For anyone who is concerned about health, the message is very simple: Eat well to stay well. There are a number of ways you can plan your diet. One of the simplest devices for doing this is through the Food Pyramid.

There are three essential nutrients that we need: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. Proteins help produce new body tissues and the complex molecules needed to regulate its functions. Fats serve as the storage of energy that your body needs.

Most experts suggest that one-half of daily food consumption should consist of complex carbohydrates, three-tenths fat, and two-tenths protein. Eating the right type of carbohydrates and fats is more important than keeping track of every gram. For instance, the bulk of your carbohydrates should come from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits; you should avoid sugary, highly processed carbohydrate foods like cookies and cakes which have few nutrients but plenty of calories. In addition, if you get plenty of exercise, you can consume more healthy fats. Remember, fat is an essential nutrient, so do not reduce intake too much.

The Food Pyramid

It outlines what to eat each day. It shows the relative importance of various foods, and is intended to guide you in devising a helpful diet to fit your preferences. The Food Pyramid divides the five major food groups into four categories, and informs you what foods to eat to get what you need in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and enough calories to remain at a healthful weight.

The Food Pyramid
Each group provides some, but not all, of the nutrients that you need for a balanced diet. Foods in one category cannot replace those in another; each group is equally important. To achieve good and balanced health, you need them all. The most servings should consist of foods at the base of the Food Pyramid.Grains and cereal-based foodGrains form the base of the Food Pyramid, providing complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre. You need the most servings (6 to 11) of these foods each day. One serving is equivalent to = cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal. Remember, a heaping mound of cereal in a bowl could equal 2 or more servings!

Starchy foods often get blamed for extra weight. If you rely on lean carbohydrates, like whole-grain breads and cereals, the extra pounds will not come. The real culprits to excess weight are high-fat toppings (like butter on bread or cream sauce on pasta). Whole grains and legumes break down slowly helping to stabilise blood sugar. They lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.

Fruits and vegetables

Eat 2-4 servings of fruits and 3-5 servings of vegetables, for your daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Vary these foods each day to get a wide variety of nutrients. Ensure high-content sources of vitamin C (citrus, kiwi, strawberry) and vitamin A (carrots, spinach, kale, and cantaloupe). Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts to maximise their anti-cancer properties.

Meats and dairy foods

The foods in this section of the Food Pyramid come mostly from animals. Meat, fish and poultry have plenty of protein, and so do dry beans, eggs, and nuts. These are rich in protein, the B vitamins, iron and zinc, while dairy also provides calcium.

Most individuals target 2-3 servings daily from these groups. Many of these foods (meat and cheese, especially) are high in calories, to you might tend to overdo the size of the serving. Weigh out the suggested portions at least once to a visual idea of the quantity. For example, a 3-ounce piece of cooked lean meat is similar in size to a deck of cards.

Try 1 cup yoghurt or whole milk, 1.5 ounces natural cheese (2 ounces if processed), 1 egg, or 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Generally, animal products have higher fat than plant foods, but it is not necessary to remove all meat and dairy products to keep fat intake low. Low-fat dairy foods, lean and well-trimmed meat can give you the same amounts of vitamins and minerals as their fattier counterparts. If you remove skin from poultry, only about half of the original fat content will remain. Many of the steak cuts are lean meat, but sirloin is between 90-93 percent lean. Most fish and seafood have good protein content but are low in fat and rich in beneficial Omega-3 oils, which lower risks of heart disease.

A vegetarian can obtain protein requirements from servings of dry beans and nuts but should also have fortified foods, one or two more servings of plant foods (especially grain), and supplements to get enough amounts of calcium, iron and vitamin B12.

Fats, oils, and sweets

These foods are at the top of the Food Pyramid: oil, cream, margarine, also sugar, soft drinks, candy, etc. Eat these sparingly to maintain a good weight. There are four types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat. Saturated fat (from meat and dairy) should be limited to not more than 10 percent of daily food intake (or about one-third of total fat intake).

Polyunsaturated is of two kinds: Omega-6 and Omega-3. You already get enough Omega-6 from oils of corn, sunflower and cottonseed, and from processed food. You need more Omega-3 fat from fish; there are plant-sourced Omega-3 fats in canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed, and dark leafy greens. Omega-3 helps you fight cardiovascular diseases and lower the risk of high blood pressure; they may also help prevent cancer.

Monounsaturated fats come from canola oil and peanut oil, but the best source is extra virgin olive oil which helps lower blood cholesterol. Trans fats are vegetable oils turned into solids by the hydrogenation process; they are to be avoided.

You will have to plan a diet that best suits your personal situation. The guiding principle is eat only what you need, after all, anything brought to excess becomes detrimental to your health. Make sure you get a balanced diet, and an effective guide to having one is the Food Pyramid.

Treating Gout

Gout is one of the most treatable forms of arthritis, and with proper treatment, you need not have any long-term consequences. Medications are available to relieve the pain and inflammation of acute bouts of gouty arthritis. For long-term care, you may need to take medications to treat the underlying metabolic disorder along with making such lifestyle changes as avoiding alcohol (primarily beer) and foods high in purines and increasing intake of dairy foods.

If you have a gout attack, many doctors recommend oral doses of ibuprofen or naproxen, available in both prescription and nonprescription versions, or other anti-inflammatory drugs. If you are taking aspirin, your doctor may recommend that you stop it temporarily. Aspirin can slow the elimination of uric acid and make gout worse. But if you take a low dose of aspirin to prevent other problems such as a heart attack, check with your doctor before stopping it.

For reliable Gout treatment information, read Cure Gout Now; an easy to follow, comprehensively researched eBook by Lisa McDowell that shows you how to change your diet and gain control of your gout wth useful strategies that have been proven to improve health for people with gout.

Find out how Lisa, a long-suffering wife of a gout victim, challenged the uncaring drug companies and made a shocking discovery that cured her husband once and for all.