Why Nutrition MattersSep 27, 2022
What does nutrition do?
Quality food and fluids contain the nutrients and vitamins necessary for our body's physical and mental growth - directly affecting our health and impacting our daily life.
When we eat, our bodies digest and absorb essential minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and water. These are absorbed into the bloodstream, providing energy and nutrients, helping our body to maintain its overall health. A change in diet can alter the course of or even avoid common diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease.
The importance of nutrition
Quality nutrition is achieved through our diet and provides several positive outcomes, resulting in a healthy weight, good energy levels and improved mental health just to name a few.
Good nutrition can be achieved by:
Eating a variety of foods
The vitamins and minerals we need to live a balanced diet come from an array of food groups. For a well-balanced diet, foods from the five main food groups should be eaten.
- Vegetables and legumes
- Grains – preferable whole grain rice, cereal and pasta
- Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and beans
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese
Including plenty of fruits and vegetables
Maintaining a healthy diet can help to optimise our overall health and has the potential to improve concentration levels, mental health and boost your immune system. It is important to ensure the recommended daily intake of two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables per day is met, as they contain many of the minerals and vitamins our bodies require. This can include tinned fruit and frozen vegetables, just check for no added sugar or salt.
Including whole grains
Carbohydrate foods seem to have some bad publicity, and certainly highly refined foods should be limited, but wholegrains have many benefits and should be included daily. They are high in fibre and can be a rich source of nutrients such as iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Steering away from processed and sugary foods
High levels of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats can often be found in processed foods leading to a string of serious health issues including cancer, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. Although it is okay to eat these food types occasionally, they should be used as a treat rather than part of your diet. These foods include:
- Commercial cakes, biscuits, chocolate and lollies
- Soft drinks and cordial
- Chips and pastries
- Deep fried foods
The benefits of good nutrition
Receiving the right amount of quality food through a varied diet as recommended by Accredited Practising Dietitians helps to maintain good health and well-being for all of us. By eating well, our body will experience a range of benefits including:
- Maintaining muscle mass
- Bone strengthening
- Boosted immunity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Healthy digestive system
- Reduced risk of some chronic diseases
Good nutrition is an ongoing challenge in aged care homes, due to the range of dietary requirements that must be met. But providing a balanced and varied diet suggested by nutrition professionals can help minimise the risk of malnutrition or illness amongst residents.
Sometimes the guidelines that are used for younger people need to be relaxed for the frail elderly - it is important that they enjoy the food and that we are flexible with menu offerings. As mealtimes are often the highlight of a resident's day, meals should appeal to both the eyes and taste buds.
For more information, access our Australian nutrition resources.