Nutrition and Your Health
Your habits are either healing or killing you
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Proper nutrition has a tremendous impact on your physical and psychological health. Lack of adequate nutrition, including excess nourishment, can have a toll on your body "Only two common lifestyle habits are more influential: smoking and using other forms of tobacco and drinking alcohol in excess." (Sizer & Whitney, 2017, p. 3). This article will discuss classes of nutrients, characteristics of a healthy diet, and the science behind nutrition.
Proper diet and exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle, including mental health. Your nutrition can affect your serotonin levels. Serotonin is essential for your mental and physical health. It is created mostly in your digestive tract. Eva Selhub MD states that "people who take part in diets like the Mediterranean diet and traditional Japanese diets show that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat the typical western diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy." (Eva Selhub MD Harvard.edu APRIL 05, 201). The old saying you are what you eat is true to a point as in any food that your body is unable to use or void during that day's wake/ sleep cycle is either turned into fat or the new cellular growth your body does each day naturally this is why proper nutrition and moderation of diet is important to physical and psychological health.
There are six classes of nutrients carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbohydrates, fat, protein, and vitamins contain carbons and come from living things like plants or animals. These nutrients have energy that is directly converted from the sun or energy that was gained by the animal eating nutrients that originally can from the sun. "When you eat plant-derived foods such as fruits, grains, or vegetables, you obtain and use the solar energy they have stored. Plant-eating animals obtain their energy in the same way, so when you eat animal tissues, you are eating compounds containing energy that came originally from the sun." (Sizer & Whitney, 2017, p. 3).
Protein is a nutrient that graces all the diets as something that is sometimes misused to help burn fat. Many people push excessive protein intake to burn fat or gain muscle, but what people do not say is how protein is used primarily for growth, health, and body maintenance.
All of your hormones, antibodies, and other important substances are composed of protein. Protein only fuels the body if necessary, an overconsumption of protein can be harmful to the body when not balanced ina proper diet, which depends on factors like ages and activity levels.
Carbohydrates, despite what many diets claim is essential to a healthy body, carbohydrates, when consumed from the proper sources in the appropriate quantity. Unfortunately, many carbs people consume are accompanied by ingredients that are also detrimental to your health you should look for whole grains, beans, and fiber-rich vegetables and fruits instead of refined grains and products with added sugar.
Fats are a misunderstood portion of a balanced diet. Fats are portrayed as something that is toxic for your health, and it can be when it is not the right fats or not consumed in a proper quantity as a balanced diet. According to Harvard Medical School, "fat supports many of your body's functions such as vitamin and mineral absorption, blood clotting, building cells, and muscle movement." (December 11, 2019). You can find healthy fats in nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils (avocado, olive oil).
Vitamins are micronutrients that support the body's functions and help fight off disease. Some are potent antioxidants like vitamin C that help empower the body to keep a robust immune system. You can find these nutrients in whole foods and fortified foods as well as multivitamins.
Minerals are sometimes confused with vitamins and still have a shroud of mystery around them because of that. Minerals like vitamins help keep the body running properly, and minerals like zinc help boost the immune system. Some minerals help regulate blood pressure and support your red blood cells and hormone creation.
Water is incredibly important to keeping your body functioning properly. You cannot survive without water like you can without food. The rule is that you can only go a few days without water, but as western diet quality continues to fall you the amount of water consumption on these poor diets should increase to help the body deal with all the additives and sugars the average American is consuming.
A healthy diet's five characteristics are adequacy, balance, calorie control, moderation, and variety. These five characteristics are critical to a healthy diet, and improper balance to these can cause one to have a poor diet.
Adequacy is the quality of the food you are consuming. Does the meal contain the proper nutrients and fiber? Today, many foods that are considered a part of a balanced meal are supposed to be consumed in smaller quantities than people are consuming because there is something like added sugars that are present and should not be consumed in large numbers.
Balance is not overindulging in one food than the others. A perfect example is if you go to a steak house and eat a twenty-two-ounce steak and a small portion of green beans, you have not had a balanced meal and have way over consumed your meat amount under-consumed your fiber and other micronutrients.
Calorie control almost goes hand in hand with adequacy and balance, and in today's diet, calories are seen as the negative for a meal as in people will reach for a low-calorie food even if it is not a quality food to eat. The caloric intake for a meal is dependent on the person eating the meal and their expression of energy throughout the given day.
Moderation is an essential part of life. You should make a meal in moderation. Sitting down at the table and overindulging, even of a well-balanced meal, is too much nutrition for the body and can cause weight gain even though the meal consumed is healthy.
A variety of diets help prevent a build-up of toxins from eating the same foods every day. In a perfect world, we would eat our meals based on that day's nutritional needs. This, of course, is not as easily calculated as it is eating the same foods every day, but changing up the meats and vegetables consumed each meal can be very beneficial to a healthy body providing a better range of the six nutrients your body needs.
Science is a field of knowledge composed of organized facts, and so is what we know about nutrition today. Through the scientific method, we can recognize questions that can be answered by researching and adapting the knowledge we have. There are four different types of studies that can be used in researching and developing dietary guidelines. They are case, epidemiological, intervention, and laboratory studies.
Case studies individuals in clinical settings so researchers can observe treatments and their effects. This study gives the research individual observations of what diet transition can do for the person's wellness.
Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution, patterns, and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. We can correlate disease with nutritional behaviors and find imbalances of the defined population's diets.
Intervention studies allow us to intervene and experiment on the diet of a defined group of people to see how the changes in their diets positively or negatively affect their wellness.
Laboratory studies are more rigorous studies designed to pinpoint specific interactions within the testing parameters and are more often used on animals or people who are suffering and are amid diagnosis.
The six stages of behavior change are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and adoption. These six stages were introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, who studied ways to help people quit smoking. Understanding the elements of change is key to unlocking the full potential of the stages.
The change elements are readiness to change: Do you have the resources and knowledge to successfully change lasting change?
Barriers to change: Is there anything preventing you from changing?
Expect relapse: What might trigger a return to a former behavior?
Pre-contemplation is no consideration of changing and most likely will take an eye-opening moment to get past this element and start compiling action steps to move forward.
Contemplation is that step that has you beginning to understand that there may be a better way, and a commitment will need to be made.
Preparation is setting initial goals and spelling out a plan to help you achieve these goals.
Action is committing and taking the time to complete your goals of creating new behaviors and acting them out.
Maintenance is integrating the new behavior into your lifestyle, identifying lapses, and pushing beyond them.
Adoption is the completed cycle of getting rid of the old negative behavior and complete integration of the new behavior, in this case, proper nutritional diets and habits.
Sizer, F. & Whitney, E. (2017). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies (14th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
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About the Creator
I am a retired Navy vet with multiple combat deployments. I have come to learn that I in fact do not know it all and know very little. My goal is to learn more, listen better, take the time to see things from multiple view points and share.
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