The importance of positive nutrition

Eating a balanced diet has vast benefits for your physical health and longevity, but also your mental health. Filling your body with nutritious foods will provide you with the energy you need to perform your tasks throughout the day and be at your best. Smart nutrition also helps us to prevent disease later in life and to boost your immune system when faced with illness.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet includes a variety of foods that work together to provide all the nutrients your body needs. Many diet-related health problems are linked to not eating enough nutritious foods or eating a lot of foods high in saturated fat, sugar or kilojoules. You can prevent some of these problems and promote your own wellbeing by balancing your diet with foods high in nutrients and low in bad fats, sugar or kilojoules. It is important to eat the three major food components: fats, proteins and carbohydrates and to aim to eat primarily fresh, natural foods instead of processed or artificial foods.

Why is it important to eat for your mental health?

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers in our brains and how our cells communicate with each other. We have over 100 different types of neurotransmitters, but the common ones you may have heard of are: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, cortisol, adrenaline and endorphins. Our moods are impacted greatly by the levels of our neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin which plays a large role in mood regulation. Interestingly, over 90% of serotonin is made up in our gastrointestinal tract, therefore it is important we eat foods which promote the production of serotonin to support our moods.

What are the foods I should include in my diet?

Try not to fall into the cycle of “fad diets” where you severely cut calories or food groups with the aim of getting fast results. Your long-term health will not benefit and often result in you developing an unhealthy relationship with food. Aim to eat for enjoyment and to fuel your body with nutritious foods which encompass the three major food components: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Grains (cereals), mostly wholegrain and/or high-fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives

The number of serves of each food group you should eat every day will depend on your age, your gender, whether you’re pregnant and other factors.

What about unhealthy foods?

Foods high in sugar, salt, fat and alcohol are often the foods we enjoy the most, but are not the best for us or our bodies. Don’t feel you have to cut them out completely in your diet, you can still enjoy them in small amounts and less frequently. It is all about balance. Try eating 80% healthy foods and 20% unhealthy foods in your daily eating. This allows you to enjoy an occasional treat, whilst still enjoying healthy foods and giving your body the nutrition it needs.

Remember, it is important to eat for longevity for both your physical and mental health. Filling your diet with majority natural and wholefoods will assist in giving you body the adequate macro and micro nutrients it needs to function at its best.

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