Healthy eating: the basic principles and some guidelines to follow

The body’s wellbeing depends on many factors. On the one hand, genetic predisposition increases the risk of developing certain disorders; on the other hand, the external environment can also influence people’s general state of health.

Just think of the substances that we might come into contact with and their potential effects on cells, tissues and metabolism.

One of the many vehicles for these substances is food. It’s no coincidence that nutrition is one of the external factors that can influence health.

Taking care of your diet shouldn’t only be a goal for those who want to maintain a normal body weight or get back into shape: a healthy and balanced diet is a powerful ally in keeping the body healthy in the short and long term.

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Part of the benefits of healthy eating habits are due to the reduction of excess weight (being overweight and obesity), which is not only likely to affect physical fitness, but also the wellbeing of the entire body.

Excess fat is not innocuous but produces interfering substances that affect health by acting on the organs as well.

Obesity, especially abdominal obesity, is for example associated with an increased risk of developing metabolic disorders and conditions involving the liver, blood vessels and heart.

The link between food and wellbeing is not just about weight control: an unhealthy or unbalanced diet can be associated with increased health risks, even if a person’s weight doesn’t tip the scales. For example, we all need to pay attention to the intake of potentially harmful substances, naturally present in or added to the foods we eat. In other cases, diets may not be correct from the point of view of nutritional balance, for example they may lack certain nutrients.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools available for healthy, balanced eating.

First of all, we can enrich our cupboards with foods containing natural ingredients and, more generally, ingredients subjected to less raw materials processing. Secondly, it is worth paying attention to the fact that food safety also depends on how it’s handled and prepared, even in the home.

Properly storing food (both fresh and cooked) and observing scrupulous hygiene rules when handling it are essential requirements for avoiding the risks and consequences of possible contamination by bacteria, moulds and pathogens.

To avoid the risks of toxic infection from raw foods, it’s sufficient to consume foods that have been properly cooked or ‘blast chilled’ (i.e., stored at very low temperatures for an adequate period of time). Two examples are chicken, which should only be eaten if well cooked, and raw fish, which should only be eaten if blast chilled.

The Crea guidelines for a healthy diet outline the importance of regular physical activity. On the one hand, this helps maintain a normal body weight and, on the other, contributes to a state of mental and physical wellbeing.

That’s why it’s recommended to avoid staying sedentary and to allow yourself at least half an hour a day of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking.

It is, however, possible to do even better by combining a healthy diet and aerobic activity, such as walking, with some strengthening exercises, such as weightlifting, if there are no contraindications. This will help to optimise the benefits of a nutritionally and energetically balanced diet.

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