The amount of food and drink we consume every day is meant to ensure that our body not only has the right amount of energy, but also has all the nutrients that our body needs to function properly. This is why, as well as protein, fats and carbohydrates, which give energy, our diet must also provide other indispensable elements like water, vitamins and minerals, and other substances that, strictly speaking, aren’t nutrients, like polyphenols and carotenoids, but are important for our wellbeing.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO VARY OUR DIET?
In nature, no food or drink contains all these nutrients, especially in the right proportions, so no food by itself can completely satisfy our dietary needs.
This is why it’s important to vary our food choices and have a proper mix of different foods. This way we reduce the risk of nutritional imbalances and deficiencies and at the same time promote the consumption of the right amount of each nutrient.
A varied diet not only guarantees greater health benefits but is also the best way to satisfy our tastes and combat the monotony of a diet that is imbalanced and/or characterised by a limited number of foods.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
The effects of a varied diet have been the subject of numerous studies. In one of the most recent, for which data from 137 countries were analysed, greater diet diversity, for example, is linked to an increase in healthy life expectancy*.
WHAT DIET SHOULD I FOLLOW?
Practically, to have a complete and balanced diet, you should vary your daily food choices, consuming foods and drinks belonging to each food group and varying your choices within each food group. It is also important to follow the recommendations relating to quantities of food and frequency of consumption. It’s important to eat different fruits and vegetables, according to season, and also foods that contain protein from animal sources (meat, fish and eggs) and plant sources (cereals and pulses), especially those of high nutritional quality.
* Miyamoto K, Kawase F, Imai T, Sezaki A, Shimokata H. Dietary diversity and healthy life expectancy-an international comparative study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019;73(3):395-400.