrus fruit and dark green, leafy root vegetables such as watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas and peppers.