Today we handle a huge amount of information. So much that it is very easy to get lost in the meantime. Moreover, there are those who use this language guide for their own benefit, confusing the consumer. Today we do a little review of all those words that we will meet sometime if we go in search of healthy eating.
About food and its substances
Let’s start by talking about things we eat, that we will meet at the supermarket, in a conversation, reading an ingredient table … These terms directly associate the substances that make up the food.
- Macronutrients: Fats, proteins and carbohydrates (sugars), badly called carbohydrates, are known by this name. They are called macronutrients because they are the major components of our diet, present in much greater amounts than the rest of nutrients.
- Micronutrients: As the name implies, unlike the previous ones, these are present in much less quantity. But that does not mean that they are less important. On the contrary, a deficit in these substances, which are minerals, trace elements and vitamins, can basically cause a serious disruption in our health.
- Dietary fiber: These substances, of plant origin in almost 100% of cases, can be soluble or insoluble. The fibers are very important in the diet, and it is recommended to eat at least 25 grams of them every day to improve intestinal transit and protect the intestinal microbiota. They also help you lose weight, among many other benefits.
- Sugars: thus, all carbohydrates are known generically. Sugar, sucrose, is a sugar. But not all sugars are sugar, even if it is confusing. Among the sugars we find the energy ones such as fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose … these are simple sugar molecules (such as glucose) or combinations of these (sucrose is a mixture of fructose and glucose). Many of the fibers are also complex sugars that cannot be digested. Therefore, many foods can contain a certain amount of sugars even if they are not free.
- Sugar free: The question is simpler than it seems. Free sugar is one that is not associated with other biological components, such as fibers. These prevent the rapid assimilation of blood sugar. When we ingest added sugar, we are taking free sugar. But this also happens with natural juices, although to a lesser extent, since we break the structural component of the fruit. Free sugar strikes blood sugar levels, increasing blood sugar.
- Non-caloric sweeteners: Unlike sugars, non-caloric sweeteners produce a sweet taste but contain no energy to assimilate due to their composition. Among them there are substances of diverse chemical nature, including some sugars. The most famous are aspartame, cyclamate or saccharin.
About the food itself
The food itself has its own section. Much of the terminology is associated with a host of confusing concepts and used by the industry for their benefit and sometimes at the expense of the consumer. But words mean what they mean and nothing else.
- Natural: A natural food is one that has not been processed. This means that it is as it comes from nature with minimal manipulation that does not change its properties. Natural foods can be cooked, at which point they are processed.
- Indicted: When cooked, treated or prepared, food falls into the category of processed.
- Ultraprocessed: The ultraprocessed, however, are those foods that have undergone a treatment that greatly modifies their nature. Subprocessed substances are added or removed to change their palatability, structure and duration. Many times they lose nutritional properties or the bioavailability of their nutrients as a result of industrial ultraprocessing.
- Good processed: on the contrary, if the procedure is respectful with the food, it adds few substances of doubtful quality and the result maintains the nutritional properties as far as possible, the processing is known as « good processing ». There is a wide variety of these foods in the supermarket.
- Bio, Eco ..: Organic products, also known as « natural », bio, etc., colloquially refer to a series of foods, although not all can be classified as such. Organic or bio foods are determined according to the legislation for complying with certain characteristics. The « natural », « traditional » and similar denominations have a much more diffuse origin and are not regulated, even if they are used interchangeably and, in reality, they guarantee absolutely nothing.
- Light: from the entry of non-caloric sweeteners, the products « light » or low in sugars and fats appear. These products try to replace these substances with others that do not provide energy and, supposedly, help to maintain health. At the moment, its usefulness is in question. Although the premise is very simple, nutrition is a very complex thing and there are several reasons to justify that these products do not meet what they promise.
- Food additive: They are called this way to a series of added substances, as the name suggests, to achieve a specific objective: certain consistency, flavor, keep them longer … The additives are many, some of « natural » origin and others artificial, but all regulated .
- Preservative: These additives are intended to ensure the health of a food, avoiding infections or microbiological problems in perishables.
- Insurance: A safe food is one that is suitable for consumption within the values and time ranges determined by the industry and endorsed by the food safety authority. This safety is certified and carries a system of quality and associated traceability. In other words, a safe food can be eaten without fear of suffering a normal food problem.
- Healthy: A healthy food is one that improves or helps our health. Everything that comes out of this tonic can not be included as a healthy diet. That means that not all safe foods fall into the category of healthy
- Food supplements: These substances are ingested outside the normal diet and are designed to solve nutritional deficiencies from the diet. The best known nutritional supplement is vitamin B12. However, not all are well regulated or useful.
- Food Complements: The main problem with regulation is that supplements are food supplements. However, in the United States, for example, there is a clear differentiation. Supplements, unlike supplements, do not have to solve a deficit, but can serve to increase an already present substance, they can be food in themselves, and their goal is to strengthen the diet, not supplement it.
About healthy life
Let’s quickly review some of the most ephemeral concepts we face. These terms are the result of growing knowledge in health and nutrition, and many times they are not fully understood.
- Healthy life: This is not an utopian and unfounded ethereal concept, as many claim to assume. The healthy lifestyle is one that, as the name implies, opts for healthy habits, which enhance and improve our health. A healthy lifestyle, that is, following these habits, helps to extend hope and quality of life, as has been proven numerous times. The healthy lifestyle differs from specific diets and remedies in that it is a fundamental, natural and progressive change that accompanies a long period of our life.
- Healthy habits: Among these, to achieve a healthy lifestyle, is eating better, with a healthier diet, containing more fibers, more water, more fruits and vegetables, less animal products, less or no sugar, good quality fats, nothing ultraprocessed … It also includes increasing physical effort, which can be done in many ways.
- Physical exercise: The exercise or training refers to an activity of medium or high intensity. It can be a regular or sporadic training, but it is always of a certain intensity. WHO advises some physical exercise a week to obtain a series of health benefits.
- Physical activity: On the other hand, a healthy life not only contemplates physical exercise, but recommends it. We can also settle for an increase in daily physical activity. This also has benefits and is included in a healthy lifestyle: dancing, walking, climbing stairs … in short, moving more, is something very positive.
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