The Germans eat far fewer fruits and vegetables than their southern European neighbors - and that against better knowledge of the health benefits. Then the pharmacists are in demand as consultants and help the "vitamin unwilling" customers with nutritional supplements. Also, the diet of children and adolescents is often not optimal, is usually too fat and too sweet. Such dietary habits solidify over time and can have serious consequences.
Parents as good role models
Whether a child reaches for sweets or fruit depends above all on the role model and behavior of the parents. If the parents hardly eat fruit and vegetables, the children will not learn it too. To ensure a healthy diet, the main components of the diet - ie carbohydrates, fats and proteins - are not enough on their own. The body must also be supplied with vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Although we are more concerned with the problem of over-supply than lack-supply, not every person absorbs enough of it. An unbalanced diet, pregnancy and lactation, growth and competitive sports, but also an unhealthy lifestyle with stress, cigarettes and alcohol increase the vitamin and mineral requirements of the organism.
Fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of illness
There is impressive evidence that frequent consumption of fruit and raw and green vegetables can contribute to reducing the risk of cancer (lung, stomach and colon, but also breast and prostate cancer). And the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes can be significantly reduced.
Responsible for this beneficial effect are the estimated 10, 000 secondary plant ingredients - the best known are carotenoids and flavonoids. It is still unclear which of these so-called phytochemicals is responsible for the protective effect. In principle, phytochemicals can inhibit carcinogenesis at almost any level.
Although oxygen is vital, in its activated forms it also has negative effects on the organism. The body is continually confronted with free radicals and other pro-oxidants. Very sensitive to oxidation are the unsaturated fatty acids in membranes. But also proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids are damaged. After all, five percent of the processed oxygen per minute provides in the body's own metabolic processes, eg. As autooxidation or enzymatic reactions, around the clock highly reactive oxygen compounds. In addition, environmental pollution (ozone, UV-B radiation, car exhaust gases) leads to an increased proportion of reactive oxygen compounds.
So that it does not come to the dreaded "free-radical" diseases, such as atherosclerosis, rheumatism or cancer, the organism must be supported by a targeted diet and nutritional supplementation with antioxidant ingredients. Physical activity (popular and high performance sports) equals metabolic stress. During physical activity, significantly more free radicals are created, which the body can no longer "neutralize". Above all, athletes who exercise more than 15-20 hours per week should change their diet for optimal protection of their body and also take supplements containing antioxidants.
The body has extensive antioxidant mechanisms to prevent or repair damage. These include antioxidant enzymes, but their activity depends on the supply situation with trace elements such as selenium and zinc. However, they are not sufficient for comprehensive protection. The body is therefore dependent on the supply of exogenous antioxidants (radical scavengers) from the diet or specially supplied dietary supplements.
The best-known and best-studied antioxidants are vitamins C and E. Certain amino acids (glutamine, cysteine, arginine) and endogenous substances (coenzyme Q10 and glutathione) also have antioxidant effects, as well as manganese, iron and magnesium in addition to the minerals zinc, selenium and copper, The secondary plant ingredients - especially carotenoids and polyphenols (flavonoids), the antioxidant effect is even higher than that of vitamins C and E.
What is the optimal diet?
A balanced diet is the best foundation for your health. Those who rely heavily on the vegetable fitters fruits and vegetables, thus upgraded effectively against free radicals. The daily target is around 600 g of fruit and vegetables, which should be distributed over three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit.
As a portion of a handful of fruit, z. As an apple or a banana or fresh vegetables. In the case of berries or cleaned and chopped vegetables, two hands are full as a serving.
Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day - what matters?
Not every fruit and vegetable (for example, pulses and potatoes) counts. Acceptable are all types of fruit and vegetables that are fresh or after preservation (by freezing or drying) are approved as ready-to-eat products. The fat content must not exceed 3 g per 100 g of food and the sugar content should not exceed 30% of the starting food. Only juices with 100% fruit content and juice concentrates are included.
Examples of healthy nutrition
A healthy breakfast could look like this: In the muesli, which is mixed with low-fat yoghurt, fresh forest berries shine as violet, red and blue polka dots, next to them a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. In addition to the jam pot with the wholemeal rolls, there is a cheese platter, richly garnished with green cucumber slices and red tomato quarters.
The lunch is just as colorful. Suitable meals include:
- broccoli casserole
- onion strudel
- Carrot and white cabbage salad
- baked zucchini
- stuffed peppers
- Cresso soup and other vegetable dishes.
Given the changing living and eating habits and the negative environmental influences that each of us is exposed to daily, a safe protective effect is not always achieved - at least not on the conventional diet, as it is no longer so rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements just twenty years ago.
The need for antioxidants on the diet barely cover
Many scientists provide intake recommendations of antioxidants that are difficult to achieve through a normal diet. For example, to consume one gram of vitamin C per day, you would need to eat 20 to 40 oranges or 50 to 80 apples. An additional supply of dietary supplements is therefore urgently advisable. This mainly affects people in special life situations (adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, athletes as well as elderly and sick people).