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How to stay healthy

Is it a myth or a reality to keep-up?


Certain foods can fight disease and make you well. And likewise, a healthy, balanced diet can keep you from getting sick in the first place. Of course, this begs the question, just what is a healthy, balanced diet? Truth be told, it’s not always easy to know. While we have access to more nutrition information now than ever before, much of what we read or hear today contradicts what we read or heard yesterday- and what we’ll be reading or hearing a week, a month, or a year from now. In fact,
according to some survey, there are several confusing news reports telling which foods to avoid.

If this describes you, don’t let frustration or disillusionment discourage you from your efforts to eat right. It’s true that scientist will continue to make breakthrough discoveries that shoot holes in previous breakthrough discoveries. But it’s also true that some nutrition principles have held up under scientific scrutiny, at least so far. You should use these can’t-go-wrong rules as the foundation for building your own healthy eating habits.

What follows is an overview of the basics of good nutrition, along with some practical advice for incorporating them into your lifestyle. If you’re in need of motivation, just remember that even modest changes in your eating habits can substantially reduce your risk of developing and array of illnesses. And let’s be honest: switching from potato chips to carrots is an insignificant price to pay for a lifetime of good health.

Food Pyramid

The road to proper nutrition begins at the pyramid-that is, the Food Guide Pyramid. You’ve probably seen it: a four-tier triangle that outlines which foods you should eat every day, and what amounts, to give your body the nutrients it needs to efficiently perform even the most routine tasks. It has changed the way many of us look at our dinner plates. Unlike its predecessor, the Four Food groups, the pyramid gives grains, fruits and vegetables top priority, since they offer the most nutrients for the lowest amount of fat. Meats and dairy products, meanwhile, have been downgraded from mainstays to virtual blips.

The pyramid consists of these six food groups. Grains. Grains-based foods-breads, cereals, rice, and pasta-make up the foundation of the pyramid. They supply a multitude of nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. According to the pyramid, you should aim for 6 to 11 servings of grains per day, with the serving being equal to one slice of bread, 1 ounce of cold cereal, or ½ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.

Vegetables. The pyramid recommends three to five servings a day of veggies, which offer healthy doses of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A serving consists of one cup of raw leafy vegetable, ½ cup of chopped cooked or raw vegetables, or ¾ cup of vegetable juice.

Fruits. Like vegetable, fruits have abundant supplies of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try to consume two to four servings a day. A medium apple, banana, or orange; ½ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit; of ¾ cu of fruit juice all constitute a serving.

Dairy Products. Milk, Yogurt, cheese, and other fruits in this group are outstanding sources of protein and calcium. You should eat two to three servings a day, with a serving defined as 1 cup of milk or yogurt, ½ ounces of “natural” cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.

Meats. Actually, you could call this group meats-plus, since it also includes poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nuts. These foods provide generous amounts of protein as well as the minerals zinc and iron. The pyramid recommends two to three servings from this group every day. A serving equals 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (an amount that’s about the size of your palm); 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans; one egg; or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Fats, Oils, and Sweets. The pyramid has just two words for this group:” Use sparingly.” Enough said.

The Food Guide Pyramid sets very solid ground rules for good nutrition. Shape your diet around the pyramid’s serving suggestions and you ensure that that you’re getting the right mix of nutrients to keep your body properly fueled.

To bolster your body’s resistance to disease, however you need to look past the pyramid. The following strategies will strengthen your diet’s health-promoting potential.

Eschew the Fat. The human body uses dietary fat to transport vitamins, protect vital organs maintain body temperature, and perform other essentials tasks. Unfortunately, most of us consume a lot more of the stuff than our bodies actually need. In excess, dietary fat contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. M any experts suggest limiting your fat intake to 30 percent of calories, while some suggest cutting back even more, to 25 percent of calories.

Count on Carbs. There’s a reasons that complex-carbohydrates foods such as grains, fruits, and vegetables make up the bottom two tiers of the Food Guide Pyramid. Complex carbohydrates are your body’s fuel of choice because they easily break down into a form that your body uses to keep all its systems running smoothly and efficiently. Experts recommend consuming 55 to 60 percent of your calories as carbohydrates.

Favor Fiber. Coincidentally, when you eat carbohydrates-rich foods, you’re also getting a good dose of fiber. Research has shown that fiber helps improve digestion, lower blood cholesterol, and reduce your odds of developing heart disease and cancer. The daily value for fiber is 25 grams.
Get Wet. More than 50 percent of your body is water. Over the course of a day, you lose a lot of H20 through urine, sweat, and respiration. That’s why experts advise adults to drink about a quart of water for every 1,000 calories in their diets. So if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you should wash them down with 2 quarts of water (that’s 64 ounces or eight 8-ounces glasses a day). Of course, your fluid needs increase when you exercise and when the weather is hot.

Know your Limits. When it comes to sugar, salt, and alcohol, the less you consume the better. Refined sugar, the stuff in candy and packaged snacks, wreaks havoc on your metabolism in exchanged for zero nutrition benefits. Too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. And excessive alcohol consumption increases your risk of cancer and interferes with nutrient absorption.

Shore up with Supplements. You should get most of your vitamins and minerals from foods. One reason is that food contain compound called phytochemicals, little-known” super nutrients” that possess tremendous disease-fighting powers. You won’t find this compound in pills-at least, not yet.

Still, the law of nutrition reality says that we don’t always eat as we should. When you know that your diet is coming up short, a multivitamin can pick up the slack. Just remember that a supplement is not a more-is-better thing. Some vitamins and minerals are toxic in high doses.

Good nutrition starts long before you take a seat at the dinner table and pick up your knife and fork. “To it healthy, you must buy healthy,” notes Bonnie Tandy Leblang, R.D., author of the nationally syndicated column “Supermarket Sampler” and six cookbooks, including Grains, Rice, and Beans. “Smart supermarket strategies are the key to eating well at home.”

Of course, it would be nice to think that the supermarket you frequent shares your concerns about good nutrition. To some extent, it probably does. Many chain stores have instituted consumer education programs, posting signs and distributing pamphlets that detail the nutritional values of specific items.

Still, their bottom lines are …well, the bottom line. They want you to spend-and to leave the store with more items than the two or three you originally planned to buy. And so they invest literally billions of dollars in dizzying, dazzling displays designed to make the most of every selling opportunity. You can resist such temptations and stay true to your healthy eating habits by learning these grocery guidelines.

Learn label lingo. Label reading has become necessary skill for nutrition-conscious shoppers. Compared with labels of five years ago, the ones we see these days present veritable Encyclopaedia Britannica of nutrition information. An ingredients list and a Nutrition Facts chart graces nearly every package food. They tell you not only what a particular product is made from but also how much of certain nutrients it contains. That way, you can decide whether that product has a place in your healthy diet.

Cruise the Perimeter. A shopping list is your most important navigational tool for getting around the supermarket, experts agree. But if you don’t have one to go by, try to stay in the stores outside aisles as much as you as can.” This is where you’ll find the fresh foods, especially produce,” says Michele Tuttle, R.D., director of consumer affairs for the Food Marketing Institute in Washington, D.C.

See the “lite” in the dairy case. The dairy case stocks the cream of the calcium crop. Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese all weigh in with generous amounts of the mineral. Unfortunately, the regular varieties of these foods also have generous amounts of fat. Select leaner alternatives when you can, such as skim or 1% low- fat milk and nonfat or low-fat yogurt. Likewise, the healthiest choices in cheese are made from skim or low-fat milk and are not highly processed.

Be Selective with Meats. There are three grades, or qualities, of beef sold in most supermarkets. Prime cuts have the most fat, select cuts have the least, and choice cuts fall somewhere in between. You want to look for cuts stamped select. The less marbling a piece of meat has, the leaner it is. Sure, you can trim the fat yourself, but you save money if you buy it already trimmed. (Prime cuts are actually more expensive than select cuts because they have more fat.)

Stock up on Seafood. Tucked somewhere between the dairy case and the meat counter is the seafood display. Don’t pass it by. With the exception of anchovies, almost any fish or shellfish that you can think of has nutritional benefit. Some like Atlantic herring, canned salmon, fresh tuna, and Atlantic mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There’s medical evidence that omega-3’s can reduce heart-unhealthy triglycerides, inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, and even prevent gallstones.

Some sea food does contain cholesterol, but its not the type that raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. Shellfish are good example: they don’t have a lot of saturated fat, so the cholesterol salads though; they’re bound to be loaded with fat.

Don’t bypass beans. Swing into the inside supermarket aisles to stock up on beans and other legumes. They pack a nutritional one-two punch of protein and fiber, and they’re filling and versatile to boot and while you’re, check out the grain products. Brown rice, for instance, supplies notable amounts of fiber and the B vitamins B6, niacin, and thiamin in exchange for no cholesterol and just a smidgen of fat. You may also want to try bulgur. It has even more fiber than rice with no cholesterol and practically no fat.

Health is Wealth
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