What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is defined as nourishment or energy that is obtained from consuming foods in healthy quantities. Unfortunately, for many of us, proper nutrition is far from what we get from our daily diet. Eating healthy, ‘nutritious’ foods is important for continued health.
We are obsessed with junk food, processed food that comes from a box and many of us eat little or worse yet no whole, real foods that provides the body with the proper nutrition that it needs.
The term ‘proper nutrition’ is often misunderstood and many people don’t fully understand how to implement into their daily lives. Nutrition isn’t just about taking vitamin supplements or seeing a professional nutritionist, so this this article is going to break down exactly what proper nutrition means.
The World Health Organization defines proper nutrition as an adequate, well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity and that poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.
According to the World Health Organization, there are five key points to defining a proper, well-balanced diet for an adult.
1. The main part of a healthy diet is the presence of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. It is important to get 5 portions or 400g of fruits and vegetables a day.
- It is essential to get a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and make sure you get as many ‘different colored ones’ as possible.
- Some examples of legumes are lentils and beans.
- Whole grains include whole wheat, steel cut oats, millet, oats and brown rice.
2. Potatoes and starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables, they are in fact starches, like grains and should be limited.
3. Less than 10% of your total daily calories from simple sugars, ideally this amount should be less than 5%. This is equivalent to about 12 level teaspoons for a 2000 calorie a day diet. Simple sugars, include table sugar, sugar found in fruit, added to processed foods and found in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
4. Less than 30% of total calorie intake should be from fats.
- Most of your fats should be the healthy fats, the unsaturated fats, such as those found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, olive and canola oils, which are preferable over saturated fats, such as those found in fatty meat, butter, cream, ghee, lard, cheese, and palm and coconut oil.
- The American Heart Association advises 7% or less of total daily calories come from saturated fats, which are found in meat, chicken, butter and tropical oils.
- Trans fats found in processed foods, fried foods, snack foods, fast foods, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarine, and spreads are not part of a healthy diet and should be limited to 1% or less of daily caloric intake.
5. You should be consuming less than 1 teaspoon, or 5g, of salt per day.
- Iodized salt is the healthier option.
In order to maintain proper nutrition, there are some principles that you need to apply in addition to the ones above from the World Health Organization.
- Do not completely eliminate any type of food from your diet. Instead, incorporate all foods into your diet and don’t over-indulge in any one food type.
- Limit your saturated fats, starch, and sugars, but generously include lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and good fats into your diet.
- Consume as much of your food as you can in its raw or original form.
- Minimize your intake of processed foods and junk foods. These typically offer no nutritional value and are much higher in calories than the natural choices.
- Replace your juice with raw fruit and avoid sodas.
- Vitamins, enzymes, and fiber are best consumed in the form of raw fruits and vegetables.
- Consume six smaller portioned meals in a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, two daytime snacks, and one small pre-bed snack will help you feel full and avoid binge eating.
- Drink lots of water every day, the general recommendation is to consume at least eight to ten glasses a day.
Why Is Proper Nutrition Important?
To survive we need essential vitamins and minerals for our body processes, such as making our heart beat, making our lungs take in oxygen…all these body functions work best if the right nutrition is received!
Eating a balanced diet is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live, grow and function properly. We need a wide variety of different foods to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health. Source
It is really simple to get proper nutrition, make sure you eat a wide range of fresh, whole foods! Fresh meats, vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy will allow you to get all the various nutrients these foods provide. So, walk around the outside aisles of your supermarket and buy the fresh foods.
Leave the center aisles alone, as they are filled with pre-packaged foods and only fill your plate with nature’s goodness and you will soon see and feel a marked difference in your energy levels, health and weight.
Foods are made up of 6 classes of nutrients. These nutrients are macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and water. If you neglect to have the right combination of these 6 items, it will be very difficult to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve your weight loss goals! Source
- Protein – Protein is essential for muscle growth and health.
- Carbohydrates – Carbohydrate foods provide energy.
- Fats – We need healthy fats to survive and fats are stored as energy.
- Vitamins – Many vitamins are obtained from foods and often require supplementation.
- Minerals – Most of us are lacking the vital minerals we need for health.
- Water – Drink plenty of water, none of us can live without it, and if we don’t get enough, problems arise!
You should now have a better understanding of what proper nutrition is and how to best incorporate it into your life for optimum health.
By following the tips above, your body will be healthier which will lead to you having more energy. Ensuring your body is receiving the nutrition it needs may seem like it takes a little bit of work if you’re used to fast foods and pre-packaged ones, but it is definitely worth taking the time and effort!