Nutrition for Health
In general, a diet rich in protein, healthful fats, fruits and vegetables – that minimizes processed foods high in excess sugar, sodium and trans fatty acids – will promote health and reduce risk factors for a legion of diseases .
Note that while calorie management can be an important tool for health, the quality of nutritional intake is still critically important. To illustrate the point, a 2500 calorie diet of pure sugar and trans fats (warning, don’t try this at home) vs. a 2500 calorie diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats will result in dramatically different health outcomes.
As far as specific targets, we start with calorie recommendations derived to achieve maintenance energy levels (note that if you are currently obese, a caloric deficit is a fine idea), while protein levels may be set a bit higher than the RDA to account for both athletics (and indeed you should be getting some level of vigorous activity to achieve optimal health) and aging –two clear instances where more protein is useful . Fiber is similarly set at or above government guidelines, both as a partial representative for vegetables and fruits, and also for its relatively robust and broad health benefits .
While a myriad of nutrients are implicated in good health (or its absence), a few nutrients are worth extra consideration – these are discussed below. It should go without saying, but if you have any preexisting medical conditions their demands should supersede any and all recommendations provided here - be sure to consult with your doctor.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and DHA and EPA in particular, can provide a range of health benefits. These include aiding in cognitive functioning, liver health , weight management and potentially in the prevention of cardiovascular disease .
Sodium – while a critically important nutrient, is often wildly overconsumed by virtue of its almost ubiquitous inclusion in processed foods. High levels of sodium can increase the risk of hypertension , stroke, and cardiovascular disease .
Trans Fats – Just don’t. While providing no discernible benefit, trans fats are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and appear to negatively affect endothelial cell function . Trans fats are also linked to cognitive decline .
Saturated Fats – while the picture has become a little more intricate lately, moderating consumption of saturated fat (and preferring polyunsaturated fats like omega-3s, as well as monounsaturated fats) is still a prudent strategy for general health, and it appears is connected with lower instances of cardiovascular disease . For this reason BodBot follows the American Heart Association’s recommendation to keep saturated fat below 7% of total calories.
Magnesium: deficient in the majority of US adults, magnesium deficiency is linked to increased rates of inflammation as well as risks for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease . To learn more, click here.
Vitamin D: plays a similarly important role in bone health and deficiency also appears to be linked to increased rates of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality . Note that the importance of dietary vitamin D is elevated when not receiving adequate daily sunlight.
Cholesterol: while the precise role of dietary cholesterol in cardiovascular disease and health is undergoing more scientific debate , for some portion of the population restriction of cholesterol may be prudent. For this reason you should consult with a doctor (and you should be doing this anyway) before any dramatic changes in cholesterol consumption.