A nutritious diet is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. When paired with physical activity, a nutritious diet can serve as the foundation for a long, healthy life.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines nutrition as how food affects the health of the body. Food provides nutrients that are vital for survival. Food is made up of macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat, each of which play different roles in promoting short- and long-term health.
• Protein: Protein provides the body with amino acids that are essential for growth and development. The amino acids found in protein also help the body maintain itself and help body tissue recover after certain activities, including exercise. Protein also plays a vital role in immune system function, helping the body to fight inflammation and infection. The AND notes that beef, pork, chicken, game and wild meats, fish, seafood, eggs, soybeans, and other legumes are great protein sources.
• Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates do for the body what gasoline does for an automobile. Carbs provide the body with the energy it needs to function at peak capacity. The carbs found in foods like whole grains, rice, potatoes, bread, and more deliver sugars and starches that provide the carbs the body needs for energy. That energy is vital when moving around during the day, but it’s also essential when the body is at rest, as it ensures the heart continues to beat and facilitates digestion.
• Fat: The dietary fat found in oils, nuts, milk, cheese, and other foods provides structure to cells and prevents damage to cell membranes. The AND also notes that oils and fats absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, which is vital for healthy eyes and lungs.
A nutritious diet is a building block of a healthy lifestyle, and no healthy diet is complete without protein, carbohydrates and fat.