There are many reasons to lead a healthier lifestyle- to feel better, to prevent diseases or improve their outcomeArticle
15. 10. 2020
Most people correctly associate an unhealthy diet with certain lifestyle diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease or pathologies of the digestive tract. However, changing your eating habits for the better can also impact the course of diseases that you wouldn’t expect. Apart from the health benefits that come along with a healthier lifestyle, a healthy diet has an overall positive impact on our organism as a whole, which quite simply put, makes us feel better!
So what’s “healthy”?
The main pillars of a healthy and balanced diet are variation and regularity. It’s more appropriate to eat 4-5 smaller meals per day as opposed to 2-3 large meals, as the body is able to utilise the energy more efficiently. Your diet should comprise of the basic macronutrients in these rough proportions: carbohydrates 50-55%, fats 30%, protein 15-20%, in addition to vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
“Reducing the amount of fat you have in your diet has to be within reasonable limits and should have a good reason. We can’t simplify things by saying that fats are bad and that they make us fat. If we are dealing with overweight or obesity, then we should be focusing on limiting the amount of saturated fats in our diet (fatty or processed meats and full-fat dairy products). To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, we should try to avoid the consumption of trans-fats, which are most often present in store-bought baked goods, confectionaries and in most food you buy from fast food shops. On the other hand, some types of fats should be consumed regularly and in appropriate quantities, for example omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in most oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna). Aim to get two portions a week. Omega-3’s can also be consumed from plant-based sources such as rape-seed oil or walnuts. There is a whole plethora of researched and scientifically proven reasons to ensure you have a good intake of omega-3’s – they have been shown to aid in prevention of cardiovascular disease, they impact your immune system and they play a role in inflammation control, and have been shown as an effective treatment in dyslipidaemia (a disorder of the composition of your blood fats),” explains Ing. M.A. Jitka Jirků, Canadian Medical’s nutritional therapist.
Our diet should therefore mainly comprise of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrate sources, legumes, fish and lean meats, milk and its by-products, and as an appropriate source of carbohydrates, perhaps potatoes and rice. We should try to limit the consumption of red meat and animal fats, processed foods and confectionaries.
An absolutely crucial part of a healthy lifestyle is having an adequate intake of fluids. Every day we should aim to drink between 2-3 litres of fluids. The healthiest drink is pure water, however tea, fresh fruit/vegetable juices or watered down 100% juices are also appropriate sources.
We’re not all the same
The aforementioned recommendations are just the basics of a healthy and balanced diet that can be followed by anyone. If despite following these recommendations you still don’t feel like your best self, or you suffer from a disease that requires a special diet, or perhaps you want to have a diet that’s tailored specifically to you, pay a visit to our nutritional therapists.
“Nutritional counselling enables an individual approach in line with the clients personal needs, as the reasons for visiting a nutritional therapist vary greatly,” explains M.A. Jitka Jirků from Canadian Medical clinic.
As an example, a patient with coeliac disease (gluten allergy) requires a diet with a complete exclusion of gluten for the rest of their life, whereas someone with lactose intolerance (intolerance to milk sugars) may only need to reduce their consumption of milk products perhaps only temporarily. In any case, it’s always necessary to adequately replace the nutrients that are lost by excluding certain food groups with an appropriate alternative, e.g. gluten-free bread for coeliac disease and low-lactose/lactose-free products for patients with lactose intolerance. Pregnancy also has its specific dietary requirements that change based on the trimester. For example, it’s crucial that the mother has an adequate intake of calcium to prevent future osteoporosis or tooth damage. Omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) is absolutely essential for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and vision during the 1st trimester of the pregnancy.
Preventing (not only) lifestyle diseases
Prevention or treatment of lifestyle diseases remains the main reason for people wanting to improve their diet, as these diseases are more often than not directly correlated with an unhealthy lifestyle. An unhealthy diet poses as a considerable risk to the development of cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction), obesity, diabetes, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and high cholesterol. Changing your diet is also an absolute necessity in case of any food allergies.
“Changing your diet can majorly decrease the risk of developing an oncological disease. For example, having an adequate intake of fibre is the first and foremost undisputable preventative measure that you can take to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, in which our country still ranks in the 6th place worldwide with the highest occurrence of this disease (there were 7610 new cases recorded in the year 2016). The fibre intake recommendation for adults is to aim for 30 grams of fibre per day, which is an amount that we are only able to achieve by consuming enough fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain products. For the children from the age of 2, we would calculate their requirements by adding 5 grams to their age (number of years),” adds M.A. Jitka Jirků.