Nutrition and weight management

various vegetables on supermarket shelves

As a weight management coach, I would like to emphasize that effective nutrition and weight management is not solely about burning more calories than you consume. It is crucial to consider overall body health improvement and not just weight gain or loss. Proper nutrition plays a vital role in reducing the risk of a wide range of health-related problems, including heart disease and cancer. Achieving a good diet requires balanced nutrition that lowers cholesterol, and blood pressure, and assists with weight control.

To maintain optimal health, your body needs the correct combination of nutrients. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy, and the body uses them to build glucose for immediate use or stored for later. There are two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex. Sugars are simple carbohydrates, while starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates.

Proteins are essential for building and maintaining muscles and other tissues, and they function in hormone creation. Animal products and vegetables are the two primary types of proteins, and excessive consumption of animal protein can lead to high cholesterol due to its high saturated fat content.

Fat is another vital nutrient that comes in both saturated and unsaturated forms. Saturated fat increases the risk of health problems, while unsaturated fat is healthy. However, if it goes through any refinement process, it can become saturated fat. 

Vitamins are also required nutrients that perform different functions within the body. Certain vitamins, such as antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), can prevent diseases like coronary artery disease by preventing the build-up of plaque on artery walls.

Minerals and trace elements are also essential for many different body processes. Salt is another nutrient that the body requires, but excessive intake may raise blood pressure. A balanced, nutritional diet requires consuming two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit daily. Whole grain products should also be included, with at least half being whole grain-based. Low-fat milk or milk products should be consumed daily, and total fat intake should only account for 10-30% of your calorie intake, with most fats being unsaturated.

Meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products should be lean, low-fat, or fat-free. Saturated fats should only account for less than 10% of your calorie intake, and trans-fatty acid should be avoided. Additionally, fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be part of your regular diet, as well as potassium-rich foods.
Lastly, alcoholic beverages should only be consumed if at all, in moderation.


In summary, excellent nutrition is the foundation of a healthy diet.

Want to lose weight, but don’t want to workout?

Do you want to lose weight, but don't want to workout?

We all want to drop a few pounds, but some of us just cannot find the time or just don’t relish taking out an expensive gym membership, or the thought of going to a gym is just too daunting. Well, don’t despair, to lose weight you just need to reduce the amount of processed food you consume. 

You have to understand that losing weight isn’t about exercising, it’s about making healthier choices daily in your life. As a matter of fact, you don’t lose weight by exercising.

Exercising is great to prevent weight gain, so when you have lost weight and to prevent weight rebound, you should have an exercise routine.

To help you lose weight there are a few things you can do, first start by making small changes to your diet such as cutting out sugary drinks and snacks and eating more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits have all the nutrients your body needs to thrive so it’s essential to eat nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Incorporate more movement into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, or going for a walk during your lunch break. Remember that weight loss can take time so be patient and consistent with your efforts.

Consider using the services of a dietician, accountability partner, or certified weight management coach to help you achieve your weight loss or lifestyle goal. Weight loss isn’t about working out, it’s a myth put about by gym owners and people with a vested interest to get more members. Workout is important but not for weight loss.

Here is an article about five benefits of a plant-based diet you might find interesting.

http://bit.ly/3kfs19L

Does a plant-based diet really help beat COVID-19?

 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been suggested that certain foods or diets may offer protection against COVID-19. But are these sorts of claims reliable?

recent study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health sought to test this hypothesis. It found that health professionals who reported following diets that are vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian (those that exclude meat but include fish) had a lower risk of developing moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

Additionally, the study found that those who said they eat a low-carbohydrate or high-protein diet seemed to have an increased risk of contracting moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

This may make it sound like certain food preferences – such as being vegetarian or a fish eater – may benefit you by reducing the risk of COVID-19. But in reality, things aren’t so clear.

Self-reporting and small samples

First, it’s important to underline that reported diet type didn’t influence the initial risk of contracting COVID-19. The study isn’t suggesting that diet changes the risk of getting infected. Nor did it find links between diet type and length of illness. Rather, the study only suggests that there’s a link between diet and the specific risk of developing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms.

It’s also important to consider the actual number of people involved. Just under 3,000 health professionals took part, spread across six western countries, and only 138 developed moderate-to-severe disease. As each person placed their diet into one of 11 categories, this left a very small number eating certain types of diet and then even smaller numbers getting seriously ill.

This meant, for instance, that fish eaters had to be grouped together with vegetarians and vegans to produce meaningful results. In the end only 41 vegetarians/vegans contracted COVID-19 and only five fish eaters got the disease. Of these, just a handful went on to develop moderate-to-severe COVID-19. Working with such small numbers increases the risk of a falsely identifying a relationship between factors when there isn’t one – what statisticians call a type 1 error.

Then there is another problem with studies of this type. It’s observational only, so can only suggest theories about what is happening, rather than any causality of diet over the effects of COVID-19. To attempt to show something is actually causal, you ideally need to test it as an intervention – that is, get someone to switch to doing it for the study, give it time to show an effect, and then compare the results with people who haven’t had that intervention.

This is how randomised controlled trials work and why they are considered the best source of evidence. They are a much more robust method of testing whether one single thing is having an effect on something else.

Plus, there is also the problem that the diet people say they consume may not be what they actually eat. A questionnaire was used to find out what foods people ate specifically, but responses to this were also self-reported. It also had only 47 questions, so subtle but influential differences in people’s diets may have gone unnoticed. After all, the foods available in the US do differ from those available in Spain, France, Italy, the UK and Germany.

So what does this tell us?

When it comes to trying to determine the best diet for protecting against COVID-19, the truth is we don’t have enough quality data – even with the results of this study, which are a small data set and only observational.

And a further issue is that the study didn’t look at the quality of people’s diets by assessing which foods they actually ate. This is another reason why it needs treating with caution. Self-declared diet types or food questionnaires may not capture information on the variety and type of foods eaten – for instance missing details about how much fresh or processed food someone eats, how meals are eaten and with whom. And as alluded to above, self-reported data on what people eat is also notoriously inaccurate.

The bottom line is: the name of what you call your diet is far less important than what you actually eat. Just because a diet is vegetarian or pescatarian doesn’t automatically make it healthy.

For now, the robust evidence isn’t there to suggest that being vegetarian or pescatarian protects against COVID-19 – so there’s no need to rush to switch your diet as a result of this study. However, what we do know is that keeping active, eating a sensible healthy diet and keeping our weight in check helps to fortify us against a wide range of health issues, and this could include COVID-19.

Perhaps the best advice is simply to keep following general dietary guidelines: that is, that we should eat a variety of foods, mainly vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, with few highly processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.

Author

Duane Mellor, Lead for Evidence-Based Medicine and Nutrition, Aston Medical School, Aston University.

This article is republished from www.theconversation.com under a Creative Commons license.

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