March is National Nutrition Month, which is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year's theme is Going Further with Food. Throughout the month, we will be highlighting ways the start the day off right, smart snacking, meal planning and how we can work on reducing food waste and saving money, thus "Going Further with Food". To learn more about the history of National Nutrition Month, go to https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month
What is Nutrition?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nutrition is the intake of food in relation to the body's dietary needs. There are two types of nutrition: good nutrition which is a well-balanced diet that is combined with regular physical activity and poor nutrition which can lead to reduced immunity. increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development and reduced productivity. In order for us to get nutrition in our bodies, we have to eat food. Focusing on eating whole foods rather than processed ones such as chips, candy bars or soda, will help you achieve a well-balanced diet.
Food can further be broken down into protein, carbohydrates and fat, known as macronutrients, to fuel us with the energy (calories) we need in order to do our daily activities. Macronutrients play specific roles in our bodies to help maintain health:
- Carbohydrates: fueling our body, carbohydrates give us the energy to do simple activities like walking and complex tasks such as running a marathon. In addition to energy, they are needed for growth, especially in children and pregnant women. Foods such as corn, beans, rice, potatoes, and fruits are a few sources that provide carbohydrates.
- Protein: after it enters the body, protein is broken down into amino acids, which are building blocks for growth, development, and repair and maintenance of body tissues. Protein helps develop our muscles as well as help our immune system fight inflammation and infection. Sources include beef, pork, chicken, seafood, eggs, and soybeans.
- Fat: high in energy, fat provides the structure to our cells by cushioning the membranes to prevent damage. There are also several vitamins, known as fat-soluble vitamins, that are absorbed into the body with the help of fat. An example is Vitamin A, a micronutrient that is important for healthy eyes and lungs. Oils, coconut, milk, nuts, and fish are sources of fat.
It's important to remember that eating a healthy balance of these macronutrients is key to good health. Eliminating one group from our diets will prevent our bodies from functioning properly, leading to potential health problems. Throughout March, we will dive further into nutrition and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives. The goal of Focused Wellness is to provide you with education, tools, resources, and activities to reach and maintain good nutrition and Go Further with Food.
This week, we challenge you to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your meals. Try eating an apple for your AM snack or side salad at lunch. We have provided you with additional resources below so you can learn how you add fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Be sure to share ways that you're adding fruits and vegetables to your day in the comments!