The Importance Of Nutrition
Virtually everyone you meet during your working and personal life could benefit from some nutritional advice.
This does not necessarily mean that virtually everyone’s diet is poor, although many are, but that everyone could benefit from improving on their current diet. Excess weight, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, constipation or indigestion, poor skin, low energy, pregnancy, or wanting to perform better in sport and exercise!
At least one of these applies to most people and this is just a short list of the many aspects of health and fitness on which diet can have a major impact.
Whether or not they follow a healthy diet, many people think they know what ‘healthy eating’ means. And many do. Some believe that a vegetarian diet is automatically a healthy diet, that to lose weight you simply have to eat less and eating more protein builds muscle.
We are not taught much if anything about diet and nutrition and what we do know is picked up from family, friends, food manufacturers and the media. Much of what we pick up is excellent advice but much is not. If you are to help yourself and others to eat a better diet, for general health or for a specific reason such as weight loss or sports performance, then understanding the basics is a vital first step.
The Main Components of Food
The main components of food are fat, protein, carbohydrates and water. In other words, it is a combination of these substances that make up the bulk of any food.
Different foods have different proportions of these substances. Meat, for example, has a combination of protein, fat and water, but mostly protein. Broccoli has a combination of carbohydrate, protein and water.
We tend to classify foods according to the largest food component- meat is a ‘protein food’ and we eat it for its protein content.
Bread is a carbohydrate or starchy food- we eat it for its starchy carbohydrate but it does also provide some protein. The same applies to potatoes.
Beans are a roughly equal combination of protein and carbohydrate, so can be classified as either. In making up meals, or a whole diet, we should always be considering the fat, protein and carbohydrate contributions from the different foods we choose.