March is Nutrition Month
Diet is a very important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and it is advised to regularly meet with a dietician and/or a healthcare professional to make sure you are eating the right amount and type of foods.
Our bodies require nutrients from food sources to thrive. Nutrients can be classified into macronutrients (macro=large) such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins; and micronutrients (micro=small) such as vitamins and minerals that are required in smaller quantities. This article will discuss macronutrients.
Carbohydrates and the Glycemic index
All carbohydrates from food sources such as breads, pastas and vegetables are broken down to glucose (sugar) molecules in the digestive system and then released into the blood stream. Some carbohydrates such as white bread and rice are broken down very quickly in the digestive system and as a result blood glucose levels go up very fast. This is undesirable as it increases the risk for diabetes by makes it more difficult to control glucose levels; increases appetite; and increases the risk for heart disease.
The glycemic index illustrates which carbohydrates tend to release glucose into the blood quickly (i.e. high glycemic index) and slowly (i.e. low glycemic index). It is preferable to choose low-glycemic index foods.
Protein from sources like animal meat, lentils and tofu are the building blocks for our muscles and help keep us strong. Protein should make up to 15-20% of your daily dietary intake and come from lean sources (e.g. avoid bacon and foie gras).
Fats can be categorized as unsaturated and saturated. Saturated fats usually come from animal sources such as meat, cheese, butter and icecream, but can also come from non-animal sources like coconut and palm oil. These types of fats are considered ‘unhealthy’ because they are chemically ‘less fluid’ are ‘more stiff’ than unsaturated fats. To put this in perspective, imagine if the cells of your heart were made up of stiff cells versus more fluid and movable cells.
Fats should make up no more than 35% of your daily dietary intake, and the majority should come from unsaturated fat. Sources of unsaturated fat that you can include in your diet include olive oil, fish, nuts and legumes.
|Macronutrient||% of Daily Dietary Intake||Important considerations||Examples|
|Carbohydrate||45-65%||Choose low glycemic index and high fibre carbohydrates||Whole grain and high fibre foods such as breads, pastas, oat, lentils, eggplant, okra, barley, spinach|
|Protein||10-30%||Choose lean meats or vegetable sources||Chicken, turkey, lentils, tofu|
|Fat||<35%||Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources and avoid saturated and trans fats.||Olive oil, fish oil|