Why is nutrition important? – Eating beyond calories.03.09.20
Why is nutrition important?
It seems like a silly question doesn’t it?
If I asked you, I am sure that almost all of you will give a version of the same answer.
‘It helps to give you the energy you need to get through the day’ or ‘It helps you lose weight’ or ‘it keeps you focussed’.
Now, although these are all absolutely correct, there are benefits of both good quality nutrition AND calorie intake. Remember, excess calories in any form can lead to weight gain. However healthy they may be. I have written a number of articles on the topic of creating calorie deficits here.
But WHY is nutrition important beyond calories and energy?
What is nutrition?
- the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
“a guide to good nutrition”
- food or nourishment.
“a feeding tube gives her nutrition and water”
How does this affect us?
Simply put: nutrition is your life force. It is the thing that creates and evolves your existence from before your birth until death. It allows your cells to divide and grow healthily, fulfilling its function as well as it can. It creates strength structurally (bones, ligaments, and tendons) while nurturing your habits, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings every single day of your life.
You see, everything we feel from anxiety to joy, nervousness to happiness and euphoria to lethargy are all dictated by some kind of chemical or hormonal reaction. The balance of which will largely depend on your nutritional status.
Before we move on, there are a few things to consider when understanding what nutrition means to you and how its importance fits into your life.
- Food availability. Where do you shop?
- What is your weekly budget? This may dictate your food choices.
- What is your chosen method of preparation? If you love prepping your own food at home, that’s fantastic. If cooking is not your thing, you may look at investing in a meal prep company like us to create a sure-fire route to a healthier you!
- Desired outcomes (goals). Knowing what you want to achieve will give you the platform to choose how many calories and which foods you will look to eat.
The processed food conundrum
Understanding which parts of nutrition benefit you most is the key to lasting health. Often, processed and hyper-palatable get vilified (and for good reason). But this applies to an overconsumption or excessive intake of these foods. Their high calorie, low nutrient density means, in a physiological sense it is not doing you much good.
These calorie-dense, pro-inflammatory foods do just that. They cause unwanted inflammation within your body, especially throughout your digestive system. Let me ask you this: If you create inflammation within your food processing machine (digestive system) do you think that a) your nutrition is right? Or b) your hormonal balance will be conducive for a life of vitality?
I would lend to no on both counts.
However, does that mean we should cut it out altogether? Also, I would say no.
Let’s be honest here; eating your favourite chocolate bar or ice cream makes you feel really good, right? And feeling good is good for your mental health? Of course, it is. So, should we completely vilify processed foods or include them in more moderate amounts?
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional ‘feel good’ hit of something you like. And, in moderation, those occasional treats will not create the kind of inflammatory response that eating in excess can cause.
What is the knock-on from this? An entire life improvement program for your health.
Immunity. The buzz word during COVID-19
Our immune system is our bodies way of fighting all of the unwanted bugs, bacteria and viruses that we encounter daily. The subject of immunity has made its way into everyone’s homes more than ever during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
When you practice good nutrition, you’re consuming natural and healthy foods that can help your body. This includes improving your immune system. According to a 2011 study presented at the 5th International Immunonutrition Workshop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, researchers showed how obesity can weaken someone’s immune system, thereby increasing the chances of getting sick from infections like colds and flus. Good nutrition in this case includes eating foods high in the vitamins and minerals that help create an optimal immune environment.
Get a variety of fruits and vegetables on your plate throughout the day. You can also look to have a daily vegetable and fruit juice to get those all-important nutrients in.
Colour and health
Believe it or not, the colour of your food plays an important role in nutrition and its importance.
Variety in colour means variety in the good stuff. Each colour of fruit and vegetable contains a different combination of vitamins and minerals. As we know from my blog on vitamins, each one plays a role both individually and in combination with others to create optimal health. So, if this is true, it would make sense to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to create the right environment for health.
Also, senses play a huge role in nutrition and your enjoyment!
Colour is the single most important sensory cue when it comes to setting expectations regarding the likely taste and flavour of food and drink. Studies show changing the hue or saturation of colours in food and beverages can change the perceived taste. If you like the colour of your food, you’re more likely to enjoy the taste.
How and when you include processed foods, the impact of food on immunity, the colour of your food and their impact on your health; are just a few things that you should consider. Nutrition and its importance is far more wide-reaching than these three points. But this is a good starting point!
I will be covering more in later articles. But remember, nutrition and all its parts contribute to every part of your life and the impact you have on the world!