What Is Nutrition?
Many of us might have a rough idea of what types of food we should be eating, 5 pieces of fruit or veg a day right? Or is it 10 now? We must eat Protein, with every meal. We should eat fats but only healthy fats (whatever they are?…does chocolate count?)
The point here is; we might have a good idea of what consists of a healthy diet, but do we know what the food groups do and how much we should be consuming? In the UK alone 50% of adults are overweight and 1 in 5, 10-11 year old’s are classed as overweight or obese (British Nutrition Foundation, 2018). This would suggest that no we don’t. By not fueling our bodies with the right foods in the right amounts, it can affect our ability to take part in activities, how we think and how we feel.
Food Is Your Fuel
Imagine trying to run a car on the wrong type of fuel, petrol instead of diesel or vise versa. The inevitable is that the car won’t like it, therefore it’s likely to break down. And with the breakdown comes the cost of a small fortune in repairs from the damage caused.
Now imagine, instead of a car, it’s a body – your body, and instead of petrol or diesel for fuel, it’s food for fuel. So by putting the wrong type of fuel (food) into our bodies, then just like a car, they won’t work very well. If our bodies are not working correctly then the likelihood is we will be more prone to illness, we will have less energy, gain weight and be at a far greater risk of developing health and lifestyle related conditions such as diabetes, strokes and heart disease.
Unlike cars, we can’t just trade our body in for a new one if we don’t take care of it correctly. So it’s of the upmost importance that we know which are the right foods to eat, mixed with the correct amount of exercise to allow us to keep ourselves in the best condition. There are many ways in which we can look after ourselves. To do this we need to blend the correct types of food with an adequate amount of exercise.
Exercise is the ying to nutrition’s yang. Both can work in harmony together to help build a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The NHS recommends that everyone from 5yr olds to 95yr olds should take part in some form or exercise regularly throughout the week.
The amount of exercise and how hard you work depends on your age but, a rule for everyone is that it should consist of a mix of two forms; aerobic and strength building (nhs.co.uk, 2018). Most people think that exercise should be aerobic and think of cardio based activities such as brisk walking, running or cycling but strength training activities can also raise that heart rate and help you to tone those muscles that keep us moving.
Did you know, the more muscle you build, the more calories you naturally burn? Now, we’re not asking everyone to pump so much iron to be the next Schwarzenegger, but strength training doesn’t mean building bulky muscles. Exercises aimed at building strength can develop our core muscles, help relieve tension and increase flexibility.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind.
There’s a lot of truth in the saying “you are what you eat”, a concept called the ‘gut-brain barrier’. Basically, what we eat greatly influences the way that we feel and in the same way we need to keep our bodies physically healthy we also need to keep our minds healthy. Eating a balanced and varied diet alongside taking exercise will naturally release feel good chemicals (call endorphins) these can increase our sense of well being, helping to reduce stress and improve overall mental health.
Water is essential for almost every bodily function. It maintains the health of every cell in our body. It allows blood to flow. Lubricates joints, regulates body temperature and helps with digestive functions. Water cannot be stored by out body, so needs fresh supplies everyday. Our body can last a few weeks without food but only a few days without water.
Minerals are essential for good health and help our body grow, develop and function. There are 16 essential minerals, calcium, chloride, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium. Selenium, sodium, sulphur and zinc.
Vitamins are micro nutrients that are required by our body in small amounts. Most vitamins cannot be produced by our body so they must be obtained through our diets. Vitamins have 2 categories, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and water soluble vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 AND C.
Fats have two main types, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, butter, lard, cheese, cream, chocolate. Unsaturated fats are found in olive and rapeseed oil, avocado, almond and brazil nuts as well as oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
Proteins are your body’s building and repair tools. They build and repair your muscles, bones, cartilage, skin and blood. They are found in mean, poultry, seafood, beans, peas and eggs.
Carbohydrates are your body’s energy source. They come from the sugars, starches and fibres that are found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products.