Our body needs more than 40 nutrients to function. 98% of our body’s needs come from macro-nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats, in addition to water. They are the ones who provide our body with the energy it needs, the famous calories. The remaining 2% is covered by micro-nutrients: vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, trace elements, all essential for the proper functioning of our body.
They provide the energy necessary for the functioning of our muscles and brain. Our body turns them into glucose. Glucose then passes into the blood and causes a peak in blood sugar, a rise in blood sugar. In response, our pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels: some of the glucose is consumed immediately by our body, the rest is stored in our liver and muscles to build up an energy reserve. It is therefore insulin that triggers the weight gain process. The glycemic index (GI) measures the ability of a carbohydrate to raise blood sugar levels. The higher the GI of a given food, the higher the peak blood glucose level will be and the more insulin will be released. If high GI foods are eaten too often, in the long term it could lead to insulin resistance. It would therefore no longer play its role in regulating sugar levels, leading to diseases such as obesity or diabetes. Low GI carbohydrates are: fruits and vegetables, unrefined cereals, legumes and tubers.
They constitute the envelope of our body: muscles, bones, skin, hair, nails. Proteins also have a metabolic function by participating in the chemical reactions that are essential for the functioning of our body. They are composed of amino acids, 8 of which are called “essential”, i. e. our body does not know how to make them, they must come from food. Proteins are found in animal products: meat, eggs, fish, dairy products but also in plants, including cereals and legumes. Find here What it means to eat a balanced diet.
They play an energy storage role and are used in the composition of cell membranes. They are divided into 4 families: saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids (Omega 9), polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) and trans fats. If trans fats are to be avoided, according to Passeport Santé, “half of these fats should come from monounsaturated fatty acids (omega-9), a quarter from polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) and the remaining quarter from saturated fats.” They are found in animal products, plants, oils and oilseeds. Micro-nutrients are present in all the above-mentioned products from the moment they are chosen as raw as possible. It is also found in large quantities in fruits and vegetables, not to mention spices, herbs and spices. We understand that only a varied diet based on the least processed and freshest products possible can provide our body with the many nutrients it needs to function properly!
The Anses (National Food Safety Agency) recommends eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. This is a minimum! Rich in vitamins, fibres and trace elements, they are essential and must represent the majority of our daily diet. Low in calories, they help to achieve satiety thanks to the fibre and water they contain. They also contribute to maintaining a good acid-base balance in our body.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Coloured fruits and vegetables on a market stall.
How to eat 5 fruits and vegetables? Include them with each meal. Think of fresh fruit in the morning for breakfast or for each snack. For children, replace industrial snacks with whole fruit. Do you feel a little hungry or want some sweetness? How about a date or dried fig, a handful of nuts?
Vegetables must be present and make up the majority of your plate at each dinner and lunch. If vegetables can be eaten at will, fruit should be limited because they are very high in carbohydrates.
It is important to eat them fresh but also to choose a gentle cooking to avoid ridding them of their nutritional virtues. Avoid cooking in water for vegetables, unless it is to make soup! So it’s good to alternate between raw and cooked. A whole apple will have more vitamins than applesauce.
Reduce the pollution in your diet
Pesticides, plastics, heavy metals… the list of toxic substances that contaminate what you swallow is long and deserves a separate article. Unfortunately, we don’t avoid them all, it’s impossible. On the other hand, we can adopt some reflexes that will make it possible to limit the consumption of these substances that are not very good for your health.
Choose organic fruits and vegetables
Even if pesticide residues are found everywhere, even in organic products, they contain less of them. Moreover, it should be noted that organic agriculture also uses pesticides! The difference is that in conventional agriculture these pesticides are synthetic molecules, whereas in organic agriculture they are natural pesticides. If you can’t eat all organic, choose fruits and vegetables that are the least exposed to pesticides when growing. Also avoid consuming the skin of fruits and vegetables from conventional agriculture. Steam cooking is the preferred method for these vegetables. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, soaking fruits and vegetables in water mixed with baking soda for at least 15 minutes (1 teaspoon of baking soda per 50cl of water) would get rid of a large part of the pesticides. And yet, even if they contain pesticides, fruits and vegetables remain essential to a healthy and balanced diet.
Avoid over-packaged foods and plastic food containers
Water bottles, trays, containers, airtight boxes, fruit and vegetables packed individually. All these packages contain plastic whose compounds can migrate into the food they contain. It is therefore important to ensure that the conditions of use of these packages are respected. For example, do not microwave a box that is not labelled microwave.
Avoid animal products from industrial farms
As already mentioned, they are “high” on antibiotics and hormones. Meat, eggs, dairy products or cultured fish should be avoided in favour of animal products from local farms.
Diversify sources and limit your consumption of predatory fish.
Rivers and seas are polluted by PCBs, highly toxic and non-biodegradable compounds used by industry until 1987. It is therefore important to diversify the sources of supply. Predatory fish at the top of the food chain accumulate heavy metals. Their consumption should be limited.