Healthy eating

If every time you hear “healthy eating” you immediately think of these words: strict diet and promises like “from today enough with …” or if you are simply looking for some information about the theme of genuine and sustainable nutrition, then keep reading this article.


What does healty eating means?

In the web age, with the amount of advice, diets and recipes in circulation; and without counting the influence of various schools of thought that often contrast or shape traditional scientific and academic research in their favor, the image we have of the concept of “healthy eating” has become increasingly blurred.

The question has wider implications of our daily dilemma of what to put at table, and so, in Italy for example (but not only!), Recognized research institutions have proposed rules that can be considered a “guarantee” of correctness; this document is called: “Guidelines for Healthy Eating” and is available at this link.

Not everyone knows, or underestimate is that to eat healthy in reality, it would be enough to start working on their habits such as, try to consider these 6 simple rules:

  • Variate your meals
  • Eat three main meals and two snacks throughout the day
  • Eat foods that provide energy, vitamins and nutrients that also satisfy your palate
  • Eat fruits and vegetables every day
  • Drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day
  • Do not consume sweetened drinks and junk foods

Some of you might have thought: “Nice story, this I already knew!”. Yet, many people who think they have a balanced diet but suffer from nutritional decompensation. To clarify the concept of healthy eating, we can, therefore, begin by describing the two pillars of nutrition: nutritional balance and food hygiene.

Nutritional balance

Nutritional balance is a fundamental concept in nutrition and represents a parameter that measures the quantities and proportions of individual nutrients and nutritional components consumed during meals.

In fact, every nutrient has a precise function for our organism and this is the reason why the researchers have tried to determine our real average needs. But defining clearly the nutritional balance is not so simple because the needs also vary according to age, sex, lifestyle and other subjective factors such as muscle structure, metabolism or hereditary diseases. In addition, nutrients and nutritional components are many and all equally important!

The fundamental ones we have heard them all mention at least once and are: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, mineral salts, dietary fibers and non-vitamin antioxidants. To get an idea about the recommended intake quantities and understand the notion of nutritional balance, you just need to think about the food pyramid. Understanding how much and when to eat the various ingredients, in fact, the first step towards a healthy diet.

Healty eating infographic

The three macro-categories in which we can divide the pyramid are the following:

  1. foods of animal origin such as: meat and offal, fishery products, cheese and eggs
  2. foods of vegetable origin such as: cereals, potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruit
  3. seasoning greases and oil seeds

Preserved foods and processed meats, such as cured meats and canned foods, should be a marginal alternative because it is always better to choose fresh foods. The same applies to cow’s milk and its derivatives. It is advisable to consume at least 2-3 times a week: lean meat respectfully bred (eg “grass fed”) fresh fish and organic eggs.

Vegetables, fruit, cereals and legumes should be consumed daily and the same applies to your children, even if you get used to eating fruit and vegetables from an early age will have more opportunities to grow healthy and aware of their choices. Finally, seasoning fats and oilseeds necessary to compensate for the demand for fatty acids and vitamins, contribute to benefit our body by providing many non-vitaminic or saline antioxidants.

Of all foods it is always good to avoid those stored in salt, in oil, syrups, preserves and overly processed recipes as well as junk foods. Remember: don’t replace natural elements with those processed as jams, jams, dried fruit, syrup or candied because they do not belong to the vegetable category, but to that of sweet foods.

Food Hygene

Food hygiene is the other pillar of healthy eating. In this case, with hygiene, we are not referring only to biological and microbiological safety from bacteria, viruses and parasites, but more precisely to protection against all forms of genetic, chemical or pharmacological contamination.

To ensure safe food, the easiest way is to verify the traceability of the supply chain. This way, you can check that the foods respect the biological processes and are controlled from sowing to production, until the moment of sale.

What is eating healty good for?

The topic of nutrition is not simple but at this point, you are wondering: what are the benefits of healthy eating?

Let’s start by debunking the myth that eating healthy serves only to lose weight to enter the gala dress or in view of your well-deserved holiday. Following a balanced diet means rather feeling good about yourself every day, without giving up the pleasure of a good meal. Unfortunately, we often forget that a balanced diet implies first of all the optimization of the nutrients and components that meet the needs of our organism.
In fact, it happens that due to an incorrect diet, there are deficiencies that our body, designed by Mother Nature as a perfect machine, can compensate independently. In some cases, however, these imbalances lead to side effects both in the short term; as the lowering of energy levels or mood swings, both in the long term; such as the development of diseases such as diabetes, food allergies, arthritis or cancer. But the effects of a nutritional imbalance are not just for people who eat junk food. In fact, even those who are convinced of eating healthy but are limited to always consume the same foods present deficiencies of some essential nutrients. What to do then?

As we had already said, the first step towards proper nutrition is to pay attention to what nutrients we consume. The aim is to favor not only physical balance, removing the risks of diseases and eating disorders, but also to support the mental

Eat healty to live better

Eating healthy is not just a good practice for our health. It is an attitude, a responsible attitude to be taken towards one’s body. You start by varying your diet at each meal, listening to the signals emitted from the brain and especially not being constantly obsessed with what the dish contains.

Eating healthy, as well as respecting the demands of your body, then means knowing how to choose products whose environmental impact is as sustainable as possible. What is certainly not a symptom of a balanced diet is an attitude of renunciation or deprivation such as: skipping breakfast or another meal, never consume a certain food, put on a diet to lose weight and then not control more or at worst hypothesis to take medicines. All these actions are the antithesis of healthy eating and should be pursued in some way! (Ok, maybe we’re exaggerating).

Why I can’t eat healty?

How many times have we heard from friends and relatives that theirs is a healthy diet? Is there anybody who has ever said otherwise? 

Anyone has their own convictions and their own tastes but, without wishing to generalize too much, there are simple precautions and dishes that should never be missing from your diet. Before revealing the list of ingredients that should never miss in a balanced diet, we would like to deepen this crucial aspect and give you some tips to understand how to read food labels. Thus, you will be able to make more informed choices.

How do I read food labels?

Reading the product label is a real mystery for many of us. But after these simple tips, the labels of cans, jars and other food packages will no longer have secrets for you.

The first suggestion is obviously to look at the deadline and the directions for conservation. Subsequently, we move on to the contents of calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. And all those incomprehensible acronyms?

Additives such as colorants, preservatives, antioxidants and emulsifiers are the ones that often frighten most because they are hidden behind indecipherable acronyms for most of us. Even here, however, the precautions to be followed are minimal. Preservatives, for example, are indicated with the codes E200 to E297 are often indispensable for the integrity of the product but you should however make sure that there are not any excess. Antioxidants and acidifying agents (acronyms E300 – E385) are not harmful, but also here attention to quantity. The presence of emulsifiers and thickeners should instead make us suspicious because their role is to replace basic ingredients and in extreme cases can cause allergies. There’s more? Yes, glutamates and sweeteners or flavor enhancers, those additives (initials E620 – E640) that are widely used but not always indispensable, since they affect the taste of food and that I do not know should never consume in excessive doses.

The general indication, however, is to prefer products with few additives (few E on the label) and dyes, aiming at fresh foods and whose food chain is as transparent and traceable as possible.

 

What are healty foods?

We have finally reached the long-awaited list of healthy foods that should never miss in your wellness diet. There are thirteen and each of these brings different benefits to your body, let’s see what:

  1. Cereals: let’s make it clear once and for all, carbohydrates cannot be done without! We advise you to prefer the unrefined ancient grains, to ensure derivatives products with a low glycemic index, rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, phytocompounds, and fibers;
  1. Legumes: a food difficult to classify because of halfway between a first and a second. The FAO has elected them “food of the year 2016”. A tip, to fully enjoy the benefits of this element is to consume them with a portion of cereals, to compensate for the nutritional intake of amino acids.
  1. Vegetables: Very few calories, lots of water and lots of fiber. If this were not enough, vegetables are also the main source of vitamins, minerals and phytocompounds essential for health. All academics agree that a diet rich in vegetables protects against any type of disease, it would seem to reduce the risk of tumors such as those of the gastro esophageal tract. Are there better vegetables than others? Should I assume specific qualities? Absolutely not! Vegetables are all a healthy touch for your body, but remember to make balanced choices!
  1. Fruit: sweet and energetic. A panacea for the body thanks to the abundance of fibers, phytocompounds, minerals, and vitamins. Here is the speech made for vegetables. Although fruit is a healthy food it is good not to overdo it with the doses. Fruits are rich in glucose and fructose which, when taken in excessive quantities, can raise uric acid levels. If you want to deepen the question we recommend in this article (http://equilibriumfood.com/en/blog-en/when-eating-fruit-and-vegetables-hurt/);
  1. Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and hazelnuts. Due to their quantity of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols they can be considered as a natural supplement. Many studies indicate them as powerful natural allies in the protection of the cardiovascular system and for the prevention of cancer and diabetes;
  1. Oil seeds: linseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, all with different properties and few calories. If you have never consumed this it is time to incorporate them into your diet.
  1. Mushrooms: they are a food with a very particular structure that does not allow us to classify them either in the animal or in the vegetable kingdom. Mushrooms form a separate category and, precisely because of their diversity, they make completely different micronutrients from those found in the foods listed so far
  1. Seaweed: a staple food of the Eastern tradition that in recent years has become increasingly common in Western culture. Seaweed is one of the healthiest foods that exist on Earth for its wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  2. Garlic: the nutritional principles are the same that we also find in onion, leek, shallot, broccoli and cabbage. he is the pupil. Remember, however, that to activate the active ingredient, the garlic cloves should be minced, otherwise it will only work as an aromatizing agent.

     

  3. Herbs and spices: grass and spices, in addition to flavoring your dishes, bring large amounts of calcium and are beneficial for their antioxidant action. Turmeric, for example, a spice of Indian origin, contains curcumin, a true natural anti-inflammatory.
  4. Extra virgin olive oil: to be preferred to condiments of animal origin is also one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. To ensure a true olive oil just check the content of polyphenols. If the content is over 500mg / dl you will only need two or three tablespoons a day to take advance from its benefits;
  5. Chocolate: perhaps the food you most hoped to find on this list! Yes, chocolate, if it is melting, is a real healthy touch for health: it can lower the pressure, regulate cholesterol levels, improve the elasticity of the blood vessels and the fluidity of the blood;
  6. Green tea: in the green tea there is a very high concentration of a molecule involved in the processes that slow down cellular aging. Don’t try to subvert this rule by buying bottled teas. Take your time and ritualize it, a pinch of patience also helps you to enjoy more of this precious plant. After all, it’s part of the tradition, isn’t it?

Eat healty and eat organic

Does eating healthy necessarily mean eating organic food? Increasingly, on the shelves of supermarkets, we see organic or presumed foods appear that, all too often, prove to be only commercial hacks.

To recognize the truly organic products, you must pay attention to the food chain. The raw materials must be cultivated according to the rules of organic farming, without artificial genetic manipulations to the seeds or the use of drugs and other pollutants. Organic food means above all certifications of specialized Bodies, sustainable culture techniques and total transparency of production processes.


However, it is always good to pay attention to the formulations and ingredients of these foods to ensure an effective nutritional intake and thus make the most of the benefits. In fact, not all products that are defined as organic share the same characteristics in terms of formulation and food safety.

Quality, conscious choices, sustainability and diet, conclusions

Eating healthy means many things: food quality, conscious choices, sustainability; but also attention to diet, sports activities, quantity and variety of food consumed as well as the methods of food preparation.

Always remember that the most important thing is to learn to respect and listen to your body. Nutrient intake must be balanced throughout the day.
We have not touched on the subject of physical activity but it goes without saying that a sedentary person will have much more difficulty adjusting his diet. To start, just a little: 30 minutes a day of fast walking and your mind will thank you too. Remember, however, that awareness is your best weapon then: always read the labels carefully and keep up to date. Learn to cook your dishes to avoid pre-packaged foods and above all attention to do-it-yourself diets: it is always better to consult an expert before venturing into household diets made of renounces and risking such nutritional imbalances.