The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Feb 27, 2015

Eating a healthy balanced diet will provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. These nutrients have a number of vital functions in our bodies, from helping keep our brains active, to regulating our blood pressure.

Eating a balanced diet can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers, and can improve both your digestive health and overall sense of wellbeing.

What is a Balanced Diet?

When it comes to eating a healthy diet, achieving the right balance is key. This means that it’s important to incorporate a wide variety of foods in your diet, and in the right proportion.

A balanced diet should ideally include:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Starchy foods such as potatoes, bread and pasta
  • Sources of protein such as meat, fish, eggs and beans
  • Milk and dairy foods
  • A small amount of foods high in sugar and fat

Another essential element of any diet is fibre; whilst this isn’t classified as a nutrient, fibre plays a key role in helping to keep your digestive system healthy. 

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t have to be a chore, and eating healthily can actually be pretty straightforward. There are a few handy hints and tips that can help make this easier too.

For example, we’ve all heard the old saying ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and there is more than a grain of truth to this. Eating breakfast will give you the energy you need for the day, so it’s important to avoid skipping this vital meal. 

It’s also a good idea to try basing your meals around starchy foods, as these should ideally make up around one third of everything we eat. It’s best to try and choose wholegrain varieties where possible, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, as these typically contain more fibre.

According to government guidelines, it’s recommended that we eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. These foods are a vital source of vitamins and minerals, and there is some evidence to suggest that individuals who eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day are at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Getting your ‘5 a day’ isn’t as difficult as you might think, and there are a number of easy ways to incorporate more fruit and veg into your diet. For example, this can be as simple as adding some fruit to your bowl of cereal in the morning, and putting vegetables, such as carrots, in pasta sauce. Try keeping track of how many portions of fruit and veg you eat each day too, to encourage yourself to eat more. 

In the case of dairy products, it’s also a good idea to opt for low fat varieties, such as semi skimmed milk and low fat cheese.

Most of us are also guilty of eating too much fat and sugar; whilst these are a source of energy for our bodies, if we eat too much of these (and thereby consume more energy than we’re able to burn off) then this can lead to weight gain.

It’s worth bearing in mind that there are also different types of fat. For example, saturated fat is found in foods such as cheese, butter and cake. Many of us include too much saturated fat in our diet, and this can put us at an increased risk of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, can actually help to lower our cholesterol levels, and are a source of essential fatty acids that help us to stay healthy. Foods such as oily fish, vegetable oils and nuts and seeds are great sources of unsaturated fat.

Hence, in addition to the amount of fat in your diet, it’s also important to pay attention to the types of fat you are eating too. Try cutting down on foods that are high in saturated fats and replace these with small amounts of foods that are rich in unsaturated fats instead. For example, try replacing butter with a reduced fat spread, and, when eating meat, opt for more lean cuts and varieties.

Here at the London Gastroenterology Centre, we’re experts when it comes to digestive health and gastrointestinal diseases, and understand the vital role our diet has to play in maintaining our overall health and wellbeing. Our experienced doctors are specialists in their field and are able to provide a range of treatments, including acid reflux treatment. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today by giving us a call on 020 7183 7965 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

We are available to see patients daily for private consultations

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