Everyone knows we need to eat well to be healthy, but what is exactly healthy diet? Abstractly speaking, it is a composite of variety of food which gives 100% of nutrition that the body needs. It seems easy to achieve, but it is not so. There are many people who eat as much as they want but they are still categorized under a malnutrition as certain nutritional elements the body needs still missing.
For example, quite large number of women are anemic because they do not have enough iron in their nutrition. Some say that they are eating tons of spinach which is high in iron, and it should be enough. It is wrong. Unless you eat 3-4 lb of spinach every day, you don’t get enough iron in your body. Most efficient way to get iron into your body is eating red meat, but because of a bad name comes with the red meat, many people don’t eat enough and cannot get enough iron in the body.
Another example is Vitamin D and E. More and more studies are finding that most people in the US are not taking enough Vitamin D and E, and these elements are significantly deficient in their bodies. This deficiencies could damage your heart and other internal organs, brain capacity, motor coordination, and definitely shorten your life expectancy. A large number of people are so low in these vitamins and only supplements can bring the vitamin level to an optimal level.
On the other hand, if we just see calorie intake, many of us take far more than we need. In modern age, we invented a processed food which is very high in calories at very cheap price. In the past, you needed to eat three apples to fill up calorie you need, but now a small donut can do the same. Probably you can eat three donuts easily but three apples are bit too much at one sitting.
So back to the original question. What is the healthy diet? Although there are quite many different opinions around, in general, A new food pyramid recently reconstructed by Department of Agriculture is a good one to check out. It is a rough guide line, but it helps visually. They also provide many useful information, and some tools you can use to monitor your diet. I strongly recommend to visit.
Let’s think about what we need for our body. First, we need water. We can live without solid food for a month, but without water, we won’t live much more than a week. Second, protein, such as meat, fish, milk, and beans. Sorry to say, but if you are a vegan, you cannot get all amino acids you need to keep your body healthy. At least, try to add milk product in your diet. Fish is one of the best protein source as it is low in bad fat, but pretty in good fat You may need red meat to maintain iron level in your body. Beans, such as soy beans, are good source of protein, but cannot provide 100% nutrition you need. Still it is great to add into your diet as it is low in bad fat, and provide some other benefit.
Then, we need carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, and bread. Don’t forget, fruits and vegetables are also good source of carbohydrates. It is better to have less processed one. This is because the carbohydrates in processed food are quickly absorbed into blood stream, and shoot up the blood sugar level. If you are not careful about it, you may lose insulin sensitivity, and eventually develop diabetes. Brown rice is better than white rice, multi grain bread is better than white bread. Avoid sugared soft drink at all the cost. It is really bad for your body. Tea or coffee with sugar have some benefit from tea or coffee, but not bit of benefit from soft drink! Eating bread with chicken breast is a good way to control blood sugar level, too.
You also need good fat/oils. Fish oil and olive oil (especially virgin olive oil) are really good for the body. Saturate fats such as lard are not good for the body. Avoid hydrogenated oil, and trans-fat totally. These are artificially created fat, and a human body does not know how to handle them, and very dangerous to our system. Fortunately, many restaurants stop using trans-fat these days, but still there are many places use it as it is very cheap.
Don’t forget fibers! What does fibers do? They clean up your system. One type cleans your guts, and other types cleans up blood vessels. Fibers comes from fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, and beans. Most people don’t take enough fibers, and need to take some supplement, but often the supplement causes stomach cramps. So just eat more vegetables!
Then vitamins and minerals. These are mainly comes from fruits and vegetables, but we can also get from meat and fish. For example, the red meat is the best source for the iron, and milk is a great source for calcium. How to get balanced vitamins and minerals? Well, eat different colors of fruits and vegetable! Although it is not 100%, the color often indicates what kind of nutrition the particular fruit or vegetable contain. For example, if it is yellow or red, probably high in Vitamin A (or carotin). Extra vitamin D and E may need to be get from animal source, such as fish and milk.
Further, many fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants (some vitamins such as A and C is antioxidants), and it could repair the damage caused by breathing oxygen in the air. Yes, we need oxygen to live, but it is also some side effect!
Although human body can combine the nutritions taken different time in the day, and efficiently use them when they are needed, it is ideal if you can eat all these elements at every meal. If you eat one particular component, your body does not feel you got all the nutrition you need, and sends a hunger signal, and you tend to eat more than you need. This is especially true, if you eat carbohydrate alone, such as white bread. It is great idea to eat a sandwich with vegetable and turkey slice with some virgin olive oil!
Based on this, many nutritional scientists are paying more and more attention to Mediterranean dishes. They are well balanced, and gives more vitamins, minerals, essential oils. Although it is not perfect for everyone, it is worth checking out some of the recipes. In any cases, they are delicious!
OK, now you got ideas. Think what you can do to create delicious balanced meal for your health!
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