“Exercise is king. Nutrition is the queen. Put them together, and you’ve got a kingdom.” Jack LaLanne’s quote sums up the current health trends of the few past and upcoming years. For the previous five years, we have been chasing exercise in one form or another. Be it HIITs or Weight Training, or Yoga. Fit consumers who understand the benefits of nutrition live a healthy, active lifestyle by doing physical exercise 3-5 days per week. This category represents about 40% of the general population (Sloan and Adams Hutt 2019), a citation on IFT.
However, the pandemic led to the closing of gyms and yoga centers. We realized that exercise is part A of the game, and nutrition is the second complementary part B. Here, we are bringing you full information on nutrition, its role in human life, and its effect on the mind and body. We will also cover what we have been doing and what we will do in nutrition from personal and industrial perspectives.
What is Nutrition?
According to MedicineNet, nutrition is the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. Nutritional stages are ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation, and excretion.
So, taking in food is the first step in the process. And your diet defines if you are availing of the benefits of good nutrients. A balanced diet contains appropriate amounts of vitamins, carbs, protein, fat, and minerals. Other vital nutrients are water and salt. Majorly, there are two categories of nutrients, namely Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Understanding the Benefits of Nutrition in Macronutrients
These are the nutrients the human body requires in large amounts, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fat, and water.
Carbs are a major energy source for all of us. Although there are many types of carbohydrates, the binary division categorizes them into simple and complex carbohydrates.
Sugars and processed starch are simple carbohydrates. Since they are simple, the human body uses them easily. This is great for rapid, instantaneous energy (like glucose solutions) but not ideal for daily diet. They lack a feeling of fullness, can cause blood sugar spikes, and may lead to diabetes.
On the other hand, fiber (yes, carbohydrates) and unprocessed starch are complex carbs. Often called healthy or clean carbs as well, this is what are essential nutrients for our bodies. It is because the body takes time to break them down and hence causes a metabolism boost.
People are consuming carbs in high amounts daily, but Google searches like “no carbs diet” are also on an upsurge. Yes, a lot of carbohydrates are not good. But no carbs are even worse because they are the primary energy source for our mind and body.
The diet partner of every gym going person, protein. They do various work in our body and help structure formation, functioning, and tissue and muscle maintenance. Proteins contain 20 amino acids, some essential and other non-essential. And our body doesn’t produce crucial proteins, so we have to obtain them from a nutritious diet.
Proteins play a huge role in vegan critiques as no single plant-based diet provides all the essential amino acids. But it’s a fact that you can obtain the required amino acids from plants by varying your diet with time.
Fats act like grease for our body parts. They lubricate joints and reduce inflammation. Besides, they also protect the brain and help organs to produce hormones.
But when extra fats get stored in our body, they lead to obesity, cholesterol issues, and liver diseases. However, unsaturated fats (mostly plant-based) are healthier than saturated fats (animal-based).
This magical fluid makes up 60 percent of our bodies. Since the body needs water for almost every other process occurring inside, most U.S. adults still don’t consume adequate water. An adult requires nearly eight water glasses a day, but that doesn’t mean you have to drink all 8. Water intake also takes place when you eat fruits and vegetables.
Exploring the Benefits of Nutrition in Micronutrients
The term ‘micro’ states that the human body needs small amounts of these nutrients.
- Minerals: potassium, sodium, calcium phosphorus, iron, etc.
- Vitamins: A, B complex, C, D, E, K, etc.
These nutrients power the body for further parts of various processes. Examples include physical and mental growth, improvement of metabolism, and recovery from internal and external injuries. These also facilitate the nutritional stages like vitamin D helps in calcium absorption, and fiber-rich food aid bowel functioning and excretion.
What are the Benefits of Good Nutrition?
For healthy living, good nutrition is crucial. It provides you with energy for your daily activities. Besides, it also helps reduce risks of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer) and promotes overall health. Weight management also comes off as a benefit of healthy eating.
E.g., keeping your fat and salt intake in control prevents heart diseases and promotes a healthy heart. Moreover, a calcium-rich diet with adequate vitamin D leads to strong bones and teeth.
- Balanced nutrition also increases your immunity. It provides you with more resistance to illness and increased power for fighting off diseases. Well-nutrition bodies can repair and heal faster.
- Proper nutrition leads to better mental health and directly controls how you feel. E.g., your body’s gastrointestinal tract produces 95% of serotonin, a pain inhibitor, and sleep regulator hormone. And a fiber-rich diet increases its production leading to fewer mood swings.
- Instead of “western diets,” traditional diets have shown a relationship with better mood and energy levels. This is because traditional diets allow us to avail the most benefits of nutrition with lesser processing during cooking.
- Protein diets encourage the release of dopamine and neo-morphine, the “feel good” hormones. So, a nutritional balance affects the human mind and body day in and out.
But looking for nutrients in everything we eat and maintaining a balance sheet of calories needs time. And today’s fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t give us that. So the concept of a balanced diet is a bit off from practicality.
What is a Practical Approach to Availing Benefits of Healthy Eating?
A healthy diet is a practical approach to attaining overall nutrition. It divides common food sources according to the nutrients they are rich in. And we consume something or other from each of those categories throughout the day (or in a weekly cycle).
According to WHO, an adult
- Needs at least 400g of fruit and vegetables daily (excluding starch-rich) to ensure adequate dietary fiber consumption. You can always improve fruit and vegetable intake by always including vegetables in meals. Besides, you can also eat fresh fruits and raw vegetables as snacks. Including a variety helps, and it is advisable to use local and in-season fruits and veggies.
- Consumes less than 30% of total energy intake from fats. Unsaturated fats are preferable to saturated fats and trans-fats of all kinds, including industrially-produced and ruminant trans-fats.
- Intakes legumes, nuts, and whole grains regularly. Legumes are a source of proteins, and you can include lentils and beans in your diet. Or, you can have sprouts instead of salty snacks. Nuts are also a good source of various amino acids. Whole grains like millet, oats, wheat, and brown rice have complex carbs and other nutrients, making them a healthier choice.
- Consumes less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars and less than 5g of salt per day. Limiting sugar and salt is the most challenging task today as every so-called tasty food packs either of the two. Try to limit sugar to 2-3 level teaspoons for every meal and use only iodized salt.
We have seen what is nutrition and how to get a good one in detail. But what if someone does not get to avail the benefits of good nutrition or balanced nutrition? If one can’t consume the benefits of essential nutrients, he/she is likely to suffer from malnutrition
And, it is not just a lack of nutrition but unbalanced nutrition as well. It can be classified into:
- Under-nutrition: Wasting (lower weight for height), Stunting (lower height for age), and Underweight (lower weight for age)
- Unbalanced nutrition: Overweight and obesity, Chronic diseases
- Micronutrient-related malnutrition: Micronutrient deficiency and Micronutrient excess
Malnutrition is a serious concern for human society. According to Action against Hunger, an estimated 14 million children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition worldwide.
In July 2020, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) estimates there were 680 million chronically undernourished people in the world in 2019. Out of these, Asia has 380 million.
The effects of malnutrition stay longer than the malnutrition itself. A teenager who had suffered under-nutrition in childhood has a higher risk of obesity than another teenager who hadn’t.
Similarly, the research found that 21% of adolescents with stunted growth in Brazil had high blood pressure. Comparatively, less than 10% of adolescents without stunting had the same problem.
In financially stable countries, overnutrition is a bigger problem. E.g., overweight or obese children have higher chances of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Most people in the U.K. don’t have healthy eating habits. They consume too many calories, fat, sugar, salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish, or fiber. Also, the chase towards thin bodies is leading to forced malnutrition in America and Europe. Another addition to the list is mental health, as stress makes people either avoid food or eat more fast food.
Talking about senior citizens, research shows that up to 22% of older adults are malnourished. However, the alarming fact is that over 45% are at risk of malnutrition.
Symptoms of Malnutrition
Since nutrition is such a vast topic, there are a lot of symptoms of malnutrition. Some are specific to 1 or 2 nutrients, whereas others are signs of general under- or over-nourishment.
- The main signs of over-nutrition are obesity and high BMI. It is usually linked with a lack of vitamins and an increase in fat, calories, and sodium in the diet.
- Unintentional weight loss of more than 5% of body weight over three months is a direct signal of under-nutrition.
- Any symptom showing weak immunity may be due to a lack of adequate nutrients. These include longer recovery periods for fever or getting ill frequently.
Other than these, the feeling of dehydration even after adequate water consumption means a deficiency of micronutrients.
The majority of malnutrition cases are from financially disabled sections of society. Those from the financially capable section are uninformed or ill-informed people. The solution for curbing malnutrition is a layered step by step process, but mass awareness is required at every step. So what you can do is:
- Provide proper nutrition to yourself and your family.
- Spread this information to others whether they are malnutrition or not because the right details are a superpower.
Today, more consumers are shifting towards a holistic approach to health and nutrition. There’s a surge in preference for organic foods, Ayurveda and yoga practices, and going vegetarian or vegan food. And it’s quite pleasing to say that we are heading in the right direction towards reaping benefits of nutrition. Let’s look at some trends we are expecting to arise in the nutrition sector in the upcoming months.
Nutritional Trends 2021
The pandemic and the ongoing crisis accelerated a shift towards holistic health and nutrition. Researchers predicted some trends before COVID that are still a part of the nutrition trends 2021 list. However, there are some new points on the list as well because of the pandemic.
- Organic Snacks are replacing Pizzas: People have become more and more health-oriented. And the rise of information and technology in the organic farming sector will lead to new snacks. These will be plant-based with less sugar and higher protein yet tasty.
- Home Cooked Food: Locked in the houses, people have picked up cooking skills and loved the new varied taste of self-cooked food. And this, being cost-effective and healthy, is not going away soon. The dip in financial abilities and rising prices of nutritional products support this prediction.
- Low-alcohol Beverages: Even before the pandemic, beverage manufacturers were gearing in this direction. People were willing to avoid severe repercussions while consuming alcohol. Manufacturers are continually trying out new fermenting and old “almost-forgotten” practices of making subtle drinks.
- Increase in Vegan Culture: This trend was in the bucket before the crisis and has discovered new dimensions due to COVID-19. As the wet (meat) market is known as the origination for the virus, more people are gearing away from animal eating.
- Eating well: As already mentioned, people don’t have time to calculate each food item’s nutrients. And continuously increasing pace of the world will result in eating well or what we know as a “healthy diet.” It also includes the Ayurvedic habit of conscious eating. It’s like having a rough idea of what you’re putting in and eating according to the sense of fulfillment.
Takeaways – Reap all Benefits of Nutrition
- Exercise is just half part of the game, health. The other half is balanced nutrition.
- A balanced diet includes various nutrients and impacts our mental and physical health directly.
- But a truly balanced diet might not be practical. Thus, healthy eating is the go-to option.
- Non-availability of a healthy diet leads to malnutrition, which in turn causes severe individual and large-scale problems.
- Mass awareness is a part of possible solutions to malnutrition.
- This awareness and pandemic have led to the development of trends in the direction of holistic health.
And this blogpost is the result of our motivation to start this blog, i.e., healthy living and the right information. If you haven’t read the story of our origin, here’s the link to do it now: LINK. Share the effort and help someone get proper benefits of nutrition. Also, share your feedback in the comments or via our social media handle @gethealthybits.
P.S. Follow us there for short and crispy tips to better health.
All in all, I want to quote Jim Rohn:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.”