Get the most out of what you eat by sticking to the essentials - by Dylan Foster
by Guest
in Blogs

The doctor is in, and she wants you to eat healthier. Eating a healthy diet not only benefits your physical health, but can improve your mental health too. Consuming the best food possible is important for optimising your overall health and that of your family.

Mental health is influenced by several factors, such as diet, love and relationships, and coping strategies for stress, anxiety, depression and sadness. Studies have linked diet and nutritional deficiencies to depression, the development of ADHD in kids, and other mental health problems. Because vitamins, minerals and amino acids contribute to optimal brain functioning, your family should be eating foods rich in these nutrients.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Their function is to repair and rebuild cells, and they also aid in the growth and development of children. Amino acids come from protein sources such as lean meats, eggs, dairy, quinoa and tofu. Lean meats include lean beef that contains more protein and less fat per serving, poultry including chicken and turkey, and seafood.

Not everyone eats meat or dairy, but soya products like tofu can substitute animal proteins for a plant-based diet. Considered an ancient grain, quinoa comes from a seed, but is eaten as a whole grain. It’s packed full of nutrients including protein, fibre and iron among many other minerals. Quinoa can be eaten as a healthier substitute for other grains like rice. Spinach, legumes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms are excellent protein sources, as they are all higher in protein than some other plant sources.

Vitamins and minerals

A well-balanced diet provides a full range of vitamins and minerals. Eating fruit and vegetables provides vitamins A, B (except B12, which is found in animal products), C, E, K1, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, fibre and manganese. Vitamin D is found in fish, dairy products and some good old sun, while vitamin K2 is mostly found in meat and dairy products. Besides fruits and vegetables, calcium can also be found in seafood and dairy products.

For a list of vitamins and minerals, what they do, and where they’re found, see the FDA’s fact sheet. It’s always a good idea to consume vegetables, but fruits with less sugar (berries, apples and grapefruit) should be favoured over high-sugar fruits (bananas, mangoes and pineapple).

Fibre

You’ve probably been hearing since you were a kid, “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart” because they reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Beans are also good for fibre, which aids in digestion and gut health. Vegetables, fruits, avocado, grains and oats are also healthy fibre sources. 

Antioxidants

Antioxidants” has been a buzzword in the health industry for years, and that’s because they’re designed to protect your cells from damage caused by “free radicals”, another buzzword to describe unstable molecules and exposure to environmental toxins. This may be confusing, but all you need to understand is that antioxidants are good for you and should be consumed through fruits and vegetables (but not necessarily supplements).

Sugar and salt 

While you want to make sure you consume enough nutrients, you also need to watch your intake of sodium and sugar. Doing so can lower your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and other chronic diseases. Since sugar and salt are usually snuck into foods for taste or preservatives, you might not realise how much of it is hiding in your food until you read the label.

You may have noticed that fruits and vegetables routinely come up as sources of everything good - the magic potion to health. Diet alone can’t fix things even though it has a huge part in sound health and weight management. Exercise is important for cardiovascular and metabolic health too. Get your family’s health into shape by feeding them homemade, whole foods and moving their bodies, which can be as easy as taking a family walk after dinner.

To view more from Dylan, visit healthwellwise.com