Nutrition

Nutrition

Having good nutritional habits seems simple enough, but actually putting into your body exactly what it needs all the time is hard without understanding what it needs, why it needs it, and how to get it. A healthful diet is one that gives your body everything it needs in order to function at its best.

Drink More Water

While water does not contain any nutrients, it is vital to your body’s health. Without it, you will become dehydrated, which can lead to serious health problems. Some water we get simply through the foods we eat, but it is important to drink whenever you are thirsty, and frequently throughout the day. Also, substituting water for juice and soda gives you what you need without added sugar and calories.

Calories

Calories are essential to our survival, giving us the energy that we need to function. However, it is important to be aware of your caloric intake. Eating more calories than our bodies need for energy can lead to weight gain; when we take in too many, our bodies store the extra calories in the form of fat.

Protein

Protein is key to a body’s ability to maintain and repair tissues. Proteins contain eight essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. Animal sources of protein, such as meat and eggs, contain all eight of these amino acids. Plant sources contain some, but not all; thus, vegetarians need to be especially aware of how they are getting all eight to maintain health. To get the right amount of protein daily, you should eat two to three servings from the Food Pyramid group of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts.

Fiber

Fiber is important for proper bowel function. In order to keep those systems running properly, 30 grams of fiber a day should be consumed.

Fat

Our bodies need fat and cholesterol, but in controlled and limited amounts. No more than 30-percent of your daily calories should come from fat, and saturated fat (found in butter, eggs, and meat) should account for less than 10-percent of that. By limiting your fat intake, you can maintain a healthy weight, or lose excess weight, and also reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, cholesterol (a fat-like animal product) should be very limited in your diet. Trans-fat, formed by turning liquid oil into solid fat, should always be avoided.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. They also help to balance bodily fluids. Six to eleven servings should be eaten daily. Carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes provide nutrients; others, mainly sugar, are “empty,” providing only carbohydrates without the added benefits of nutrients.

Vitamins and Minerals

The best way to supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs is to eat a wide variety of healthful foods. However, many people have a hard time getting everything in, and benefit from taking vitamins and mineral supplements. While Vitamin C and all of the B vitamins are water-soluble (meaning excess amounts will be flushed out of the body), excessive amounts of vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in the body and can be toxic. Simply being aware of how much you are getting should keep that from being a problem.

All-Around Health

By being aware of nutrition, and combining healthful eating with good eating habits, your body can function at its best. It is important to not only be aware of what your body needs, but how much. Be aware of portion size, and remember that balance is important. An occasional treat or day without all of the food groups is okay, as long as your body is getting what it needs (and not more) the rest of the time.

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