The WHO estimates that 2.7 million deaths every year are due to unhealthy diet (a diet low in fruit and vegetables). The worldwide statistics show that 19% of gastrointestinal cancer, 31% of ischaemic heart disease, and 11% of strokes is also attributed to an unhealthy diet.
What is healthy eating?
Healthy eating is about eating appropriate amounts of all recommended nutrients, and an adequate amount of water. Healthy eating helps to prevent or reduce the severity of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and strokes . Healthy eating is very helpful in combating obesity.
An unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal blood lipids, overweight/obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
Following are the recommended healthy diets:
We need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body and healthy mind. Here is a further explanation of different types of healthy foods:
Starchy foods provide the body with fuel it needs for physical activity by breaking down into glucose. These food contain fibre as well which gives you a feeling of fullness (satiety) with less calories which helps to control appetite. Beware of some bad starchy foods though. These are mostly the foods processed in order to make cooking fast and easy such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice. They digest so quickly that they cause dramatic elevations in blood sugar, which over time can lead to weight gain, hypoglycaemia or even diabetes.
For most meals, include generous portions of rice, pasta, baked potatoes, or whole meal bread. If you have cereals for breakfast, choose porridge, high fibre cereals, or wholemeal cereals. These foods are digested more slowly. This keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising and falling too quickly, helping you get full quicker and feel fuller longer. There are a lots of additional health benefits of these foods including heart disease and cancer prevention.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and are packed with vitamins, minerals, protective plant compounds and fiber. They are a great source of nutrients and vital for a healthy diet. The recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables is at least five portions. Fruits and vegetables should be part of every meal, and should be used as snacks. Chance of developing heart disease, a stroke, or bowel cancer are reduced if you eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.
Fiber is filling, but has few calories. It helps the bowels to move regularly, which reduces constipation and other bowel problems. Fibre may also help to lower your cholesterol level. Starchy foods, and fruit and vegetables contain the most fibre.
Our bodies need protein to maintain our cells, tissues and organs. A lack of protein in our diets can result in slow growth, reduced muscle mass, lower immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Protein gives us the energy to get up and go –and keep going. Meat, fish, nuts, pulses, chicken are high in protein. You need a certain amount of protein to keep healthy.
Fats, Sugary Drinks and Salt
Fats are another vital part to a healthy diet. Good fats are needed to nourish your brain, heart, nerves, hormones and all your cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. A low-fat diet helps to reduce the chance of developing diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Saturated fats, primarily found in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products, raise bad cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Substitute lean meats, skinless poultry, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish and nuts. Other saturated fat sources include vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and foods made with these oils.You should not have much saturated fats such as butter, lard, dripping, and unspecified margarine. Unsaturated fats are better such as corn oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and low fat spreads. Try to keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories and limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet).
Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories, and too much may cause weight gain. Avoid or limit sugary drinks. Sugary drinks are an easy way to pack calories and chemicals into your diet without even noticing it. A glass of a fizzy drink has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar in it. Eating small amounts of sugary foods (sweets etc) too often is bad for teeth as well.
Too much salt also increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. We should have no more than 5-6 grams of salt per day. If you are used to a lot of salt, try to gradually reduce the amount that you have. Salt itself is not bad. Its over consumption is bad. A high quality sea salt can have up to 90 minerals, which are healthy for our body. Look for sea salt that has a reddish or brownish tint, has no colorings, additives, chemicals and has not been bleached.
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