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Broken diet? Fixing it is easy

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Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about diets in the past

Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about diets in the past

Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken about diets in the past

Nutrients nourish our bodies and are essential for growth and maintenance of life. The main vehicle to transport nutrients into our body is through food.

Yet, our food choices are based on lots of factors, with nourishment somewhere miles down the motivation list, even though it has a massive impact on our health.

Our sensory senses such as taste, smell and texture are the biggest drivers. Eating food should be a pleasurable experience, not something we have to endure.

Cost is a big one. You can be pretty sure if chicken is on special this week in your local butchers then it will end up in your fridge over the turkey.

Another driver is convenience. We chose foods because it is there readily available. Ready-made meals and pre-packed sandwiches are prime examples of choosing foods for convenience sake.

One other dominant driver is body composition, namely to reduce body fat. Over 70% of women at some stage in their lives has been on a diet, so losing weight is a big motivating factor.

If the food we eat is so critical in determining our health then why don't we eat more healthy food? We simply aren't aware of the consequences of certain nutrient deficiencies.

If we understand why we should be eating certain foods then we are more likely to make better food choices. The most common nutrient deficiencies are water, protein (mainly in women), omega-3 essential fatty acids, and some key micronutrients.

Water

Water is the essence of life. Without it, we would simply die. We need water more than any other nutrient. It has many roles in the body including: maintaining body temperature at a comfortable 37°C through sweating, providing protection by keeping the lungs moist and lubricates our joints, and removing waste products through urine.

If lost water is not replaced then dehydration can occur - which will prevent us from efficiently supplying oxygen and vital nutrients to the cells of our bodies. Symptoms are thirst, fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite.

Taking the water from our food out of the equation, the recommended intake of water per day for women is just over 2 litres and just over 3 litres for men.

On hot days and days when exercising, an extra 1L of water may be necessary. Drink an extra 150ml per 15 minutes if you are sweating.

Protein

Protein is the main building block of the body and it's essential for best health. Symptoms of deficiency include thin and brittle hair, scaly dry skin, sore muscles and cramps, slow healing wounds and skin ulcers.

Protein should be eaten with each meal and not with just our main, which is usually dinner. Good sources of protein include; lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat natural dairy, and beans, peas and legumes.

And no ladies, protein does not directly turn to muscle unless you put in some serious hard graft in the gym and lift heavy weights, so don't be afraid of adding more protein to your diet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

If you don't eat oily fish, such as salmon, at least 1 to 2 times per week, then you may be deficient in omega-3 fatty acid.

A deficiency in omega-3 can lead to dry scale skin, dermatitis, and impaired growth and has even been linked to depression. A recommended source of omega-3 is fish oil.

Micronutrients

Your micronutrient intake should be fairly covered by eating a varied balanced diet so supplementing with a multivitamin may be unnecessary.

However, some vitamins which are difficult to get in optimal doses from your diet that you may be under dosing on are vitamin D and K.

Unless you live in the tropics, then odds are you're not getting optimal levels of Vitamin D as the sun is the major natural source.

Optimal levels of Vit D increase cognition, immune health and bone health. It also reduces the risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

If supplementing with vitamin D, then D3 is recommended over D2 since it is used more effectively in the body. Take daily with a fat source, as it is fat soluble.

Many sources of vitamin K are poorly absorbed by the body so it is a worthwhile supplement if your intake of dark green vegetables is low. Optimal levels are associated with improved bone health and it protects cardiovascular health.

The next time you go grocery shopping, spare your health some thought, and feed it with the nourishment it needs to thrive.

Karen is a nutrition coach and personal trainer and runs online nutrition programmes. See www.thenutcoach.com or email karen@thenutcoach.com


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