Do you follow a particular diet?
Are you conscious about your weight?
Do you take any special efforts to eat healthy?
Do you eat as per your body’s needs?
Good nutrition is one of the key to living a healthy life. You can improve your health by keeping a balanced diet. You must eat a variety of foods that contain vitamins and minerals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and a source of protein. Your meal must be planned as per your age as well as your nature of work. Do not fall for fad or short-term diets that look tempting. They may promise to help you lose weight fast. However they may be unhealthy in the long run. A good and balanced diet improves the quality of life and helps prevent illnesses. Let us look at the various aspects of nutrition as we celebrate National Nutrition week from 1st to 7th September.
Benefits of good Nutrition:
Here are a few ways how a good diet affects your body positively:
1. Weight loss
Losing weight can help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions. Obesity highly increases your risk of developing several conditions, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis.
2. Diabetes management
Eating a healthy diet can help a person with diabetes lose weight, manage blood sugar levels, manage blood pressure levels, prevent or delay the complications of diabetes.
3. Cardiac health and stroke prevention
A majority of premature heart disease and stroke cases can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as increasing levels of physical activity and eating healthfully. If a person eliminates trans fats from the diet, this will reduce their levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This type of cholesterol causes plaque to collect within the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
4. Strong bones and teeth
A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy is vital in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis later in life. Few sources of calcium rich foods are dairy, legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, bananas, etc.
5. Better mood
Research suggests that a diet with a high glycemic load may cause increased symptoms of depression and fatigue. Avoid foods made of refined carbohydrates like cakes, white bread, and biscuits which have a high glycemic index. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycemic load.
6. Improved memory
A healthy diet may help prevent dementia and cognitive decline. Adequate intake of foods with vitamin D, C, E, omega 3 fatty acids, flavonoids and polyphenols helps boost your brain functions.
7. Improved digestive health
The colon is full of naturally occurring bacteria, which play important roles in metabolism and digestion and help fight harmful bacteria and viruses. A diet low in fiber and high in sugar and fat hampers this process. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains helps good bacteria to thrive in the colon.
Common Nutrition Myths:
- Carbohydrates make you fat.
This depends on the quality of carbohydrates consumed that either leads to fat gain or fat loss. Simple carbohydrates like sugar, fruit juices, maida lead to fat gain, whereas complex carbohydrates like whole grains and cereals, whole fruits lead to sustained energy levels and fat loss.
- Too much protein causes hair fall.
This is not true. Eating a protein-rich diet prevents deficiencies and reduces hair fall.
- Dal is a complete protein
Protein required by our bodies for muscle and tissue repair is made of 22 amino acids. Animal-based proteins such as eggs and lean meat provide all these, whereas dal lacks in one of the amino acids and therefore must be combined with another cereal in order to make a complete protein.
- Diets don’t work!
Diets work when they suit your metabolism and lifestyle. Poorly designed weight loss programs are ineffective. Tailor made nutritional plans created by qualified health professionals are effective.
- Too much protein can cause liver damage.
No, metabolizing protein is a natural work of the liver. Only with a liver problem, one needs to restrict protein.
- Eliminating dairy products leads to weight loss.
Excluding whole dairy products rich in saturated fats leads to fat loss. One can include low fat dairy products in a fat loss program. Excluding dairy completely is not recommended as it may lead to a calcium deficiency.
- Thirst is an indication to drink water!
Thirst is an indicator of dehydration. Drink water regularly throughout the day. A dehydrated body compromises on performance and cannot burn fat nor build muscle.
Common nutrition myths for children:
- Frequent eating will make them healthy
This is not true. Frequent eating will not advance your child’s growth and development. The fact is that healthy eating habits like fixed time of having meals, eating according to the appetite, healthy snacking and a balanced diet are the growth determinants. Frequent snacking and overeating can result in health issues like obesity, diabetes etc. later in life.
- Fruit Juice is healthy
Always choose whole fruits over juices. Fibre is extremely important for a healthy body and fruit juice does not contain fibre, which a whole fruit does.
- Hide the vegetables
Many parents secretly put veggies and other healthy ingredients in their child’s meal. While this may work in the short term, they are not developing the habit to eat a healthy diet. It is important to make them understand the concept of healthy eating and its significance in development.
- More sugar means high energy levels
Consuming too much sugar is, in fact, bad for health. It can lead to ‘sugar addiction’ which can harm children both physically and psychologically. This addiction can generate mood swings, irritability, changes in activity levels etc. Hence, you should monitor their sugar intake levels regularly, and not encourage over-consumption of sugar.
How to eat Healthy
Make these smart changes in your diet:
- Swapping soft drinks for water and herbal tea.
- Avoiding processed foods.
- Eating whole fruits instead of juices.
- Limit your salt and sugar intake.
- Ensure fruits and vegetables make up 50% of your meal.
- Instead of frying choose to bake or grill your meals.
- Reduce any extra fat intake.
- Read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them.
- Eat home-cooked meals as much as possible.
Are you struggling with your weight issues? Get your personalised diet plan with our dieticians. Consult our Department of Nutrition Therapy for more help.