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Why you should care about nutrition

Content supplied by Fuel Your Life

What we eat, how much we eat and when we eat has a profound impact on your health. Good nutrition is the key to mental and physical performance and could be the difference between making it through the busy work week, struggling to get out of bed in the morning, or winning a grand final.

Here are some of the key reasons why you should care about nutrition:

Poor Physical Health

The health of yourself and your family couldn’t be more important, and nutrition plays a large role in that. We all eat, and what we put into our bodies is paramount to our health.  

If you eat 3 main meals and 2 snacks each day, that is 7 opportunities to make a nutritious choice to improve your health or a poor choice that, over time, will accumulate and contribute to elevated weight and/or increased risk of chronic diseases.

Conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease and high blood pressure may develop and will then need to be managed for the rest of your life. If poorly managed you run the risk of damaging your kidneys, eye sight, or even losing a limb in the case of Type 2 Diabetes.

For heart disease and high blood pressure, you run the risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke which may then lead to trouble swallowing, walking, speaking and significantly reduce the quality of the rest of your life. These conditions are preventable with nutrition and lifestyle choices.

We also know that there are multiple nutrition factors underpinning risk of illness and injury. For active individuals, meeting fuelling and recovery demands significantly reduces the risk of injury from sport.

Among the general population, eating enough in general is required for a proper functioning immune system. Aside from an adequate total daily energy (kilojoule) intake, our immune system requires a range of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, iron, selenium and zinc to function optimally.

Every time you reach for a meal or a snack, you are making a choice that either supports a reduced risk of illness or poor immunity, or increasing your chances of falling ill. That’s what our dietitian team at Fuel Your Life work on with clients every day, and why we developed the online nutrition program - Nutrition to Fuel Your Life.

Poor Work Performance

We often think about fuelling our body for physical performance, but how often do you consider the impact of your food choices on your energy levels and cognitive performance?

Our brain needs fuel (in the form of glucose or sugar) to concentrate on important tasks at work or study and to make important decisions on the go. This glucose is released into the blood stream for energy after we eat foods containing carbohydrates. Time this incorrectly and you will be left feeling low in energy, unable to concentrate and could even miss out on a promotion. Anyone heard of “3:30itis”?

The type and timing of your food intake across the day contributes to how our body can handle stress and will leave you open to burnout when poorly managed over time.

Nutrition for work performance really is integral to the livelihood of Australians, and with many of us now working from home more, it brings about new challenges and new opportunities.

Exploring these with a dietitian, learning the basics, and the getting individualised advice based on your industry, your position in your company and taking the guess work out of it has been shown to have great results; food for thought.

Poor Mental Health

You may have noticed that when you eat well, you generally feel well. There is hard evidence to suggest your overall dietary pattern does affect your mood and mental health.

A diet centered around ultra-processed foods such as chips, sausages, chocolate and alcohol, will exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Conversely, a modified Mediterranean diet centered around a range of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, seafood and plant-based proteins in defined amounts has been shown to significantly reduce the severity of depression.

We also know that certain isolated nutrients such as folate, found in dark leafy greens, legumes and Vegemite, can even help certain antidepressant medications work more effectively.

These are all of the little “science” things that most of us are just not aware of, and find it hard to make sense of all of the information you an find online. That’s where a dietitian can be incredibly useful, to provide you with clear, direct and meaningful recommendations that actually get you results.

Through this tough time we are all experiencing with COVID, mental health has become more important to all of us – as most of us know someone struggling with it at this time. We all eat every day, so why not ensure it is the right things, in the right amounts at the right times? That’s where Nutrition to Fuel Your Mental Health comes in.

The health of your children and family

All parents want the best for their children. But have you stopped to think about the impact of your food habits has on your kids? Your eating habits and behaviours as an adult are largely shaped from childhood when kids model and learn from parents.

Family meal times (the type of food served and eating environment) play a crucial role in their development. Research has shown that children who eat with their family do better in school, are less likely to develop depression, anxiety and eating disorders, and overall have better physical health.

Although you might not always realise it, by caring about your own nutrition and developing good habits yourself will have a significant positive impact on your family and children.

Final word

We all have to eat and there is no single perfect diet. Therefore everyone would benefit from individualised nutrition and planning, and that’s where speaking with a Fuel Your Life dietitian can help.

Whether your goal is to reduce weight, improve energy levels and concentration, reduce risk of developing a chronic disease, or optimising your nutrient intake for health or performance, fine tuning your nutrition with a dietitian can be a key determinant of your success.

Nutrition has a profound effect on all aspects of our health, from raising energy levels, improving concentration and performance at work to allowing you to push through that extra rep at the gym. It affects your mood and mental health, your immune function and overall quality of life.

Certain dietary patterns reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even certain cancers. Optimising your diet also significantly reduces the risk of injury on a sporting field and frequency of illness such as the common cold. It allows you to get more out of your day and enjoy life to the fullest.

We all know eating well is important but can very easily be overlooked when you are juggling a full time job, raising a family and when social events are around food and alcohol.

Investing in your health has become more important than ever. The abundance of nutrition information online and in social media can be overwhelming, but that’s when you need to turn to the true experts.

Booking an appointment with a Fuel Your Life dietitian or taking part in an evidence-based online program like the ones we offer can provide you not only with an abundance of accurate information but actionable strategies to support you in optimising your diet.