Good nutrition is a critical part of health and development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), better nutrition is related to improved health at all ages, a lower risk of diseases, and longevity.
People can find it difficult or confusing to navigate the amount of nutrition information now available, and many sources have differing views.
This article offers science-based nutrition tips to help someone lead a healthier lifestyle.
Following these nutrition tips will help a person make healthy food choices.
1. Include protein with every meal
Including some protein with every meal can help balance blood sugar.
Some studies suggest higher protein diets can be beneficial for type 2 diabetes.
Other research indicates balancing blood sugar can support weight management and cardiovascular health.
2. Eat oily fish
According to research, omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are essential for cell signaling, gene expression, and brain and eye development.
Some studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Eat whole grains
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend people eat whole grains rather than refined grains.
Whole grains contain nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, and fiber. These nutrients are essential for body functions that include carrying oxygen in the blood, regulating the immune system, and balancing blood sugar.
4. Eat a rainbow
The saying ‘eat a rainbow’ helps remind people to eat different colored fruits and vegetables.
Varying the color of plant foods means that someone gets a wide variety of antioxidants beneficial to health, for example, carotenoids and anthocyanins.
5. Eat your greens
Dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of nutrition, according to the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The USDA suggest that folate in leafy greens may help protect against cancer, while vitamin K helps prevent osteoporosis.
6. Include healthful fats
People should limit their intake of saturated fats while avoiding trans fats, according to the USDA.
A person can replace these fats with unsaturated fats, which they can find in foods such as avocado, oily fish, and vegetable oils.
7. Use extra virgin olive oil
As part of the Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil has benefits to the heart, blood pressure, and weight, according to a 2018 health report.
A person can include extra virgin olive oil in their diet by adding it to salads or vegetables or cooking food at low temperatures.
8. Eat nuts
According to the AHA, eating one serving of nuts daily in place of red or processed meat, french fries, or dessert may benefit health and prevent long-term weight gain.
The AHA suggest that Brazil nuts, in particular, may help someone feel fuller and stabilize their blood sugar.
9. Get enough fiber
According to the AHA, fiber can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
People can get enough fiber in their diet by eating whole grains, vegetables, beans, and pulses.
10. Increase plant foods
Research suggests that plant-based diets may help prevent overweight and obesity. Doctors associate obesity with many diseases.
According to some studies, including more plant foods in the diet could reduce the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
11. Try beans and pulses
Beans and pulses are a good source of protein for people on a plant-based diet. However, those who eat meat can eat them on a few meat-free days a week.
Beans and pulses also contain beneficial fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Some research even says pulses may help people feel fuller and lose weight.
Drinking plenty of healthy fluids has numerous health benefits. Health experts recommend these tips:
12. Drink water
Drinking enough water every day is good for overall health and can help manage body weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drinking water can prevent dehydration, which can be a particular risk for older adults.
If someone does not like plain water, they can add some citrus slices and mint leaves to increase the appeal, or drink herbal teas.
13. Enjoy coffee
A 2017 study suggests that moderate coffee consumption of 3–5 cups a day can reduce the risk of:
- type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- cardiovascular diseases
According to the same review, the recommended amount reduces to 2 cups per day for pregnant and lactating people.
14. Drink herbal teas
According to research, catechins in green, black, and other herbal teas may have antimicrobial properties.
Herbal teas, such as mint, chamomile, and rooibos, are caffeine-free and help keep someone hydrated throughout the day.
It is important to cut back on food and drink that may have harmful health consequences. For example, a person may want to:
15. Reduce sugar
According to research, dietary sugar, dextrose, and high fructose corn syrup may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
People should look out for hidden sugars in foods that manufacturers label as names ending in “-ose,” for example, fructose, sucrose, and glucose.
Natural sugars, such as honey and maple syrup, could also contribute to weight gain if someone eats them too often.
16. Drink alcohol in moderation
Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend that if someone consumes alcohol, it should be in moderation.
They advise up to one drink per day for females and up to two drinks per day for males.
Excessive drinking increases the risk of chronic diseases and violence, and over time, can impair short and long-term cognitive function.
17. Avoid sugary drinks
The CDC associate frequently drinking sugary drinks with:
- weight gain and obesity
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- non-alcoholic liver disease
- tooth decay and cavities
- gout, a type of arthritis
People should limit their consumption of sugary drinks and preferably drink water instead.
18. Eat less red and processed meat
A large prospective study in the British Medical Journal indicates that U.S. adults eating more red and processed meat had higher mortality rates.
Participants who swapped meat for other protein sources, such as fish, nuts, and eggs, had a lower risk of death in the eight-year study period.
19. Avoid processed foods
According to a review in Nutrients, eating ultra-processed foods can increase the risk of many diseases, including cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.
People should instead consume whole foods and avoid foods with long lists of processed ingredients.
There are several steps a person can take to improve their health in addition to consuming healthful foods and drinks.
20. Support your microbiome
A 2019 review in Nutrients suggests that a high quality, balanced diet supports microbial diversity and can influence the risk of chronic diseases.
The authors indicate that including vegetables and fiber are beneficial to the microbiome. Conversely, eating too many refined carbohydrates and sugars is detrimental.
21. Consider a vitamin D supplement
The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 15 micrograms or 600 international units per day for adults.
Many people get some of their vitamin D from sunlight, while it is also in some foods.
People with darker skin, older adults, and those who get less exposure to sunlight — such as during winter or in less sunny climates — may need to take a vitamin D supplement.
22. Be aware of portion size
Being aware of portion sizes can help people manage their weight and diet.
The USDA have helpful information about portion sizes for different food patterns.
People can adapt the guidelines to suit their cultural or personal preferences.
23. Use herbs and spices
Using herbs and spices in cooking can liven up a meal and have additional health benefits.
A 2019 review suggests that the active compounds in ginger may help prevent oxidative stress and inflammation that occurs as part of aging.
Curcumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory and may have protective effects on health, according to research.
Garlic has many benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
24. Give your body a rest by fasting
Intermittent fasting involves not eating either overnight or some days of the week. This may reduce energy intake and can have health benefits.
According to a 2020 review, intermittent fasting may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart health.
25. Keep a food journal
The American Society for Nutrition say that keeping a food journal can help people track calories, see how much they are eating, and recognize food habits.
Keeping a food journal could help someone who wants to maintain a moderate weight or eat a more healthful diet.
Apps, such as MyFitnessPal, can also help someone achieve their goals.
26. Wash fruits and vegetables
Raw fruits and vegetables can contain harmful germs that could make someone sick, according to the CDC. They advise that Salmonella, E.coli, and listeria cause a large percentage of U.S. foodborne illness.
Always wash fresh produce when eating them raw.
27. Do not microwave in plastic containers
Research suggests that microwaving food in plastic containers can release phthalates, which can disrupt hormones.
Experts recommend heating food in glass or ceramic containers that are microwave-safe.
28. Eat varied meals
Many people eat the same meals regularly. Varying foods and trying different cuisines can help someone achieve their required nutrient intake.
This can be particularly helpful when trying to eat a broader range of vegetables or protein.
29. Eat mindfully
In a 2017 study, mindful eating helped adults with obesity eat fewer sweets and manage their blood glucose.
Another study suggests mindfulness can bring greater awareness to food triggers and habits in people with diabetes.
Nutrition is an essential part of health, and people can start leading a healthful lifestyle by making small changes to their diet.
It is also important to remember other key aspects of health, such as exercise and activity, stress strategies, and adequate sleep.