The ABC of Good Nutrition

by | Apr 10, 2024 | All Blogs, Health, Nutrition

Everyone benefits from healthy eating!

A good diet will maintain healthy skin, teeth and eyes; support muscle function, boost immunity and strengthen bones as well as help your digestive system work properly. For children, a good diet supports brain development and helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For adults, healthy eating reduces your chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. It supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding and may also help you live longer.

Our nutritional needs are met by macronutrients and micronutrients in the foods we eat. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are the macronutrients that, as the name suggests, are needed in relatively large amounts. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are vitamins and minerals that are still vital for good health but in smaller quantities.

This summary of the macronutrients outlines what you need in a balanced diet. And to help you get started, I have included the link to two of my favourite breakfast recipes…

Protein

Your body manufactures proteins from the amino acids found in food. Known as the building blocks of life, you need protein for breaking down food; growing and repairing muscle; maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails; making hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals); providing energy; boosting your immune system; and sustaining healthy digestion.

Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function correctly. Nine of these – the ‘essential amino acids’ – cannot be synthesised by the body so need to be consumed in the food you eat. Essential amino acids can be found in many different foods, the best sources being animal proteins such as beef, poultry and eggs. Animal proteins are the most easily absorbed and used by your body.

Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are known as ‘complete proteins’ and include beef, poultry (especially turkey), fish, eggs, dairy (such as cottage cheese), mushrooms, legumes (including beans), soy, quinoa and buckwheat.

Foods that contain some but not all the essential amino acids are ‘incomplete proteins’ and include nuts, seeds, beans and some grains. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you will need to include several types of incomplete proteins to ensure you are consuming all nine essential amino acids.

A healthy diet contains a good balance of complete and incomplete proteins to ensure that your body receives the protein it needs to thrive.

Fats

Dietary fat may have a bad reputation, but it is, in fact, vital for your health. Your body needs fat for energy and for critical processes like the absorption of key vitamins and minerals. Depending on their chemical structure, fats can be ‘saturated’ or ‘unsaturated’. Diets high in saturated fats are associated with increased cholesterol and poorer health outcomes. Unsaturated or ‘healthy’ fats, in contrast, are associated with improved brain health, lowering cholesterol and improving overall heart health.

Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are two of the most widely recognised healthy fats and it is important to consume a balance of both. Omega 3 is found in fish, flax seed, chia seed and walnuts while Omega 6 is found in sunflower, safflower, soybean, canola and sesame oils.

As a monounsaturated fat, olive oil is another healthy fat and this category also includes avocados, avocado oil, macadamia, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts. To benefit your health, choose cold-pressed olive or avocado oil and limit your use of saturated fats like butter. Please note that just because some fats are ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean that consuming more of them is healthier! Any food you eat that isn’t required by your body for energy, repair or cell growth will be stored as adipose tissue, or fat. This is inflammatory and can have negative consequences for your hormonal, metabolism and heart health.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates produce over 50% of the total energy required to fuel your body and brain efficiently, so it is very important to include quality carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates are ‘simple’ or ‘complex’. Simple carbohydrates should be avoided. They are high in sugar which is released suddenly into the bloodstream causing a quick energy ‘high’ followed by a crash. Simple carbohydrates are found in glucose and fructose in fruits, lactose in dairy, sucrose in table sugar and maltose in beer.

Complex carbohydrates are healthy. They are low in sugars, high in fibre and starch and include legumes, wholegrains, fruits and all vegetables, especially starchy vegetables like corn and squash. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and red kidney beans also contain protein. Complex carbohydrates are a major part of the Mediterranean diet – widely accepted as a healthy choice – that includes fish, healthy oils, a wide variety of vegetables that may be raw, pickled, steamed or stir fried in olive oil with fresh herbs.

Even though complex carbohydrates eventually convert to sugar, these are released much more slowly and steadily into your bloodstream and give you lasting energy. You can eat your favourite vegetables and know you are getting important vitamins, minerals and healthy carbohydrates with every serving. It is important to remember that certain cooking methods can reduce the nutritional benefits of veggies, so it is best to avoid vegetables that are breaded, floured, fried or boiled.

A Balanced Diet

Eating a diet with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats can improve your weight, health and overall physical wellbeing. Further, choosing nutrient-rich foods that are low in saturated fat and calories will leave you feeling satisfied and not searching for that extra ‘something’ to finish off your meal.

Now as promised:

Two of my favourite breakfast recipes which you’re sure to love. Full of nutrition for an energetic start to the day.

STRAWBERRY & CHIA DELIGHT – A simple dairy free breakfast that you can prepare the night before.

PORRIDGE WITH A DIFFERENCE – Who doesn’t love a nice, warm bowl of porridge on a winter’s morning.

About Trisha

A practicing therapist for over a decade, Trisha holds qualifications from the Australian Institute of Applied Science.

Trisha offers specialised services in Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Nutrition, Craniosacral, Manipulative Muscle Therapy and Massage at her clinic in Boonah, Queensland.

She helps her clients with conditions that include persistent pain; muscle and sciatic pain; problem joints; repetitive strain or sports injuries; and weight loss.

I help children, adults and the elderly improve their long-term health and wellbeing. Naturally.

Follow me on Facebook or call for an appointment at my Boonah Clinic.