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We live in a 'soundbite' society, where we latch onto the simplest message - this is good for you, that is bad for you - only to quickly find some study that refutes it.
Despite this, there are some tips we could benefit all of us. Here nutritionist Rob Hobson gives us his top three.
Let's start with the basics. Plenty of fruit and veg, low-fat dairy, lots of fish, skinless poultry, nuts, seeds and beans, as well as high-quality unsaturated oil are all essential for a balanced diet. Conversely, we should avoid too much trans and saturated fat, highly processed foods, refined sugar, and salt.
Rob says, 'A balanced diet helps control weight and can help prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol, reduce inflammation, reduce stroke risk and protect against heart disease. One size does not fit all, but choosing foods with a high nutritional quality, in reasonable portion sizes plays a key part in our health and wellness.'
Healthy eating is about balance and moderation - not deprivation. It's far better to make permanent changes - that still include the occasional slice of cake - as opposed to starving yourself before reverting to eating the wrong types of foods in un-healthy quantities.
Rob says, 'Avoid crash diets, crazes and fads. Eating healthily is about making balanced and informed decisions for long term health and there's no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to that. Taking a mindful approach to eating, understanding hunger and being well-informed about the daily nutrition your body needs to thrive is the best place to start.'
Whilst you can get all the nutrients you need from your diet, busy lives often mean we reach for quick fixes and meal replacements as opposed to the healthier option. Food should be the primary source of nutrients, but sometimes we need to respond to vitamin or mineral deficiencies when getting enough from our diet is not possible. That's where supplements can be beneficial.
Rob says, 'Modern lifestyles have caused an evolution in the way we eat and this can impact on the nutritional quality of our diet. Many people rely more on snacks and pre-packaged foods to fit in with busy lifestyles and most do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, which are a key source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Nutrients have also been shown to be depleted in many foods due to modern production techniques and even the way we cook our food at home. Achieving a balanced diet for some may not be as straight forward as they think'.
Rob Hobson MSc RNutr is a Registered Nutritionist who has worked with some of the UK’s largest food and health companies and performs training in the public health sector (including government agencies and the NHS). Rob contributes regularly to UK press publications and has a monthly column in Women's Health magazine.
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.