One of the cornerstones of good health is to have healthy, nutritious food that is safe and free from any contamination. In this regard, food safety plays a vital role as it ensures that food is handled, processed and distributed so that there are no contaminants that cause foodborne diseases in any of the food.
Foodborne illnesses are contagious and toxic and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals that enter the body through contaminated food. Many foodborne diseases can have long-term effects on the human body and lead to fatal outcomes if not treated in time. Access to safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health.
A healthy diet helps reduce and combat malnutrition in all its forms. It also plays a vital role in the prevention of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke and cancer, which are the major lifestyle diseases that affect most city dwellers. Some of the basic components of a healthy diet include the following.
- 5-6 servings of whole grains rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber: Avoid simple carbohydrates such as refined flour and polished rice, as the excess of simple carbohydrates is stored as fat.
- 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily: Choose whole fruits and fresh vegetables rather than juices or processed, canned products that contain a lot of fiber, sodium, and preservatives. It is also necessary to restrict starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams to maintain a healthy diet.
- Eat healthy food rich in protein: Items such as low-fat milk, dairy products, legumes, lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs are an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Since proteins are the building blocks of the body and have a vital role in keeping us healthy and strong, it is very important to include them in your diet.
- Reduce the number of simple carbohydrates such as sugar: Consuming large amounts of sugary drinks can lead to weight gain and dyslipidemia, among other diseases.
- Limit your total fat intake to less than 30 percent of your total calories: Include more healthy fats such as nuts and oilseeds in your diet and reduce the use of oil or ghee for cooking to 2-3 teaspoons per day.
- Reduce salt intake: Eat less than 5 grams of salt (about a teaspoon) a day, as it helps prevent high blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease. It is better to use iodized salt.
- Drink enough water: Water is necessary for the body to function effectively. Depending on your weight and activity levels, staying hydrated at all times is crucial.
- Limit empty calories to once every two weeks: Junk food and trans fats are a significant cause of obesity and other non-communicable diseases, so it is best to eat them in moderation.
- Exercise daily: Physical activity for at least 30-45 minutes every day is essential for a healthy lifestyle and for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
- Practice mindfulness techniques: Take time to de-stress and get enough sleep so that your body can function optimally.
- Cooking at home: Always choose home cooked food over restaurant food, even if hotels claim their food is healthy. It is always better to have home cooked meals as they are fresher and more nutritious.
- Stake control is key: Portion control is important if you are trying to eat a healthy diet. Always serve yourself small portions of high-calorie foods and generous amounts of healthy foods like vegetables, salads, and soups.
- Choose local food sources: A healthy diet doesn’t always have to be expensive. Seasonal and locally available food can be included in the diet at low cost to meet the nutritional requirements of everyone in the family.
- Learn to try: Be open to trying new food. Eating just to enjoy the taste buds can cause nutritional imbalances, so sometimes be open to trying new dishes even if they don’t always fit with your choices.
- Follow simple steps at home to ensure food safety: Clean your hands with soap and water before cooking and after eating. Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating or cooking to avoid germs.
In conclusion, small conscious steps can go a long way in eliminating food waste while ensuring that meals are healthy and nutritious at the same time. After all, the main goal of food is to make sure that it nourishes your body and keeps it healthy and active for as long as possible.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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