Every country in the world is affected by malnourishment, and millions of people, including over 100 million children, are struggling as a result of consuming a nutrient-poor diet. Even when people are overweight, they still might not be consuming appropriate numbers of certain nutrients.
If you’re concerned about your health and well-being, keep reading to learn more about the importance of food quality and good nutrition. You’ll also gain insight into the most important nutrients you ought to ensure you’re consuming regularly.
Why Healthy Eating Matters
As any nutritionist will tell you that healthy eating is essential regardless of your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, be stronger, or simply feel your best, a healthy diet plays a significant role in helping you to make those things happen.
A balanced way of eating is particularly important to your physical health. For example, people who have unhealthy eating habits are more likely to be overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese, in turn, increases your chances of developing several health conditions, including the following:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
Remember, it’s not only overweight or obese people who should care about nutrition. Even if you’re not part of this group, improving your diet can still help to reduce your chances of developing chronic health conditions.
Healthy Eating: The Basics
At first, the idea of eating healthfully might seem confusing. You don’t have to become a nutrition expert overnight, though, and learning the basics can get you pretty far.
An excellent place to start is with the 4 food groups and 6 types of nutrients your body needs to thrive:
Four Food Groups
When deciding which kinds of foods to consume, it helps to begin by thinking about the 4 food groups. Food can be divided into these 4 categories:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- Grains and cereals
When constructing your plate, consider whether a portion of food from each of these categories is present. By checking these boxes, you can easily start eating a healthier and more nourishing diet.
Six Types of Nutrients
If you want to dive a little deeper, let’s take a look at the 6 types of nutrition that we need to consider to feel our best:
Protein is an essential macronutrient (meaning we need to consume it in significant quantities). It is comprised of amino acids and plays an important role in building and maintaining muscle. Protein is also found in every cell of the body, including the cells of our skin, hair, and bones.
Meat, fish, and poultry are all well-known sources of protein. You can also get it from eggs, some dairy products (such as Greek yoghurt), and plant-based foods like legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, etc.).
Carbohydrates (or carbs) are another macronutrient. They play an important role in providing our bodies with the energy we need for exercise and daily life. They also fuel our nervous system and brain.
Some healthy sources of carbohydrates include whole-grain bread and pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams. You can also get carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Fat is the third macronutrient that our bodies need to function properly. Fat has been demonized for a long time, but it’s actually essential. Our brains are comprised mainly of fat, and we need it to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, as well as to build cells and promote proper blood clotting.
Many animal-based protein sources (such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs) and dairy products (milk, butter, etc.) contain fat, but you can get it from a variety of plant-based sources. This includes avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil. Many nuts are also high in healthy fats.
Vitamins are micronutrients, nutrients that the body needs in smaller amounts to function properly.
There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs, including vitamin A, B vitamins (there are eight of them), vitamin C, and vitamin D. These vitamins ward off illnesses and promote healthy skin, eyes, and bones.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins in your diet is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Minerals are also micronutrients. They help to build strong bones, regulate the metabolism, promote proper hydration, and maintain healthy blood pressure.
Some essential minerals that the body needs are zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium. You can find these minerals in a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as in dairy products and certain animal-based protein sources (chicken, beef, etc.).
Finally, don’t forget about water. Water is essential to our survival. Without enough of it, you might experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, dry skin, and a variety of other health issues.
Make sure you’re drinking about 1.2 litres of water (between six and eight glasses) per day.
Simple Tips to Improve Your Diet
You have a better understanding of the different types of nutrition and the importance of eating a balanced diet. However, you might be wondering how you can implement positive changes into your current way of eating. How do you eat more healthfully and create habits that stick?
Outlined below are some simple strategies you can start using today to improve your diet:
- Make sure each meal contains a serving of protein, fat, and carbohydrates
- Focus on whole grains (whole wheat bread and pasta, rice, etc.) for your carbohydrates instead of processed carbohydrates (chips, crackers, cookies, etc.)
- Focus on healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts
- Add a serving of fruit or vegetables to each meal
- Drink a glass of water before each meal
Remember, too, that it’s okay to start small. Make one change today and try to stick with it for a week or so before you add in another one.
Start Improving Your Nutrition Today
Now that you know more about the importance of nutrition, diet, and food quality, are you ready to start making some changes to the way you eat?
Keep the tips outlined above in mind and you’ll a much easier time creating a balanced diet food list and figuring out how to level up your nutrition. Check out some of our other diet and nutrition articles, too, if you want to learn more.