Researchers know more than ever before, so why is nutrition more confusing than ever before? Fats are bad, but some are good? Carbs sabotage your weight loss efforts, yet they're essential for energy? Healthy living and a balanced diet do not need to be so confusing. If you are looking to better support your health through nutrition, here are ten essential tips.
10. Don't Count Out Fats
Obesity is a major health concern throughout developed countries, based on poor nutritional choices and a lack of physical activity. Many are under the impression that fat is the enemy, however, the body and brain require fat to function. From energy to cell growth and hormone regulation, dietary fats are essential.
'Fat' isn't what creates weight gain, excess calories and poor choices are the true culprits. It's the type of fat you need to focus on, ensuring a healthy diet includes healthy fats, such as essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like fish, avocados, olive oil, and walnuts.
9. Be Mindful Of What You Drink
Far too many individuals are drinking their weight in calories due to excessive soda, high-sugar juice, and energy drink consumption. These drinks cause blood sugar to skyrocket and in turn, insulin is released. Although this is a natural process within the human body, fluctuating levels on a regular basis are not. This is contributing to rising rates of diabetes and weight-related health issues.
Soda does not provide your body with any nutrients, it is simply empty calories. Diet drink choices have been shown throughout a number of studies to be even worse for your health. This is due to the addition of potentially cancer-causing artificial sweeteners. Get into the habit of drinking plenty of water and herbal teas. Moderate black coffee consumption has been shown to yield a number of health benefits as well. If you enjoy juice, start making freshly squeezed varieties at home, incorporating a wide range of fruits and vegetables. To keep the sugar content down, it's recommended you manage your intake to include 75 percent vegetables and 25 percent fruit.
8. Eliminate Processed Foods
In most cases, processed foods aren't really food at all. They are manufactured 'food' items that are packed with chemicals, synthetic vitamins, artificial colors, and other unhealthy additives. These foods do not provide the same beneficial nutrients as fresh, whole foods. More research needs to be conducted, however, it's believed that genetically modified organisms (GMO) may threaten human health. Since they're cheaper to produce, GMO crops are generally used to produce a wide range of processed meals and snacks.
Although processed foods tend to be convenient, they produce poor eating habits. Once a person is into the routine of making meals from scratch, it is soon realized it is not as time-consuming as many believe. There are plenty of quick and easy recipes available, helping you and your family eat better. Swap those frozen dinners for a more nutrient-rich meal plan.
7. Invite Probiotics Into Your Life
Many focus on their heart and kidney health, however, gut health is generally ignored. The truth is, the majority of the immune system is located in the gut and if functioning is poor, there is greater likelihood of illness and disease. So, what can be done to boost gut health?
Introduce more 'good' bacteria through good dietary choices. Probiotics are essentially live yeasts and bacteria, whereas prebiotics support the growth of beneficial microorganisms, such as healthy gut bacteria. When the gut bacteria are balanced, not allowing bad bacteria to outnumber good bacteria, the digestive system is able to function at an optimal level. No need to get fancy, the source of these live cultures are derived from a range of foods, including certain yogurts, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, and more.
6. Eat All the Colors Of The Rainbow
We know that fruits and vegetables are required for optimal health, but it is also important to focus on consuming a wide range. Although one vegetable may be high in vitamin K, another will provide ample amounts of zinc. It's all about balance, sourcing a range of nutrients from different plant-based sources.
Red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables, for instance, offer anthocyanins; potent antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. Orange and yellow foods, such as carrots and sweet potato are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A. Don't forget greens, as they as packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber.
5. Don't Forget Protein
Anyone who became a vegetarian or vegan can probably relate to the concern regarding a lack of protein. Although there may be a worry you stopped eating meat, they are plenty of plant-based protein sources to choose from.
Without protein, the body will not have what it needs to build organs, skin, tendons, muscles, hormones, and more. Pasture-raised meat is a great source of protein, but so are nuts, beans, raw broccoli, buckwheat, lentils, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds. As protein is consumed on a daily basis, the body is able to repair and build new cells.
4. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are not commonly found within nature and they are a product of vegetable fats. Margarine is a prime example, which is laced with chemical additives. Commonly found in baked goods, fast food, and snack foods, trans fats have been linked to a number of health concerns, including heart attacks and cancer.
3. Stock Up on Herb and Spices
If the aim is to reduce sodium intake or spice up your culinary life, herbs and spices are the perfect addition to any meal. Used for centuries, spices such as turmeric and cayenne have been shown to produce positive health benefits.
The same is true for herbs, such as rosemary, basil, and thyme, offering a unique flavor profile and antioxidant properties. Welcome herbs into your life by building a small herb garden on your windowsill or in a pot. It doesn't get any fresher than that!
2. Make Homemade Salad Dressings
Salad dressings are one of the quickest ways to whip up a nutritionally dense concoction. You can easily make a batch at the beginning of the week and use it throughout the next 5 to 7 days. By making a homemade salad dressing, you will be more prone to consume greens on a daily basis, adding a handful to any meal.
An easy way to make a nutritious and delicious dressing is to combine olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, spices, honey, and garlic. Just like that, you will have access to a dressing that not only tastes great, but promotes positive health as well. The dressings purchased at the supermarket are generally full of preservatives, sugar, and excess salt.
1. Don't Cut Out Food Groups - Including Carbs
There's a reason why food groups are recommended within your diet, so don't count any of them out. Although plenty of fad diets have been misleading, it's important to consume all the required nutrients that your body needs, including carbs!
Instead of consuming so many refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, candy, and white pasta, focus on consuming more whole grains. These include foods such as whole grain rye, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, wild rice, and organic corn. These grains contain all the essential parts of the grain seed, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.