Correct nutritional intake is an essential component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Making good nutritional choices will provide your body with all the nutrients you need to function optimally, this includes physically and mentally. If you are healthy physically, you are going to feel healthier psychologically, sleep better, think better and feel better overall.
Nutritional needs vary depending on each individual, their health history and their desired goals, however there are some general guidelines that can be applied to everyone. If you have a medical problem that requires dietary management, please follow the advice of your doctor and/or nutritionist.
Different types of food provide different types of nutrients to fuel the body in the form of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats, discussed further below) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which are essential to support growth, development and normal physiological processes in the body.
Carbohydrates are not required for your body to function, but they do provide a primary source of energy. Carbohydrates can further be split into simple and complex carbohydrates and fibres.
Simple carbohydrates are metabolised fast, providing a quick energy spike and include such foods as refined sugar which is found in most baking, sweets and processed foods. Simple carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels which trigger a greater insulin response to control this. The larger the insulin spike the more calories are stored, in the form of body fat. The optimum time for having simple carbohydrates is post workout, where they will aid in muscle recovery and growth by attracting nutrients into the muscle.
Complex carbohydrates however are more beneficial to your nourishment as they take longer to break down therefore you feel fuller for longer as energy is released more slowly and blood sugars remain more stable. They also have healthy benefits for our digestive system. Examples of these foods include whole grains, leafy vegetables, and mixed berries.
Fibres (insoluble and soluble) are beneficial for gut health and keeping bowels regular and healthy.
Fats do get a bad rap, yes, but there are some great health benefits from fats that are required in your diet. Healthy fats support organ function, insulate your body and support overall health and wellbeing. Fats come in many different forms: oils (olive, macadamia, flaxseed, fish), meats/fish and other foods like eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds. Watch out for Trans fats though, these are the processed and unhealthy ones that the body cannot break down, ie vegetable oil.
Protein is essential in your diet to maintain healthy functioning bodily processes, and support muscle building, immunity, hormone and enzyme balances among other things. Foods containing protein sources include: Meat, eggs, nuts, beans, milk, cheese, yoghurt.
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