Nutrition, the four key words to avoid getting sick at the table

The estimates speak for themselves. There would be 41 million deaths globally (74%) from non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity and chronic respiratory diseases. Among the main risk factors, in addition to tobacco, physical inactivity, alcohol and air pollution also contribute to the so-called deaths from chronic diseases. diets not exactly health-friendly. Alone, bad nutrition it becomes the cause of approximately 8 million deaths every year. All this, without talking about the impact of improper nutrition, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, on the possible development of diseases. This is why it is necessary focus on healthy eating to stay healthy. This was reiterated by the experts of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU) at a conference in Piacenza.

Here are the four key words

Adequacy. Equilibrium. Diversity. Moderation. These are the cornerstones of a healthy diet according to the World Health Organization. And Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of the WHO, strongly reiterates them.
“Healthy diets are the basis of the highest level of health – is his comment. They ensure healthy growth, support all body functions, allow adequate levels of activity, are able to prevent non-communicable diseases and food-borne and promote well-being at all stages of the course of life.”

So what should we look for at the table? A healthy diet must, first of all, satisfy energy and nutritional needs in the right balance, specific for age, sex, body composition, physical activity levels and physiological states (such as pregnancy), remembering that the excess – as well as the deficiency – of some nutrients can have negative effects on health. But it's not enough. It must then provide a great variety of foods belonging to different food groups; this choice allows us to recover all the nutrients we need, guaranteeing the risk of nutritional deficiencies or excesses linked to monotonous and little varied diets.

Not just calories

It is also essential that the energy intake offered by nutrition, which must be associated with regular physical activity always considering the characteristics of the person, starting from age, respects the recommended balance of the three main energy sources: proteins, fats and carbohydrates . Furthermore, it is advisable to limit the consumption of those foods which, if in excess, are associated with health risks; this is the case of simple sugars and sweetenersof the salt and saturated and trans fatty acids.

What does the WHO recommend? Recommends that energy be provided for the 45-60% from carbohydratesmainly complex carbohydrates, for the 15-30% from fats, of which less than 10% is saturated fat and limit trans fats as much as possible and the rest from mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. The energy intake deriving from thefree sugars it must be less than 15% (to facilitate the desirable objective of reaching less than 5%); for sodium it is necessary to reduce the consumption of salt (which is the main source) to 5 grams per day, equal to half a teaspoon.
The water it must be the preferred source of liquids, avoiding sugary drinks, especially in children. You should prefer unprocessed foods to highly processed ones consume red meat and processed meat moderatelyalso limiting aggressive cooking (e.g. grilling) which can worsen the effects on health.
All these recommendations are also found in the Guidelines for Healthy Eating drawn up by CREA, which are inspired by the key principles of the Mediterranean Diet, which is considered a dietary pattern that is not only sustainable for man, but also for the planet.

What the experts say

“Non-communicable diseases are mainly caused by controllable risk factors, also linked to incorrect eating habits and behaviour, which can be modified by the acquisition of healthy food choices and a correct lifestyle – reminds us of the President of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU), Anna Tagliabue, at the opening of the National Congress in Piacenza. As a scientific society that deals with human nutrition we have a duty to act at all levels, both individually and as a community, to counter what are just new food fads without scientific foundations and to promote and spread the adoption of a healthy and sustainable diet, of which we have a representative model for our country, the Mediterranean dietwhich is confirmed as the best for its benefits in terms of health, prevention and positive effects on both humans and the environment”.
“We need to reform the global food system promoting healthy dietswhich are able to influence eating habits and demand on the one hand and consequently, on the other hand, production and distribution, with positive effects not only on health, but also on the environment – ​​concludes Branca”.