Nutrition is one of our major life needs, so we should be aiming for optimal health at all times. However, eating good food is not the only key to good health. Keeping our body and mind healthy requires much more than just what you eat. The core of a healthy lifestyle includes having a nutritious diet, adequate physical activity, positive social interactions, and mental stimulation. However, since food is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle, below we are going to look into 10 things that you should be making sure to do so that you are as healthy as possible.
Include protein with every meal
Including protein with every meal helps you to feel full and can even help you to lose weight. If your diet consists mainly of carbs and fats, you may not feel satisfied, which often leads to overeating. Protein can be found in several foods, such as meat and fish, eggs and milk, as well as nuts, grains, and pulses so, no matter what diet you follow, there will be plenty of ways for you to get your protein.
Eat oily fish
Fish oil is a form of fat that comes from fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for our health. But do not be put off by this, if you do not eat fish. You can also find omega-3 in nuts and seeds, as well as plant oils, or even take supplements if you are worried that you are not getting what you need. Infact, most Americans do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, which contributes to heart disease, depression, and other conditions.
Eat whole grains
Eating whole grains is a healthy way to control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease. Whole grains contain fibre, vitamins, and minerals, which help you maintain a healthy weight and fill you up, so you eat less. Whole grains reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Although eating whole wheat bread or brown rice is great, plenty of meals containing lots of whole-grain foods are quick and easy to prepare.
Eat a rainbow
Eating the rainbow may seem like something you’d see in a children’s book, but it’s an important lesson to remember when it comes to eating healthy and staying fit. The theory behind eating the rainbow is that it provides your body with nutrients from the different coloured fruits and vegetables, which boosts your immunity to disease and helps you maintain a healthy body.
Eat your greens
When it comes to the rainbow, however, the reputation of one color is truly formidable, and with good reason! Eating your greens can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, maintain healthy bones and teeth, and also aid with wound healing. The greens that are best for your overall health include dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach. These greens contain a multitude of vitamins and nutrients, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid.
Include healthy fats
While certain fats are bad for you, eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of good fats, such as in avocados, is key to optimum health. Studies have found that the monounsaturated fats found in avocados can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol), improve blood lipid levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.1 In addition to avocados, foods that contain lots of these healthy fats include oily fish, eggs, nuts, and even dark chocolate!
Use extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil may be mild-tasting, fruity, or slightly bitter. Lighter olive oils (plain, extra light, light) are more flavourful than darker olive oils (virgin, extra-virgin). Olive oil is a great example of healthy fats mentioned above—it doesn’t raise your LDL cholesterol, is a key source of monounsaturated fat, and is an excellent way to look after your heart. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends people replace things like butter and mayonnaise with olive oil.
Nuts are good for you. They are full of healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a great source of antioxidants that fight any nasties in the body that can potentially cause disease. While nuts get a bad rap for causing weight gain because they are high in fat and calories, as long as you eat them in moderation, they really can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Get Enough Fibre
In fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American consumed just 18 grams of fibre each day in 2014, compared to 25 grams in 1994. Fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer and can also help the digestive system function as it should. While some health conditions—such as diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and kidney stones—may require a certain amount of fibre to help them recover from this, most Americans aren’t getting enough fibre in their diets. This can be easily solved by making sure to eat things like whole wheat pasta, pulses, chickpeas, and certain fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre, such as apples, pears, and berries.
Eat more fruit and veggies
About 80 percent of American adults don’t meet their daily need for fruit and/or vegetables, which is a very high number, indeed. The benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, at least according to a recent study, is a positive boost to the overall health of everyone. The study, which was published in Nutrients, a population-health journal, found that by eating more fruits and vegetables, people of every age, race, and background have up to a 30 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, and other problems compared to people who don’t eat the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This may also translate to improved health for younger adults, whose health tends to break down more rapidly as they age.
If you find your diet is perhaps not the healthiest it could be at the moment, don’t panic. There are plenty of simple changes and swaps you can make in order to improve your diet and enjoy the benefits that it will hopefully give you both physically and mentally. While food is only one part of a healthy lifestyle, it is an incredibly important part so being able to get on top of it will mean that you are well on your way to achieving optimum health for life.