In our previous newsletter, we highlighted the importance of hydration. How are your increased hydration habits going? Believe it or not, water is a nutrient, and the most important nutrient our bodies need to survive and thrive. But there are many other nutrients our bodies need as well. As the current pandemic has shown, our daily lifestyle choices can greatly impact our current and future state of health, which can directly impact our bodies’ ability to counteract disease, in addition to other public health efforts, such as vaccination, mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. In this newsletter, we’re going to highlight the importance of healthy eating with nutrient-dense foods that contain macronutrients, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.

Macro means “large” so our bodies need larger amounts of the macronutrients, which include protein, carbohydrates, and fats. There are healthy and non-healthy options within each of these categories, so we want to focus on consuming more healthy proteins (beans, nuts, soy, fish, eggs, chicken, turkey), healthy carbohydrates (whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk), and healthy fats (the unsaturated kind found in nuts and seeds, olive and canola oil, fish, and avocados).

Micro means “small” so our bodies need smaller amounts of the micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals. It is best to get your vitamins and minerals from healthy food choices instead of supplements whenever possible. Examples of vitamins include vitamin A, B, C, D, E and examples of minerals include zinc, iron, selenium, and potassium. Eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) can help you achieve the amounts you need.

Phytochemicals are healthy chemicals that are found only in plants. Plant foods not only offer great fiber and water for our bodies, but various phytochemicals that can supercharge our health. Examples are beta carotene in carrots and sweet potatoes, lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon, and isothiocyanates and indoles found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower).

This holiday season, put your best fork forward, and choose foods and snacks that maximize your nutrient intake. And don’t forget that glass of water too! Happy Holidays from PHS!