In short: probably not.
In long…studies have shown that while nutrition is one of the most basic concepts to understand, many people continue to struggle with the essential wisdom of good nutrition. Why is this?
Because, largely, eating is one of life”s greatest pleasures. Food, however, must be thought of not only as a source of pleasure, but also as fuel for the body. This concept of fuel for the body – not the artificial or diluted version – is what we need to keep in mind when we think of nutrition. The body needs fuel to function, and the body needs the proper nutrients.
The foods that we eat must provide adequate amounts of five classes of nutrients:
1. carbohydrates (starches and sugars)
5. minerals and vitamins
Each of the above nutrients performs a particular function for the body: For example:
• carbohydrates for energy
• fats become part of cell membranes and transport substances such as vitamins
• minerals help in the functioning of blood production, respiration and bone and tooth formation
Good nutrition is built on balanced meals, moderation and variety. The last element is key! By putting variety in our food choices, we give our bodies sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals. So while we all know that broccoli is healthy, we shouldn”t eat it exclusively at the cost of eating other dark, leafy vegetables such as green peppers and zucchini.
How to Eat Healthy
If you aren”t sure if you”re eating the nutrients that you need, your first step should be to review the US government”s revised food pyramid. The “MyPyramid” model is an interactive tool that can be personalized, depending on age, sex and level of physical activity. It provides dietary guidelines and was “built” by many experts coming from as many health fields as possible. Because a pyramid has a wide base and a narrow top, the US Department of Agriculture put the foods we need most in the larger base.
You may want to compare the USDA”s pyramid with the Healthy Eating Pyramid of the Harvard School of Public Health, which doesn”t deviate significantly from the government”s version. It has daily exercise and weight control also at the lowest base. Moving up the pyramid, one finds whole grain foods (which says must be consumed at most meals), plant oils (including olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower and vegetable). Vegetables come next, followed by nuts and, then fish and poultry and eggs, and then dairy or calcium supplements. At the top of the pyramid are red meats and butter, which the Harvard School of Public Health says must be eaten sparingly.
Monitor your Vitamin Intake
In addition to the food pyramid, another way to help ensure optimal dietary health by referring nutritional guides that provide the nutrient (vitamin and mineral) amounts in any given food. One guide, for example, contains a matrix of vitamins with the following data: the vitamin, its scientific name, good food sources of that vitamin, recommended nutrients intake, toxic dose, symptoms of toxicity, and signs of deficiency.
Talk to an Expert
Many people are more comfortable when they seek the advice of a nutritionist or other qualified expert. This is one way of finding out whether you”re nutrient deficient, especially when you have no time to do your own homework. Just make sure you check out the nutritionist”s credentials. And remember: a second opinion is always advised if your doctor or other healthcare expert recommends something that strikes you as unnecessary or radical.
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