Balanced Nutrition 101
by Punnama Machin
Balanced nutrition entails eating many different foods and being conscious about your consumption of some food and beverage items, but not counting calories. Good diets offer balanced nutrition that reduces cholesterol + blood pressure and maintains your overall well-being in a holistic way - mind, body, and soul. ✨
In this blog post, we answer the most pressing question anyone on the start of their healthful journey would ask one way or another: What is a sustainable diet and how can you practice it?
How To Eat A Balanced Nutrition
To function properly, your body must have the correct combination of nutrients. A balanced diet consists of the following:
They are the primary source of ammunition in your diet. The body uses carbohydrates to build glucose which can be used immediately or stored in your body for later. Too much glucose, however, is stored as fat.
There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Sugars are simple carbohydrates while starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates. However, most people tend to overdo it, so when it comes to your carbs intake, make sure to follow an “eat smart” nutrition.
Proteins help your body build and maintain muscles and other tissues. They also function in the creation of hormones. Like carbohydrates, excess protein is stored as fat.
Animals and vegetables are the two major types of proteins. Too much animal protein can cause high cholesterol, as it is high in saturated fat. Therefore, plant-based protein has been a healthier alternative for decades. By weighing in your options, you can easily learn how to create a balanced diet for your everyday meals.
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Let’s Talk About Amino Acids
When you eat protein, it’s broken down into amino acids which are key metabolic pathways that are necessary for maintenance, growth, reproduction, and immunity. Amino acids contribute to energy production, immune function, metabolism, detoxification, and even our mood, sleep, and so much more.
There are 20 types of amino acids that our body needs, and out of 20, there are 9 that are categorized as essential amino acids. It is important to note that our body cannot produce these 9, so we need to obtain them from foods.
The most well-known source for the complete 9 amino acids is from animal proteins like meat, eggs, and poultry. For plant-based alternatives, soybeans and water lentils are recommended as they provide a complete source of essential amino acids. Alternatively, you can obtain essential amino acids from consuming a variety of plant proteins such as nuts, quinoa, and whole grains.
Strange as it may seem; fat is another nutrient your body requires. It comes in both saturated and unsaturated forms. Saturated fat puts you at risk of health problems. Unsaturated fat is healthy, but if it goes through any type of refinement process, it can become saturated fat. Once you have figured out the right fats for you to consume, then you can follow through with a healthy and sustainable diet.
These are also required nutrients. Different vitamins perform different tasks within the body. They can work with the metabolism to help with energy levels for any task you can think of that you need your body to perform. It has also been noted that certain vitamins can prevent various diseases.
Vitamins as Preventive Healthcare:
- Vitamins A, C, and E, also called antioxidants, can assist with the prevention of coronary artery disease by keeping buildup from occurring on artery walls.
- Vitamin B1 is needed for digestion and proper nervous system function.
- Vitamin B2 is needed for normal cell growth.
- Vitamin B3 helps to detoxify your body.
- Vitamin B12 is required in the production of red blood cells and DNA. Lack of vitamin B12 causes inefficiency of red blood production to effectively transport oxygen throughout your body, and eventually causes you to feel weak and tired. On the other hand, when our body has sufficient vitamin B12, it maximizes our energy level and enhances our cognitive ability.
- Vitamin D assists with the absorption of calcium.
- Vitamin K helps your blood clot.
- Folic acid assists with the production of red blood cells.
Minerals and Trace Elements
These are another nutrient your body requires. Both are used in many different body processes. Minerals like chlorine help make your digestive juices. Phosphorus helps build strong bones. Both can be found in the foods we consume, but with a trace element, your body just needs a tiny amount. Salt is one final nutrient your body requires. You should not consume more than 2,400 milligrams per day though as it might raise your blood pressure.
There might seem to be several guidelines to how to have a sustainable lifestyle through a well-balanced diet. It can be confusing and overwhelming to comb through them all, so we break down everything for you in this simplified section:
1. Fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be on top of your list. When you have all these key nutrients in your everyday plate, you are not only looking at a healthy and sustainable diet, but also ways on how to balance your hormones through diet.
2. Try to consume 400 grams of fruits and vegetables every day. When making your selections for each day, be sure to choose a good variety.
A good rough guide is to eat as many different colors as possible. Why? Well, have you ever heard the expression, “eat your colors?” That refers to the fact that foods are in different color “families” containing different types of antioxidants which have different benefits.
- The yellow-orange color family of peaches and nectarines help our immune systems.
- The purple-red color family of foods (pomegranates, plums, berries) helps reduce inflammation.
It’s important to eat foods from all color groups to ensure you receive a variety of vitamins and minerals to reap the full benefits of antioxidants.
3. You should eat at least three ounces of whole-grain products each day. At least half of your grain intake should be whole-grain based.
4. Your total fat intake should only be between ten and thirty percent of your calories. Most of the fats you consume should be in the form of unsaturated fats, as saturated fats can do much damage to your health. Make sure to consider this factor when building a sustainable diet for fat loss.
5. If you are getting your protein from meat, poultry, beans, milk, or other milk products, they should all be lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
6. Less than ten percent of your calories should come from saturated fats, and you should always try to avoid trans-fatty acid which is mostly found in processed foods and snacks.
7. Alcoholic beverages should only be consumed in moderation.
This guideline is a basic nutrition guide to build a basis for a healthy diet. If you are looking to maximize your health and increase your potential, then you may want to learn more about functional foods. We will cover this topic in our future blogs. We hope this article answers the question on why you should eat a balanced diet and how you can incorporate the key nutrients mentioned above into your everyday meals.