With so many programs claiming to be the solution to weight loss, it can be very difficult to cut through the excess information and hone in on what people really need to do to maintain a healthy body weight. The problem has been created by the uncertainty of scientists who continue to discover that nutrients have interconnected purposes in the body. The complexities are leaving scientists with more questions than answers and are leaving the average person even more confused. At the same time, the commercialization of the food industry allows companies to present nutritional information in skewed ways that add to the lack of clarity about healthy living.
Yet, one thing is certain – all animals must eat. Eating is the only way in which the body can replenish the energy used throughout the day. The foods people eat provide them with glucose for energy, macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Glucose, in the form of carbohydrates, is broken down by the body to create energy necessary for the body to function.
There are also many nutrients that humans need that our bodies cannot create themselves. Nutrients that our bodies need large amounts of are called macronutrients and those we need smaller amounts of are called micronutrients. These nutrients can come in the form of amino acids: our bodies cannot produce eight amino acids that are essential to our survival and essential lipids (fats) that are used to create other important molecules (Hillis, 2010). Minerals (chemical elements needed in a human diet) and vitamins (micronutrients that are rich in carbon) are also important molecules that the body cannot create itself (Hillis, 2010). Eating is required by the body so it can function properly, so the key to keeping a healthy body weight never lies in forgoing food.
The best way to maintain a healthy body is to be careful of portion sizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture details the portion sizes that allow a person to consume a 2,000 calorie diet. It is important to use these resources, such as ChooseMyPlate.gov (the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) and nih.gov (the National Institutes of Health) to research and monitor the amount you eat.
The simplest recommendations are to eat less and to get active (Nestle, 2007). The five food groups (vegetables, dairy, fruits, protein foods and grains) are the foods people should eat more of while trying to aviod too many fats and oils, sugars, salts, and processed items. It is also important to remember that some foods in these groups may be healthier than others. This is a problem created by the world’s food industry. In order to sell an item, an item may have a lot of vitamins but it may also have far too many calories (Nestle, 2007).
It is important to know which foods are healthy in more ways than one, for they will provide the greatest benefits. When eating grains, whole grains are better than refined ones. Dark green vegetables and beans are foods like celery, which has fewer nutrients. Lean meats and fat-free dairy items can provide the same nutrients and less fat (MyPlate, 2011).
Portion control, knowing what to eat and regular exercise are the simplest ways to stay healthy. No weight loss miracles required.
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