We might be great at making sure our horses are healthy and have the best diet and nutrition, but what about giving a thought for our own nutrition and food choices. Listed below are 10 important dietary principles which not only give you easy ways of eating well for the rest of your life but are a good basis to help you stay as healthy as possible and enjoy life to the full!
Eat a wide variety of food. Eating a diverse diet maximises nutrient intake and reduces over-exposure to common foods associated with adverse reactions. So many of us eat the same food over and over again, so why not try and liven up your diet and introduce some new healthy foods and tastes each week?
Stay Hydrated. Water is undoubtedly one of the most important compounds in our body. Our bodies are made of almost 70% water. Most chemical reactions require water and it is vital for cleansing the body of toxins. Drinking 6 – 8 glasses of quality water, fruit or herb teas or very diluted fruit juice each day will ensure your body doesn’t get dehydrated.
Eat at least 5 vegetables and fruit each day. Fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre, water and plant chemicals all of which are needed to help the body function efficiently. Choose a red, orange, yellow, green, white and purple vegetable or fruit every day because each colour relates to a different plant chemical, and each has its own particular health benefits.
Eat good quality proteins. The word protein comes from the Greek word proto meaning ‘first’ or ‘primary’ because proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are the primary building blocks of all cells, enzymes and body reactions. We need protein for growth, repair, energy production, immunity, digestion and many many other important functions. Good quality protein can be found in lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, quorn.
Eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Wholegrains are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant chemicals, all of which help regulate important processes in the body. Refined grains, which are found in white bread, white rice, white pasta, biscuits, cakes and confectionery are seriously depleted in minerals during the refining process. For example 98% of chromium and 77% of zinc is lost in processing, both of which are important minerals needed to keep us healthy.
Reduce sugar intake. Sugary and processed food and drinks can affect your blood sugar levels, negatively effecting your energy. In addition to energy fluctuations, a diet high in sugar can negatively affect your mood and cause weight gain. Sugar is also known to be a pro-inflammatory molecule and is thought to contribute to Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Eat good quality fats found in nuts, seeds, their oils and particularly in oily fish. We are unable to make the essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids ourselves and have to gain them through our diet. These fats are vital for our brains and all cell membranes. They also play an important role in controlling inflammation.
Don’t skip meals or go long periods without food. Particularly when training, eating the right kind of breakfast, lunch and dinner will ensure that your body has a steady supply of nutrients to produce energy and stabilise you blood sugar levels. This avoids energy peaks and troughs and stops the body having to produce hormones like insulin or cortisol to regulate systems and keep the body going.
Reduce your toxic load and avoid exposure to pollutants such as pesticides, heavy metals, stimulants such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, additives and preservatives. Eat as much organic food as you can afford. Drink herb teas, fruit teas and keep alcohol within recommended levels.
Remember that a little change can make a big difference. This list might seem like a huge amount to take on, but remember trying one principle each week can build up to a whole lot of change and make a whole lot of difference to your energy, health, weight and wellbeing. So go on and give it a try. Isn’t it time to take control of your diet - it might just be the thing you need to make the difference between you being a happy hacker or a grand prix or 4* champion!
Blog written for Leg Up For Talent. www.legupfortalent.com