Good Nutrition Can Help Us Thrive Everyday!
How good nutrition can help us thrive in our everyday lives
The media frequently introduces new ideas on the ‘best’ up incoming diets to be your best self. The truth is eating should not be complicated. Eating a balanced diet consisting of all food groups, vegetables, fruit, grains, meats, and dairy will ensure your body is receiving the correct vital nutrients your body requires to perform at its optimum. These vital nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fats, fibre, Calcium, iron, and sodium. This also includes eating the appropriate serving sizes of each food group depending on your age category and lifestyle. By fuelling your body with good nutrition, your mental health and brain function will improve, your body will have enough fuel to help you through your workday and encourage the reduction of chronic disease.
Fuel for our workday
Energy comes from the food we eat. Our bodies digest the food we eat by mixing it with acids and enzymes in the stomach. Once our stomachs digest the sugar and starches from carbohydrates, the food gets broken down into another type of sugar called glucose. This glucose is your body's preferred source of energy. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose from your blood into the cells for energy and storage. If your body is not being given the proper nutrition, you cannot expect to thrive or complete regular everyday tasks. Eating balanced meals regularly will maintain your blood sugar, which avoids crashes and peaks in energy. A great way to jump-start your day is to ensure you have a nutrient-dense breakfast. I find oats are a great way to start my day as they are packed with vital nutrients, which means I don’t get hungry, and I find myself with more energy throughout the day. (My go-to oats recipe will be stated below). Personally, when I start my day with a less nutrient-dense and higher sugar meal such as a basic cereal, energy is not sustained for as long, and I am more hungry throughout the day, and I have a crash when my blood sugar lowers. Which results in wanting to snack more frequently and crave sugary foods.
As the increase of social media use continues, the mental health illnesses statistics are steadily increasing. With this frequent use of social media feeding potentially untrue and contradicting information to us, it is bound to affect one’s mental health. Studies show that adolescence can describe food examples of each section of the healthy living pyramid (vegetables, fruit, grains, meats, and dairy) but cannot give the correct serving sizes of each food group. These studies show a direct correlation between underestimating unhealthy foods and overestimating healthy foods with overweight individuals. This indicates that young individuals overthink and stress about what type of food and how they are consuming it. Adolescents are “more likely to restrict overall consumption, consume less fruit and vegetables, have irregular family meals, skip breakfast, snack frequently and consume high amounts of energy-dense foods”. These eating behaviors tend to develop more in childhood, continuing into adulthood, and being detrimental to metabolism, weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and some cancers later in life. As a whole, it is shown that we restrict fats as a whole because we perceive them as being fattening. This, however, is not the case. Any food that is not had within moderation can become fattening, but within a balanced diet, fats play a huge role in brain health as fat is the structural component of the brain cell membrane and aid the functioning of brain cells. Omega- 3 fatty acids are essential for our brain and overall health. Food examples of high omega-3 fatty acid foods include flaxseed, chia seeds, salmon, walnuts, tofu, avocado, and soybeans. Gut health is also just as essential for a happy mind, but that is a blog post for another day.
Reduction of chronic disease and general health
New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates globally, ranking at number three in the world in 2015. This means 1 in 3 people in Aotearoa is obese. There needs to be huge importance placed around healthy eating. Many things should be taken into consideration. Adults as a whole need to be consuming less than 10% of their total energy intake from sugars, less than 30% of their total energy from fats, and less than 5g of salt per day. By abiding these clear recommendations, it can reduce tooth decay, prevent malnutrition, and decrease the risk of noncommunicable diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer), unhealthy weight gain, and hypertension. By prioritising fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes and lowering consumption of sugar and highly processed foods will be enough to reduce the overall risk of chronic disease. Fibre products against bowel disorders, heart disease and ensures the maintenance of a healthy weight range. Calcium is essential for bones, teeth, and the correct function of the heart (if you are unable to tolerate lactose try opting for a calcium-fortified soy product). Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin to transport oxygen around the body and is also required for immune system function. Although these are examples of very few vital nutrients, you can see the importance of good nutrition and how it can help us thrive in our everyday lives.
1/3 C rolled oats
1/3 C preferred milk
1/3 C water
1 serving of protein powder
1 T chia seeds
1/3 C frozen fruit or 1 banana
1 t nut butter (optional)
Method (the easy method)
Combine oats, milk, water, chia seeds, and protein powder in your favourite microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals stirring in-between (this helps the oats become nice and creamy!) until desired consistency.
Top with your preferred frozen berries or chopped banana and nut butter.
PWR FIT TEAM X
Farringdon F, Farringdon S, Chivers P. Food for thought: Exploring associations between knowledge of the Healthy Living Pyramid, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and food group intake among Western Australian adolescents. Health Promot J Austral. 2019;30(S1):95–103. https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.232
Monteiro, C., Cannon, G., Levy, R. B., Claro, R., Moubarac, J. C., Martins, A. P., ... & Canella, D. (2012). The food system. Ultra-processing: the big issue for nutrition, disease, health, well-being. World Nutrition, 3(12).
What are nutrients and why do we need them? (2021). Health Navigator New Zealand. https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/n/nutrients/
Bibiloni, M.d.M., Pich, J., Pons, A. et al. Body image and eating patterns among adolescents. BMC Public Health 13, 1104 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-13-1104
Obesity statistics. (2020). Ministry of Health. https://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/health-statistics-and-data-sets/obesity-statistics