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Proper nutrition is achieved through the consumption of a diet that properly balances key nutrients including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water. When the body receives the proper balance of nutrients, it is best able to function at its ideal level.
The US government issues guidelines on what constitutes a healthy diet and proper nutrition, and you can find diet or food related articles on nearly every website you visit however, many Americans still find it quite difficult to find the perfect balanced diet. Much of this difficulty is grounded in the fact different bodies metabolize foods in different ways, meaning that there is no one, universal ‘healthy’ diet. Finding your healthy diet requires finding what balance of food and exercise works for you.
The body needs proper nutrition in order to best function at its optimal level. Nutritional deficiencies (not getting enough of certain nutrients) can lead to various health problems, including:
Alternatively, consuming too many calories can cause a person to become overweight or obese. This can also lead to a number of health problems, including:
More than one-third (over 78 million) of American adults are obese. Obesity rates have increased significantly in recent decades. Over the past 35 years, obesity rates have more than doubled. The increase in obesity rates comes hand in hand with a growing processed and fast food industries as well as a nationwide decrease in physical activity.
Overweight and obesity are generally determined by a person’s body mass index or BMI, which compares height and weight to provide an estimate of total body fat. A body mass index of 25-29 indicates an overweight category and a body mass index of 30 or greater indicates obesity. Though body mass index is generally used as an indicator of body ma, it is not a perfect measurement. It does not take into account many different factors, including bone density or muscle mass, which may affect a person’s weight in relation to body fat percentage.
For more information on obesity, visit the Obesity Condition Center.
Though there is no one diet that is right for everyone, the following steps can help you get started on your path to healthy eating:
It’s important to note that healthy eating is not solely about weight loss. While weight loss can be an effect of healthy eating (if a person has excess weight to lose), there are many other benefits to a healthy diet that do not involve losing weight.
Millions of Americans “diet” each year, meaning they set aside a period of time where they make a concentrated effort to watch their food intake and lose weight. However approximately 95% of dieters gain the weight that they lose back, mainly because the changes they make are temporary. “Healthy eating” implies more of a lifestyle change than a temporary diet, and is less focused on losing weight and more on improving general health.
Speak with your doctor to determine whether or not you should consider losing weight.
Staying on track after you’ve made the decision to start eating healthily can be the most difficult part of healthy eating. The following are tips to keep you from falling back into old habits:
In addition to healthy eating, regular exercise helps contribute to a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of exercise are plenty, including:
The National Institute of Health recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (moderate walking, cycling, jogging, yoga, stair-climbing, etc.) 5 or more days a week.
Certain existing conditions can make exercise potentially harmful. Check with your doctor before engaging in moderate to strenuous activity to assess your risk of complications.
There is no substitution for healthy eating when it comes to general health and nutrition. If weight loss is your goal, there are several alternative treatments that may help you lose weight. These include:
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
To find a general practitioner, click here or visit www.healthgrades.com
To find a registered dietitian, visit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
You may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
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