How to Eat Well and Healthy

To eat well means to eat a variety of foods containing the different nutrients, which are the basic substances that the body needs to remain healthy. The nutrients in food are used by the body:

  • to provide energy for movement
  • to provide heat so that the body temperature remains stable between 36°C and 37°C
  • to provide for normal growth
  • to replace cells as they wear out or are destroyed by illness.

The principles of good nutrition are based on knowing a person’s needs and on satisfying them with foods containing these essentials. The dietary needs of the individual differ according to age, sex and occupation. Children and young people need more protein for growth; men need more food than women; the young and active use more energy and need more food than the elderly or those who lead a quieter life; the manual worker uses more energy and more food than the typist. Climate is also a factor: in cold weather, people need more food to keep warm.

Bearing in mind these broad principles, you can work out the right quantity of food for a particular person. Dieticians calculate food requirements in a scientific manner, using the joule as their unit of measurement: 4.8 joules equals 1 calorie. For Poetical everyday eating, exact calculations or food requirements are unnecessary. What matters is that the diet should be varied and interesting.

Elements in a balanced diet

Ideas of what constitutes a balanced diet have altered from believing that sources of protein in the form of meat and dairy produce were the most important elements, to putting much greater emphasis on wholemeal bread, potatoes and fresh vegetables. This is due to a better understanding of the effects of fibre, sugar and fat on our bodies and to changes in our lifestyle. We eat less than we did years ago, we are not as physically active and the balance of our food has changed: we eat less bread but the same amount of fat, for example. In general, we tend to be over­weight and eat too much fat, sugar and salt, and too little fibre.

Fibre is the part of plant food which passes through the body unchanged. It adds ulk to the diet and helps to prevent or alleviate many bowel problems. Most of us eat only about half of the 30g of fibre we need each day. Eating extra fibre is satis­fying and so helps to reduce the fat and sugar intake.

Fats are high in calories and are often a major factor in excessive weight gain. Some fats are necessary to the body: they are a concentrated source of energy and contain fat soluble vitamins. Saturated fats are linked to a high incidence of heart disease as they raise the blood cholesterol, which in urn can build p inside the artery walls especially around the heart, causing block­age and eventually a heart attack or heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats are safer in this respect but the calorie value is the same.

Sugar can cause dental decay and lead to weight increase. Sugar contains calories but no other nutrient. Try to reduce intake of sweets, cakes and chocolate, and avoid products with added sugar. Use artificial sweeteners, unsweetened fruit juices, low calorie drinks and “unfrosted” cereals.

Salt is necessary to the body in small quantities, but most of us eat about ten times more than the 1 g we need daily. In some people salt leads to a rise in blood pressure and this is why anyone with high blood pressure is advised to restrict salt intake. It is wise, however, for us all to reduce our salt intake.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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