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Incorporating Healthy Eating into our Lifestyles

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2021
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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The recent trend to eat at home rather than dine out occurred in large part due to restaurant shutdowns associated with the pandemic. In many cases, cooking at home has taught us to eat healthier, as we control what goes into our diets and on our plates. As we move towards eating out more, it’s important to continue the healthy eating trend. Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Regulate salt intake – Salt is a natural mineral composed of two elements, sodium and chloride. Both are considered essential nutrients to the human body; thus, some salt intake is good. Bodies use salt to balance fluids in the blood, maintain healthy blood pressure, and aid in nerve and muscle function. Some types of salt contain trace amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Additionally, iodine, another important mineral for the body, is frequently added to table salt. People add salt to food as a flavor enhancer or preservative. Salt comes from seawater or is mined from the earth. While some salt can be found naturally in food, salt is often overabundant in commercially available food products, such as prepared foods. Overuse of salt may also be present in restaurant-prepared meals. Per Healthline.com, 90% of US adults consume more than what is needed. Consuming too much salt is associated with high blood pressure, water retention, and some other medical conditions, so getting the right amount is key. Numerous individual factors come into play that affects how much salt is ideal for one’s diet. This includes age, size, health conditions, and more. Thus, check with your doctor to see what is right for you.
  • Reduce added sugar – In general, experts tend to agree that limited amounts of natural sugar are okay for healthy individuals but caution folks to watch added sugar. Natural sugar occurs naturally in foods like fruit and milk. In moderation, natural sugar intake is generally considered beneficial for the average healthy person. That is because the foods that contain them are often bountiful in vitamins and minerals, such as blueberries or strawberries. Added sugar is what we put in or on our foods to get them to taste sweeter, such as sweetened cereal or sugar we add to bake a cake. Thus, a sugary soft drink is generally considered unhealthful for numerous reasons. Not only does it lack essential nutrients, but the large amount of sugar typically found in soda can contribute to weight gain, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, tooth decay, and more. It’s important to discuss sugar intake with your doctor as there are many variables, such as one’s current medical conditions or risk of developing diabetes, to consider. However, it is typically beneficial for most people to reduce added sugar intake.
  • Pay attention to fats, carbohydrates, and protein – Each of these is considered essential micronutrients that can benefit our health. Per Medical News Today, a balanced diet should consist of healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids from good fat sources such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Healthy fats are a staple of the nutritious Mediterranean diet, consisting of meals built around plant-based foods and seafood, with poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt consumed in moderation. People living in Mediterranean countries tend to live long lives with lower-than-expected rates of heart disease. Less-healthy fats to eat in moderation include saturated fats and trans fats (the worst dietary fat). Carbohydrates, needed to fuel our bodies, can be broken down into three categories: sugars, starches, and fiber. Carbs are often categorized as good or bad. Whole carbs, those unprocessed with fiber, are generally labeled as good. Refined carbs, those processed with the fiber removed or changed, have been associated with health conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Thus, they are unhealthier. Proteins are essential nutrients that are one of the building blocks of body tissue. In addition, they are a valuable source of fuel for the body. Protein comes from various plant and animal sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, and more. Though it’s important for healthy people to incorporate some protein into the diet through various foods, achieving a correct balance is important as too much protein in the diet can put one at increased risk of developing kidney stones.

Bottom line

When ordering food at a restaurant, most people choose meals based upon what they like, unaware of what goes into the food, the calorie count, and portion size. To top it off, diners may indulge in alcoholic beverages or sugary desserts that can spike blood sugar and lead to obesity. For those unsure of what amounts of salt, sugar, fats, carbohydrates, and protein to incorporate into their diets, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to tailor a wholesome eating plan that is right for you.

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Kim
Kim
3 years ago

Thanks for writing this article. Our family genetics lean toward metabolic syndrome: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, weight issues. My mother was in her 90’s when she died, but she’d had all those problems for the last 40 years of her life, taking a dozen pills every day and enduring many surgeries. So, that’s something I want to avoid.

I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I have paid attention. On carbohydrates, decades ago, I had to eliminate most carbs (including whole carbs) to get a normal A1c (a measure of how well we use insulin to clear blood sugar).

At the same time, blood test results improved by decreasing animal proteins, although I hadn’t eaten red meat since I was a teenager. Most importantly, we increased the greens (and wild-caught salmon, nuts, blueberries, white mushrooms). Many of my customers at farmers’ markets were from countries where diets were plant-based, and they asked me to grow certain crops that weren’t found in the grocery stores. Many of those requests were for plants in the Brassicaceae family (miniature broccoli, mustard greens, ‘Lacinato’ kale, collards, arugula, tatsoi, komatsuna, etc.). There are compounds in broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other brassicas that don’t occur in other plants, and which help prevent inflammatory diseases and cancer. I eat something from that group every day.

Your choice, and I don’t want to sound preachy…but check out the website called nutrition facts dot org for really good videos. It’s never too late to start.

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