What is a healthy and wholesome diet?
The task of food is to promote and maintain human growth, development, performance and health throughout life. Every time we eat something, we have the chance to do something good for our body and mind, to make it more efficient and resilient. If we choose the cake instead of the carrot or a handful of nuts, we have missed an opportunity.
To put it more scientifically, wholesome food and drink is characterized by sufficient liquid and an energy supply that corresponds to the need. The energy-supplying nutrients (macronutrients) should be in a balanced ratio. A wholesome diet also provides vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), fibers and secondary plant substances in sufficient quantities.
The problematic formulations here are "the need" and "sufficient quantity". The requirement is influenced by a number of factors such as age, gender, activity level (PAL value), living conditions (e.g. pregnancy) and illnesses (e.g. diabetes). And measuring and understanding all the required micronutrients individually is a Sisyphus task that is difficult to integrate into everyday life. In order to facilitate a healthy and wholesome diet, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) has set out ten simple rules.
10 rules of the DGE for healthy eating
Eating and drinking wholesome food keeps you healthy, promotes performance and well-being. The German Nutrition Society has formulated how this can be implemented in 10 rules based on current scientific knowledge.
1. Enjoy Food Variety
Use the variety of foods. Choose mostly plant-based foods.
No single food contains all of the nutrients. The more varied you eat, the lower the risk of an unbalanced diet. Make a colorful selection from all food groups. This makes it easy to eat and drink wholesome food. Plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains and potatoes provide many nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals and at the same time few calories. Although vegetable oils and nuts are high in calories, they are also valuable sources of nutrients. In order to facilitate an adequate supply of nutrients, it makes sense to supplement plant foods with animal foods such as milk, dairy products, fish, meat and eggs.
2. Vegetables and Fruits - take "5 a day"
Enjoy at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit a day. The colorful selection also includes legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans as well as (unsalted) nuts.
Vegetables and fruit provide you with plenty of nutrients, fiber and secondary plant substances and contribute to satiety. Eating vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Vegetables and fruit are the largest food group in terms of quantity in a wholesome diet and bring a lot of color and variety to the menu. The variety and the interaction of the different ingredients make up the positive health effects of vegetables and fruit. At least 400 g of vegetables (approx. 3 portions) and 250 g of fruit (approx. 2 portions) daily are recommended. With dried legumes such as beans, lentils or chickpeas, one portion corresponds to approx. 70 g raw or 125 g cooked. Nuts, oilseeds or dried fruit can replace one serving of fruit a day. However, the serving size is smaller because the calorie content is higher: a serving of nuts, oilseeds or dried fruit is equivalent to 25 g.
3. Choose Whole Grain
When it comes to cereal products such as bread, pasta, rice and flour, the whole grain variant is the best choice for your health.
Whole grain foods fill you up longer and contain more nutrients than white flour products. Dietary fiber from whole grains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, colon cancer and cardiovascular disease. Grain products are an important part of a wholesome diet. They provide carbohydrates and, as a whole grain variant, also plenty of fiber and extra vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for humans. Whole grain products are filling and have many health benefits. The DGE recommends consuming at least 30 g of dietary fiber from whole grain products, vegetables, legumes and fruit per day. In addition to cereal products made from whole grains, potatoes are also possible sources of carbohydrates. Prepared as boiled, jacket or baked potatoes, they are a good choice that contain few calories.
4. Supplement your Selection with Foods of Animal Origin
Eat milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese daily, fish once or twice a week. If you eat meat, then no more than 300 to 600 g per week.
Milk and dairy products provide readily available protein, vitamin B2, and calcium. Sea fish provides you with iodine and fatty fish with valuable omega-3 fatty acids. Meat contains readily available iron as well as selenium and zinc. However, meat and especially sausage also contain unfavorable ingredients. Only foods of animal origin contain available vitamin B12 in appreciable amounts. Anyone who eats little or no animal food must make sure that they take vitamin B12 in addition.
Eat milk and dairy products daily
Yoghurt, buttermilk, kefir, quark or cheese - these are just a few examples of products made from milk. Milk and milk products are offered in such a variety that daily enjoyment is very easy. Regular consumption of milk and dairy products supports bone health and is also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Current findings also suggest that the daily consumption of one serving of fermented milk products (approx. 150 g/day) such as yoghurt, kefir or buttermilk could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Eat fish once or twice a week
Oily fish is of particular importance for cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of stroke.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). The native freshwater fish such as trout and carp are also good suppliers of these fatty acids.
Saltwater fish such as cod or redfish also contain iodine. As a component of the thyroid hormones, iodine fulfills vital tasks.
Rarely eat meat and sausages
As part of a wholesome diet, a small amount of meat can help provide essential nutrients. A weekly amount of meat and sausages ranging from a total of 300 g for adults with a low calorie requirement to 600 g for adults with a high calorie requirement is sufficient. For classification: A portion of meat can weigh 100 to 150 g. A slice of cold cuts, ham or aspic can weigh between 15 and 25 g. When it comes to meat, the distinction between red and white meat is also important.
Red meat is beef, pork, lamb, sheep and goat meat.
White meat is the meat of poultry such as chicken.
Those who eat a lot of red meat and sausage have a higher risk of colon cancer. According to the current state of knowledge, there is no relationship between white meat and cancer.
Eggs are a good source of high biological value protein as well as a range of essential nutrients (e.g. fat-soluble vitamins). At the same time, the yolk is rich in fat and cholesterol. Therefore, for a long time, excessive consumption of eggs was viewed as critical. However, recent studies examining the relationship between the number of eggs eaten and the risks of various diseases show conflicting results. Accordingly, no upper limit for the consumption of eggs can currently be derived. However, an unlimited amount is not recommended as part of a plant-based diet. Eggs can complement your diet and be part of a wholesome diet - but plan their consumption consciously.
5. Use Health-Promoting Fats
Prefer vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil and spreads made from it. Avoid hidden fats. Fat is often "invisible" in processed foods such as sausages, pastries, confectionery, fast food and convenience foods.
Vegetable oils, like all fats, are high in calories. They also provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Fats and oils that are used, for example, for cooking, roasting, baking or as spreads have different nutritional qualities. A targeted selection of fat sources is important so that we are well supplied with essential unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E.
Consuming fewer saturated fatty acids (usually from animal foods) and more unsaturated fatty acids has a positive effect. The latter are found in vegetable oils, margarine, nuts and fatty fish. This can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
When it comes to oils and fats, there is a large selection:
Rapeseed oil is the oil of choice and a good all-rounder in the kitchen. Rapeseed oil has the lowest proportion of saturated fatty acids, a high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids and contains a lot of the essential unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid "alpha-linolenic acid" as well as vitamin E. The favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega- 6 fatty acids in canola oil.
Other recommended oils with a significant content of omega-3 fatty acids are walnut, linseed and soybean oil. Olive oil, with its high level of monounsaturated fat, is also a good choice. Olive oil, especially virgin olive oil, also contains secondary plant substances. Compared to butter, margarine has a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids and therefore a better fatty acid composition. Coconut fat, palm oil and palm kernel oil, like animal fat, contain large amounts of saturated fatty acids. These have unfavorable effects, especially on blood lipids.
6. Save Sugar and Salt
Food and drinks sweetened with sugar are not recommended. Avoid these as much as possible and use sugar sparingly. Save salt and reduce the amount of salty foods. Flavor creatively with herbs and spices.
Sugar-sweetened foods and drinks tend to be low in nutrients and contain unnecessary calories. Sugar also increases the risk of tooth decay. Too much salt in food can increase blood pressure. It shouldn't be more than 6 g a day. If you use salt, then enriched with iodine and fluoride.
The sweet taste of food can come from many different sources. The well-known table sugar (sucrose) is widespread. It is often used in foods as "added sugar". Brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, coconut blossom sugar, syrups and the sweetness from fruits that are used for sweetening should also be considered table sugar.
Processed foods often contain a lot of sugar, e.g. B. in dairy products such as fruit yoghurt, fruit quark or mixed milk drinks (e.g. cocoa). Nectars and fruit juice drinks also contain a lot of sugar. Sugar is also added to foods in which we do not immediately suspect it, e.g. ketchup, (barbecue) sauces, dressings or ready meals such as pizza.
Nectars, fruit juice drinks and, in particular, sugar-sweetened soft drinks are not recommended because they contain many calories, are not filling and usually do not provide any vital nutrients. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks include B. Cola drinks, iced teas and lemonades.
Sugar-sweetened drinks increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. In addition, like sugar-sweetened foods, they promote the development of tooth decay. Fruit juices are also very high in sugar and calories and therefore not thirst quenchers.
A high salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure and thus the risk of cardiovascular disease. We absorb a lot of salt from processed foods such as bread, cheese, meat, sausage and convenience products, as well as fast food. But a lot of salt also gets into the food when preparing meals at home or when salting at the table.
7. It's best to drink water
Drink around 1.5 liters every day. Water or other calorie-free drinks such as unsweetened tea are best. Sugar-sweetened and alcoholic beverages are not recommended.
Your body needs fluid in the form of water. Sugar-sweetened drinks provide unnecessary calories and hardly any important nutrients. Consumption can promote obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Alcoholic beverages are also high in calories. Alcohol also promotes the development of cancer and is associated with other health risks.
Ideal thirst quenchers and liquid suppliers are water, unsweetened herbal and fruit teas. Caffeinated beverages such as unsweetened tea and coffee are non-caloric beverages that count towards fluid balance. Juice spritzers with 3 parts water and 1 part juice are also suitable as liquid suppliers.
Light drinks are calorie-free or low-calorie. They contain other food additives such as sweeteners, colorings and flavorings and are therefore less recommended.
Unsuitable thirst quenchers are lemonades, cola and fruit juice drinks, fizzy drinks, nectars, fruit juices, iced tea or mixed milk drinks (e.g. iced coffee). They contain a lot of sugar and therefore provide a lot of calories. So-called “flavored water” can also be sweetened with sugar.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is associated with high calorie intake and an increased risk of various cancers. Regular high alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver and other liver diseases. The pancreas and heart muscle can also be damaged. Alcohol addiction is another health risk. With careful consideration of the current state of knowledge on the effects of different amounts of alcohol, a maximum of 10 g per day for healthy women and a maximum of 20 g per day for healthy men is considered to be the tolerable amount of alcohol. 20 g of alcohol are e.g. contained in about half a liter of beer or 250 ml of wine or 6 cl of brandy. However, these values should not be seen as an invitation to drink alcohol every day - no amount of alcohol consumed regularly can be described as harmless to health.
8. Prepare Gently
Cook food for as long as necessary and as short as possible, with little water and little fat. Avoid burning food when roasting, grilling, baking and deep-frying.
Gentle preparation preserves the natural taste and protects the nutrients. Burnt spots contain harmful substances. Food may be exposed to heat and water during preparation. The less heat and water you use, the more nutrients are retained. Cooking methods such as stewing or steaming are ideal for the nutrient-friendly preparation of food. At the same time, it is important that you cook animal-based foods sufficiently. This is particularly important for young children, the elderly and pregnant women to avoid foodborne infections. Roasting, grilling, baking or frying at high temperatures can cause parts of the food to burn or char. Carcinogenic substances develop in these brown-black areas. They shouldn't be eaten.
9. Eat Mindfully and Enjoy
Give yourself a break for your meals and take your time eating.
Eating slowly and consciously promotes enjoyment and the feeling of satiety. The feeling of satiety only occurs about 15 to 20 minutes after the start of the meal. If you eat too quickly, you may not even notice that you may have eaten enough. Eating slowly, mindfully and chewing thoroughly can promote enjoyment, relax and help regulate body weight.
10. Watch your Weight and Keep Moving
A healthy diet and physical activity go hand in hand. Not only regular sport is helpful, but also an active everyday life, e.g. often walk or ride a bike.
30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day promotes your health and helps you to regulate your weight. Physical exercise and sports stimulate muscle growth and increase calorie consumption. Exercise helps regulate body weight. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, breast/colon cancer and depression and is good for bone health. Both overweight and underweight are unfavorable for the body:
Obesity puts a strain on the circulatory system, the musculoskeletal system and the metabolism. The consequences can e.g. disc and joint damage. In addition, the risk of concomitant diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, gout, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases increases.
Being underweight can also be associated with health problems. If you eat too little, you can develop deficiency symptoms over time. The result: reduced performance, tiredness, irritability and even health problems such as cardiovascular problems.
Take these rules to heart, you will see that your well-being will increase if you follow them. If you like, you can use mealy to get help with your weekly healthy meal planning and to add more variety to your menu.