Jaime Rose Chambers tells all in our very first of our Healthy Eating Series.
Nutrition knowledge is essential to a healthy lifestyle. You certainly don’t need to be a Nutritionist or Dietitian to know how to make healthy food choices but the problem seems to be these days that there’s just too much information out there, which means making healthy food choices very, very confusing.
In this health series, I will have topics each month that aim to cut through all the nutrition noise and provide you with easy to understand, nutrition knowledge to arm you with accurate, scientific information that will help you make the healthiest food and dietary choices. This first article begins with basic nutrition foundation information that I will build on with each article.
What are Nutrients?
Nutrients are the components of foods that provide our bodies with nourishment that is essential for us to grow, thrive and survive.
Nutrients are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the ‘large’ nutrients and include those that give us energy; carbohydrates, protein and fat. Micronutrients are ‘small’ nutrients needed only in tiny amounts. They are essential for humans as they help us to make enzymes and hormones and include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
What are calories or kilojoules?
Calories (cal or kcal) or kilojoules (kJ) are a measurement of energy from food. Kilojoules are commonly used in Australia and calories in America.
As Kilojoules are a measurement of energy, that energy will come from any food that contains:
• Carbohydrates = 16kJ per gram
• Protein = 17 kJ per gram
• Fat = 37kJ per gram
• Alcohol = 27kJ per gram
The number of kilojoules we need each day differs for everyone but generally women need about 8,500kJ per day and men need around 10,000kJ per day to maintain their weight. In order to lose weight, you need to eat less than this and to gain weight you need to eat more. Counting kilojoules can be helpful to identify how much energy you’re taking in each day, which can help with weight loss.
Some foods are low-kilojoule and some foods are high-kilojoule. It makes sense that you want to eat just small portions of high-kilojoule foods such as oils and you can eat larger amounts of low-kilojoule foods like vegetables.
What makes up a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is one that contains all the nutrients and energy your body needs to function well every day. It should contain a balance of the five major food groups and not too much junk food or alcohol. A healthy diet should also contain a similar amount of energy going in from food and drink that is going out from exercise and activity, which helps to maintain weight.
What are the five food groups?
The five food groups contain nutrients that our bodies need every single day to stay healthy. Without the foods from these food groups, we are likely to have nutrient deficiencies, which can make you very unwell.
The five food groups are:
1. Grains – bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, crackers
2. Vegetables & legumes
4. Dairy – milk, cheese, yoghurt
5. Proteins – meat, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, legumes, lentils and pulses
Why is water so important?
First and foremost, our body is mostly made up of water so you can imagine that our need for it is very high. Water has many functions in the body that include:
• Prevents constipation
• Lubricates joints
• Helps to regulate weight
• Helps to carry nutrients and oxygen to cells
• Helps to eliminate harmful toxins from the body
• Regulates body temperature
• Dissolves nutrients to help absorb them into the body
• Protects organs and body tissue
• Keeps membranes like the nose, eyes and mouth moist