Are nutrition and health related? Is healthy eating important? Of course!
Like a finely-tuned racing car, your body needs the right fuel (food) and regular maintenance (exercise, lifestyle and mental attitude) to achieve its true health potential. Nothing is more important than healthy eating!
Put in the wrong fuel or let it go without regular use and there’s no way it can deliver its full power and performance. Without healthy eating, your body’s engine will cough, splutter and eventually stall.
Cutting down on all fats from fatty and fried foods, butter, cream, margarine and oils is agreed on by nutritionists the world over as a way of making the modern diet healthier and reducing weight. Cutting down on saturated fat in particular is important for the heart.
We have forgotten how important rice, pasta, potatoes, bread and cereals are to our health. Forget the stodgy image of starch from years gone by! Starch is in again and may turn out to be just as critical as fibre is now.
Not just bran! Fiber, that largely indigestible part of our food and often the part that really gets us chewing, is responsible for so much good. It not only keeps our insides moving smoothly but it helps to lower cholesterol, prevent gallstones and bowel cancer, and keep our weight in check. Wholemeal and grain breads are full of it, as are brown rice, barley, lentils, beans and vegetables. To start your day, there is a wonderful array of wholegrain and bran breakfast cereals.
Vegetables, fruit and grains carry an abundance of vitamins, minerals and numerous other natural substances (called phytochemicals) which scientists are only just beginning to discover. Phytochemicals function as anti-oxidants, which fight off free radicals that could otherwise damage our cells, membranes and DNA. Numerous studies show that people who eat lots of vegies and fruit have lower rates of heart disease and cancer.
Variety doesn’t mean 10 different cereal packs in your cupboard, but rather a variety of botanically different foods. Pasta, bread, puffed wheat and couscous all look and taste different but are all derived from the one basic (but versatile) grain (wheat). So they all provide similar nutrient Substituting other grains like oats, barley, corn or rye for some wheat adds diversity to your diet and ensures a wider range of nutrients. The nutrients you miss from one food, you can make up from another.
Sugar in modest amounts adds to the flavour of cooking and is a useful fuel for athletes and other active people. In excess, however, sugar adds unwanted kilojoules and can displace other more important foods – particularly for children and teenagers. In chewy and sticky form, sugar also can cause dental caries (or tooth decay).
Our modern diet is laden with salt. It’s not until you avoid salt for a few weeks that you notice how it masks the true flavour of foods. As 75 per cent of our total salt intake comes from everyday commercial foods (including bread, biscuits, cereals, butter, deli meats and snack foods), it is imperative to buy salt-reduced or no-added-salt products.
Two litres (8 glasses) of fluid a day is needed to keep the body hydrated and the kidneys working efficiently. In hot weather, even more fluid is required. Alcohol and strong coffee do not count, as these act as diuretics and force the kidney to excrete more fluid than normal.
Stress, tension, rushing and eating on the run all take their toll on your digestion and health. Try to relax and take the time to really appreciate the food in front of you.Not only will it increase your enjoyment and satisfaction by having a “comfortably full” stomach, this technique is often recommended as a strategy to help people lose weight.