Food provides so many important aspects to human life. It's a way to connect with family and friends, it provides pleasure and enjoyment, and it supplies the sustenance and nourishment that we need for healthy living.
The nutrients in foods, such as vitamins, minerals and protein, help the body function properly, and help us ward off chronic diseases. Find out how you can optimally fuel your body with the right nourishing foods for overall health.
What Does Nourish Mean?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary; nourish means to provide people or living things with food that helps keep them healthy and promotes growth.
The Collins Dictionary indicates that nourish means providing people with food that is essential for life, growth, and good health.
These definitions not only outline the power of food in the human diet, but also the important role it plays in growth, development, health, and disease prevention. Food contains nutrients that our body uses everyday for all of its basic functions like breathing, digesting food, and keeping warm as well as provides energy for all of our activities.
Food also provides nutrients that help with the growth and repair of muscles, bones, and tissues. It even ensures the immune system functions normally. The essential nutrients in food include macronutrients, which provide calories (energy) to the body, and the micronutrients, which we need in smaller amounts to help the body function normally.
Macronutrients are carbohydrate, protein and fat while micronutrients are water, vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, D, E,) and micronutrients are minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Benefits of Proper Nourishment
If your diet is filled with nourishing foods, it can have a positive effect on overall health. In fact, a nourishing diet is associated with better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Meanwhile, higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and other cancers. It also can exacerbate inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's and colitis as well as lead to cognitive decline.
When you do not get enough nutrients in your diet over time, you can develop nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to health problems. For example, calcium deficiency can lead to reduced bone strength and osteoporosis.
Getting too much of a specific nutrient can also be detrimental. For example, getting too much calcium—typically due to over supplementation with calcium—can cause kidney problems, constipation, nausea, heart arrhythmias, and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Balance is key.
How to Nourish Your Body
By eating foods from the what the earth provides, or native diet, you should be able to get all of the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
When selecting foods, aim for whole or minimally-processed choices as often as possible, and choose fewer processed foods. This will help you naturally cut back on saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium, which can cause issues if consumed in excess.
Whole and minimally-processed foods include any fresh or frozen vegetable or fruit, whole grain foods like brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley, as well as poultry, beef, venison, meat, eggs, fish, seafood, and tofu. Rounding out the list of essentials include lentils and beans, nuts and seeds.
Ultra-processed foods to choose less often include salty chips and pretzels, pastries, cakes and pies, candy and chocolate, fast food burgers and fried chicken, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, and hotdogs.
Ultra-processed foods or "junk foods" are OK to have on occasion, but should not be the focus of every meal and snack. They do not contain the nutrients that your body requires for optimal health. Ultra-processed foods also are linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Fad Diets & Other Things to Consider
Some fad diets may not provide all of the nutrients that are required for proper nourishment. Work with a Nutritionist to ensure your eating habits are safe and beneficial to your overall health. They also can help you ensure that you have a varied and balanced diet that helps you meet your nutritional needs.
A balanced diet also can help you achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and some cancers. If you have an eating disorder, are a picky eater, have food allergies or intolerances that limit your food intake, it is especially helpful to check with a Nutritionist to see if you are still meeting your nutritional needs.
Filling your plate with a variety of nourishing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and protein-rich foods is the best way to nourish your body. Eating well, can not only help maintain good health but also help to reduce the risk, maintain control and heal chronic diseases or disease processes.
If you would like more information:
Tammy Drummond-Rowland, RN, HN
Health Coach / Wellness Coach