Celebrating National Nutrition Month in March

By Dr Christina Rahm on 7th Mar 2024

Did you know that March is celebrated as National Nutrition Month®? The observance, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is an annual initiative to teach optimal nutrition. The Academy, which hosts Eatright.org, has more than 110,000 members, and is the largest organization of registered dietitians, nutritionists, and nutrition and dietetics technicians in the United States.

For 2024, the Academy’s celebratory theme is ‘Beyond the Table,’ a trend that addresses the farm-to-fork aspect of nutrition; from production (even growing your own food) to distribution, food purchasing from grocery store chains and farmers markets, and the most appropriate ways to prepare your food at home.  The concept also focuses on food safety, sustainability, and storage disciplines.

Recently, ‘beyond the table,’ and ‘farm to fork,’ have been hugely trending references relating to safe, nutritional food options. Farm to fork typically refers to restaurants sourcing foods from local farms. With that, we are extremely fortunate to have this movement alive and well in Nashville. Between the Nashville Food Project, Nashville Grown, and a myriad of farm to fork restaurants, it seems Nashville is on top of this healthy, sustainable trend to keep us well-fed and healthy.

So, why the need for National Nutrition Month? The answer is simple. Nutrition is a critical component of everyone’s health and longevity, especially as we age. Balanced nutrition is linked to a stronger immune system while lowering the risk of non-communicable illnesses (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease).

Dr. Christina Rahm

The annual observance also focuses on teaching balanced nutritional regimes for stronger body defenses. Further, eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet while decreasing salt consumption, sugars and saturated, industrially produced, trans-fats, can help us feel more energetic with less inflammation and water retention.

Like the Academy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services consistently update their dietary guidelines. Each edition reflects the present body of research on what to eat and drink to promote health while reducing the risk of chronic disease. Accordingly, eating a healthy diet does not need to be overly complicated:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables; fresh, frozen, or canned. Eat dark green vegetables such as leafy greens or broccoli and orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • Vary protein choices with fish, beans, and peas.
  • Eat at least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, bread, crackers, rice, or pasta each day.
  • Have three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt, or cheese) fortified with Vitamin D, to help keep bones healthy.
  • Eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Switch from solid fats to oils, like olive, safflower, and avocado, when preparing food.

Another vital component for healthy digestion is fiber. According to the Institute of Medicine, male adults need at least 38 grams of fiber daily, while their female counterparts need at least 25 grams. The best fiber choices fall in line with healthy diets, including:

  • Whole-grain products
  • Fruits (apples and berries) and Vegetables (broccoli)
  • Beans, peas, and other legumes
  • Nuts, seeds, and avocados.

Supplemental sources of fiber can also include chia seeds and psyllium husks. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating foods containing fiber can help maintain a healthy weight while also lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease and diverse types of cancer.

Prebiotics are also high in special types of fiber which support digestive health, promoting the increase of friendly bacteria in the gut, while also boosting your immune and metabolic health. My favorite prebiotic is Relive Greens from The ROOT Brands®.  For more information on that specific formula, go to www.therootbrands.com/purevlivingroot.

Similarly, physical activity is another crucial step towards better health. Being physically active can improve brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, and strengthen bone and muscle mass, while improving your stamina to accomplish everyday activities.

Additionally, the USDA cites that half of all American adults —117 million people — have one or more preventable chronic diseases, with seven of the 10 most common chronic diseases being favorably influenced by regular physical activity. This lack of physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10 percent of premature mortality.

So, as we celebrate National Nutrition Month and go ‘Beyond the Table,’ let us all, no matter the age, focus on making good, informed food choices, while developing healthier eating habits, (and improved exercise disciplines), for better longevity, and improved overall health.

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