If you are working to lose weight, you need to know the importance of good nutrition for health. It is even more critical than ever to consume the right foods that will provide your body with the nutrients it needs. If you don’t do this, you could end up suffering from malnutrition. This will cause your body to hold on to its fat cells more than ever. Even if you are not on a diet, you still need to maintain good nutrition.
What is the importance of good nutrition for health?
For most of us, our nutrition is not healthy. We tend to eat a lot of junk and processed foods. These foods are lacking in nutrients because processing and cooking kill them. Even though we are having huge numbers of calories, we do not get the nutrients our body needs. Even healthy foods like fruit and vegetables lack the nutrients they had 50 years ago. This is because they are harvested much earlier and ripened in cold storage. The longer they spend on the plant, the more nutrients they absorb. But the minute they are harvested, they cease to absorb nutrients from the soil. In fact, their nutrient levels even decrease over time. Sadly, modern farming does not take the importance of good nutrition into account.
So how does our body respond to this nutrient famine? … CRAVINGS! There can be many reasons for cravings, but our body is trying to force us to consume the nutrients it needs. The problem is that our diets lack so many nutrients, our body doesn’t know what foods provide them, so it stimulates appetite in general.
If our body knows where to get the nutrients, it craves foods that provide them. Eating a diet that includes all of the nutrients our body needs educates our body to know where to obtain those nutrients. Then, when it needs them, it will crave foods that contain them. This prevents cravings for unhealthy foods and, therefore, also prevents weight gain and supports weight loss. This is because foods that are highest in nutrients tend to be the lowest in calories. Can you see the importance of good nutrition here? Does it make sense to you?
An extra crucial factor is a digestion. Our body needs the digestive enzymes found in fresh produce. We need them to break down nutrients so we can absorb them. Cooking and processing kill these enzymes, which makes it harder for our body to digest and absorb the nutrients. We also need good bacteria found in things like yogurt, cheese, kefir, etc.
To put it simply, eating has two purposes:
- Calories for energy.
- Nutrients for health.
Both of these factors are important, but let’s deal with them in turn.
Calories for Energy
Every person has a ‘Basal Metabolic Rate’ (BMR). This is the number of calories required to maintain the body. Each persons BMR differs due to several factors:
- Age: Young people have higher caloric needs because they are still growing, and they’re more active.
- Gender: Males need 5-10% more calories to support extra muscle mass.
- Weight: Bones, muscles, and even fat cells need calories to maintain themselves.
- Height: Related to weight, the taller you are, the more you weigh.
- Activity level: The more productive you are, the more calories you need.
Sadly, these days most of us neglect the importance of good nutrition and consume far more calories than we need. This has caused the obesity epidemic because we have a diet that is high in calories and low in nutrients.
Nutrients for health
When it comes to the importance of good nutrition, there are two types of nutrients needed by the human body:
- Macronutrients: Those needed in large amounts. They include carbs, protein, fat, and macro minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, etc.).
- Micronutrients: Those needed in small amounts. They include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
Most of our bodies’ calorie needs are supplied by carbs (4 calories per gram), protein (4 calories per gram), and fat (9 calories per gram). But our diets also lack many of the macro minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and water. Many people suffer chronic dehydration, osteoporosis (caused by longer-term chronic lack of calcium), anemia (lack of iron), night cramps caused by lack of magnesium, etc.
So what can we do? Once we know the importance of good nutrition, it’s easy to improve our diet. Eat organic foods if you can afford it. Natural produce is ripened on the plant, so it’s higher in nutrients. It’s also a good idea to eat foods raw when you can because cooking kills the nutrients. There are plenty of foods that are real nutritional powerhouses. Some of them are the so-called ‘super’ foods. But most are found in the fresh produce section of any grocery store. Foods like:
- Berries: Especially blueberries, cranberries, and goji berries.
- Herbs and spices: thyme, parsley, basil, ginger, garlic, and cilantro (coriander).
- Green vegetables: Kale, spinach, wheatgrass, broccoli, and spirulina (supplement form).
- Beans (legumes).
- Dark chocolate: Must be dark chocolate, not milk—Approx 1.5 oz (45g) per day.
- Seeds: Pepita (pumpkin), flaxseed, chia seeds, sunflower seeds. Flax and chia are an excellent source of omega 3.
- Salmon and other seafood.
- Yogurt, kefir, etc.: Great source of probiotics.
Add more of these into your diet if you’re concerned about the importance of good nutrition, and you will be on the right track to improve your health and your life.
Most Nutritious Foods
In studying for the most nutritious foods, we need to know there are two types of nutrients required by the human body:
- Macronutrients: These are needed in large numbers. They combine carbs, protein, healthful fat, and water. They also include macro minerals (calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, iron).
- Micronutrients: These are needed in small amounts. They include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
These days we eat far too many processed foods with limited nutritional value. Some specialists believe that up to 90% of Americans are not getting enough of some of the most crucial nutrients. This can lead to chronic disease, osteoporosis, anemia, night cramps, heart disease, diabetes, etc. This isn’t forever directly, because several nutrients protect us from certain conditions. For instance, omega 3 lowers cholesterol, protects against heart disease, promotes healthy eyesight and healthy joints.
So how can we address this issue? It’s easy to improve our diet by going back to basics. Eat organic foods if you can afford it. Organic produce is ripened on the plant, so it’s absorbing nutrients from the soil for longer, making it more nutritious. It’s also a good idea to eat raw foods when you can because cooking destroys many nutrients. An extra crucial factor is a digestion. Fresh produce contains digestive enzymes. Our bodies need these enzymes to break down nutrients so we can absorb them. Cooking and processing kill them. This makes it harder for our body to digest and absorb nutrients. We also need good bacteria found in things like yogurt, cheese, kefir, etc.
So what are the most nutritious foods?
So we need to know what the usual nutritious foods are. It’s not just the so-called ‘super’ foods. Some of the healthiest foods are found in the fresh produce section of any grocery store. Foods like:
- All berries: Especially blueberries, cranberries, black currants, and goji berries.
- Leafy green: kale, spinach. Romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts.
- Peppers and chili.
- Sweet potatoes (yams): Low GI.
Herbs and spices
- Cilantro (coriander).
Nuts (Best eaten raw without salt)
Seeds (Eat raw)
- Pine nuts.
- Pumpkin (pepita).
- Whole wheat (not white flour, which is NOT healthy).
- Broad (fava) beans.
- Black beans.
- Black-eyed beans.
- Chick Peas
- Edamame (baby soybeans).
- Lima Beans
- Hemp oil.
- Flaxseed oil.
- Rice bran oil.
- Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Note: Olive oil is not very heat-stable, which means it corrupts when it gets heated. It is best not to use it for cooking but as a dressing or glaze etc. So it’s only on this list of most nutritious foods when used cold. The best oil for cooking is rice bran oil because it is heat stable.
Meat and Dairy
- Cottage cheese.
- Free-range eggs.
- Goat cheese.
- Sardines (wild)
- Skinless chicken breasts.
- Tuna (wild)
- Wild salmon.
- Unpasteurized honey.
Want to find more info? The best place to go for nutritional info on foods is NutritionData. You can even search by nutrient if you find out you are low in something.