Healthy eating is not just the latest diet craze. It’s a lifestyle choice that offers the body the nutrition and energy it needs to function at 100% capacity. Those who commit to adding nutrient-rich foods into their daily meal plans are rewarded with health and vitality.
Incorporating a healthy mix of vitamins, minerals and nutrients into your daily diet is a recognized smart choice and one that can literally change a person’s life for the better. You don’t need a nutritionist degree to start taking steps towards a healthier life.
They Do a Body Good
There are certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that every body needs in order to be at its optimal stamina and performance level.
Some of the most important are:
Vitamin A – Vitamin A is one of the major players of the immune system and is essential to healthy eyes and vision. Good sources of Vitamin A are sweet potatoes, spinach, eggs, milk and carrots.
Vitamin B6 – The term B6 refers to not one vitamin but 6 compounds that affect the body in a similar way. B6 helps to make antibodies which fight disease and also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Diabetics should be sure to include B6 rich foods into their diets, which includes fish and poultry. But perhaps the food with the highest concentration of B6 is the garbanzo bean, otherwise known as the chickpea. Just one cup contains 55% of the recommended dosage.
Vitamin C – We all know that Vitamin C is important in keeping our immune system in tip-top shape. But did you also know it helps aid in the metabolism of protein as well as the synthesis of neurotransmitters?
But what if you’re someone who just doesn’t like citrus fruits, which are the most popular sources of Vitamin C?
Not to worry, there are plenty of other foods that contain as much as, if not more than oranges and grapefruits. Sweet red peppers actually lead the pack in Vitamin C, containing 95 mg per serving. Other excellent sources are kiwi, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Folate – You’ve heard of Folate, no doubt, but do you really know what it does? Folate is a type of B vitamin and it’s important because it helps the body form new protein and tissues. It’s especially important for pregnant women because it helps prevent birth defects. Good sources of Folate are dark leafy greens, dairy products and nuts.
Vitamin K – This vitamin is extremely important because it helps your blood clot. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to stop bleeding when you cut or injure yourself. Think K for “Kut.” An excellent source of vitamin K is Kale (which is kind of Kool). Other leafy greens such as collard greens and spinach are an excellent source as well.
Multivitamin or Multimyth?
Multivitamins are a billion dollar industry that has grown in the last decade. According to industry data, about half of all American adults take a daily multivitamin.
But some medical experts are questioning whether vitamins and supplements really do much good, and in some cases, could actually do harm?
While it’s common knowledge that vitamin deficiencies can cause illness and disease, those who are healthy and eat a balanced diet full of whole foods, fruits and vegetables should get all of the vitamins their body requires.
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ senior health and medical editor agrees, saying, “For most people, eating a well-balanced diet from all the food groups is the best way to ensure you get the vitamins you need.”
Besser himself doesn’t take vitamins. “I eat a very balanced diet […] not everyone falls into that category.”
There is a segment of the population who can probably benefit from supplementation, like pregnant women and the elderly. For both of these groups, a focus on Calcium, Folic acid and Vitamin D is recommended, according to Besser.
Proper Diet and Nutrition for a Healthier You
An easy way to ensure your body is getting the proper nutrition is to simply cut out all of the garbage and replace it with healthy whole foods, fruits and vegetables. You can’t eat fast food every day, add an apple once a week and expect the nutrients to magically appear.
You’ve got to make an effort and incorporate nutrient-dense foods such as avocados, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, berries, lentils, and lean sources of proteins such as turkey and chicken.
Having said this, every individual’s needs and requirements will be different, so in order to make sure your needs are being met, it’s a good idea to meet with a registered dietician who can take into account your food preferences and allergies or other health issues (such as lactose intolerance), and come up with an eating plan that will keep you healthy.
You can also talk with your doctor about proper eating habits and possibly doing blood-work to get a baseline of vitamin levels in your system.
Eating healthier may seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In order to adopt healthy eating habits, it’s a smart idea to make gradual changes over time. Expecting too much from yourself too soon will only set you up for failure, and your health and well-being deserve more than that.
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