Good nutrition is the foundation of optimal health. We all need four basic nutrients: water, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Water (1.5 -2L/ day) is an essential nutrient that is involved in every function within the body. It helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of the cells.
Carbohydrates supply the body with the energy it needs to function. They are found almost exclusively in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, peas and beans. When choosing carbohydrate rich foods, always select unrefined foods, and whole grain products. Avoid refined foods such as soft drinks, desserts, candy and sugar.
Fiber is important, and provides soft and bulky stools, which prevent constipation and haemorrhoids. It reduces the risk of colon cancer, and maintains a clean digestive tract. It helps to lower blood cholesterol levels, and reduce heart disease.
Protein is essential for growth and development, and provides the body with energy. Proteins are found in meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, milk, grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, nuts and seeds.
Fats are important for brain development in infants and children.
Saturated fatty acids should be reduced; these are found in animal products, dairy, coconut oil, palm oil and vegetable shortening, and raise blood cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in vegetable and nut oils such as olive, peanut and canola. These fats have an effect on lowering cholesterol levels.
Vitamins and minerals are needed for those people who are active, exercise, under stress, on restricted diets, women who take oral contraceptives, those on medication, recovering from surgery, smokers and those that consume alcohol.
In addition to a proper diet, moderate exercise (3 times a week for 45 minutes) and a positive attitude, are all important elements that are needed to prevent sickness and disease.