Everyone searches for the perfect diet to follow, but research indicates that one person’s perfect plate doesn’t have to look like someone else’s — and it shouldn’t.
Healthy eating seems to mean different things to different people. For some, it’s tasteless, torturous to prepare, or expensive. For others, it means replacing their favorite foods with something bland or inconvenient.
Research indicates that it doesn’t have to mean any of these things as long as a variety of nutritious foods from all of the different food groups are regularly included in one’s diet. A healthy, balanced diet can help prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain cancers.
In fact, up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through your lifestyle choices and habits, such as eating healthy and being physically active.
It is very easy to understand, but sometimes difficult to implement. There is no one diet plan that is right for everyone, as each person has their own health needs. It is therefore important to discuss with a doctor what type of diet is right for you. What does a healthy, balanced diet look like?
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard work. Small changes in the foods you choose, the way you cook, and the way you eat can make a real difference. Nutritionists recommend eating a variety of healthy foods every day. In general, a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and sources of protein is healthy for most people.
We’ve broken down the basics of healthy eating to get you started.
Try to eat lots of vegetables and fruits
It is one of the most important eating habits. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that your body needs, such as fiber, which relieve constipation and aid digestion. magnesium, which supports bone health; potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure; vitamin A, which protects against infection and keeps the skin and eyes healthy; and vitamin C, which helps iron absorption and keeps your skin and gums healthy.
Fruits and vegetables also help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full longer. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack.
Choose whole foods
Whole-grain foods include whole-grain breads and crackers, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and pot barley. They are prepared with whole grain. Whole grain foods contain fiber, protein, and B vitamins to help you stay healthy and full longer. Each part of the grain contains important nutrients such as the bran, the outer layer, which contains fiber and B vitamins; the endosperm, the inner layer, which contains carbohydrates and proteins; and the germ, the kernel which contains B vitamins, healthy fats and vitamin E.
Most people should aim for at least half of the grains they eat daily to be whole grains. Ideally, fill a quarter of your plate with whole foods.
Eat protein-rich foods
Protein foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverages, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meats, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurts , low-fat kefir, and low-fat, low-sodium cheeses.
Protein helps build and maintain bones, muscles and skin so that we
need to eat it every day. Aim to eat at least two servings of fish per week and choose plant-based foods more often. Dairy products are a great source of protein, but choose lower fat and flavorless options.
Fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods.
Limit highly and ultra-processed foods
Highly processed foods – often called ultra-processed – are foods that are modified from their original food source and contain many added ingredients. During processing often important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber are removed while salt and sugar are added. Examples of processed foods include fast food, hot dogs, potato chips, cookies, frozen pizza, deli meats, white rice, and white bread.
Some minimally processed foods are fine. These are foods that are slightly modified in some way but contain few industrially manufactured additives. Minimally processed foods retain almost all of their essential nutrients. Some examples are bagged salad, frozen vegetables and fruits, eggs, milk, cheese, flour, brown rice, oil and dried herbs.
To drink a lot of water
Water supports health and promotes hydration without adding calories to the diet.
Sugary drinks, including energy drinks, fruit drinks, 100% fruit juices, soft drinks and flavored coffees, contain a lot of sugar and little or no nutritional value. It’s easy to drink empty calories without realizing it, leading to weight gain.
Avoid fruit juice, even if it is 100% fruit juice. Although fruit juice has some of the benefits of fruit (vitamins, minerals), it contains more sugar than fruit and less fiber. Fruit juices should not be consumed as an alternative to fruit. Everyone should eat their fruit, not drink it. Whenever clean water is not available, quench your thirst with coffee, tea, unsweetened low-fat milk and previously boiled water.
Practice portion control
Portion control is eating the recommended portions of food throughout the day. Eating the wrong portions can have a negative impact on weight, metabolism, hormonal balance and energy.
Practicing portion control requires paying attention to what and how much you eat. Understanding portion sizes can also help you structure a healthy plate of half fruits and vegetables, one-quarter high-protein foods, and one-quarter whole grains.
To practice portion control, look on the food label to find out how much a serving is. Try to pre-portion your food in a small bowl or plate to prevent yourself from overeating right out of the bag or tub. Pay attention to high-calorie foods. Nuts, for example, are very nutritious and contain healthy fats, but they are also high in calories. Be careful with beverages, especially coffee and high sugar teas.
Boost your immune system
Yasmin Khalid, Certified Nutritionist and PR and Marketing Manager at Yakult Middle East
More than 70% of our immune cells are present in our gut. This is why they play an important role in protecting against infections and other various diseases.
Yakult is a fermented milk drink that contains a specific strain of probiotics unique and only found in Yakult. This strain was discovered by Dr. Shirota in Japan, in 1935, and is named after him as Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota.
Based on many years of exceptional research, a study carried out on volunteers who consumed Yakult daily, showed an increase in their NK cells (Natural Killer cells) which are part of the immune system and responsible for the fight against infectious diseases.
With regular intake of Yakult, you can improve digestion, prevent infections, avoid constipation and diarrhea, fight the appearance of cancer cells and, most importantly, strengthen immunity.