The importance of good nutrition

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Good nutrition is important to staying healthy. It gives us the energy we need, strengthens our immune systems and helps our bodies stay protected from viruses. Most important, our bodies can function properly when we practise some of the basics of good nutrition, such as eating balanced meals containing all six food groups: fruits and vegetables, staples, food from animals, legumes and nuts, and fats and oils.

But did you know that what you drink matters, too? It’s important to be careful of sugary drinks with little nutritional value. And while water is always recommended, there are healthy juice and smoothie options, too.

Most of us do know what healthy eating is all about: less fried food, less sugar and more vegetables and fruits. When it comes to having good nutrition, however, too many of us do not know the full details of the benefits of good nutrition and how to go about achieving it.

Nutrition is an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle, and the importance of getting it right cannot be overstated.

Yesterday was observed as Caribbean Nutrition Day and marked the beginning of National Nutrition Awareness Week.

HOW GOOD NUTRITION BOOSTS YOUR HEALTH • Weight management: A lot of us mistakenly associate weight loss with fad diets, but eating a nutritious diet is really the best way to go about maintaining a healthy weight and at the same time attaining the necessary nutrients for healthy body function. Swapping unhealthy junk food and snacks out for nutritious food is the first step to keeping your weight within a healthy range relative to your body composition, without the need to jump on the fad-diet bandwagon.

• Protecting you from chronic diseases: Many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are caused by poor nutrition and obesity. Taking a preventive approach with a whole food-based nutrition plan also reduces the risk of developing other related diseases such as kidney failure.

• Strengthening your immune system: Our immune system requires essential vitamins and minerals in order to function optimally. Eating a wholesome and varied diet ensures your immune system functions at peak performance and guards against illnesses and immunodeficiency problems.

• Delaying the onset of ageing

Certain types of food, such as tomatoes and berries, can increase vigour and improve cognitive performance, all the while protecting your body against the effects of ageing.

• Supporting your mental well-being: Eating the right foods can actually make you happier – nutrients such as iron and omega-3 fatty acids found in protein-rich food can boost your mood. This contributes to better overall mental well-being and protects you against mental health issues.

So, how does one build a sensible nutrition plan then? Healthy eating is all about eating balanced proportions of nutrient-rich foods from the various food groups, as well as adopting several healthy eating habits.

LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner