What is Healthy Nutrition?
Nutrition is an important aspect of an individual’s health and fitness journey.
Every food you place in your mouth contains substances that have an effect on your body sometimes the effects are positive other times negative.
Trying to find which interactions are beneficial to you health and which are detrimental can be challenging. Performing an Internet search on nutrition and weight loss will provide you with a barrage of information. Some of it helpful, some of it not worth a grain a salt. When looking for nutritional advice I recommend following guidelines released from reputable government and nutritional bodies. These organisations fund employees to stay up to date with the current research and literature.
The commercial world can become trapped in marketing and profiteering in an attempt to sell a product rather than benefit the consumer.
One difficultly with the human body is what right for one individual may not be right for the other.
Here is a summary some current healthy eating and dietary advice that you can put into place on a day to day basis
- Eat a Variety of Food
- Consider the food groups
- Consume less refined and packaged foods
- Reduce salt intake
- Limit Alcohol Intake
- Reduced sweetened beverages
- Eat lower GI
- Moderate fat intake and limit saturated fat
- Don’t over eat
Healthy Eating should always include a variety of foods. The body requires a balance of Macronutrients calls Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats and Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Not all foods contain the same levels of these macro and micronutrients. Therefore it is best to eat a variety of foods from mixed food sources. This means eating a mix of fruits and vegetables, a mix of whole grains, red and white meats, nuts and dairy. Restricting the intake of any of these things can overtime cause problems. If you’ve been advised to exclude one of these for a particular health reason then this is ok.
Alternatively you might have special needs such as if you’re pregnant, elderly or have a high exercise load. These examples may see you needing higher amounts of certain food groups.
Nutritional bodies have broken foods down into 6 key food groups.
- Bread, cereals, brown rice, pasta, barley
- Vegetables, legumes
- Diary - Milk, yoghurt, cheeses
- Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts
- Sweets and Fats
The recommendation is to every day choose foods from each of these food groups, giving priority to the groups at the top of this list. Examples are to eat 4-7 serves per day of grain based foods and 1-2 serves of fish, meat or eggs.
The food pyramid containing these foods can be found here
for more information see
Consume Less Refined Foods
Consuming foods as close to the foods natural state is beneficial. Quite often the refining process adds preservatives, reduces nutrient content and increases the sugar and fat levels of the food. For this reason it’s recommended eating foods in less refined states.
When shopping, try to purchase a large portion of the food from the fresh sections of the supermarket. Also limit packaged biscuits, sweets and chips. Some canned and frozen foods are unrefined and recommended for regular consumption. Use highly flavoured and long life foods less frequently, when whole foods aren’t accessible.
Salt intake causes a temporary increase in blood pressure. This is because salt when digested enters the blood stream and cause an increase in water retention. This leads to an increase in blood pressure until the kidneys eventually filter out the excess sodium intake. High blood pressure prevelance is increases due to rising levels of obesity. High Blood pressure is a risk factor in Cardiovascular Disease so watching your salt intake is important.
To do this look at the nutritional label for sodium content. A high salt food is one that contains greater then 600mg of sodium per 100g. Some commonly consumed high salt foods are canned soups, flavoured noodles, premade dinners, chip, biscuits and cheeses.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol contains large amounts of energy. This is manly due to the alcohol content not the carbohydrate content. 1g of alcohol contains 29kj’s. 1 gram of fat contains 37kj’s whilst protein and carbohydrates contain 17kj’s per gram. A standard 150ml glass of wine or 375ml beer contains approximately 550kj’s. Remembering the average female requires approximately 7000-8000kj’s per day and the average male 9000-10000kj’s per day.
Reduce Sweetened Beverages
Soft drinks, juices and sports drinks can contain large amounts of simple carbohydrates. This means carbohydrates that are already in the form of glucose, or fructose. This can result in tooth decay. Also the high sugar (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) levels in soft drinks are detrimental to your health. Some evidence has linked high fructose intakes (as found in sweetened drinks) with obesity and diabetes. It recommended to limit your intake of these sweetened beverages.
Lower GI carbohydrate foods release glucose into the blood stream at different rates. This is referred to as the GI or Glycemic Index of the food. Low GI foods will keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. This can help with concentration and may prevent overeating of sweets just to increase energy levels
Moderate Fat intake and limit Saturated Fats
Fats are not bad for you, they are in fact required by your body. Fats are either Mono-unsaturated, Poly-unsaturated or Saturated. This refers to the carbon bonding structure of the molecule. Saturated fats are more rigid, creating solids at lower temperatures. This why olive oil which is high in mono unsaturated food is liquid at room temperature and coconut oil or butter is solid at room temperature. Research into whether saturated fats causes an increase in Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes provide conflicting results. The World Health Organisation recommends limiting saturated fat values. Balancing your fat intakes should reduce saturated fat intake and provide the best health outcomes. Do this by including some mono unsaturated fats from oats, nuts and olive oils and including poly unsaturated fats from canola oil, some nuts, fish and some margarines.
Weight gain increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can also greatly limit the activities you can partake in. Watching the portion size of your meals and disciplining yourself to not eat unless you’re hungry should help to keep your weight at healthy levels.
Try the nutritional survey to monitor you current eating habits
Also read the Energy Density, Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Article
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