A healthy diet contains a variety of basic nutients which your body needs for energy, to grow and to stay healthy. It's not about eating all 'good' foods and avoiding all foods perceived as 'bad'. What your body needs is a healthy balance of different foods, otherwise you might be missing out on vital nutrients which you need to live.
Here are some of the basic nutrients which you should know about:
These are made up of sugars and starch and are the most common source of energy used by your body. Foods high in carbohydrates include bread, pasta, cereals, beans, potatoes and rice.
These are made up of amino acids and are used to provide many functions in the body including being the basic buidling materials of skin, organs, etc.; as enzymes to help chemical reactions in cells; and as a source of energy. Foods that are a good source of protein include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs and soya.
These provide energy, are needed to keep cell membranes functioning properly, are a source of essential fatty acids (which your body cannot make on it's own), help you to absorb vitamins and make food taste good. Foods which are sources of fats include butter, meat, vegetable oils, nuts and oily fish.
These are required in tiny amounts for essental metabolic reactions, growth and development. Deficiencies in vitamins can lead to deficiency diseases. For example, vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant, but a lack of vitamin C can lead to the disease scurvy. Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C.
Trace (tiny) amounts of minerals like salt, copper and iron for example are essential for metabolism and have various uses in your body. For example, calcium is used to build bone and neutralise acidity.
Is the essential solvent in which all chemical reactions of life take place. 70% of your body is made of water and it's recommended that you drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
What else is part of a healthy diet?
It is also good to include sources of fibre in your diet, which helps to keep your digestive system healthy. Fibre is not absorbed by your body, but helps your gut and intestinal tract stay healthy. Foods that are sources of fibre include whole wheat, bran, vegetables like celery, green beans and potato skins.