In order for our organs and tissues to function accordingly, each person needs proper nutrition intake from food. What we feed our bodies affects our health in multiple ways. Without the right nutrition, our bodies are more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and more.
Getting the right amount of nutrients every day requires a balanced diet.
What Is Considered “Balanced”
The core of a balanced diet is made up of foods that are low in fat and sugar and high in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. A healthy, balanced diet includes foods from these five groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy.
Vegetables are a fundamental source of essential vitamins and minerals. Having a variety of vegetables in your diet will help you obtain the abundant nutrients they all contain. While they can be enjoyed raw or cooked, it is important to remember that cooking vegetables removes some of their nutritional value.
Based on their nutritional value, vegetables are organized in five subgroups:
- Leafy greens – most nutrition
- Red or orange vegetables
- Starchy vegetables
- Beans and peas (legumes)
- Other vegetables, such as eggplant or zucchini – least nutrition
Aside from being a tasty snack, fruit provides a great source of nutrition. Incorporate fruits that are in season and in your area, as they are fresh and will contain the most nutrients. Instead of getting fruit from juice, eat whole fruits to avoid adding empty calories from additives.
It’s important to be mindful that fruits are high in sugar. Although this sugar is natural, you may want to choose low-sugar fruits if you are watching your sugar intake.
Within grains, there are two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain, which are the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled, which removes the bran and germ of the grain. This process extracts nutrients such as fiber, iron, and certain vitamins. The body breaks down whole grains slowly, while refined grains can cause blood sugar spikes. In order to maintain a balanced diet, at least half of the grains a person eats daily should be whole grains.
Healthy whole grains:
- Brown rice
Protein is an essential nutrient for proper muscle and brain development. Meats and beans are a primary source for protein. If you are getting protein from meat, the health and diet of the animal will influence the fatty acid profile, making grass-fed choices ideal.
Nutritious protein choices:
- Lean beef
- Lean pork
- Lean chicken
Food that contains dairy provides essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. They also contain fat. Therefore, it is best to choose options that are reduced-fat or fat-free. There are plant-based alternatives to regular dairy (such as full-fat cheese and milk) that provide the same nutrients.
Healthy dairy options:
- Low-fat milk
- Fat-free yogurt
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Ricotta or cottage cheese
If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need help in changing your eating habits, come into our office to speak with one of our doctors. We can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need while promoting your overall health. We are open every single day of the week, and no appointment is needed.