What is functional nutrition?
"We are what we eat"
Functional nutrition starts with seeing the food we take into our body not only as taste, but also as functional foods that are eaten to support the best functioning of our body.
There are some nutrients that we need on a daily basis in order for our body to carry out its daily activities, for our immune system to work optimally, for us to feel energetic and good. Consuming adequate amounts of foods that can meet these needs every day is the basis of a healthy diet and a healthy body. We can list our indispensable needs that we need to pay attention to every day as follows.
Proteins are the basic component of our cells. Consuming a sufficient amount of protein every day ensures the proper functioning of the immune system, optimum muscle development and repair; that is essential for our body to be repaired. In addition, consuming enough protein daily facilitates weight control as it increases satiety and also manages appetite.
How much protein should we take daily?
Daily protein needs vary according to metabolism and daily activity level. For healthy individuals, 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended, while for athletes 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended. For example, we can calculate the protein requirement of a moderately active person weighing 70 kg as 70 x 1.2 to 84 g. Studies show that taking this amount of protein by dividing it into meals, rather than taking it all at once, provides the most benefit.
The protein values of some protein source foods are as follows:
- Organic chicken: 23 g protein per 100 g
- Salmon: 21 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Egg: 6 g protein in 1 egg
- Kefir: 9 g of protein in 1 glass
- Lentils: 12 g of protein in 1 cup of cooked lentils
- Mung beans: 12 g protein in 1 cup of cooked beans
- Almonds: 5 g protein in 20 almonds
- Pumpkin seeds: 9g of protein per 30g
2) Healthy Fats
Fats are very important for our body to function properly. Besides being a good source of energy, they are necessary for the production of many hormones. They are essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Contrary to popular belief, it does not make us fat; It even has functions for fat burning. A meal without healthy fats is less satisfying; The absorption of nutrients in the meal cannot be done in the best way. It can cause sudden fluctuations in blood sugar and can trigger constipation.
Since our main dish is never fat alone, healthy fat consumption is easily forgotten. What are you eating tonight? We can say 'salad with fish', but we never say 'I eat fish oil with olive oil'. That's why it's even more important to make sure we're consuming healthy fats at every meal. The amount we need to consume should be calculated individually according to our daily energy needs.
Sources of healthy fats:
- extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts and oil seeds (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds...)
- coconut oil
- oily fish
3) Lots of colorful vegetables
Each vegetable contains various antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and polyphenols that protect our cells. Studies show that eating at least five types of vegetables daily is protective against many chronic diseases. So we can say that the more varieties, the more benefits. The important point in choosing vegetables is to choose seasonal vegetables.
What we take into our bodies is just as important as what we don't.
With what we eat, we can take not only nutrients, but also some unwanted environmental toxins, pesticides and hormones into our bodies. These substances accumulating in our body can play a role in the onset of many chronic diseases. That's why it's so important to eat naturally sourced foods or foods that are certified organic.
This is not just for vegetables; It is also of great importance for the animal products we consume. Moreover, these products create greater differences. When animals are fed with foods containing chemicals, just like us, they accumulate these substances in their bodies. When we eat the meat of these animals, we are exposed not only to chemicals from the plant, but also to all the toxic substances that the animal has accumulated in its body for a long time.
The views expressed in this article are written to shed light on alternative studies and to encourage conversation about these studies. Even if the articles contain the advice of physicians to some extent, they are for informational purposes only. This text; cannot replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.
About the author:
Eda Çıdam - Dietitian and Functional & Integrative Medicine Health Coach
Having completed her undergraduate education at McGill University Nutrition and Dietetics Department in Montreal, Çıdam did internships in many hospitals in Montreal, such as endocrinology (diabetes), gastroenterology and geriatrics. He completed Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Hormone Health courses from Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, Plant Based Nutrition course from eCornell and Sports Nutrition certificate programs of AFPA (American Fitness Professionals and Associates). He also completed the two-month Health Instructor program on natural treatments at Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. Çıdam, who is currently doing her master's degree in Integrative Medicine at George Washington University, shares articles and recipes on healthy living on her website.