What are the rules for a healthy diet? A healthy diet must include physical activities, and healthy body weight are the foundation of a person’s health and well being.
Healthy and Balanced Diet
A healthy diet, physical activities, and healthy body weight are the foundation of a person’s health and well being. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential for decreasing the risk of developing serious health outcomes or conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. You have always to remember that what is in your food is in your blood. Good nutrition is based on various plant foods, a variety of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and low in animal proteins. Foods contain Dietary Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins.
Healthy Diet / Dietary Carbohydrates
When we talk about carbohydrates in a diet, we are usually talking either about food rich in starch known as complex carbohydrates (made of many sugars – polysaccharides) or simple sugars known as dietary carbohydrates. Types of simple sugars are glucose, fructose, and galactose – they are called monosaccharides. Carbohydrates are a high source of energy (calories) – 1 gram of carbohydrates gives us 4 calories.
When combined glucose and fructose they form the notorious table sugar. Most people don’t know that the excess of sugar in our diet comes from processed food. Things like canned food, soda, and cereals have added sugar as a preservative, for better taste, and to increase shelf life as well.
Glucose when combined with galactose they form lactose – Lactose is the sugar in milk and some people have hard to digest. I am sure you have heard about lactose intolerance. People who have this condition must avoid dairy products.
What Causes Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose as all other nutrients is supposed to be absorbed in the small intestines. Sometimes this action cannot be performed in the small guts. The lactose continues its passage to the large intestine where it is broken by gas-producing bacteria. This chemical reaction causes bloating and discomfort for people with such a condition.
Complex carbohydrates or polysaccharides are dietary fibers. There are two types of dietary fibers: soluble and insoluble fibers. Our body is not able to break down the dietary fibers. Thus, they cannot be any source of energy. Both types of fibers are found in fruits and vegetables. When choosing brown rice over white or whole wheat over white we make a healthier choice by increasing the amount of fibers in our diet. This choice prevents us also of getting hungry too quickly.
Soluble fibers dissolve in water and it is believed to support the intestinal walls known as the guts’ wall in addition to regulating cholesterol in the blood.
Insoluble fibers do not absorb water and act as a stool softener. Its main role is to prevent constipation and speed the passage of food in the digestive system.
Fats have been a huge topic for debate last years. What do you have to know about fats and their role in the human body?
- Fats are significant for the internal balance of our body
- They have an important role in children’s growth and brain development
- Fats serve as a cushion to protect the internal organs
- They are a source of energy
- Fats regulate the level of blood sugar by slowly releasing glucose or sugar into the blood
- You are less likely to feel hungry when consuming fats
Over the past decades, scientists have been researching the link of fat to heart disease, specifically about the plaque that builds up in the arterial blood vessels – Cholesterol. Yet, if our diet is based on carbohydrates, they also contribute to forming the same kind of plaque in the arterial blood vessels. We must know the different types of fats and which one is linked to a healthier body.
Unsaturated Fats are divided into 2 types:
- Naturally occurring fats: found in vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts. This type is not tightly packed and it has a liquid form.
- Man-made fats: found in margarine, reheated oil for French fries, and they are unhealthier from the naturally occurring fats. Reheating the unsaturated fats causes them to be transformed into trans fats. Trans-fats play a major role in increasing the bad cholesterol known as LDL and reducing the good cholesterol known as HDL – It is believed that HDL is protective against cholesterol in the blood vessels.
Healthy diet & Fats
- Are tightly packed together
- Have solid consistency and resemble a butter package.
- Raise the amount of bad cholesterol in our bodies.
- Found in animal fats, such as red fatty meat, dairy products. Some vegetable oils also contain saturated fats, examples are coconut oil and palm kernel oil. Saturated fats provide energy 9 calories/gram while in proteins and carbohydrates the energy provided is 4 calories/gram.
The bottom line, the best advice is to consume naturally occurring fats in moderation with a major focus on unsaturated fats and lesser amounts of saturated fats.
Animal proteins & healthy diet
When reheated, unsaturated are transformed into trans fats. Trans-fats have to major roles.:
- Increase the bad cholesterol known as LDL and promote the arterial plaques build-up (cholesterol).
- Reduce the good cholesterol known as HDL – It is believed that HDL is protective against cholesterol in the blood vessels.
Healthy Diet / How to Calculate Body Fat?
The commonly used measure is the body mass index – BMI – It is a simple way to measure our weight adjusted to our height. Body Mass Index is obtained when dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. However, this method of measurement has several disadvantages. First, it doesn’t make a difference between fat mass and lean mass – For instance, athletes are usually lean and muscular and have a high body mass index. Second, it does not give information about the distribution of fat around the body. To calculate or have more information about the fat tissue in the body, researchers often measure waist circumference, hip circumference, and waist-hip ratio. In summary, greater body fat increases the risk of cancers – The most common types are breast, colon, and rectal cancer.
After water, proteins are the most abundant substance in our bodies. They count for 10 to 20% of the cells’ body mass and are a very important part of a balanced diet. Some of the important roles of proteins:
- They are the building block of the body.
- Proteins are an essential part of genetic control.
- They have a crucial role in cell function and reproduction.
- Proteins are very important for immune function.
- They act as transporters of different substances in our bod
- Proteins maintain the fluid distribution and fluid balance in our system.
Proteins are divided into 2 groups and each one has a specific role. Proteins are made up of 20 different types of amino acid but 9 of them are essential for the body’s function.
- Meat and dairy products.
- Vegetables, such as tofu, beans, lentils, and nuts.
The animal sources of proteins tend to be complete. In other words, they contain a sufficient amount of all 9 essential amino acids. Those amino-acids are significant to support the processes of growth and repair in our system.
The non-animal sources of protein tend to be incomplete. Despite containing all 9 amino-acids they do not have the amount needed to support the body function. Hence, if you are a vegetarian, the trick is to combine a few types of ingredients – aka Mexican beans with rice, Indian food is also rich and known for richness in vegetable ingredients. When combining different types of non-animal food ingredients, you end up getting the 9 essential amino acids for the normal functioning of our body. The key for a vegetarian diet is the variety of its ingredient.