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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Nutrition tips for improving your health

nutrition tips

Some people have the wrong idea about what proper nutritional goals for adults are. Sure, eating right has a lot to do with balancing your overall nutrition, but there is a lot more that goes into proper nutrition than simply a few fruits and vegetables mixed in with your diet. If you're unsure about how to achieve the proper balance of health and nutrition in your life, you may want nutritional counseling. This is where they can provide you with tailored nutritionist advice so you get your health back on track. This guide will explain some great nutrition tips for improving your health.

Avoid Processed Foods and Sugary Drinks

Ultra-processed foods are foods containing ingredients that are significantly modified from their original form. They often contain additives like added sugar, highly refined oil, salt, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors as well.

Examples include:

  • snack cakes

  • fast food

  • frozen meals

  • canned foods

  • Chips

Ultra-processed foods are highly palatable, meaning they are easily overeaten and activate reward-related regions in the brain, leading to excess calorie consumption and weight gain. Studies show that diets high in ultra-processed food can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

In addition to low-quality ingredients like inflammatory fats, added sugar, and refined grains, they're usually low in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Thus, they provide mostly empty calories.

Eat More Protein

The health effects of fat and carbs are controversial. However, almost everyone agrees that protein is important. Most people eat enough protein to prevent deficiency, but some individuals would do better with a much higher protein intake. Numerous studies suggest that a high-protein diet has major benefits for weight loss and metabolic health.

Eating can boost your metabolism for a short while.

That's because your body uses calories to digest and make use of the nutrients in foods. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, not all foods are the same in this regard. In fact, protein has a much higher thermic effect than fat or carbs — 20–35% compared to 5–15%. High protein intake has been shown to significantly boost metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn. This can amount to 80–100 more calories burned each day.

Additionally, protein helps to reduce appetite and hunger levels. The three macronutrients — fats, carbs, and protein — affect your body in different ways. Studies show that protein is by far the most filling. It helps you feel more full with less food.

This is partly because protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full.

These effects on appetite can be powerful. In one study, increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 fewer calories each day without intentionally restricting anything. If you need to lose weight or belly fat, consider replacing some of your carbs and fats with protein. It can be as simple as making your potato or rice serving smaller while adding a few extra bites of meat or fish.

Add Healthy Fats

Healthy good fats are an important part of any healthy diet, whether you are bulking or cutting. Don't be tempted to take your fats too low, even if you are in a caloric deficit. In fact, that's when essential healthy fats can be most critical to your health and wellbeing.

Good fats provide essential fatty acids, help deliver fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), support brain function, help keep our hormones healthy, and are a valuable source of energy.

By far, the most important benefit of healthy dietary fats is heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids (like those in fish oil supplements) can reduce triglycerides and inflammation, raise "good cholesterol" (HDL), and reduce high blood pressure. For such a low-cost, simple daily supplement, that's a huge list of potentially life-saving benefits.

And healthy fats can reduce cellular inflammation, too. Omega-3 fats appear to help minimize your risk of lifestyle diseases, including high insulin levels, high blood pressure, and obesity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

The three types of fatty acids in omega-3s (ALA, EPA, and DHA) seem to have a positive impact on mental health, mood, and depression, according to a growing body of research studies.

And some studies suggest that omega-3 fats can be beneficial in managing some auto-immune diseases as an alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Reduce Sodium Intake

The primary concern with excessive salt intake is that sodium often leads to high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension, in turn, can cause heart disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that some people are especially sensitive to the effects of salt, while others can consume larger amounts without ill effects. There is no way to determine sodium sensitivity; therefore, the CDC advises all Americans to limit sodium intake to help ensure a healthy heart.

Many people are consuming too much sodium in a day. An adult, on average, consumes approximately 3500 mg of sodium per day. But according to the American Heart Association, the USDA, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an adult should not consume more than 2300 mg of sodium in a day. And for people with hypertension, the middle-aged, older adults, and Afro-Americans, an ideal limit of no more than 1500 mg of sodium in a day are recommended.

Increase Fiber In Your Diet

Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can't digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates which your body breaks down and absorbs, fiber isn't digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body.

A high-fiber diet:

  • Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.

  • Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed, and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.

  • Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.

  • Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Helps you live longer. Increasing your dietary fiber intake, especially cereal fiber, is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

Choose a Variety of Colorful Veggies

Consuming different colored foods plays a role in ensuring you are getting enough essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more. Eating this way can help to protect against many potential body ailments and chronic diseases such as illnesses like the flu, cancers, digestive issues, declining vision, and loss of bone density, and can even help with weight management. Besides, your mood will most likely be lifted when your plate is full of a variety of visually appealing bright colors versus covered in a dull, white, and plain blandness. Brighten up your plate, and you will brighten up your health!

colorful vegetables

Diet tips for women

A balanced eating pattern is a cornerstone of health. Women, like men, should enjoy a variety of healthful foods from all the food groups, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and lean protein. But women also have special nutrient needs, and, during each stage of a woman's life, these needs change.

Eating Right

Nutrient-rich foods provide energy for women's busy lives and help to reduce the risk of disease. A healthy eating plan regularly includes:

  • At least three ounce-equivalents of whole grains such as whole-grain bread, whole-wheat cereal flakes, whole-wheat pasta, bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, or oats.

  • Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, including milk, yogurt or cheese, or calcium-fortified soymilk. (Non-dairy sources of calcium for people who do not consume dairy products include calcium-fortified foods and beverages, canned fish, and some leafy greens.)

  • Five to 5-and-a-half ounce-equivalents of protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds.

  • One-and-a-half to two cups of fruits — fresh, frozen, canned, or dried without added sugars.

  • Two to two-and-a-half cups of colorful vegetables — fresh, frozen, or canned without added salt

Iron-rich Foods

Iron is important to good health, but the amount needed is different depending on a woman's stage of life. For example, iron needs are higher during pregnancy and lower after reaching menopause. Foods that provide iron include red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, kale, spinach, beans, lentils, and some fortified ready-to-eat cereals. Plant-based sources of iron are more easily absorbed by your body when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods. To get both these nutrients at the same meal, try fortified cereal with strawberries on top, spinach salad with mandarin orange slices, or add tomatoes to lentil soup.

Folate (and Folic Acid) During the Reproductive Years

When women reach childbearing age, folate (or folic acid) plays an important role in decreasing the risk of birth defects. Including adequate amounts of foods that naturally contain folates, such as oranges, leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas, will help increase your intake of this B vitamin. There also are many foods that are fortified with folic acids, such as breakfast cereals, some rice, and pieces of bread. Eating a variety of foods is recommended to help meet nutrient needs, but a dietary supplement with folic acid also may be necessary. Be sure to check with your physician or a registered dietitian nutritionist before starting any new supplements.

Daily Calcium and Vitamin D Requirements

For healthy bones and teeth, women need to eat a variety of calcium-rich foods every day. Calcium keeps bones strong and helps to reduce the risk for osteoporosis, a bone disease in which the bones become weak and break easily. Some calcium-rich foods include low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, sardines, tofu (if made with calcium sulfate), tempeh, bok choy, soybeans, and sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as plant-based milk alternatives, juices, and cereals. Adequate amounts of vitamin D also are important, and the need for both calcium and vitamin D increases as women get older. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, eggs, and fortified foods and beverages, like milk, as well as some plant-based milk alternatives, yogurts, and juices.

Balancing Calories with Activity

Since women typically have less muscle, more body fat, and are smaller than men, they need fewer calories to maintain healthy body weight and activity level. Women who are more physically active may require more calories. Physical activity is an important part of a woman's health. Regular physical activity helps with muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and stress management.

Diet tips for men

Regardless of age, all men need good nutrition from a healthy diet. Nutrition is simply the process of getting from our food what we need for health and growth. And a healthy diet is the best selection of foods and drinks for that process to work well.

Without a healthy diet, you could be increasing your risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

healthy nutrition goal for men

As a man, your healthy diet will need to meet your unique physical needs, fit with your lifestyle, and reduce your risk of disease.

These dietary guidelines are based on the best available science about the types and amounts of foods and dietary patterns that may promote health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of diet-related conditions and chronic disease.

In a nutshell, here are some nutrition tips for men:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods from the five food groups:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Limit foods high in saturated fat, such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps, and other savory snacks.

  • Replace high-fat foods containing mostly saturated fat with foods containing mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Swap butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut, and palm oil with unsaturated fats from oils, spreads, nut butter and pastes, and avocado.

  • Limit foods and drinks containing added salt, and don't add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.

  • Limit foods and drinks containing added sugars, such as confectionery, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy, and sports drinks.

  • Limit alcohol. (Drink no more than two standard drinks a day, on average, and no more than four standard drinks on any single occasion.)

  • Keep 'extras' or 'sometimes foods' to a minimum – they're not a regular part of a healthy diet. Extras are the high sugar, high fat, high salt foods listed above, such as commercial burgers, pizza, alcohol, lollies, cakes and biscuits, fried foods, and fruit juices and cordials.

You can use the dietary guidelines as the foundation of a healthy diet, but it's also important to factor in your specific needs depending on who you are: child, teen, or older person, and any health concerns they may have. If you do this, you've got the best chance of eating well for your age, gender, and life stage.

Good Nutrition Habits You Should Follow

The nutrition care plan is a living document that can be updated as required to meet the individual change in nutritional needs, appetite, and ability to access food. Here's why a nutrition plan can help:

  • Tailored foods that are specific to exactly what you are dealing with.

  • Avoid being overwhelmed with all the research yourself.

  • A licensed nutritionist will compile all the most relevant information for your body right now.

Natural Care Chiropractic offers licensed nutritionists to help tailor a customized nutritionist based on many factors such as your age, gender, nutrition goals, lifestyle, health conditions, and more. Schedule an appointment with us and let us help you improve your health.

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