Eat your way to your health goals

Setting the right nutrition goals for you
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You probably already know that a good diet helps prevent disease, boosts energy, and keeps you alert during a long day at the office.

Turns out you can also tweak your diet to your personal health, wellness, and fitness goals. In your mid-30s and an avid gym goer? You may want to eat differently than someone in their 40s who is less active, but might be more concerned about the risk of hereditary heart disease.

Looking to keep your kids fueled, avoid chronic disease, or nail an important presentation? No matter the goal, there are specific foods to help get you there.

If you’re active

First off, that’s great! You’re already on your way to a long, healthy life. But whether you’re a newbie at the gym or consider yourself an expert athlete, you may want to include the right mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to keep your energy levels up and fuel your workouts. It’s recommended that your calories come from 10 to 35 percent protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This includes lean meat, dairy such as Greek yogurt and cheese, legumes, and oats. Focus on complex carbs or those that are high in fiber, such as sweet potatoes, fruits, beans, and whole grains. These are digested slowly, allowing your body to tap into them for a longer period of time.

If you’re concerned about disease

Eating well today keeps us healthy later in life. In order to stay fit well into your golden years, and prevent diabetes or heart disease, you may want to avoid processed foods – which can harm gut bacteria and lead to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Focus on foods like lean meats and fish, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

If you’ve got kids

It’s all too easy to send a child to school with a snack of pretzels, chips, or cookies. Instead, take the time to put together healthier nibbles. Research shows that being exposed to healthy foods at an early age can help develop a preference for those foods over time. Start by filling the house with snacks like sliced fruit skewers, hummus, or vegetables, and then advance to making entire meals healthier.

If you’re focused on keeping your brain sharp

Did you know studies have linked a diet high in refined sugars to impaired brain function? That means if you have a sweet tooth and regularly eat cakes, ice cream, and pastries, or drink sugary sodas, you should cut back. What’s more, eating refined sugars regularly might worsen mood disorders such as depression. Instead, consider increasing your intake of fatty fish such as salmon and fresh tuna, because doing so may slow age-related mental decline and even help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

A good diet is key to preventing disease, keeping our brains healthy, and fueling our activities. Check with your doctor before considering any diet, health, or fitness modifications, and find out how you can incorporate healthier foods to meet your personal wellness goals.

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