Guide to Better Health Part 1

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Health is being well socially, physically and mentally and not just the absence of disease. The building blocks and foundation of any building determine whether it will last or not; so also our everyday activities and habits form the building blocks of our health.  The things we do have an effect on the body. Some effects are immediate, while many are seen over months and even years.

This month we will be looking at how we can cultivate a healthy lifestyle. They are simple steps we already know, but it’s good to always remind ourselves of them.

Tip 1: You are what you eat!

How much thought do we put into our meals? Nigerians have a variety of food items to choose from, but in the midst of all these choices; how do we decide what is best suitable for our bodies?

[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”640″]image[/media-credit]An average Nigerian diet comprises of 80% carbohydrate (imagine your plate full of rice) with 10% protein (the meat on top) and 10% vegetable (the stew). This usually doesn’t take into consideration the importance of having the essential food classes in each meal.

A balanced/adequate diet is one which contains all the food classes your body needs. The food classes include:

  • Carbohydrate
  • Protein
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Fat and oil
  • Minerals

All these food classes are meant to be present in your meal, as the body needs them for different functions. Some people remove some food classes from their meals because they are on ‘weight loss diets’ e.g. being on only protein diet without carbohydrate. This is harmful to the body, as there are body functions that the body needs carbohydrates for. If you want to lose weight, it is important to see a dietician, who will calculate what you need based on your current weight. That way, the body will not be deprived of essential nutrients and you will still achieve your weight loss aim.

Also go for healthier options e.g. brown rice instead of white, olive oil or other low fat oils instead of vegetable oil with cholesterol.

There’s also this idea that people can eat anything (including junk foods), as long as they are taking dietary supplements. This is like taking medicine and poison at the same time. Dietary supplements should be complementary to a healthy diet and not a substitute for one.

Here’s a picture guide to how all the food classes should be present in a meal.

 

[media-credit name=”choosemyplate.gov” align=”aligncenter” width=”459″]my plate[/media-credit].

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