Food plays a huge role in our day to day lives, providing us with energy and nutrients, as well as comfort, social interaction and entertainment. Good nutrition is essential for the healthy function of every cell in the body, affecting our health both physically and mentally.
The benefits of good nutrition are many including healthy weight, increased energy levels, positive mood and good quality sleep.
In Australia, like many other Western countries, we are living in a time where food is in abundance, yet food related disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are increasingly prevalent. Modern food, designed for convenience and sensory gratification, is often highly processed, along with the addition of additives including salt and sugar, to improve taste, preserve, and increase shelf life. Ironically, although food is readily available, as a result of these production methods, many people are highly deficient in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Prior to the 1960s, before the supermarket was introduced in Australia, food was largely purchased fresh and prepared at home. This lifestyle not only offered valuable nutrition, but also the nurturing benefits of eating a lovingly prepared home cooked meal. In addition, the very act of purchasing food brought about an increased awareness of healthy eating and the different food groups, as each food was purchased from a different shop: meat was purchased from the butcher, fruit and vegetables from the green grocer, bread from the bakery, grains, seeds and spices from the general store and milk was delivered to your door.
Good healthy nutrition can be made simple by “getting back to basics” including a wide variety of fresh whole foods, from each food group, eaten in moderation.
Eating the food that mother-nature provides offers an abundance of vitamins and minerals, health promoting and disease preventing phytochemicals, all in a form that the body finds easy to digest.
Key Principles to Healthy Eating
Eat a Rainbow
A great way to improve your health is to eat a variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables daily. Phytochemicals found in fruit and vegetables give them their colour and offer powerful health boosting and healing properties.
For this reason many fruits and vegetables are considered to be "Superfoods".
A great way to increase your intake of raw fruit and vegetables is to drink freshly squeezed juice daily, that has been prepared using a masticating juicer. Raw juices are rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are easily assimilated into the bloodstream.
Eat Beneficial Fats
The modern Western diet is typically high in saturated fat and is linked with elevated cholesterol and heart disease. As a result there has been a huge focus on reducing fat intake and many people are now confused and anxious about how much fat they should consume, or are avoiding it all together.
Twenty five to thirty percent of our diet should come from healthy fats, including monounsaturated fat from avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil and omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish and linseeds.
Eat Lean Protein
Protein is found in most cells of the human body and is required for growth and repair of tissues. Protein is made up of long-chains of smaller units, called amino acids, that are the building blocks for body tissue including muscle, blood, hormones, bone, hair, nails, antibodies and enzymes.
Another advantage of eating protein is that it has a high satiety value and regulates blood sugar, helping you to feel fuller for longer.
Good sources of protein include lean beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, nuts, legumes, lentils and pulses.
Eat Whole Grains
The four main grains are corn, oats, rice and wheat, with refined wheat flour and its by-products being the basis of many pre-packaged foods such as bread, pasta, noodles, cakes and pastries. Whole grains still contain the bran (the outer coat of the seed) and the germ (the inner sprouting section of the grain). The bran and germ contain many nutrients including fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, chromium, essential fatty acids and protein.
Today many ancient grains such as amaranth, quinoa, spelt, rye, and millet are becoming readily available in both supermarkets and health food shops, enabling us to have a wider variety of whole grains and whole flours for baking.
Drink Adequate Water Daily
Every cell in the human body contains water, with the human body being made up of approximately 70% water. Water is required for many metabolic processes to take place within the body, is part of every cell membrane and is responsible for temperature regulation, transport of nutrients and elimination of waste.
The modern western diet includes many pre-packaged foods that are low in water content,
as well as a high intake of tea, coffee, soft drink and alcohol. It’s not surprising that so many people are dehydrated. An individual’s water intake is determined by their weight, height, activity level, and the weather, but a minimum of 1.5 litres daily is required for most people to replace the water lost through urination, sweat and breathing.
Reduce intake of refined, processed foods
Modern pre-packaged, processed foods have often been stripped of their nutrients and have high levels of salt and/or sugar added. Many breakfast cereals on the market today contain a similar amount of sugar as the average chocolate bar and as much salt as a small packet of chips. Furthermore many pre-packaged foods have synthetic nutrients added to replace the nutrients lost in processing. Reducing intake of pre-packaged foods goes a long way to increasing health by decreasing intake of salt, sugar, and preservatives, whilst increasing fresh foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fibre as well as water content.
"Let Food Be Thy Medicine & Medicine Be Thy Food"