Nutrition is a complex subject. Our bodies are incredibly intricate machines, and the fuel that keeps us alive has to be pretty complicated, too. How complicated? To start, our bodies use at least 30 different vitamins and minerals for functions so diverse that not all of them are even fully understood.
So when we find ourselves in the grocery store aisles, nutrition can seem bewildering. How do we ensure that we get enough of this or that vitamin or nutrient? And what about our weight? Nutrition is related to, but not the same as, our struggles to be thin and athletic. We have so many different priorities to balance and things to keep track of that it’s tempting to just give up. Don’t give up. Nutrition is important, and it’s not as tough as you think.
The importance of nutrition
Even if it were extremely difficult to eat well (it’s not), it would be worth striving to eat the best possible foods for our bodies. That’s because the benefits of nutrition are staggering — and the consequences of neglecting our nutritional needs are serious.
A healthy diet will keep our bodies and minds strong. Eating well makes it easy to stay thin, of course, but the effects go deeper than that. It’s possible to be thin and unhealthy, but a healthy diet will give you insides that feel as good as your outside looks. A balanced diet will make you feel energetic and elevate your mood. It will reduce your risk of a whole host of diseases, from heart disease to some forms of cancer. And it will make you more resistant to injury, too, as you’ll be feeding your muscles and bones properly.
Get bad nutrition, and you’ll see the other side of the coin. Ever wonder why you feel tired all the time? Does it seem like you can’t lose weight, even when you try to eat less? It could be your poor nutrition. And bad nutrition could be costing you in more dire ways, too. Nutritional deficiencies can leave you more prone to disease and give you everything from diabetes to tooth decay.
How to get good nutrition (without losing your mind)
Okay, so nutrition is important — what can you do about it? With all of those vitamins and nutrients flying around, who can hope to actually achieve the good nutrient we’re talking about?
You can, if you relax and use common sense. Nutrition is complicated, but so are a lot of things that relate to your body. But, just as walking while chewing gum doesn’t require you to understand every little thing about your brain, your teeth, your muscles, and so on, eating well doesn’t have to mean understanding every tiny part of the process as it relates to your body. It just means making simple decisions.
Here’s a simple diet that will bring you a long way toward proper nutrition: eat “whole foods” (unprocessed meats and plants) and focus on vegetables. Yeah, that sounds basic, but it covers a lot of the same ground that more complex instructions would. Do you want to balance your macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats)? OK, you’ll want some meat for the proteins, some grains for the carbohydrates, and you’ll probably find that you need to eat foods that are less calorie-dense to avoid getting too much of your fats, so you’ll have to swap out some junk food for veggies. In other words, eat whole foods, especially veggies. Want to get all the nutrients you need? You’ll end up eating a wide range of colorful vegetables and “superfoods” such as kale, and you’ll keep away from the empty calories of processed junk foods.
Supplement this simple, common-sense nutrition plan with a daily multivitamin and add other healthy natural supplements as you see fit. Just make sure that you’re relying on a trustworthy brand that is getting their product lines developed from legitimate supplement manufacturers. With all of that working together, you’ll have a great nutritional plan without ever having to wade in and crunch complex numbers. It’s still science, but it’s also just good old common sense.