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I don’t want to start on a sour note but it saddens me to know that two friends of mine, early in their 40s, have recently been diagnosed with illnesses that could have otherwise been avoided. One already has diabetes, and the other hypertension. Who’s to say how people should live their lives, and what standards to follow? I leave that to you.

But I do know that we can learn something from this.

The formula to optimum performance and staying fit isn’t rocket science. It’s about 75 per cent nutrition and 25 per cent exercise. No amount of physical activity will be able to cover up for a lousy eating habit.

If you are one of those who justify poor food choices with hours in the gym, it’s time you rethink your strategy. Now, this isn’t to say you have to completely drop your guilty pleasures. You can deviate and reward yourself with cheat meals every now and then. Just make sure you are eating clean most of the time. It’s really simple — make smart, healthy food choices as much as possible.

Take into consideration two things: macros and micros. Macros refer to your macronutrients, which sit atop of it all. Your macros comprise of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Micros are micronutrients and they are your vitamins and minerals. Turn a food item around and you’ll find that its nutritional values refer to all aforementioned.

Whole or real foods are abundant in macros and micros and are especially rich in protein and carbohydrates. These are fresh or having undergone little to no processing animal and plant based products. Processed foods, on the other hand, are products of physical and chemical modifications — they are ‘made’. Though they have nutrients, they also contain plenty of artificial agents and high levels of salt and sugar. A harmful combo known to cause a litany of diseases.

Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, etc are whole foods. Eat them.

Doughnuts, hotdogs, chips, etc are processed foods. Avoid them.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make guided decisions about food.

As reiterated time and again, exercise helps a lot but your health in the bigger scope of things hinges on your nourishment. As they say, ‘You can’t out-train a bad diet’, so be cautious what you put in your body.