How to improve your diet

How to improve your diet?

This behaviour reported in Venezuelan and Latin American studies (6,14) is explained by biological and cultural factors that establish differences by sex and age, whose deviations can mean health risks. For example, women of childbearing age in ELANS report a deficit in micronutrient intake, which is a potential risk to face pregnancy, while preconception nutritional status is a powerful epigenetic marker that determines the consequences in pregnancy. The future health of the new being and the mother (21).

The consumption of carbohydrates differed according to socioeconomic level due to the high consumption in the most favoured social level. In general, poor households are deprived of socio-cultural benefits and face serious difficulties related to the quality and variety of food, housing, education, health services, with undoubted limitations to satisfy their basic needs, making them more vulnerable from the beginning—nutritional point of view (22).

The most crucial difference in energy consumption, protein and fat was found between the higher education level with higher consumption than the group with a lower educational level, but in carbohydrates, the consumption is uniform at all levels.

A significantly decreasing gradient was found in energy intake from the highest Andes and Central (2114 and 2116 kcal), followed by Occidental, Los Llanos, Capital, Oriental and Guayana, which recorded the lowest intake (1688 kcal. Regions were also featured in protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Energy intake was low in 79.2% of the sample and high only in 6.1%, and more intense in men (85.7% vs 72.9%), but with a tendency to decrease with increasing age. The highest prevalence of deficit was found in Guyana (92.1%) and the lowest in the Andes (74.5%) and Central (68.8%). The geographic impact is shown in energy intake. Thus the most rural region with the lowest food production presents the highest inadequacy.

Only 25.6% of the sample was classified as a deficit and 39.8% in excess in protein adequacy. Men were found to have a more significant deficit and women with a greater excess, but the deficit progressively increased to 36.3% in adults aged 50-65 years. In the medium and high SES, the excess was concentrated in protein consumption. Even when the protein adequacy exceeds the requirement, the observed caloric deficit may result in inadequate biological use of proteins, as they are metabolized as an energy source to compensate for the caloric deficit (23).

Likewise, the average fibre intake was low at just 5.4 g, lower than the general recommendation of 25 to 35 g / day. The consumption of fatty acids was mainly of the saturated type, and the contribution of saturated fats was 12.6% higher than the international recommendation of 10%, which could be determined by the high consumption of animal protein, while the cholesterol intake of 250 mg, less than the recommendation of 300 mg/day. Fatty acids and cholesterol decreased their average values ​​with age.

In men, associated risk factors are detected in the diet, such as a higher prevalence of energy deficit and higher consumption of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, accentuated between the ages of 35 and 50.

How to improve your diet

Try to eat three balanced meals a day with healthy snacks interspersed if you need them. Breakfast is essential, so it should not be avoided, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Generally, if you want to improve your diet, there are certain foods that you should try to eat more and others that you should eat less. Some examples are shown below.

Eat more:

fruits and vegetables
foods high in fibre, such as whole-wheat bread, beans, legumes, potatoes with skins
low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and low-fat cheeses
starchy foods, such as brown rice, pasta, and bread

Eat less:

processed meat products, such as cold cuts, salami, meatloaf and hamburgers; replaced with lean meat (skinless and defatted)
foods high in salt, such as chips and processed foods such as ready-made meals and sauces
sugary foods and drinks, such as fizzy drinks, candy, and cookies
high-fat foods, such as cream, butter, and cakes

Make changes

It is important to make gradual changes to your eating habits.
Don’t try to make drastic changes overnight or fall into the trap of making common dieting mistakes. Small daily changes will have a more significant and longer-lasting effect.

If you have trouble making changes to your diet or are concerned that you are not getting all the nutrients you need, speak with a doctor. They can give you some practical advice or refer you to a nutritionist who can further assist.

Deficiencies in minerals were more significant in women, including calcium (92.9%), iron (42.2%) and zinc (76.6%).

The highest average intakes of calcium, iron, sodium, and zinc were found in the 15-19-year-old group and did not decrease with age. The lowest calcium intake was found at 35-49 years, while in iron, sodium and zinc, it was between 50-65 years. The mineral values ​​decreased as the social stratum decreased, more pronounced in calcium and potassium among extreme groups. The Guayana and Oriental regions presented the lowest averages in all micronutrients. Regarding zinc, it is essential to mention that the percentage of the population in deficit could be related to the requirement established in Venezuela, which is higher than that established in 2001 by the Institute of Medicine of 11 mg/day for men, compared to 15 mg/day according to Venezuelan guidelines and 8 mg/day for women, compared to 12 mg/day according to local recommendations (19, 24).

Surveys from the National Institute of Statistics (ESCA, ENCA) confirm the deficient availability of calcium source foods for this period; even in the 2015 ENCA, the average calcium consumption of 612.3 mg/day and the adequacy of 58.3% is lower than in EVANS. This constitutes an alert situation for planning bodies and decision-makers in the food and nutritional area due to the consequences for the health and nutrition of the population (5,6).

Men had a significantly higher intake of vitamins A, D and E, and the prevalence of deficit was high in all fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D and E (98.5% and 91.8%). In men, the vitamin D deficiency was higher than in women, and from the age of 35, the entire population presented a deficit. The low vitamin D level is a global public health problem at all ages, particularly in people from the Middle East, even though there is no information in most regions, especially South America and Africa (25).