You’d be surprised to know that every aspect of health depends on nutritional health.
Without good nutrition, you would feel sick physically and mentally. These will, in turn, negatively affect other aspects of your health.
Lack of nutritional health results in malnutrition. Unfortunately, the world faces the burden of both malnutrition and overweight. Both health conditions can be deadly.
” Globally 203.6 Million Children Under Five Suffer From Malnutrition And Health Problems ”Source: WHO
But improving your nutritional well-being is only possible by learning about nutritious foods. In addition, you have to learn healthy eating habits.
So, read on to learn all about health and nutrition.
What Is Nutritional Health?
Good nutrition is basically eating a balanced diet. And good health and nutrition provide fuel for your body.
Nutritional well-being is a state of nutrient equilibrium in the body. This state is achieved when nutrient intake is equal to requirements.
Simply put, nutritional health refers to physical and mental wellness influenced by our dietary habits and nutritional intake.
A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining good nutritional health.
In addition to a healthy diet, other lifestyle factors contribute to good health and nutrition.
For example, everyday physical activity, stress control, and sufficient sleep are crucial.
On the other hand, malnutrition is when nutrient intake is less than the required amount.
Want to know more about physical health? Check out this article on Physical Health.
Importance Of Nutritional Health
To understand the importance of nutritional health, first, you must know malnutrition’s negative impacts.
Malnutrition adversely impacts global developmental, social, economic, and medical sectors.
According to World Health Organization:
- Globally 45% of deaths among young children are linked to malnutrition.
- In addition, anemia, a disease resulting from malnutrition, affects 37% of pregnant women and children worldwide.
- Also, 30% of all adult women are anemic.
- Additionally, 10 million US adults have osteoporosis resulting from a lack of nutrients.
However, malnutrition also includes health problems related to overweight and obesity.
Unfortunately, over 1.9 billion adults are suffering from diseases related to obesity.
An imbalance of nutrients increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
One must be familiar with nutritious foods and a balanced diet to obtain appropriate nutritional health. Otherwise, they’ll fall victim to either health problems related to malnutrition or obesity.
Only prioritizing nutritional well-being can solve the above problems.
Apart from that, nutritional health can also have a significant impact in these areas:
- Increased longevity & productivity
- Stronger immune systems
- Reduced infant mortality
- Safe Pregnancy and childbirth
- Improved child and maternal health
- Lower risk of non-communicable diseases
So, you see, improving nutritional health is of utmost importance for individuals and the world as a whole.
What Is A Healthy Diet?
A healthy diet helps build and maintain good nutritional health. In addition, it protects us against malnutrition and non-communicable diseases.
But what exactly is a healthy diet?
A healthy or balanced diet is a meal plan to improve overall health. It will fulfill all the nutritional needs of your body.
So, to fulfill nutritional needs, your diet must include both macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients include protein, carbs, and fat. Micronutrients, on the other hand, contain vitamins and minerals.
What’s more, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
A healthy diet is one that promotes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat, and milk products.
Moreover, it should include lean meats, beans, poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts.
That’s not all, your balanced diet should be low in added sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
Healthy diets help people accomplish daily physical activities and mental processes.
Top Foods for Nutritional Health
You must create a healthy diet, including nutritious food, for optimal health. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the latest healthy eating diets.
There’s a new superfood on the market every week!
But optimal nutrition is about eating a balanced diet regularly.
Unfortunately, with so many nutritious food options available, creating a healthy diet can become overwhelming.
Here are the top healthy foods that you must include in your everyday diet:
- Fatty Fish
- Olive Oil
- Lean Meat
- Whole Grains
- Leafy Greens
- Cruciferous Vegetables
Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and pecans are good plant protein sources. They also contain monosaturated fats, which are essential for improving nutritional health.
Beets contain protective carotenoids. Moreover, you get vitamin B9 from beets which helps our cells grow and recover.
What’s more, the nitrate in beets can supply nitric oxide to our bodies. This, in turn, increases our endurance.
Berries like blueberries and strawberries are high in fiber. Also, they can fill your daily need for antioxidants and nutrients.
Moreover, you can curb sweet cravings with berries as they are naturally sweet.
Mangoes are high in both vitamins A and vitamin C.
In addition, you get fibers, minerals, and antioxidants in one tasty low-calorie fruit.
Fiber and protein are required to maintain our overall nutritional health. And legumes are packed with folate, fiber, and protein.
Therefore, eat more kidney beans, black beans, red beans, soybeans, and peas.
Want to add a boost of calcium and protein to your diet? Have a cup of yogurt every day.
Yogurt contains good bacteria called probiotics. And these probiotics keep our gut healthy and protect us from harmful bacteria.
If you are looking for a high protein and omega-3 fatty acid food source, fatty fish is an excellent option.
You’d be surprised to know one portion of fatty fish daily can keep your heart healthy.
So, add nutritious food like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies to your daily diet.
To improve nutritional health, you must exclude harmful oils like soyabean oil. Instead, you can use plant-based oil like olive oil.
Moreover, olive oil contains vitamin E, monosaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols. All of these nutrients help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Lean meat is necessary to fulfill our critical nutritional needs. Chicken, beef, pork, turkey, and venison can be good options.
Moreover, you also get omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B12, zinc, and iron from these lean meats. So, keep some lean meat in your daily diet.
Whole grains contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Additionally, you will get several types of B vitamins and minerals from whole grains.
Eating whole grains instead of simple carbs will fill you with nutrition and lower cholesterol levels.
Dark leafy greens are the best vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium sources.
What’s more, these greens like spinach and kale are full of phytochemicals and antioxidants.
These nutrients protect us from macular degeneration and lower cholesterol levels.
Did you know cruciferous veggies can help prevent cancer? Yes, they are full of fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals.
So, include broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, radishes, and other such veggies into your diet.
Should You Take Daily Vitamins?
Dietary supplements are popularized by fitness influencers as superfoods. But should you take daily supplements?
Well, the evidence regarding the health benefits of supplements is limited.
Also, an average adult can easily fulfill their essential nutrition requirement by eating a healthy diet.
However, there are situations when dietary supplements like vitamins could be helpful.
For instance, these people need to take vitamin or other mineral supplements:
- Those who are suffering from vitamin deficiency require additional supplements.
- People who have trouble absorbing vitamins from food sources.
- Also, individuals who need additional vitamins or minerals than the average person.
- Moreover, people following a specific diet may not get the required nutrients from food.
- For example, people who follow a vegan diet may lack vitamin B12 as its primarily found in animal products.
- People suffering from digestive disorders like coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis need additional vitamins.
- Also, osteoporosis patients require supplements for vitamin D and calcium.
- That’s not all, lactose intolerant people need to get supplements for vitamin D and calcium.
So, if you fall into one of these groups or want to explore supplements, you should consult a nutritionist or doctor first.
Then, start the dietary supplements required to fulfill your daily nutritional health requirement.
How To Improve Nutritional Health
Your nutritional health depends on what you eat every day. So, what you eat can determine your health, feelings, and overall well-being.
But how do you improve your nutritional health? Well, you can enhance your nutritious food intake in some easy ways.
Here are some tips to improve your nutritional well-being:
- Cook More at Home
- Increase Fiber Intake
- Limit Added Sugars
- Replace Fat Sources
- Cut Back on Sodium
- Add More Potassium
- Include Calcium & Vitamin D
- Fill Your Plate with Colorful Foods
Cook More at Home
Nutritional health depends on eating healthy, nutritious food.
And the best way to track your eating is when you cook the meals yourself.
Moreover, processed and restaurant foods often contain more calories and fewer nutrients.
So, even if you order salads online, they do contain preservatives in the form of dressings.
Therefore, try to eat homemade meals five days a week. Also, limit your fast food intake to once or twice a week.
Additionally, you can meal plan on weekends to enjoy nutritious homemade meals on all days of the week.
Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber is crucial for good digestive health. Additionally, eating more fiber will control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Here’s how you can increase your fiber intake:
- First, start your day with a green juice or fruit smoothie bowl.
- Also, opt for whole grain breakfasts like oatmeal or chia seed pudding.
- Add berries, almonds, or seeds to your oatmeal to increase fiber.
- In addition, take sliced-up raw vegetables for snacking at work or school.
- You can also add beans and lentils to your lunch and dinner salads.
- Moreover, eat fruits like apples, pears, melons, or passion fruit as a dessert with every meal.
Limit Added Sugars
A diet high in added sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, and many heart diseases.
Sugars added to foods and beverages during the processing, preservation, or preparation stages are known as added sugars.
Cane juice, corn syrup, fructose, and dextrose are some of the common added sugars you’ll find in everyday foods.
Here’s how to limit added sugar in your diet:
- First of all, drink plain water instead of sugary drinks.
- You can add flavor to your water with lemon, berries, or cucumber.
- If you want to drink fruit juice, make it yourself.
- Also, use fruits to sweeten your oatmeal, chia seed, or yogurt.
- Snack on fruits and veggies instead of sugary treats.
- Moreover, cut back on coffee creamer and flavored syrups.
- Additionally, switch to fat-free or plant-based milk.
- Finally, only buy products with low or no added sugar.
Replace Fat Sources
Replacing healthier unsaturated fats with saturated fat will help protect your heart.
Because saturated fat causes cholesterol buildup, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Unsaturated fat, on the other hand, gives you energy and helps your cells grow. It also helps improves your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients.
Try these tips to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats:
- Replace whole milk with low-fat yogurt or plant-based milk.
- Also, use nuts and seeds in salads instead of cheese.
- Eat more seafood, beans, and lean meats for protein.
- In addition, replace butter with canola, olive, sunflower, or corn oil for cooking.
- Finally, replace full-fat cheese with low-fat or fat-free versions.
Cut Back on Sodium
Excess sodium consumption can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Moreover, 70% of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from packaged and prepared foods.
To cut back your sodium intake, try following these tips:
- Limit eating high-sodium snacks.
- Try using less salt in your salads and meals.
- Also, opt for unprocessed or frozen foods with less salt.
Add More Potassium
Potassium maintains our heart, kidneys, muscles, and nervous system health.
Moreover, a lack of potassium can increase blood pressure and reduce bone calcium. Not only that, potassium shortage can lead to kidney stones.
However, chronic kidney disease patients might have too much potassium in their blood.
Aside from them, most of the general population suffers from potassium deficiency.
So, to increase potassium intake:
- Eat more beet greens, lima beans, and Swiss chard.
- Also, drink prune juice and pomegranate juice.
- A banana a day can also fill your potassium needs.
- Moreover, drink fresh orange juice.
- Dairy products can also serve your potassium needs.
Include Calcium & Vitamin D
Bone health is a vital part of nutritional health. And you need to have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet to ensure optimal bone health.
To increase calcium and vitamin D intake, follow these tips:
- Include a fortified dairy beverage with your meals.
- Eat canned salmon and sardines once a week.
- Try to eat one egg with yolk per day.
- Add spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, and collard greens to daily meals.
- Drink soy beverages and have soy yogurt, which is full of calcium.
Fill Your Plate with Colorful Foods
Fill your meals with a range of colors to increase your nutritional health.
Vitamins, fiber, and minerals are abundant in colorful fruits and veggies such as leafy greens, oranges, and tomatoes.
A colorful plate will not only fulfill your nutrient needs but also make meals more enjoyable.
So, try these tips to ensure nutritional health:
- Season your salads or whole-grain pasta with fresh herbs.
- Use fresh tomatoes for making pasta sauce.
- Also, add diced veggies to omelets and stews.
- Sweeten your yogurt with colorful fruits.
Nutritional Health For Older Adults
Nutritional health is all about eating a balanced diet. This is so your body gets all the nutrients that it needs.
Having good nutritional health becomes more crucial after people reach age 50.
At older ages, proper nutrition becomes essential to provide energy for everyday tasks.
Moreover, nutritional well-being becomes vital to fight against age-related illnesses like stroke, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
However, what is the optimum diet for men and women over 50?
Well, there is no magic solution to nutritional health. Moreover, recent studies show food quality is more important than quantity.
Also, for older adults, the healthy diet would vary from person to person. Choosing a diet that suits your nutritional needs, dietary preferences, and lifestyle.
While each person’s nutritional health requirements may differ, all balanced diets have four fundamental principles:
- Plant-based Foods
- Adequate Protein
- Minimally Processed Foods
- Limit Saturated Fat, Sugar, and Sodium
- Avoid Eating Empty Calories
- Drink Enough Liquids
Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and other plant-based foods contain essential nutrients.
So, older adults must include these foods in their daily meals. Why?
Because these foods include anti-inflammatory and anticancer nutrients on top of fibers, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Therefore, they can help fight against many age-related diseases.
Protein is required to recover and sustain our bodily functions. Moreover, protein improves muscle function and prevents chronic diseases.
So, make sure your diet includes enough proteins, be it plant-based or animal-based.
Minimally Processed Foods
Processed foods have fewer nutrients and more additives. As a result, they cause weight gain, spiked blood sugar, and high cholesterol.
Therefore, older adults should limit their intake of processed foods. Instead, try to intake fresh or minimally processed foods.
Limit Saturated Fat, Sugar, and Sodium
Excess of saturated fats, sugars, and sodium can cause many illnesses.
According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
- Saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of daily calories.
- Sodium intake should be kept to less than 2300 mg per day.
- Daily sugar intake should not cross 100-150 calories.
Avoid Eating Empty Calories
Some foods are high in calories but contain very few nutrients. Older adults should avoid such foods and opt for more nutrient-rich foods.
So, try to cut out chips, candy, baked goods, energy drinks, and alcohol.
Drink Enough Liquids
Water is an essential nutrient too! Older adults especially get dehydrated much more quickly than young people.
So, they have to drink enough fluids throughout the day. So, drink fruit juice, tea, coffee, and water to hydrate yourself.
However, don’t fill yourself with more sugar while trying to keep up hydration.
Health is the most vital aspect of our lives. And nutritional wellness is the foundation for bettering all other areas of health.
Good nutritional health means your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to work best.
So, take a look at your personal health and diet. Are you doing everything possible to improve your nutritional health?
If not, begin working toward more excellent nutritional health today.
Want to know about the other aspects of health? Check out these articles:
Nutritional Health FAQ
A dietary supplement is an umbrella term. For example, vitamins A, B, C, D, and others fall under dietary supplements.
Additionally, this term includes minerals like calcium, zinc, and multivitamins.
Omega-3 is known as the superfood of the healthy fat group. It’s an essential fatty acid that is a must for nutritional health.
This nutrient is beneficial for health issues like depression, joint pain, memory loss, and heart problems.
There are seven main types of nutrients that are absolutely essential for nutritional health. They are: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, and water.