First and foremost, healthy eating does not mean starving yourself or depriving yourself of the foods you love.
All the conflicting nutrition tips and advice can make the whole concept of healthy eating seem complicated.
For every diet, which is all praises for a certain food, there always exists another diet that completely forbids it.
While the concept of dieting has never been one size fits all, when it comes to a healthy diet, a few rules have to be religiously followed.
Rules for healthy eating
- Healthy eating starts with staying away from processed foods as much as you can. Processed foods are overloaded with sugars and other preservatives for longer shelf life. Needless to say, all these preservatives take a huge toll on the body.
- A healthy diet is not complete without enough water. Water flushes out toxins from the body and transports nutrients to where they are required.
- Do not skip breakfast. People who are trying to lose weight tend to skip breakfast. Doing so leads to food cravings where you might end up bingeing on high-calorie junk food. Eating a calorie-controlled breakfast is a healthy way to start the day.
- Eat your fruits instead of drinking them. Many fruits are loaded with water, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Because fruits contain fiber and various plant compounds, their sugars are generally digested very slowly and do not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels. However, many fruit juices do not even contain real fruits and are often concentrated with sugar.
As mentioned earlier, there is no single diet that fits all.
Often we come across situations where one diet works like magic for one person and barely changes anything for another.
So, what accounts for this difference?
There are many genes that influence how the nutrients from your diet get broken down in the body.
Some variants of these genes account for a more efficient metabolism, while others may be responsible for a slower metabolism.
So depending on the genetic variants you carry, your body metabolizes the nutrients.
The perfect recipe for healthy eating largely depends on three significant factors.
- Dieting goals
- Nutritional requirements
Weight loss isn’t the only goal of dieting.
While there are a gazillion blogs out there with weight loss-related dieting tips, a very narrow spectrum of the society talks about other reasons for dieting like building muscles, health-related food restrictions, gaining weight, or even a simple detox.
So, it’s important to make food choices depending on what you look to achieve from this diet.
The primary science behind weight-loss diets is that you consume lesser calories so that your body fat is used up for energy consumption.
There are many low-calorie diets that are usually rich in fiber and protein and contain fewer carbs to aid weight loss.
You can adjust your protein and fiber intake depending on your tendencies to lose weight on each.
Fiber intake and weight loss tendency
A significant association has been found between rs11076023 and dietary fiber intake.
A research study has reported that individuals who carry the AA genotype exhibited lower waist circumference than the T allele carriers on a high fiber diet.
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Protein intake and weight loss tendency
Scientists studied the effect of the A variant on two groups of people; one on a low-protein high-calorific diet and the other on a high-protein low-calorific diet.
It was found that the second group had better control over food cravings than the first, in the presence of A allele compared to TT genotypes.
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Building muscles and gaining weight
High-caloric foods are recommended for weight gain.
This diet recommends an increased intake of fats and carbs.
It is very important to keep in mind that bingeing on donuts and soft drinks is not the way to do so.
While it may help you put on some weight, it also steadily does its role in destroying your health.
Here are a few healthy high-calorie foods:
Salmon and oily fish
To gain weight, you must create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs.
Calculate your recommended calorie intake here.
Dieting for a health condition
Eating healthy can also help alleviate the symptoms of many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
If you are at high risk for any health conditions, modifying your diet accordingly can even help you escape the condition.
A healthy diet can be as good for your heart as it is for your waistline.
You might also be interested in: Your Genes Do Not Sugarcoat When It Comes To Diabetes
These diets claim to facilitate toxin elimination from the body, thereby promoting healthier well-being.
Even though there is little evidence that detox diets actually help to remove these toxins, some people report feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets.
Most detox diets involve either one or a combination of two or three of the following things:
- Drinking only fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies along with water
- Using laxatives, colon cleansers and enemas
- Taking supplements or herbs
- Regular exercises
- Three-day fasting
What are the side effects?
- Detox diets are again calorie deficit, and this limited calorie intake can result in short term fatigue and irritability.
- The recommended colon cleanses in detox diets can cause dehydration, bloating, and nausea.
- There is also a risk of overdosing on supplements and laxatives, which is why it is crucial to consult a nutritionist before getting started on any supplements.
- Such calorie deficit diets are not recommended for certain populations, including malnourished people, pregnant or lactating women, people with eating disorders, and others with certain nutrition deficits.
This brings us to the next ingredient of the recipe for healthy eating.
Your nutritional requirements
According to the World Health Organization, the following six are considered to be the essential nutrients:
Proteins, carbs, and fats fall in the macronutrient category, while minerals and vitamins belong to the micronutrient category.
The ‘ideal distribution’ of these nutrients in a diet is as follows:
However, the distribution is altered according to the requirements of each diet.
This can also change based on your body’s ability to metabolize these macro and micronutrients.
Before starting any diet, it is important to check whether the nutrients in the diet meet your nutritional requirements.
For example, vegan and vegetarian diets do not provide as much heme iron as we normally get from meat sources.
Heme iron is better absorbed into our body than the non-heme iron.
If your body has a lower ability to absorb iron from the diet, then going vegan may not essentially be recommended for you.
Even if you are already on this diet, it is essential to take appropriate supplements to meet your nutritional requirements.
Another crucial step for healthy eating is to check your deficiencies.
A lot of the commonly followed diets like plant-based diets are deficient in micronutrients, especially vitamins. The most common nutritional deficiencies observed include:
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- Iodine deficiency
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
Hand-picked content for you: Are You Meeting Your Vitamin D Needs? Let Us Ask Your VDR Gene!
Common signs of nutritional deficiencies include:
- Hair loss
- Poor oral health
- Skin rashes
- Bone and joint pain
- Poor night vision
- Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis
Once you learn more about these deficiencies and your risk for it, a few modest changes in your diet are all you need for healthy eating.
Making the transition to healthy eating
- Healthy eating is all about balance. You need not give up on your comfort foods completely. To start off with, you can have them less often in lesser amounts and slowly alter the calories according to your needs.
- Go for home-cooked food. This keeps you from all the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats present in packaged food.
- Balance your calories. While it is important to cut out unhealthy foods from your diet, it is equally important to replace them with healthy alternatives to maintain your caloric intake.
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines recommend at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The number can vary depending on age, gender, physical activity, and overall health. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example.
USDA dietary guidelines for healthy eating - (2015-2020)
The guideline recommends increased intake of:
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
Consume less than:
- 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
- 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
- 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
Consume alcohol in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
About Xcode Life’s Gene Nutrition Report
Covering over 33 categories, this report is the final ingredient you need to complete the recipe for healthy eating.
It helps identify your genetic risk for 9 vitamin deficiencies.
The report also gives insights into the requirements of many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, etc.
It contains information about your tendency to gain and lose weight upon consumption of the essential nutrients, including carbs, proteins, and fats.
Each category covered also comes with some food recommendations which can help highly optimize your diet.
Do you have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage?
Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life to order our Gene Nutrition Report.