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Food for Fitness     

A healthy mind and body requires oxygen, exercise, sleep, water and nutrients. Nutrients are found in the foods we eat. Nutrients and water must be ingested (taken into the body and digested) in order to nurture and maintain the fitness level for the day to day activities. Food for fitness can be utilized for the optimum results.

Today's families lead extremely busy and stressful lives that make it difficult for them to find the time to shop for, prepare, and eat several well-balanced meals everyday - let alone get in daily exercise. Hence, food plays an important role in maintaining the fitness level and the eating habits needs to be managed properly.

A nutrient found in food, is a substance needed for the body to develop and function properly. There are many nutrients, but six are absolutely necessary. Each nutrient plays a specific role in the body. Together they supply energy, provide materials for growth and maintenance, and control body functions. Nutrients that do similar things are grouped together.

 

  1. water - "The" essential for all body functions”
  2. carbohydrates - "go" foods
  3. fats - concentrated "go" foods
  4. proteins - "grow" foods
  5. vitamins - "glow" foods
  6. minerals - "glow" foods

With more people getting overweight or obese than ever, it was important to emphasize daily physical activity in addition to food recommendations since obesity is a major contributor to many chronic and life-threatening diseases; including, some forms of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, among others.

The food that we eat is either used to produce energy for the body to "grow and go" or they are used to regulate body systems and to maintain the required fitness level. Food for fitness is categorized as the following:

Body Regulators

Energy Producers

Water

Protein

Vitamins

Carbohydrates

Minerals

Fats

Fiber

 

MyPyramid: Steps to a Healthier You”, as the name indicates, was designed to individualize food recommendations and to emphasize the importance of physical activity and fitness. It was developed to help consumers better understand the relationship of food intake and daily physical activity to overall health.

On the MyPyramid logo, the six different-colored vertical bands represent variation in diet (from left to right on black and white diagram above: grains-orange, vegetables-green, fruits-red, fats-yellow, milk-blue, and meat & beans-purple). Each vertical band has a wide base and narrow tip, indicating that all foods from a certain group are not equal (whole wheat bread vs. donut in grains group). The base of each band represents foods with little or no added fat and sugar (whole wheat bread), while the tip represents foods with high amounts of solid fats and added sugars (donut).

Make most of your food selections from the base of each group. The bands are of various widths, indicating proportions to eat from each group—grains band is the widest and fats band is the narrowest.

My Pyramid recommends the following eating habits:

  • half of grain servings should be whole
  • you eat vegetables from several subgroups (green leafy, orange, etc.) per day
  • most fruit choices be actual fruit, not juice
  • you choose fat-free or low fat foods from the milk group
  • you choose lean meat and poultry and vary your choices, incorporating fish, beans, nuts, peas, and seeds
  • you build more physical activity into your daily routine

If the goal is to be fit and healthy: eating a balanced diet and being physically active are the two main ingredients. They go hand-in-hand. Doing one, without doing the other will not help maintain good health. Healthy eating means choosing foods from all the food groups that will provide nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) to your body. It also means making sure eating the recommended servings and portion sizes for your weight.

Perhaps more than any single substance, food in some way affects almost everything we do - how we look, feel, act, and grow. It even affects our abilities - how well we function mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. One might assume that we would know or want to know as much as possible about something as important as proper nutrition. If good food choices aid appearance, health and performance, then it seems reasonable that what we eat is important to us to maintain our fitness.

 
 

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