Eating a healthy diet is possibly the single most important thing you can do for your health. Do you know what and how much to eat? NBC Learn, in partnership with Centene Corporation, takes a look at which foods are essential to a growing body and what happens to the food once you eat it.
Get Healthy -- Healthy Diet
MORGAN RADFORD reporting:
Hi there guys, I'm Morgan Radford and it’s time to get healthy!
Did you know that people in the Middle Ages actually used to eat moose nose and spoiled milk because they thought it was good for them? Well, lucky for you and for me, we know a lot more about nutrition now. You probably hear that word "nutrition" often and it just means eating a diet that's healthy for you. If this comes to mind when you hear that, don't even go there because it's not that bad. In fact, lots of healthy foods also taste pretty good. But do you know which foods make up a good diet?
Dr. KEN YAMAGUCHI: I'm Dr. Ken Yamaguchi. I am the Sam and Marilyn Fox Distinguished Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, and I am the executive vice president and chief medical officer for Centene Corporation. A healthy diet is a diet that gives you the necessary calories to do all your activities, not more calories than you need and it has a good representation of the five major food groups.
RADFORD: Five major food groups. Do you know what they are?
YAMAGUCHI: Fruits and vegetables, proteins, fats and grains.
RADFORD: So you know what fruits and veggies are. Eat more vegetables than any other food group. As for grains, you can find whole grains in many cereals and breads. Now, can you name some healthy proteins? If you thought of eggs, fish, you're on the right track. But there are also a lot more, like other meats, nuts and milk. All things your school cafeteria probably offers.
Dr. GLORIA WILDER: I'm Dr. Gloria Wilder. I am president and CEO of Core Health and Wellness Centers and I'm also vice president of innovation and preventive health for Centene Corporation. And everybody calls me Dr. G. Most of the stuff you eat should either come from your school if you're eating the school lunch program or the school breakfast program or it should come from your parents, all right.
RADFORD: You actually do need some fat. Just make sure it's healthy fat from foods like avocado, cheese, and those eggs again, yogurt, and even dark chocolate, but be careful with that one.
YAMAGUCHI: A healthy diet also means not eating too much of what's unhealthy, which means trying to avoid things that are very high calorie and have a lot of simple sugars and a lot of salt.
RADFORD: That means limit the amount of that dark chocolate. The sugar you sprinkle on foods and even those sugary drinks like fruit juice or soda. And fast food, that should really just be a rare treat, if you eat it at all.
WILDER: Just remember that you don't want to become a chicken nugget kid and French fry kid. If all you eat is chicken nuggets and French fries, you're going to grow up looking like a chicken nugget and a French fry.
RADFORD: That's right! Good nutrition not only makes you feel better, it makes you look better. Your skin and hair, it’ll glow from all those vitamins that make their way into your system.
YAMAGUCHI: When you eat something, you first break it down in your mouth with your teeth, and you kind of break it down into smaller and smaller pieces. So when it goes into your stomach, it's bathed in acid which gets rid of any bacteria that would be bad. And then it goes into your intestines and at that point there's a lot of things called enzymes that are released that help break down all this food into the small building blocks.
RADFORD: Those building blocks are the vitamins and the nutrients you need to stay alive. Your blood takes them and delivers them to the areas of your body where they’re needed. It's actually a pretty involved process every single time you take a bite. So what can happen to your body if you have poor nutrition?
WILDER: Let's talk about junk, all right. You put yourself at risk of getting diabetes, right, or being overweight and not being able to do the stuff you really want to do. You may feel like you lose energy really quickly.
RADFORD: So here are just a few things to remember. If you start eating a healthy diet now, you're setting up a good habit that you can follow throughout life
YAMAGUCHI: Who wouldn't rather have more energy, feel better about themselves, be in a better mood and look better?
RADFORD: Mix it up. You don't have to eat the same old fruits and veggies every single day. You can be adventurous and try some of the other vegetables your school cafeteria offers. And also, don't overeat. When you’re eating a meal or a snack, when you get about half way through, ask yourself whether you need to eat that second half. Making these small changes to your diet will help you live a longer, healthier life.