Nutritional awareness and “eating right” are one in the same. It is a basic requirement for a healthy life. March is National Nutrition Awareness Month, dedicated to initiating positive lifestyle changes. Filling your body with the best fuel possible will help it to run better and longer. Too many times we eat out of boredom, comfort, or habit. It is time to stop and ask yourself, “Am I hungry? Do I need it or just want it?” Here are some key nutritional elements to make a healthier you. Put your focus on the following:
- Vegetables and Fruits
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), less than 1 out of 10 people in the US eat enough fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Aim for at least 5-a-day fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet.
- Fill Up On Fiber
Fiber makes a person feel fuller for a longer period of time, decreases cholesterol, regulates bowel movements, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans. The recommended intake for dietary fiber is 25-38 grams per day. Increase gradually to reduce intestinal discomfort.
- Choose Healthy Fats and Lean Protein
Healthy fats include salmon, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, and most vegetable oils. Incorporate lean animal protein about the size of your palm and plant based protein like beans, tofu, tempeh, edamame, nuts, seeds, and grains
- Natural State
Highly processed foods are very popular in today’s super markets. These sugar sweetened, high sodium, caloric, and/or unhealthy fat-laden, easily accessible products increase our risk of diseases. Go back to this saying, “the more natural the state the food is in, the better it will be for your health.”
- Rethink Your Drink
Water is the most essential fluid for the human body. It helps the body regulate temperature, lubricate joints, moisten skin, removal of waste products, and other bodily functions. General recommendations include 8 cups (64 oz.) to 11.5 cups (92 oz.) for women per day and 15.5 cups (124 oz.) for men.
These basic nutritional elements will get you started on better nutritional awareness, better eating habits, and better health. Be aware of what you are eating and become a healthier YOU.
Thank you to the Centers for Disease Control, USDA, American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic and American Diabetes Association for the information in this article. Information provided by Gretchen Halley, MAT, RDN, LD, LMNT, Madison County Health Care System, www.madisonhealth.com