Benefits of a Nutritional Diet
When people think of the word “diet,” they think of trendy solutions for quick weight loss. Liquid diets, cleanses, and fat free substitutions have been around for centuries, some dating as early as the 1500s. However, fad diets often don’t work, and even if they produce some results, they’re not sustainable to keep the weight off. A trend that never goes out of style is eating a well-balanced, nutritional diet. With an increasing number of processed foods, it’s important to find the right foods to help keep your body nourished to improve overall wellness.
What is a Healthy Diet?
A “healthy diet” is eating food that provides your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to protect against malnutrition, obesity, and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Why is Nutrition Important?
Nutrition is extremely important when it comes to our health and development. Starting your child off with a balanced diet at an early age is linked to lower risk for disease, stronger immune systems, and even productivity.
Malnutrition is defined as the condition that develops when the body is deprived of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. It can look like too much or too little weight. Many people suffer from malnutrition as a result of dietary imbalances, so it is important to understand what constitutes a healthy diet.
Diet and Nutrition: Food Groups
As many of us learned in health class years ago, there are five main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Different foods have been broken down into these groups based on their makeup of vitamins and minerals. In order to get the full benefits of these food groups, it’s necessary to have a certain amount of them in every meal.
However, not everyone needs to eat the same amount of these food groups. The amount of nutrients you need depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical lifestyle. Read below for the basics on these food groups and why you need to add them to your daily menu. You can discuss a custom nutrition plan with your Ascend Medical provider.
All vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried veggies) fall under this food group. Juices that are 100% vegetable count, too. Not all vegetables are the same, so this group is broken down into 5 subgroups: dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables. However, all are important sources of nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. Diets that are rich in these nutrients can help maintain a healthy blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol levels and can lower risk of heart disease, and vitamins A and C are great for your skin and smile. Daily intake depends on age and sex, however, adult women ages 19-60+ should have at least 2 cups of vegetables per day and adult men ages 19-60+ should have at least 3 cups per day.
When it comes to fruits, all fruit and 100% fruit juice make up the fruit group. If you prefer to get your fruit fix from 100% juice, keep in mind that at least half of your daily intake should be from whole fruits. And remember that a serving of fruit juice is only 4 ounces (½ cup). Fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, and many of them are rich in potassium such as bananas, prunes, peaches, orange juice, jackfruit, and kiwi. Plus, fruits are typically very fibrous which aids in proper bowel functions. Since fruit is higher in sugar, children and adults should eat more vegetables than fruits. Adult women ages 19-60+ should have at least 1.5 cups of fruit per day, and adult men ages 19-60+ need at least 2 cups per day.
Grains are divided into two separate subgroups – whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel and are not broken down. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and brown rice. Refined grains go through a milling process to remove the bran and germ (the kernel). When this happens, it removes dietary fiber, iron, and many of the vitamin B vitamins. These are your white flours, white breads, and white rice. Additionally, refined grains can be “enriched” meaning the vitamin B is added back in after processing. Grains contain many nutrients such as complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron and magnesium. B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin help the body release energy from protein, fat, and carbs. Generally, it’s recommended to eat 5 to 8 ounces of grains a day, at least 3 to 6 of which should be whole grains.
Seafood, red meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy are all part of the protein good groups. Meat and poultry should be lean or low-fat. A 93% lean ground beef is more ideal than 70% or 80% as meat with trimmed fats helps reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Choose seafoods that are high in omega-3s like salmon, anchovies, and trout. Eating 8 oz of seafood per week may help reduce heart disease risks. The job of the protein group is to help build bones, muscles, akin and blood, but the nutrients provided by food in the protein group varies. Make sure you vary your protein food choices to keep your body functioning well. Adult women should have at least 5 oz of protein per day and men should have at least 6 oz. of proteins.
Dairy includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and soy milk (due to being fortified with similar nutrients), but it does not include dairy products with little calcium and a high fat content like your butters, creamers, and sour creams. Our bodies need dairy as its primary nutrient is calcium which helps build and maintain strong bones. Other nutrients include phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, zinc, and magnesium, which are involved in almost every body function. Adult women and adult men need 3 cups of dairy per day to reap all of this group’s benefits.
Create a Diet Plan
You may have noticed that many fad diets cut back on portions of these food groups that can be pivotal to overall wellness, for the sake of weight loss. In the end, it’s more about being healthy and feeding your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. At Ascend Medical, we believe that good health begins with preventive care. Because of this, we work with you to create an ongoing, coordinated plan to optimize your health and wellbeing. Ask your Ascend Medical provider about what diet plan works best for you!