There are many ways in which nutrition and health are interlinked. A few of these inter-linkages are visible in the short-term, but most play out only over months and years. Here are a few well-known examples:
- Excessive weight and obesity is perhaps the single most significant driver of a number of lifestyle health conditions, including cardiovascular health, Type-2 diabetes, hypertension, spondylysis, osteoporosis, and more. Weight gain happens when calories in food intake exceed the body’s calorific need (7,700 excess calories lead to 1 kg weight gain), which, unchecked, leads to obesity.
- Diabetes, linked to the excessive consumption of processed sugars and carbohydrates
- Cardiovascular health, linked to diets high in saturated fats and trans-fats
- Bone health is impacted by the intake of calcium, and Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Magnesium (which contribute to the body’s absorption of calcium)
- Digestive health, linked to low fiber intake
- Cancer, linked to diets excessively high in red meats, processed meats and saturated fats
- Hair health, linked to diets deficient in proteins, Vitamins (A, B7, C, D, E), Minerals (iron, zinc, selenium and copper), and Omega-3 fatty acids
Your family’s long-term health requires the adoption of healthier food choices, including increased consumption of fruits & vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, lean proteins, spices, etc.; while reducing intake of sugar, ultra-processed foods, red meats and unhealthy fats.
It is to be noted healthier food does not necessarily mean it is less tasty. Here are a few top tips to support a healthier, tastier diet for you and your family:
Minimise ultra-processed food intake
Mass produced processed foods are often calorie-dense and nutrient-poor, and perhaps the single biggest cause of the obesity epidemic among the less affluent classes in countries such as the US. These foods are typically produced using cheaper and nutritionally poorer ingredients and are:
· High in processed sugar, salt and unhealthy fats
· Low in fiber, vitamins and other micro-nutrients
· Often contain artificial additives, preservatives and flavouring
Nature has perfected the production of food – any ‘value addition’ man does to food via processing only destroys its nutritive value. Opt for foods made using natural, unprocessed or minimally processed content.
Diversify the range of foods you consume
They say ‘variety is the spice of life’, and we couldn’t agree more when it comes to food. Bring variety to your meals, for example by:
· Experimenting with and adopting new cuisines and dishes
· Broadbasing the range of foods – experimenting with multiple flour blends for your chapatis; diversifying from white rice to brown, red and purple varieties
Find ways to make healthier food options more delicious, and delicious food options healthier
Here are a few examples of healthier and tastier food that you can prepare right at home:
· Don’t enjoy fruits? Add these to your diet by trying products such as this delicious Fruit Yogurt with Muesli
· Craving a milkshake? Try this delicious and healthy Avocado Smoothie instead
· Pizza? Opt for a Whole Grain Veggie Pizza with a fresh tomato sauce and low-fat feta
· Dessert? Go for an after-dinner snack of cheese and fruits, rich in proteins, calcium and vitamins
Dining out is a nice change, but there can be too much of a good thing. Remember that restaurant food mimics mass processed food in many important ways – it can be high in fats, excessively salty and sugary, and low in essential nutrients.
If you eat out for a change in cuisine, learn (or get your cook to learn) alternate cuisines and dishes instead. If you eat out to socialize, remember that both the quantum and quality of time you can spend together with friends can be significantly better at home.
The bonus: eating in will save you money. Lots of it.
The bottomline: Invest in well-being with every bite. It's probably the best investment you can make in your family's health.