Achieving good nutrition with everyday Filipino meals




OUR HEALTH depends on the nutrition and energy we get from the meals we eat. The question is: Are we really getting enough nutrients from the foods we consume every day?

If we want to perform at our peak level at work, in sports, in school, or even when having fun with relatives and friends, we need to make sure that we are getting complete nutrition on a daily basis.


However, our busy lifestyles often require us to eat what’s most conveniently available at the time. Many times, we don’t get to choose the most nutritious food possible. As a result, we have gaps in our daily nutrition intake.

According to Rommel Tinio, M.D., who specializes in occupational and nutritional medicine, most people nowadays are sorely lacking in vitamins and minerals. Dr. Tinio is a biochemist and a medical doctor. He operates his own clinic, Health Asia Medical Clinic in Makati, where he treats patients using nutrition therapies and coaching on how they can use the proper diet to maintain their health

“A lot of people today eat mostly carbohydrates and meat. They don’t realize that we need vitamins and minerals because these are what our bodies need to keep our cells and organs healthy, so they can function properly.

“These vitamins and minerals are also what we need to protect ourselves from the effects of stress. Vitamins and minerals are ones that help repair our body when we get sick or injured,” said Dr. Tinio.

To ensure that we are getting complete nutrition every day, Dr. Tinio says that we must eat a healthy diet supported by a daily dose of a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Eating for health
Many people are already familiar with the Filipino Food Pyramid. This is an illustrated guide meant to support Filipinos in choosing the right foods in the right proportions.

Essentially, the Filipino Food Pyramid recommends that we eat a lot of carbohydrates, more vegetables, less meat and minimal fats and oils. This is what is referred to as a “balanced” diet. Carbohydrates form the base of the pyramid, followed by tapering levels until reaching the tip, which are the fats and oils.

According to Dr. Tinio, the Filipino Food Pyramid is best applied to growing children, up to when they reach the age of 20.

“Growing children need a lot of carbohydrates because their energy requirement is greater as they grow. This is why they need to eat more carbohydrate foods like rice,” he explained.

The energy that our bodies need is sourced from carbohydrate-rich foods, since carbohydrates act as fuel that our muscles burn for physical activity.

However, Dr. Tinio explained, from twenty years of age upwards, the energy requirements of adults get less and less. The older we get, the less carbohydrates one needs--because we are less active and have a lower energy requirement.

“When we reach our 20s, most of us don’t need as much carbohydrates as we did when we were growing up. Especially for adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s and upwards, the carbohydrate portion of the diet needs to be less. If we still eat a lot of carbohydrates as adults, it could lead to obesity and other health problems.

“The exception would be for adults who are athletic and energetic. If you live an active lifestyle, you would need more carbohydrates because you are burning more energy. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you would need less carbohydrates,” he said.

More vegetables
Vitamins and minerals are used in bio-chemical reactions in the body that: 1) Ensure the proper function of our cells and organs; 2) Repair damaged cells; and 3) Boost immunity against disease and stress. Fruits rich in vitamin C and leafy green vegetables, particularly, are good sources of vitamins and minerals.

Unfortunately, Filipinos eat inadequate amounts of vegetables and fruits in their diet. Even those who have active lifestyles may not be in optimum health if they don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits. “Even if you are an athlete, if you only eat mostly carbohydrates and meat, you will not have enough nutrition,” said Dr. Tinio.

He said that a more proper guideline for healthy eating for adults is the “1-1-3” proportion of food groups.

“This means that in every meal, you eat one part carbohydrates, one part protein and three parts vegetables. Also, we must take note that fruits are also considered carbohydrates. So if we are having fruits in our meal, we need to cut down on our rice.

“And if a person is already overweight and going onto the obese side, it’s better if he or she cuts down on rice even more. For example, if one is used to having a cup of rice, it must be cut down to half a cup,” he said.

Another practical measure of how much vegetables to eat in a meal is an amount equivalent to the size of two fists. “So, you clench your fists and put them together. That’s how much vegetables you need to eat in a meal to get a proper amount of vitamins and minerals,” he said.

He clarified, however, that this ideal amount should be adjusted to a person’s appetite. “Some people have a greater appetite than others. So you can adjust the amount of vegetables, as long as you maintain the 1-1-3 ratio. Three parts vegetables, one part protein and one part carbohydrates.”

Dr. Tinio also recommends eating vegetables raw, as much as possible, as any kind of cooking destroys vitamins and minerals.

As for proteins and fat, Dr. Tinio says that as much as possible, it’s best to get protein from fish. “And when we eat meat, for example, usually, the fat is already there as well. So we don’t need to add more fat to our diets,” he said.

Supplements
Realistically, however, it can be difficult to follow a healthy diet perfectly—for a variety of reasons. Some of us can be in such a rush that we lack time to plan our meals properly. Others give in to food preferences and cravings. As a result, we don’t get as many nutrients as we should.

“Also, the quality of our food nowadays is far from ideal. Plus, our bodies encounter more stresses from the environment. This is why, along with a healthy diet, we still need to take supplements. Just remember what a supplement is for: it is not there to replace a healthy diet but to supply whatever may be lacking in our diet,” he said.

Dr. Tinio said that while there are many types of supplements, including herbs and probiotics, the most basic that we all need to take are multivitamins and minerals supplements and Omega-3.

Six benefits
Centrum is a complete multivitamin supplement with 30 essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function at optimum level. These combination of nutrients, work together to provide Filipinos six health benefits including energy, immunity, strong bones, and healthy eyes, skin and heart.

Centrum is an ideal multivitamin supplement for adults below 50 years old, while Centrum Silver is specially formulated for those who are 50 years old and up, as nutrient levels were adjusted to support their nutritional requirements.

Eating a proper diet together with a daily dose of a complete multivitamin and mineral supplement like Centrum is essential for energy, body-resistance, good health and quality of life. Take your multivitamin today.

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