According to 83% of kitchen renovators, remodeling their kitchen would have a positive impact on their home’s resale value. But did you know that upgrading your countertop, flooring, or appliances can have a positive effect on your health, too? In an attractive, up-to-date kitchen, you’ll find yourself more motivated to cook healthy meals and optimize your personal diet and nutrition. Even good homemade burgers are better for you than cheap frozen dinners or fast food.
Having a good personal diet and nutrition is critical to a life well-lived, but you might not have given it much thought before. In fact, you may take your health for granted, without learning about the ways personal diet and nutrition play into your overall life. From overcoming drug addiction to performing well at work, good nutrition is imperative to long-lasting health.
However, simply knowing that personal diet and nutrition are important won’t help you, unless you also know why and what to do about it. In this article, we’ll explain some of the benefits of having good nutrition, from homemade meals to food replacement smoothies. Then we’ll share some top tips for getting more nutrition into your diet. To learn everything you need to know about personal diet and nutrition, keep reading.
Benefits of Good Nutrition and Eating Well
A well-balanced diet made up of high-quality foods is important. It provides your body with the energy it needs to stay active throughout the day. It also gives you the nutrients necessary to grow and repair your body’s bones, muscles, and more. This in turn helps prevent diet-related illnesses, including some cancers. A good diet is also imperative for maintaining a healthy weight. Being deficient in certain key nutrients, such as zinc and vitamin E, can weaken your immune system and leave you vulnerable to sickness.
The following are some key benefits to having good personal diet and nutrition.
Improve Your Heart Health
To maintain a healthy heart, it’s important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Having levels that are too high can be a sign that you have too much salt and saturated fat in your diet.
To manage blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your heart healthy, your diet should focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and oily fish like salmon and trout. Oily fish may particularly be helpful for preventing heart disease, as they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids.
Avoid Type 2 Diabetes
People who are overweight from consuming too much saturated fat are especially at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet that’s high in fiber and whole grains can help reduce this risk.
Strengthen Your Bones and Teeth
Weak bones and unhealthy teeth will make you more susceptible to injury and dental problems, and they’re often a symptom of malnutrition. To keep your teeth strong and slow down bone loss (or osteoporosis), you need to have lots of calcium in your diet.
Calcium is typically associated with dairy products, but milk and cheese aren’t the only foods rich in this essential mineral. Foods rich in calcium include dark green vegetables, like kale and broccoli; fish packaged with the bones, such as sardines, pilchards, and tinned salmon; and any foods that have been calcium-fortified, such as many kinds of fruit juices and breakfast cereals.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Needing to lose weight is probably the number-one reason most people try to improve their personal diet and nutrition. But being underweight from not getting enough nutrition can be just as bad as being overweight. A diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as moderate amounts of meat and dairy, can make keeping a healthy weight easier. It’s a good idea to avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars, especially if you struggle with unwanted weight gain.
If you want to lose weight, simply adopting a healthier diet and being more active each day might be all you need. Don’t try to starve yourself into losing weight — you need adequate nutrition, especially if you’re exercising, so eating lots of healthy foods is a must. Just cut back on foods that are unhealthy or particularly fattening, choosing healthier, lower-carb options instead.
Whether you need to lose weight or simply want to enjoy more energy and health, in the next section we’ll describe exactly how to improve your personal diet and nutrition.
How to Improve Your Personal Diet and Nutrition
When it comes to nutrition, people are often divided. Even experts seem to have trouble agreeing exactly what constitutes a healthy diet, which probably seems strange since it’s such an integral part of healthy living. However, there are some general rules that just about everyone agrees on, from your personal gastroenterology services to your aunt’s naturopath. We’ll be focusing on some of those here.
There is No “Perfect Diet” for Everyone
As you already know, every individual is unique. But it may surprise you to learn that different people may need different diets as well.
Small but significant differences in body type, genetics, environment, and physical activity all play a role in defining which type of diet is ideal for you. Some people seem to thrive on a vegetarian diet, while others can’t imagine going more than a few days without meat. Some do best on a low-carb diet, while others with a fast-paced lifestyle and even faster metabolism need lots of carbs.
Finding the diet and meal plan that works for you is important for feeling and performing at your best. You may need to experiment with different foods and diet plans to figure out what works best for your body.
Avoid Added Sugar
Sugar of one kind or another is naturally occurring in most foods, from apples to maple syrup. But for processed foods, manufacturers will add shocking amounts of sugar to enhance flavor. This type of sugar is known as added sugar.
The most common type of added sugar in processed foods is probably corn syrup, but table sugar like your grandmother used for baking is a type of added sugar as well.
Added sugar contains empty calories and no real nutrients. Sugar is filling, so it can cause you to feel full after eating, but it doesn’t do anything to nourish your body. If your diet is made up heavily of added sugars, you probably aren’t getting nearly as much nutrition as you need.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, too much added sugar has become recognized as a key contributor to chronic diseases. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are thought to all be caused in part by added sugar.
In spite of the general consensus that sugar causes chronic health problems, scientists are currently uncertain about the role added sugar actually plays in disease. But even if you’ve avoided getting sick so far, that doesn’t mean you should take your chances and continue to consume high amounts of sugar. At best, you’re filling up on empty calories at the expense of real nutrients. At worst, you could be setting yourself up for serious health problems when that sugar intake catches up with you.
Eat More Vegetables
While the fact that eating vegetables is good for you is obvious to pretty much everyone, it’s worth pointing out, especially since so few people actually take it to heart.
People may be divided about how much meat or dairy product a person should consume, or whether they should be eaten at all. But they unanimously agree that vegetables are essential to a good diet. And no wonder, since they’re rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and trace nutrients. Unsurprisingly, observational studies have associated eating vegetables with better health and a lower risk of disease.
Not only do vegetables have a wealth of health benefits, but they come in literally hundreds of varieties, which means mealtime never has to get boring.
Avoid Artificial Trans Fats Like the Plague
While people are sometimes conflicted about what fats are healthy and which ones aren’t, it’s universally recognized that artificial trans fats are incredibly bad for your health.
Unlike natural fats, which are simply a component of whole foods like milk and meat, artificial trans fats are formed as a byproduct when vegetable oils are hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a process used to harden vegetable oils, which are initially liquid, into firm products like margarine. Since trans fats have been linked to bad health, margarine produced without trans fats is becoming more common.
Although that’s good news for people who consume margarine, the bad news is that artificial trans fats are just about everywhere. They’re commonly found in cakes, cookies, crackers, fried foods like potato chips, and even animal products. To avoid trans fats, you’ll probably have to either make more foods from scratch or spend more money on healthier brands, especially for baked goods.
Failing to avoid high levels of trans fats in your diet could lead to several chronic diseases. Heart disease, inflammation, and abdominal obesity are just a few conditions associated with a high intake of trans fats.
Prioritize Omega-3 Fats
Artificial trans fats may be devastating to your health, but omega-3 fats are crucial for good health. Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for helping your body function properly, including enabling proper functioning of the brain. A low intake of omega-3 is associated with various mental disorders including depression, serious diseases like heart disease, and even lower IQ.
Unfortunately, a substantial part of the population doesn’t get enough omega-3 fats in their diet. Since consuming these fatty acids is crucial to avoiding serious health complications, you should make it a priority to get more foods high in omega-3s into your diet.
There are three primary types of omega-3 fats: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA primarily comes from plant oils, such as olive oil and avocados. However, ALA must be converted into DHA or EPA to be useable, which isn’t a process the human body is optimized for. As a result, your best chance at getting lots of omega-3s in your diet are with foods high in EPA and DHA.
The best sources of DHA and EPA are fatty fish like salmon, fish oils like cod liver oil, and certain algal oils. You can also get DHA and EPA from grass-fed meat and pastured eggs.
All of the foods we just mentioned tend to be on the expensive side. This is probably why so many people lack omega-3 fats in their diet. But if you’re only going to make one change to your personal diet and nutrition, you should strongly consider replacing your intake of artificial trans fats with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
People experience countless benefits when they fill their refrigerators with healthy foods like those described here instead of processed ones. Who knows, maybe consuming more omega-3s would give you the boost in brain power and energy you need to earn more money, allowing you to invest even more in your health.
Stay Away from Refined Carbohydrates
There are many differing opinions on the role carbs and fats play in your health. Some people believe that carbs are the main culprits in causing obesity and chronic diseases, while others believe fat is almost entirely to blame. But what they all tend to agree on is that refined carbohydrates are less healthy than unrefined carbohydrates.
Unrefined carbs are whole foods that are naturally rich in carbohydrates: whole-grain cereals and breads, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Refined carbs are foods that have been “stripped down” from their natural, nutrient-rich state, including refined white flour and sugar.
Flour and sugar are refined to make them lighter and more easily digestible. However, this process eliminates the most nutritious parts, leaving behind huge amounts of easily-digestible starch with little nutritional value. Unfortunately, white sugar and flour are the two main ingredients in countless baked goods and processed foods.
Basing your diet on refined carbs can prevent you from consuming the fiber and nutrients you need, because you’re constantly getting full on what are essentially empty carbs. This can leave you vulnerable to chronic disease. Consuming refined carbs can also cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, which is a particularly significant concern for people with diabetes.
The good news is, more and more stores and even family restaurants are offering products made with unrefined grains and whole foods. While you may have to shop around and spend a little extra, it’s well worth it to get the boost in nutrition your body craves.
Don’t Rely Totally on Supplements
Supplements like probiotic powder can improve your gut health and help with digestion, and vitamin and mineral supplements made from whole foods can help fill in the gaps when you’re not able to eat healthy that day. But in general, your main source of nutrition needs to be your diet, not supplements. This is an important thing to remember when you start improving your nutrition.
Eating healthy can be complicated, especially if you’re a parent who has to deal with child care in addition to caring for yourself. But you now know the benefits of proper nutrition, as well as some of the best ways to improve your diet. Whether you’re going out for pizza or preparing meals for the week ahead, you’ll always be better off if you remember what you’ve learned here about personal diet and nutrition.