Nutrition and health go hand in hand. After all, it’s food that fuels every cell in the body and helps build stamina and muscle strength. As such, optimising one’s diet to maximise health is achievable, said Dr Irfan Shaikh, Head Adult Nutrition, Scientific & Medical Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition business.
Further, he suggests some easy ways to improve your nutrition decisions by incorporating a variety of foods and essential nutrients into your diet.
1. Say no to no-breakfast
Breakfast is your opportunity to fuel up and start your day strong. However, it’s also the most common meal to miss. Studies have shown that a good breakfast is extremely beneficial for your body as well as heart health. Eating a well-rounded meal in the morning helps replenish nutrients that have been used up while sleeping and becomes your energy booster to kickstart the day.
Cereal, eggs, dairy, whole grains, fruits or nuts — the options for quick and easy healthy breakfast options are endless.
2. Opt for nutrient-dense foods
Selecting foods that have a lot of nutrients – like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products – are a good way to fuel your body. Protein-rich foods like eggs, cottage cheese, beans, lentils and almonds are other great options with nutrients that support energy and nutrition needs.
The key is to choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across all food groups. Developing healthy eating patterns not only give you energy, but can also help prevent obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
3. Make smart food choices; opt for a balanced Indian diet
Nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats as well as micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals play a key role in strengthening the body from within. When you follow a balanced diet, which includes the intake of all of the above in an optimal range, it lowers the risk of nutritional deficiencies and associated chronic diseases, as you age.
A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrition it needs to function correctly. A low-salt, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and fibre is ideal to build up physical and mental stamina and agility. Avoid jumping onto the fancy diet trend bandwagon and opt for a healthy, protein-rich Indian diet consisting of lean proteins over regular meat. That means eating more chicken, fish, beans, chickpeas, eggs, dairy and tofu. To keep energy levels up, choose complex carbohydrates over simple sugars, eat more vegetables, grains and fruits and steer clear of drinks and foods with added sugar.
There are situations when taking a complete, balanced diet may not be possible on an everyday basis and may become the cause of losing out on certain nutrients. In such scenarios, one can opt for supplements such as Ensure to help meet your nutritional intake needs. Ensure is a balanced formula containing high-quality proteins, 11 immunity nutrients and bone strengthening nutrients like calcium & vitamin D. these nutrients help to increase muscle mass, provide energy, support digestive health and boost immunity.
4. Increase hydration
Water makes up 60 per cent of the human body, so don’t let your levels get low. Losing just 1 per cent to 2 per cent of your body’s fluids can result in fatigue and impaired cognition.
The easiest way to stay on top of your hydration. Drink water regularly. Focus on getting the bulk of your fluid intake from water, but for variety, enjoy low-sugar teas or milk.
An easy way to gauge hydration status is to look at the colour of urine — the darker that urine is, the more likely a person is to be dehydrated.
5. Monitor your caffeine intake; choose to regulate over eliminate
It’s no secret that caffeine can make you feel more energetic. But in your quest for a morning pick-me-up, it’s also important to think about the other nutrients you’re putting in your body. A lot of sweetened and flavoured coffee beverages are packed with sugar, calories, and fat — but drinking black coffee isn’t the only option.
Some milk-based coffee drinks contain little to no fat and no added sugar. For instance, a plain non-fat latte serves up caffeine alongside some protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
6. Listen to your body; eat when you’re slightly hungry and stop when you’re slightly full
As simple as it sounds, using your body’s own hunger cues can take your energy far. After all, both under- and over-fueling can cause drops in energy.
On a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is as hungry as you can imagine and 10 is painfully full), try to start eating at about 4 and stop eating at about 6. This can help spread your nutrient intake throughout the day to keep your energy levels more stable.
Three square meals will help power you, along with one to two snacks per day. It’s a good idea to keep convenient, nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts, fruit, and string cheese nearby for when hunger strikes.