If there’s one thing you can do for yourself today that will pay dividends for years to come, it’s eating nutritious food. Simply put – good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Eating healthy foods keeps our bodies working well, helps maintain a healthy weight, and helps fight off illness and injury. Good nutrition also plays a part in reducing the risk of serious diseases including:
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
The impact of poor nutrition can vary. When you don’t fuel your body with nutritious foods and drinks, initially you may not feel your best – you might lack energy or experience stomach issues. Over time, consistently poor nutrition can lead to serious conditions including obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t eat a healthy enough diet and the numbers tell the story:
- 20% of people ages 2-19 in the US are obese
- 42% of US adults are obese
- 37.3 million Americans – about 1 in 10 – have diabetes
- 96 million American adults have prediabetes – and most don’t know they have it
4 nutrients help you thrive
Your body needs these four essential nutrients every day to stay healthy:
- Your body needs these four essential nutrients every day to stay healthy:
- Proteins – The amino acids in protein are the building blocks for new cells. They also repair old cells, generate hormones, and keep your immune system healthy.
- Carbohydrates – Your body gets quick energy in the form of glucose from the carbohydrates in your diet.
- Fats – Some people believe fats aren’t good for them, but your body actually needs some fat to grow, produce new cells, and help vitamins move through your body. Focus on eating the healthy fats found in nuts, fish, grains, and vegetables.
- Minerals and vitamins – Minerals are chemical elements that support many bodily functions. Vitamins keep your body working well too, creating strong bones, sharp eyes, healthy skin, and hair. Eating a balanced diet of healthy foods should help you get enough of both.
Quick tips for better nutrition
Small nutritional changes you can make every day can add up to better overall health in the long run.
- Eat the rainbow – Enjoy a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables every day. “Eating the rainbow” ensures you get the vitamins and minerals you need.
- Choose whole grains – Whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, and oatmeal have the nutrients and fiber you need that processed breads and pastas can lack.
- Focus on fresh – Whole, fresh fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are good for your body.
- Get enough protein – Protein is key for energy and strengthening your body. Depending on your activity level, age, and weight, about 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein. The recommended dietary allowance of protein for a sedentary adult is .08 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Protein needs generally increase as we get older to about 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
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