MY DIVA DIET was designed from over twenty-five years of experience (via personal application and training clients) and education in the fitness industry, and it is backed up by sound nutrition. It’s not a quick-fix solution, nor is it a gimmick offering false promises while your health actually declines. In fact, we have used nutrition as a main source in explaining and expanding on certain topics and in our guidelines, special designs, guides, tips, charts, meal options, and recipes.
Nutrition is defined as the relationship between food and the health of the human body. When you achieve proper nutrition, all the essential nutrients are supplied and utilized in a balance that maintains optimal health and well-being. Good nutrition is essential for normal organ development and function, normal reproduction, growth, and maintenance, optimum activity level and working efficiency, resistance to infection and disease, and the ability to repair bodily damage or injury.
Balance is the basic principle of nutrition. The nutrition your body needs for health and exercise cannot be found in a single nutrient, but in a proper combination of all the essentials, including water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other needed properties like fiber. These nutrients provide the foundation for building the body that you want, while allowing you to stay healthy in the process.
Here are some short definitions to help you build your nutritional vocabulary:
Antioxidants are molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain before healthy molecules are damaged. Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C are powerful antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants.
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for all bodily functions, especially the brain and central nervous system, and for muscle exertion. They also assist in the digestion and assimilation of foods. Carbohydrates are made up of the chemical elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which provide us with immediate and long-term energy. Carbohydrates also help regulate protein and fat metabolism.
Carotenoids are antioxidants that work to destroy free-radical and damage-causing disease agents. They are found in dark orange, red, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance (lipid) produced by the liver and required for good cellular health. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it sticks to your arterial walls. This buildup is called plaque, and it can narrow your arterial passages or even block them completely. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease. Since the body makes its own cholesterol, dietary needs are low. High- cholesterol foods are mainly found in animal products like egg yolks, meat, poultry, seafood, and high-fat dairy products.
Fats–or lipids are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. There are three classes of lipids: triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols. There are three “essential” fatty acids that cannot be made from the breakdown of other substances in the body and must be supplied by the diet: linoleic, linolenic, and arachidonic acids. These polyunsaturated fats are necessary for normal growth and for healthy blood, arteries, and nerves. In addition to supplying energy and providing valuable nutrients to the body, fats act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins. Natural oils also nourish the skin and scalp.
Fiber is the indigestible substance that is found in the outer layers of plants (grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts) that aid digestion and clean out the intestines.
Free Radicals are groups of atoms that form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. When they react with important cellular components like DNA or cell membranes, they can impair cell function or kill cells entirely. The body uses antioxidants to prevent free radical damage.
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories (energy). Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are needed in large amounts. Macronutrients in the diet that are the key sources of energy are namely protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Micronutrients are certain vitamins or minerals (iodine, vitamin A, iron, zinc, and folate) that are only needed in minute amounts. They play a role in the production of enzymes, hormones and other substances, helping to regulate growth, activity, development and functioning of the immune and reproductive systems.
Minerals are essential nutrients the human body needs in small amounts to work properly. They are necessary for building strong bones and teeth, controlling fluids inside and outside cells, turning the food we eat into energy. They also help with blood glucose levels, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and much more. Minerals can be found in most plant foods (whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables), seafood, and some animal protein.
Phytochemicals are chemical substances that act like antioxidants and are found in fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals appear to block the processes that lead to cancer, and it’s possible that they reduce tumor formation.
Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plants that work like a weak form of estrogen. They may create an environment that helps prevent hormonally-linked types of cancer from forming, including breast and prostate cancer. They may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, provide protection against osteoporosis, and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Foods that are high in phytoestrogens are flax seed, soybeans, and tofu. Other plant foods contain smaller amounts.
Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables that help prevent cancer and heart disease. While polyphenols are found widely in plants (whether in roots, leaves, fruits or vegetables), the best sources are in green and black tea, wine, onions, apples, strawberries, nuts, and yams.
Protein is an essential nutrient. “Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the human body.” It is critical for the maintenance of good health and growth and development of all body components. All tissues, bones, and nerves are made up of protein. It is the main building material for muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails, and internal organs, including the heart and brain.
Vitamins are organic food substances that regulate the functioning of our bodies and cells, and they are found only in plants and animals. The body cannot make its own vitamins; they must be supplied via diet or supplements. There are two main categories of vitamins: water-soluble (B-complex, vitamin C, and bioflavonoids) and fat-soluble (A,D, E, and K).
* Nutrition Resources (two great books):
- Nutrition Almanac Fourth Edition, by Gayla J. Kirschmann and John D. Kirschmann (1996)
- The Tufts University Guide to Total Nutrition, by Stanley Gershoff, PH.D. Dean Emeritus of the Tufts University School of Nutrition (1996)
Speaking of Power - check out my blog about American Gladiators and Nitro's new book. Here is a clip of the game--Power Ball when I competed in 1990!