While there are many varying views on diets, fads, and protocols – nutrition basics come down to eating various wholesome foods that support your health. And the following three things list the main points that most can agree upon:
- Eat variety of whole foods
- Focus on fruits & veggies
- Avoid overeating
Sounds easy, right?
It can be challenging only because of the amount of information available in every direction that we look. It is easy to get overwhelmed, yet here’s a quick guide on how to eat to live well broken down into 4 basic sections:
- Why it’s important to eat healthy food
- What is a balanced diet
- How each food group contributes to overall health
- How portion control, variety, and mindfulness contribute to health
Let’s take a look at each section in a bit more detail:
1. Why it’s important to eat healthy food - Nutrition
Nutrition is how food affects the health of the body. Food is essential—it provides vital nutrients for survival and helps the body function and stay healthy. Food is made up of macronutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fat, that not only offer calories to fuel the body and give it energy but play specific roles in maintaining health. Food also supplies micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals that don't provide calories but serve a variety of critical functions to ensure the body operates optimally.
The following is a short list of the functions of each of the main organs and their functions:
- Lungs: provide oxygen to blood
- Heart: circulates blood throughout the body
- Stomach: helps digest food
- Intestines: absorb nutrients from food
- Liver: removes toxins from blood and processes nutrients from food
- Kidneys: filter blood of waste and extra fluid
2. What is a Balanced Diet?
Consuming a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein foods, and whole or enriched grains, helps ensure the body has plenty of nutrients to use. The following is a short list that provides a few examples of how specific micronutrient functions can enhance the effectiveness of nutrition:
- Vitamin A helps the eyes to see
- Calcium and magnesium help muscles and blood vessels relax, preventing cramps and high blood pressure
- Vitamin C helps wounds heal and the body’s ability to fight off germs
- Iron helps the blood transport oxygen throughout the body and prevents anemia
A healthy, balanced diet will usually include the following nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carbohydrates, including starches and fiber, protein, and healthy fats. To keep a balanced diet, include a variety of foods from the following groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods. Avoid foods such as highly processed foods, refined grains, added sugar and salt, red and processed meat, alcohol, and trans fats.
3. How each food group contributes to overall health
Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat
Protein: Found in beef, pork, chicken, game and wild meats, fish and seafood, eggs, soybeans and other legumes included in traditional Central America cuisine, protein provides the body with amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which are needed for growth, development, and repair and maintenance of body tissues. Protein provides structure to muscle and bone, repairs tissues when damaged and helps immune cells fight inflammation and infection.
Carbohydrates: The main role of a carbohydrate is to provide energy and fuel the body the same way gasoline fuels a car. Foods such as corn, chayote, beans, plantains, rice, tortilla, potatoes and other root vegetables such as yucca, bread and fruit deliver sugars or starches that provide carbohydrates for energy.
Energy allows the body to do daily activities as simple as walking and talking and as complex as running and moving heavy objects. Fuel is needed for growth, which makes sufficient fuel especially important for growing children and pregnant women. Even at rest, the body needs calories to perform vital functions such as maintaining body temperature, keeping the heart beating and digesting food.
Fat: Dietary fat, which is found in oils, coconut, nuts, milk, cheese, meat, poultry and fish, provides structure to cells and cushions membranes to help prevent damage. Oils and fats are also essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, a nutrient important for healthy eyes and lungs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are food components that help support overall health and play important roles in cell metabolism and neurological functions. Vitamins aid in energy production, wound healing, bone formation, immunity, and eye and skin health. Minerals help maintain cardiovascular health and provide structure to the skeleton.
4. How portion control, variety, and mindfulness contribute to health
When it comes to portion control, less is usually more, and paying attention to what triggers unhealthy eating and overeating habits can go a long way in curbing the appetite to only what you need versus eating unhealthily or overeating. While there are many apps out there to help with healthy eating, adding a meditation, or mindfulness app to your daily routine can help keep your mind focused on healthy patterns of eating and movement as well relaxing and calming the mind and body.
Check out the class and workshop offerings at Rejuv at Work, and start living, eating, and moving to better health and wellness everyday!
Rejuv at Work offers several options for Mind-Body classes and/or workshops such as: Meditation, Stretch at Your Desk, Deskercise, Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates. These are all ways to help reduce and manage stress and anxiety; as well as promote a healthier and happier outlook and work environment. We also offer other fitness classes such as Zumba, HIIT, Bootcamp, and classes of all kinds that help with cardiovascular and strength training to balance out the more mindful classes.