Many people are resistant to suggestions about changing their eating habits. There is a general misconception that one has to make dramatic changes to their diet in order to achieve good health. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that even small gradual changes can make a world of a difference to your health. Dropping one foodstuff at a time and incorporating a healthier one in its stead has proved very effective for many people. It is daunting for many to change all their eating habits at once and so they simply don’t even bother trying.
Eating healthy does not only help you to feel better. Besides benefiting your overall health and wellbeing eating healthy also prevents many conditions that are prevalent among many people. Some of the conditions prevented by healthy eating include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Weight loss and weight gain are also directly affected by one’s eating habits.
Although humans are classified as omnivores our diet should be dominated by fruits and vegetables as these constitute a vital component of a healthy diet. No wonder it is said, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
What are the vital components of a healthy diet?
• Eating a variety of foods every day
• Eating several servings of fruits and vegetables every day
• Including foods with enough fibre every day
• Minimising your sodium intake.
How do these healthy eating habits benefit the body?
The human body needs many nutrients to function properly and keep chronic diseases at bay. Eating a variety of foods is the surest way to get all the nutrients we need.
By planning your menus you can ensure that your weekly intake of food comprises of all the necessary nutrients. This may mean consuming as much as 40 different foods a week.
Some people depend on supplements for their nutrients. However nutrients from the food we eat are more beneficial to our health.
The risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke is known to be reduced by an abundant consumption of fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that we consume at least 2 – 3 cups of vegetables and fruits every day. Some vegetables may be protective against certain types of cancer.
Some of the nutrients acquired from vegetables and fruits include: Folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamins A, C and K. These can be obtained by eating a variety of vegetables and fruits throughout the course of a week. Dark vegetables and fruits have more nutrients than the paler ones and they provide a wide variety to choose from. For the sake of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight it is recommended that you eat your vegetables with high calorie foods.
Fiber is another vital component of a healthy diet which can be obtained from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. At least 28 – 35 grams of fiber per day are recommended for adults. Some food labels indicate the fiber content to help you determine how much fiber you are taking.
To reduce blood pressure it is recommended that you limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams and continue to reduce it to 1,500 milligrams every day. Since sodium is primarily consumed as salt, most of it comes from salt that is added during the processing of foods. However, you can determine the amount of sodium in the food by reading the food labels.
Eating healthy remains the surest way to good health and well being.
Submitted by Stuart Wilson, 031 837 2981/074 748 8196