Diet & Nutrition – Fuel your body with high quality foods

healthy prawn salad Dietitian Brisbane Nutrition InformationFood is our body’s one and only source of fuel. Would you put diesel into a Ferrari? Probably not. Similarly, we need to make sure we’re putting the highest quality fuel into our bodies.

Most people know what foods are healthy, and which are less so. Many of our clients say they know what they should be doing – the just have trouble actually doing it. There is so much information around, and so many different approaches to healthy eating, that many people simply find themselves confused or overwhelmed, even though they might be very knowledgeable.

Brisbane’s Leading Dietitians and Nutritionists

Our nutritionists are passionate about helping you learn to trust your own judgment. Diet and nutrition can be like a puzzle. Working out the final few pieces of a puzzle is often the most difficult part – our nutritionists can help you do that.

Poor diet and lifestyle lead directly to many common health problems: weight gain, vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, sluggish bowels, and unhealthy hair and skin. Long term, inappropriate diet and lifestyle choices can lead to more severe health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anemia and osteoporosis.

It is our business and our passion to help you understand, practically and simply, how to actually have a ‘balanced diet’. Many of our clients will come in just to check up on their food intake, and ensure they are ticking all the nutritional boxes. While we hope to educate our clients to have confidence in their healthy eating choices, it also makes sense to come in for a ‘tune up’ once in a while – just like you service your car.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet supplies your body with key nutrients so it can function optimally. To strike this balance, you must obtain your daily caloric intake from the following:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Lean proteins

The average person needs around 2,000 calories daily to function efficiently. However, your required caloric intake also depends largely on your age, gender, and level of physical activity. For instance, if you’re a sedentary male who’s at least 30 years of age, you need 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily. On the other hand, if you’re an active male in the same age bracket, you need 2,000 to 3,000 calories every day. 

It’s also best to avoid or limit your consumption of foods which provide empty calories because they may hinder you from carrying out your daily tasks efficiently. These foods include pastries, processed meats, sodas, sugary fruit drinks, ice cream, chips, fries, and pizza.

Why is diet important?

Diet, the sum of food an individual consumes, is important to help your body perform at peak levels. If you compromise on your diet, you may increase your risk for illnesses, fatigue, infection, and low performance.

For children, lack of nutritious food may impede their growth, brain development, and academic performance. Poor diet may also make them more susceptible to infections and diseases.  

The key here is balance among different food groups such as fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and lean proteins. It’s also best to minimise empty calories found in processed foods, sweets, sodas, sugary drinks, and refined grains.

What is nutrition?

Nutrition is the process which involves the assimilation of food for growing and replacing tissues. It is based on key nutrients, particularly protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

One key aspect of nutrition is nutrient disorder or an unbalanced nutritional condition. This arises when you’re consuming insufficient amounts of a particular nutrient. For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms and the amount of protein you must consume daily is 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, then you should eat 56 grams of protein per day. If you consume less than that, you have a protein deficiency.

Other deficiencies which are prevalent in our world today include those for iodine, iron, and vitamin A. The good news is you can easily offset these nutrient deficiencies by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and good fats.

Why is nutrition important?

Nutrition is important for achieving and maintaining your optimum health. 

Poor nutrition is a result of unhealthy eating habits, and a factor that triggers or worsens several health conditions. For example, unhealthy eating habits increase your likelihood of developing obesity. You are also putting yourself at risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, and even cancer if you have poor nutrition habits.

Experts believe an individual develops his nutrition habits as early as childhood. This is another reason why it’s very important to eat healthy foods and follow a balanced diet from a young age. If you feel your nutrition habits are less than desirable, you may seek the help of a registered nutritionist who can guide you in developing healthy eating habits, teach you the right foods to eat, and assist you in formulating a personalised nutrition plan.

For best results, combine good nutrition with regular physical activity so you can reach a healthy weight, reduce your risk for chronic ailments, and boost your overall health. 

What are nutritional diseases? 

Nutritional diseases are nutrient-related health conditions which cause illnesses in humans. These diseases include nutritional deficiencies and excesses, obesity, eating disorders, developmental abnormalities, hereditary metabolic disorders, drug and nutrient interaction, food allergies and intolerances, and chronic ailments such as cardiovascular issues, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. 

Among the most common nutritional diseases include: 

  • Iron deficiency
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Iron deficiency

When you have iron deficiency, you have a higher chance of developing anaemia. This is a condition where your red blood cell levels plummet to a level that is below normal, and your body’s ability to carry oxygen is compromised. Its symptoms include fatigue, weakness, and impaired neurological function.

Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency may impede your production of thyroid hormones which regulate your physical growth as well as your bone and brain function. Its symptoms include an enlarged thyroid gland or goitre, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and weight gain.

Vitamin D deficiency

A lack of vitamin D may result in weakness, bone loss, and increased likelihood of fractures. Children may experience delayed growth and soft bones or rickets. Its symptoms include increased susceptibility to illnesses, fatigue, bone and muscle pain, depression, impaired wound healing, and bone and hair loss. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency

A deficiency of this water-soluble vitamin may result in large, immature red blood cells, nerve degeneration, and paralysis. Its symptoms include impaired brain function and elevated homocysteine (a naturally-occurring amino acid found in blood plasma) levels. 

Calcium deficiency

A lack of calcium may impair your bone and teeth health since these two body parts rely on this mineral for their proper function. The most common symptom of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, a condition characterised by soft and fragile bones. 

Vitamin A deficiency

This is the leading cause of preventable blindness among children. Vitamin A deficiency can also reduce their immunity from illnesses and make them more susceptible to various ailments. Its symptoms include dry skin, hardening of epithelial cells, and impaired growth and development.

Magnesium deficiency

Insufficient magnesium levels may result in other complications including osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and metabolic syndrome. Its symptoms include migraine, fatigue, restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps, and an irregular heart rhythm. 

Obesity

Obesity is a condition that means an individual has too much body fat. It increases your likelihood of developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and possibly cancer. Individuals who have obesity usually experience shortness of breath, excessive sweating, snoring, insomnia, skin issues, fatigue, back and joint discomfort, low self-esteem, depression, and social isolation. 

Diabetes

When you have high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) due to an insufficient level of insulin (a peptide hormone which transports blood glucose into your cells), you have type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, if your cells have an ineffective response to insulin, you have type 2 diabetes. Symptoms shared by both types of diabetes include hunger and thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, dry mouth, itchy skin, and blurred vision. 

How does nutrition affect your immune system?

Certain nutrients from food help fortify your body’s defence against viruses. According to nutritional studies, plant-based foods kickstart natural killer cell activity, which is part of an innate immune response to filter out pathogens and viruses. 

Specific plant-based foods which strengthen your immune system include:

  • Mushrooms: these contain antioxidants and polysaccharides which boost immunity and ward off inflammation.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, in particular, suggest the presence of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. 
  • Bitter greens: More specifically, dandelion and arugula boost your liver health, which supports natural killer cell production. 
  • Whole grains and legumes: These foods provide fibre for a healthy and balanced gut, which is a focal point of immune activity. 
  • Flax seeds: These are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep inflammation at bay and boost absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E for stronger immunity. 

How does nutrition affect your pregnancy?

A healthy and well-balanced nutrition plan will aid in the proper development of your baby during your pregnancy. Not only that, but nutritious foods will also help improve your health as a mother and may increase your chances of having an easier labour or an uncomplicated childbirth. In order to achieve these, pregnant mothers should eat nutritious foods like lean protein (e.g., fish, tofu, liver, chicken, beef, lamb), legumes, and whole grains (e.g., brown rice, whole-wheat bread, quinoa). They should also consume adequate amounts of calcium for the development of their baby’s bones, iron to ward off anaemia, and folate to keep neural tube defects at bay. Expectant mothers can get these nutrients from a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

How does nutrition affect your sports performance?

Proper nutrition is crucial, especially if you’re a hard-training athlete who wants to perform at peak levels consistently. Regardless of your sport, proper nutrition can help increase your energy levels, improve your recovery time, ensure your maximum hydration, and maintain your long-term health. Sports nutritionists typically recommend a diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables for their client-athletes to achieve these goals.

What is a FODMAP diet?

This particular diet is low in fermentable carbs known as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols). Health experts recommend this diet to help their clients in managing the symptoms of their irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dietary sources from each FODMAPs group include the following:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat, rye, legumes, fresh produce
  • Disaccharides: lactose from milk, yoghurt, and soft cheese
  • Monosaccharides: fructose from mangoes, figs, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar
  • Polyols: specific produce such as blackberries and lychee plus low-calorie sweeteners such as those found in sugar-free gum

Reducing foods high in FODMAPs can ward off stomach pain and bloating—two symptoms of IBS—by as much as 81% and 75%, respectively. The FODMAP diet also helps minimise the severity of other IBS symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Which diet supports weight loss?

Regardless of the kind of diet you follow, you must establish a caloric deficit if you want to lose weight. What does this mean? Simply put, it means burning more calories than you consume. If you burn 2,000 calories a day and consume just 1,500, you will lose weight. For best weight loss results, your exercise programme and your diet must be consistent and complementary. Exercising without paying attention to your diet won’t produce long-term weight loss results.

We can help you address your dietary & nutritional concerns

Here at New Life Nutrition, our team of registered nutritionists and accredited practising dietitians work together to help you achieve your diet and nutrition goals, and sustain them. Despite having diverse backgrounds, our common goal is to change the way you approach food and nutrition. We are committed to help you change the way you eat now, so you can change the way you feel forever. 

Call us now at (07) 3071 7405 to book an appointment and speak to our qualified nutritionists and dietitians.

Click Here to Download a Food Diary Template.

Print out this food diary template to record everything you eat and drink over a week.


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