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How exactly does one achieve proper nutrition? Is it simply just eating a salad and staying away from your favorite sweets and snacks? Well I’m afraid it’s much more complicated than that. There are many factors and aspects that need to be taken into consideration before creating an effective nutritional plan. Proper nutrition can help correct various health-related problems, as well as prevent them from coming up in the future. Proper nutrition, however, entails eating many different foods, monitoring your consumption of some food and beverage items, and making sure that your body is able to absorb the nutrients from your diet. Such diets offer balanced nutrition that reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, balance hormones and helps with weight control.

To function properly, your body must have the correct combination of each of these nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates: They are the primary source of ammunition in your diet. The body uses carbohydrates to build glucose which can be used immediately or stored in your body for later. Too much glucose, however, is stored as fat. There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates.

  • Proteins: Proteins help your body build and maintain muscles and other tissues. They also function in the creation of hormones. Like carbohydrates, excess protein is stored as fat. Animal and vegetable are the two major types of proteins. It’s important to eat a combination of both proteins especially since too much animal protein can cause high cholesterol, as it is high in saturated fat.

  • Fat: You might not believe it but fat is another nutrient your body requires. It comes in both saturated and unsaturated forms. Saturated fat puts you at risk of health problems. Unsaturated fat is healthy, but if it goes through any type of refinement process, it can become saturated fat.

  • Vitamins: These are also required nutrients. Different vitamins perform different tasks within the body. They can work with the metabolism to help with energy levels for everyday tasks. It has also been noted that certain vitamins can prevent disease. For example, vitamins A, C, and E, also called antioxidants, can assist with the prevention of coronary artery disease by keeping build up from occurring on artery walls. Vitamin B-1 is needed for digestion and proper nervous system function. Vitamin B-2 is needed for normal cell growth. Vitamin B-3 helps to detoxify your body. Folic acid assists with production of red blood cells. Vitamin D assists with the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K helps your blood clot.

  • Minerals and trace elements: These are another nutrient your body requires. Both are used in many different body processes. Minerals like chlorine help make your digestive juices. While phosphorus helps build strong bones. Both can be found in the foods we consume, but with a trace element, your body just needs a tiny amount. Salt is one final nutrient your body requires. You should not consume more than 2400 milligrams per day, though, as it might raise your blood pressure.

There are several guidelines as to how you can create a well balanced, nutritional diet so here are a few simple tips and tricks that can help make things easier for you:

1. Try to consume two and one half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. A good rough guide is to eat as many different colors as possible, this will help you to select from all five vegetable subgroups at least four times per week. If in doubt, just fill half your plate with veggies and you're good to go!

2. You should eat at least three ounces of whole grain products each day. At least half of your grain intake should be whole grain based. This means that a fourth of your plate should be whole-grain or high fiber versions of your usual carb sources.

3. Milk should also be part of a healthy diet. Consume at least forty-eight ounces of milk or milk products on a daily basis.

4. Most of the fats you consume should be in the form of unsaturated fats, as saturated fats can do much to damage your health. Aim For meat and poultry that are lean, or low-fat. Fat from fish is ok so go ahead and indulge in salmon! If you get confused, just do away with smoked/preserved/canned meats and we'll call it even!

While there is no one-size-fits-all diet that will help address all health-related issues, these are a few basic guidelines to help make sure you’re getting proper nutrition everyday.

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