Back to Basics: 2022 Nutrition Essentials
Nutrition guidance can often feel conflicting these days. Should you opt for low fat or low carb? Is fruit bad? How many grams of x, y, or z do I need per day?
If you’re looking to improve your nutrition and overall health, it’s essential to just get back to the basics.
Here are 7 nutrition essentials to silence all the nutrition “noise” and get you back to the basic foundation of proper nutrition.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
The old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” still holds true today. Fruits and vegetables are truly some of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost health.
In fact, studies show that people who eat more fruits and veggies have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
If you’re not currently eating enough, try simply adding one fruit or vegetable to each meal.
2. Stay hydrated
The importance of drinking water cannot be understated, and the benefits of staying hydrated are well worth the effort.
Staying hydrated helps support a healthy metabolism, digestion, and assures your body is functioning optimally.
Aim for at least 64 ounces of water a day, or more until your thirst is quenched.
3. Enjoy more fish
Fatty fish are rich heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and are a high quality protein source for energy.
Studies show that eating more omega-3 fats found in fish can support a healthy heart and brain.
Enjoy up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fatty fish a week such as canned light tuna, wild-caught salmon, and sardines to maximize your omega-3 intake.
If you don’t consume fish, you can also find omega-3 fats in foods like avocado, nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, or in an algae-based omega-3 supplement.
4. Eat nuts and seeds
Many people fear nuts because they’re calorie-dense, but they’re jam-packed with nutrition.
Nuts and seeds are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
In fact, studies show that eating nuts may support a healthy weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
To reap the benefits while keeping calories in check, aim for 1-2 ounces, or a small handful of nuts or seeds per day. These may include walnuts, almonds, and brazil nuts, as well as sunflower, chia, or flax seeds.
5. Increase your good gut bacteria
Probiotics are all the rage, and for good reason. Newer research is finding that the presence of healthy bacteria in our gut is very much tied to our overall health.
Eating more probiotic-containing foods can support a healthy gut. Getting in enough fiber is also important, which helps to feed the healthy bacteria and keep them around.
Aim for at least one serving of probiotic-rich foods daily such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and kefir to keep your gut in tiptop shape.
6. Prioritize protein
Protein provides needed energy during your workouts, whether that be for cardio or weight lifting. It also helps create new cells and tissues in the body.
Plus, eating more protein can boost your metabolic rate, which allows you to burn more calories during both exercise and at rest.
You don’t need to eat an enormous amount of protein, just a good source at each meal. Examples of high-quality protein include skinless chicken breast, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, Greek yogurt, nuts, tofu, tuna, and salmon.
7. Limit processed foods and added sugar
Ultra-processed foods are packaged foods modified from their original form. They are far from their natural form and often contain a large amount of additives, preservatives, salt, and added sugar.
They also are highly palatable and therefore can be quite addicting.
Eating too many processed foods is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Ultra-processed foods are also easy to overeat.
Examples of ultra-processed, high sugar foods include packaged pastries and cookies, frozen meals, chips, canned foods, soda, juice, energy drinks, and fast food.
So when it comes to good nutrition, keeping it simple is the way to go. So whenever you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with what to eat, bring yourself back to the basics with these 7 tips.
And don’t forget the importance of physical activity to complement your healthy diet, because you can’t have one without the other.