Getting Proper Nutrition

artwork by Heidi Bosch Romano Being healthy starts with good nutrition. Most people who are in poor health are the first ones to make excuses about why they don't have the time or the ability to eat right. What happens in the long run is that eventually they may become so uncomfortable in their body, or so sick, that they are willing to do anything to feel better. Instead of waiting, why not start now to prevent that from happening? Remove non–essential items from your diet (AKA junk food), and replace them with more nutritious substitutes. Make it easier to avoid reaching for conveniently-packaged junk food by preparing nutritious, ready-to-eat meals ahead of time, and then freezing them in single-serve portions that you can use throughout the week. In the long run, the more time you spend working on making it easier to eat well, the less time you will have to spend at the doctor.

Nutrition Basics

The following are the commonly-known basic nutrients necessary to maintain good health:

1. Water:
More than half of the body is made up of water. Water transports nutrients to the cells, carries wastes away, is used to regulate body temperature, helps lubricate the joints, and is the most important element that our body needs.

2. Protein:
Proteins go by many names. It is needed for growth and repair of body tissues, those called enzymes are used for digestion, those called hormones are used for growth and metabolism, and those called antibodies fight disease and infection.

3. Lipids (fatty acids):
Lipids, more commonly referred to as fats, are an energy source used by the muscles and for bodily functions. Excess amounts are stored by the body for future use. They lubricate and insulate the body, help the bones and teeth use calcium, they carry vitamins A D E and K to the organs, they cushion the organs. They are needed for normal growth, healthy blood, arteries, nerves and skin; they are part of most body tissues; and they are needed to help form hormones and are used to digest food.

4. Complex Carbohydrates (from fruit and vegetables):
Carbohydrates are the main energy source for all body functions, they break down lipids, and they regulate protein and lipid metabolism. The most nutritious type are the high-density carbohydrates found in vegetables such as broccoli and whole fruits such as apples and oranges. The types to avoid are highly processed sugars found in candy and soft drinks which are harmful to health.

5. Vitamins:
Vitamins are organic substances found only in plants and animals, they work with enzymes in their various processes such as digestion, growth and metabolism. Vitamin D is created in the body from the exposure to the sun. We need vitamin D for strong bones and healthy skin. Spending limited time in the sun each day is essential for the body to make vitamin D.

6. Minerals:
Minerals help make bones and teeth strong; they help regulate water balance and acid alkaline balance; and most importantly, they keep the heart, nerves and brain functioning properly.

Recommended Food Sources

Foods to Avoid

Healthful Eating as Prevention to Disease

(Source: http://www.umm.edu/)

Essential Fats (Lipids/fatty acids)

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils; English walnuts; and flaxseed, linseed, olive oils) reduce inflammation and help prevent risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. These essential fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be particularly important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids (found in evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils; egg yolk; meats, organ meats, and other animal-based foods; and Spirulina) are necessary for stimulating skin and hair growth, maintaining bone health, regulating metabolism, and maintaining reproductive capability.

The proper balance between these essential acids is one omega-3 fatty acid to four omega-6 fatty acids.

Foods with Healthful Properties

(Source: theEpiCentre.com)

Note: Not all people can tolerate certain foods. Be sure to consult a nutritionist before making any dietary changes.