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The nutrient conversation: optimal health – what is it?

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PHOTO: FOOD MATTERS

The Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organisation defines optimal health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Based on this definition, we would agree that there are various factors to consider when assessing the state of one’s health.

To fully ascertain whether one is in optimal health or not, one would need to consider the individual’s demographics (age, gender, etc.), genetics (family history of chronic diseases), physical activity levels, and other factors.

An article in the American Journal of Health Promotion by Michael O’Donnell, a health care consultant and speaker, explained that optimal health is a balance of five areas. They are emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and social health. According to him, the concept of optimal health focuses on positive mental health and rewarding relationships which are notable areas developed by good nutrition and exercise. Indeed, optimal health is a treasure that all individuals should value and strive to achieve throughout their lifetime.

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The role of 100% fruit juice in the optimal health equation
One of the major classes of nutrients that your body needs are micronutrients. Often neglected, micronutrient is a term used to describe essential vitamins and minerals in general. Hundred percent fruit juice contains a range of minerals, vitamins and bioactive compounds, such as phytochemicals, that are important for optimal health. Vitamins are organic compounds produced by plants and animals, which can be broken down by heat, acid or air. On the other hand, minerals are inorganic, exist in soil or water and cannot be broken down. Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune system function, blood clotting and other bodily functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an important role in growth, bone health, cell and tissue development, fluid balance, and several other body processes. Since the body cannot produce vitamins and minerals, we must look to appropriate food and drink sources rich in micronutrients to gain the benefits of these elements. Drinking well-packaged 100% fruit juice from manufacturers like Chivita daily is a great way of including these micronutrients or essential nutrients into your diet.

Key vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients required for maintaining optimal health daily
VITAMIN A: It is good for healthy eyes, general growth and development, and for maintaining healthy teeth and skin. It can be gotten from carrots, sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, liver and watermelon.

VITAMIN C: It is good for strengthening blood vessels, anti-oxidant function, iron absorption, and giving skin its elasticity. Everyone knows this one where this can be gotten from – Oranges! Like some pure fruit juice brands. Guava, red and green peppers, tomatoes, mango, etc. are also good sources.

VITAMIN D: It is good for building strong and healthy bones. Apart from spending a few minutes out in the sun to stimulate Vitamin D production, you can get this nutrient mostly from eggs, fish and mushrooms.

VITAMIN E: It is good for blood circulation and protection from free radicals. You can get this from almonds, tiger nuts, walnut, coconut, sunflower seeds, etc.

VITAMIN K: Good for blood coagulation – that is, the process by which your blood clots. Leafy greens are the best natural sources of Vitamin K – so make sure you’re eating lots of spinach, ‘ugu’, cabbage, lettuce and broccoli.

FOLIC ACIC: Good for cell renewal and preventing birth defects in pregnancy. There are plenty of natural sources of folic acid, including dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, etc.

ZINC: This is good for immunity, growth and fertility. Seafood like oysters are also zinc-rich, along with spinach, cashews, beans, and – wait for it – dark chocolate.

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POTASSIUM: It helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. What’s more? A high-potassium diet may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. Bananas, oranges, cooked spinach, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, eggplant, pumpkins, green leafy vegetables, prunes, raisins, dates, etc. are high in potassium.

Guidelines for a healthy and balanced diet typically recommend plenty of fruits and vegetables to supply our vitamin and mineral needs. With this model, moderate consumption of 100% fruit juices daily can contribute to the consumption of key vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients required for good health.

Whether through the consumption of healthy foods, fruits, vegetables, and 100% fruit juice from respected brands, it is important to keep up the fight to achieve and maintain optimal health.

*Malomo is a clinical dietitian

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