Our body needs good food just as much as our car needs fuel. The car won’t run on empty or on substandard and incorrect fuel and neither will our body. The car’s engine has fuel needs and we have nutritional needs.
Throughout our lives, these nutritional needs develop and may change, depending on our age, level of physical activity and on our changing metabolism.
The importance of good nutrition cannot be underestimated. The food we consume doesn’t only have an impact on our physical well-being and performance, but also has a bearing on our mental and emotional well-being.
Our body is a rather complicated machine and fueling it with top-quality food is absolutely essential.
A Quick Word on Junk Food
Before I continue, I must admit that I hate junk food and find it rather offensive. The idea of filling our bodies with an array of dodgy ingredients and chemicals is ludicrous to me. Why would we eat food that is so obviously unhealthy and bad for us? The mind boggles.
Clever advertising may fool us all into thinking of junk food as a source of pleasure, but we really ought to take a step back and consider our physical, emotional and mental needs. Perhaps, it is also necessary to consider how damaging junk food is to our health.
Don’t be tempted, stay away, your body will thank you for it and you will avoid all sorts of serious health issue.
What Our Body Needs Food For
Having established that we need good, nutritious food, we now need to take a look at what our body does with the food we consume. There are several aspects involved:
- Energy: Our body needs fuel to run. We need energy for all our daily activities.
- Metabolism and Building Blocks: The nutrients contained in the food we consume is used to build bone, muscle, blood, organs and hormones.
- Organ Function: Our organs, including our digestion, heart, liver, kidneys and all other internal organs also require fuel.
- Immune System: Our immune system is also maintained by the nutrients we consume.
Elements of a Good Diet
When you buy a food product, it’s important to take a look at the food label. On all labels you will find a standard list of items, including:
- Energy: This item tells us how much energy we get from the food. It is usually measured in calories. Adult males are recommended to consume approximately 2000 calories per day, while a woman’s calorie needs come in at around 1500. The carbohydrates, fats, and protein are converted into energy at different levels.
- Fats: There are two types of fats, saturated fats (usually from meat sources) and unsaturated fats (mainly from vegetable sources). Our body needs fat for vitamin and mineral absorption. Nutritionist and doctors recommend cutting down on saturated fats and consuming unsaturated fats instead. Foods like oily fish, avocados, olive oil and nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats.
- Sugars: Fruit and vegetables contain healthy sugars, as do carbohydrates, while refined sugar is to be enjoyed in moderation.
- Protein: We need protein for our muscles and for a wide variety of repair jobs as well as to maintain healthy skin and hair. While meat is the most commonly used protein, there are some excellent vegetable protein sources like beans, lentils, nuts, oats, seeds and dark green leafy vegetables. Yoghurt and eggs are also good protein providers.
- Carbohydrates: The bulk of our energy comes from carbohydrates like grains and potatoes.
- Fiber: Vegetables are our main source of fiber and fiber is essential for our digestion.
- Sodium: Our body also needs salt, however, moderation is advised.
The following rough intake value apply:
- Protein: 50g
- Fat: 60g (20g of saturated fats)
- Carbohydrates: 310g
- Sugars: 90g
- Sodium (salt):2.3g
- Fibre: 30g
Values may vary from country to country.
It’s Easy to Have a Healthy Diet – Fresh and Unprocessed Please!
It’s actually very easy to maintain a healthy diet. All you need to do is make the bulk of your diet up from fresh and unprocessed foods. Don’t buy factory made food products, instead, buy the ingredients and make your meals from scratch. Eat lots of fruit and vegetable, some lean meat if you wish, seeds and nuts and don’t worry if you have the occasional treat.
A Word on Sports Nutrition
If you are exercising vigorously and frequently, you will need to increase your intake of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Those wishing to build muscle are advised to eat at least five meals per day and snack regularly on protein and carbohydrates. It is advisable to consult a nutritionist or fitness coach.
Good Nutrition is Key
These are just the basic nutritional needs, vitamins and minerals are also important to consider. Regardless of your physical activity level, eating fresh and unprocessed foods is essential.