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While there are plenty of things a person can do to stay healthy, such as exercising, there’s one key aspect that can be the deciding factor: nutrition. While exercising is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, nutrition plays a much grander role in the well-being and health of every individual on the planet.

Nutrition refers to the food and other materials required for organisms and cells to live. Proper management of nutrition can have multiple benefits aside from providing the fundamental vitamins and minerals all humans need to live. A healthy diet can also help individuals to stay fit, improve the ability to fight off illness, increase energy levels, and improve overall wellbeing.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is of the utmost importance when it comes to nutrition. Without water, it would be impossible for the body’s cells to undergo their normal processes. The body needs water to transport nutrients, remove waste, and more. While the amount of water each person needs varies on activity levels, external temperatures, and more; a good rule of thumb is to drink enough for urine to be clear.

  1. Consume More Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods that are either unrefined and unprocessed or refined as little as possible. This includes foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Whole foods are a great way to fulfill nutritional needs for most individuals as the nutrients derived from them are often more bioavailable than processed or manufactured foods. Not only that, but they can also be a lot easier on the digestive system since they lack chemical additives.

  1. Consume Healthy Fats

Polyunsaturated fats like Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are a necessary part of a healthy diet. They’re known as healthy fats and can provide numerous health benefits. They can help to lower blood cholesterol levels of unhealthy fats, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Common sources for these healthy fats are through foods like nuts, avocados, fatty fish, seeds, and olives.

  1. Get Enough Protein From Healthy Sources

Protein is an important part of nutrition. It’s used for multiple physiological processes like muscle growth, tissue repair, cell growth, and more. While it is important to get adequate amounts of protein, they should be from healthy sources like fish and lean cuts of meat. Meats that aren’t lean can come with high amounts of saturated fats, which in turn may raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. A recommended protein intake level is 15 to 25 percent of one’s total daily calories.

  1. Monitor Key Nutrient Intake

A major aspect of maintaining proper nutrition levels is to monitor them. There is no “one shoe fits all” when it comes to nutrition. Some may be lacking in key vitamins like vitamin C, whereas others may lack nutrients like iron. Specific nutritional needs should be monitored in order to optimize them. The best way to do this is by visiting a physician and having tests run to check for nutrient deficiencies. These tests can also be ordered online and done from home.

  1. Reduce Sugar and Carbohydrate Intake

High amounts of sugars and carbohydrates can be harmful to one’s health. It can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, and an increased risk for diabetes. While they are a necessary part of a healthy diet, moderation is key. The best way to keep sugar and carbohydrate intake low is by limiting the consumption of sugary beverages, candy, processed foods, and desserts.

  1. Slow Down on the Fast Food

While it’s beneficial to get the proper amount of nutrients, they should come from healthful sources. Fast food, in most cases, is not a wholesome source of nutrients. Unhealthy fats, preservatives, and other chemical additives are often found in most fast food meals. Consuming high amounts of these meals can lead to health risks like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. It’s best to keep the fast food intake down to a minimum, or none at all.