Over the last decade we have been exposed to new health and nutrition information almost on a daily basis. Often, there will be a study that comes out and says a particular diet or food is good for your health. Then a week later a new study will come out and say exactly the opposite. It can be difficult to sort through all of this conflicting information about dietary recommendations. By understanding what your body needs to function efficiently, you can make smarter dietary choices.
Carbohydrates are necessary in the diet, but they have gotten a bad reputation over the past few years. Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for our bodies. They are necessary for our bodies to completely break down dietary fat, and carbohydrates also protect our body’s protein and prevent it from being broken down. The so-called bad carbohydrates are what have given carbs a bad reputation. Bad carbohydrates are found in processed foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and sugar. These bad carbs are easily absorbed by the body and can cause problems in regulating blood sugar. The good carbs that should be eaten in the diet to meet our body’s needs are complex carbohydrates that contain both digestible and indigestible carbohydrates. These good carbs include foods made from whole grains, vegetables, and beans.
Fats are also necessary in the diet, and just like carbohydrates, there are good fats and bad fats. Fats are needed in the body to provide energy, for energy storage, to insulate the body, and to transport fat soluble vitamins throughout the body. Bad fats are saturated and trans fats, and both are very dense and compact. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, cheese, and milk. Trans fats are found in foods with partially hydrogenated oils, therefore, usually processed foods. The good fats are unsaturated fats, and they are typically found in plant oils such as olive oil and canola oil, in vegetables such as avocados, and in fish. Essential fatty acids, the omega-3 and omega-6, must be obtained in the diet because our body cannot make them. The omega-3 fatty acids are especially good because they restrict blood clot formation and reduce inflammatory chemicals throughout the body.
Dietary protein is essential to proper body function and plays many roles throughout the body. Protein is needed to repair and build muscle, connective tissue, hormones, and more. It also contributes to fluid balance, immune system function, and provides energy for the body. Unlike carbs and fat, there are no bad or good sources of protein. Protein is found in animal products such as meat, cheese, and milk, and it is also found in vegetables. Some vegetables contain more protein than others, and it usually takes a mix of vegetables to get all of the protein your body needs.
How do you put together the information above and come up with a healthy diet? First, remember that carbohydrates, fat, and protein are all needed for your body to work properly. You must eat a balance of these three components to keep your metabolism going and keep your body working in top form. Next, emphasizing unprocessed whole foods provides most carbs and fat in the “good” form. When selecting foods, look for whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and lean cuts of meat. Finally, exercise portion control and balance types of food at meals. Check the labels and understand how large a healthy portion really is. Balance your meals by using the rule of thirds. One-third of your meal is protein, one-third is starches, and one-third is vegetables or fruit. By eating smaller portions of fresh, whole foods, all of your body’s needs should be met.
Before starting any diet program, you should consult your physician. If you need assistance in designing your diet or assessing your nutritional needs, consider consulting a chiropractor who offers nutritional counseling. Often, chiropractors offer nutritional assessments, dietary supplements, or auriculotherapy programs to aide with weight loss.
For more information on nutritional evaluations, dietary supplements, or auriculotherapy, call Dr. Emily Brueggeman at 618-692-0000. Ask for a free Invitation to Health which includes a consultation and screening to determine if chiropractic can help you.