Proper nutrition is one of the major steps to an overall healthy life. You can easily improve your health and wellbeing by eating a well-balanced diet, as eating a healthy diet comes with a number of benefits. From losing weight to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, your diet has an impact on so many different things and small changes can add up to create a well-balanced diet and better health profile.
To key to a healthy diet is to consume the right amount of calories for how active you are so that your energy levels are well balanced with the amount that you use. If you eat or drink more than you need, then you will naturally put on weight as the energy which isn’t used is stored as fat, whereas if you eat and drink too little, you will lose weight. It can be hard to change your eating habits and consume the right nutritional foods for your body, but doing so means that you can greatly improve your health.
As individuals, we all have a number of different needs when it comes to calories and nutrition based on our gender, age and preexisting health issues. So many of us forget that nutrition plays a vital role in our wellbeing and cast it to the side, but the more stimulating and interesting your diet is, the more likely you are to stick to eating a healthy diet. With that in mind, here are some ways as to how you can use good nutrition to boost your overall health.
Base your meals on high fibre carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates should, ideally, make up a third of all of the foods in your diet and consist of rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and cereal. Choosing high-fibre and wholegrain options and varieties, such as brown rice, potatoes with the skin on and wholewheat pasta, contain more fibre than refined carbohydrates and leave you feeling fuller for longer, so you should try to include at least one starchy food with every meal
Some people believe that starchy foods are fattening, but when compared gram by gram, the carbohydrates they contain provides less than half the calories of fat. However, you should keep an eye on the fats you add when serving or cooking these foods, as this is what increases the calorie content. Butter on bread, sauces on pasta and oil-cooked chips can all increase the nutritional value of these foods.
Fish is one of the healthiest foods available
Fish contains high levels of protein and nutrients, such as vitamin D and omega-3, which makes it one of the healthiest foods available. Fattier fishes are considered to be the healthiest because fatty fish, such as trout, salmon and tuna, have higher levels of fat-based nutrients which so many of us are lacking. Fatty fish also boosts our intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for brain and body function. Omega-3 is said to help protect against cardiovascular disease and is said to reduce the risk of developing diseases like dementia, diabetes and Alzheimers.
Vitamin D is an important and essential vitamin, but around 41% of adults are deficient or low in the vitamin. It is believed that a single 4oz serving of cooked salmon contains around 100% of our recommended vitamin D intake, showing that fish is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D and fatty fish contain the highest amounts.
Look after your gut health
Your gut is one of the most important organs in your body and has direct links to your brain. The bacteria in our guts can influence our behaviour thanks to the 100 million neurons which we have in our gut, so what you eat isn’t just good nutrition for you, but for the trillions of bacteria that live within your gut microbiome. Everyone is different, but if you want to look after your digestive health, lose weight or even just health in general, then you should pay close attention to your gut health.
A poor diet can lead to an unhappy gut, which then has direct effects on your mental and physical health. In order to look after your gut health, then you should look to add more fibre into your diet. Most adults eat far less fibre than they should and help to keep things moving along within the digestive system, but bear in mind that if your diet is low in fibre, then a sudden increase can cause uncomfortable bloating. This is less likely if you make small, gradual changes and drink plenty of water.
Probiotic foods are foods or supplements which contain live bacteria that are thought to be beneficial to our gut health. Foods such as live yoghurt, some cheeses and fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir are believed to help boost gut health.
Go nuts with nuts
Nuts come packed full of nutritional benefits and contain everything from protein and healthy fats to vitamins and minerals. Luckily, nuts are a very common snack and food – they’re tasty, convenient and can be enjoyed on a number of different diets and dietary needs. Despite being high in fat, nuts come with a number of different health benefits. Around 28g of mixed nuts contains 5g of protein, 3g of fibre and 16g of fat and a number of antioxidants.
As well as nuts, seeds are also a great addition to most diets and come with similar nutritional benefits, especially chia, pumpkin and flax seeds. They are a wonderful addition to enjoy with other foods if you’re looking to boost your health, whether you include them in your baking recipes, as a simple snack, sprinkled on top of soups or mixed in with yoghurt and fruit.
Sure, our diets are one of the main pillars of health, but you also need to ensure that you are staying hydrated. You need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, with a recommendation of 6-8 glasses a day. All non-alcoholic drinks count towards your hydration levels, but water, tea, coffee and low sugar drinks are better and healthier choices.