Diet and Nutrition- Healthy eating and importance of nutrition

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By Ishika,

Who amongst us doesn’t like grabbing a burger at McDonald’s, relishing cheese filled pizza at pizza hut or may be grabbing some coke and butter popcorn and munch it while watching a movie. Thanks to growing world of media and advertisements, and easy availability in almost all localities, people get all the more attracted to all these eating joints without realizing that whatever we are eating is something which has zero nutritional value but extremely high in calories. People, who rely exclusively on this junk diet, tend to suffer from nutritional deficiencies which can cause serious health problems. A very common example of ill effects of junk food is on children who tend to be obese at such young age. With outdoor games being replaced by computer and video games, the problem becomes all the more serious.

Energy requirements of males are different from females. It also varies depending on the person’s body structure-height and weight, kind of work a person does-a laborer who is doing lot of physical hard work every day has a high energy requirement then a person who is from the corporate world. Age also determines the energy requirement-a child who is still growing will need more than an elderly person. If a person is suffering from a particular disease or any disorder, his energy supplement might vary from a person who is healthy. Other factors that govern the energy requirement are the climatic conditions and region. People who belong to hills walk a lot to go around hence need more energy as compared to someone from plains who have less physical work involved.

A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism’s metabolism which must be taken in from its environment.  They enrich the body, provide energy, build and repair tissues, give heat and energy, and regulate body processes. A well balanced diet is the one which is rich in all the nutrients essential for a healthy body.

A well balanced, nutrient rich diet should include the following:

  

1.     Carbohydrates

 Carbohydrate is a rich source of vitamins, which the body needs for a host of circulatory, immune, endocrine and other bodily functions as well as healthy cell growth and repair.  A healthy carb intake can be anywhere between 45 and 65 percent of total calories . Carbohydrates can be specified in to 3 categories: 1. Sugar-natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables. Products like Biscuits, Cakes and Pastries, Chocolate, Honey and Jams, Jellies, Brown and White cane sugar, Pizzas prepared foods and Sauces, Soft drinks, Sweets and Snack bars are rich source of refined sugar.2. Starch- Found naturally in foods and also refined in processed foods. Natural starches are found in: bananas, barley, beans, brown rice, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, oats, parsnips, potatoes, root vegetables, sweet corn, whole grain cereals, and whole meal breads, whole meal cereals, whole meal flour, whole meal pasta, yams. Refined starches are found in: biscuits, pastries and cakes, pizzas, sugary processed breakfast cereals, white bread, white flour, white pasta, white rice.3. Fiber-All types of beans and legumes,nuts-peanuts,walnuts, walnuts and almonds, whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables are good source of fiber.

2.     Proteins                                                         


                                             

A protein produces antibodies which fight with the bacteria, viruses, toxins and many foreign substances that are harmful for the body. They also help in growth and repair of our body nerves, bones and tissues. our daily protein requirement should be between 10% to 15% of our daily caloric intake. Milk, Eggs, Nuts and seeds, Soy Milk, grains-including bread and pasta, yogurt, peanut butter, lean meats, fish and poultry, beans, tofu, lentils and other legumes are protein rich foods.

3.     Fats

Protects our organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys and also serves as a back up source for energy. If we get sick and are unable to eat, the body uses the stored fat to nourish the body and provide energy. It acts as insulation and keeps us warm and also regulates hormones. Total fat intake of the body should be limited to 20-35% of calories. Walnuts and almonds, olive oil, flaxseed oil, whole grain foods, lean meats and eggs, dark green leafy vegetables are the essential fatty acid foods.

4.   Vitamins

Vitamins are organic materials which are found in many food substances and are essential for proper functioning of body parts and organs Many reactions in the body require several vitamins, and the lack or excess of any one can interfere with the function of another.  The body needs the different vitamins in varying quantities.

There are of 2 types: 1. Fat-soluble vitamins. Four vitamins–A, D, E, and K–are are digested and absorbed with the help of fats that are in the diet and can be stored in the body for long periods.

Vitamin A is needed for strong bones, good vision, and healthy skin. It is found both in dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin D is essential for children because it helps calcium and phosphorus to form straight, strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is added routinely to most milk during processing.Vitamin E helps to protect vitamin A and red blood cells. It is found in  Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, spinach, mango and other foods.

Vitamin K is one vitamin that is made within the human body–by bacteria that live in the intestinal tract. Small amounts are found as well in the green leaves of spinach, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower and also in pork liver.

2. Water-soluble vitamins. These vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored; they are eliminated in urine. We need a continuous supply of them in our diets. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-complex group and vitamin C. The vitamin B group of several vitamins helps to maintain healthy skin and a well-functioning nervous system. Eggs, bread, green leafy vegetables, milk, peanuts, potatoes are some of the foods rich in Vitamin B. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is needed for building the connective tissue that holds body cells together. It is also essential for healthy teeth, gums, and blood vessels. Gooseberries, guavas, limes, lemons, oranges, and papayas are the most valuable sources of this vitamin.

 5.  Minerals
                                                                  

 Iron is an important mineral whichhelps to build red blood cells.and  also helps the blood carry oxygen from the lungs to each body cell. Rich sources of iron are meat, especially liver; egg yolks; and dark green vegetables. People from all age groups need calcium. It builds bones and teeth, and is necessary for blood clotting. The best sources are milk,hard cheese, leafy greens, nuts, and small fishes–such as sardines.Phosphorus works with calcium to make strong bones and teeth. A diet that furnishes enough protein and calcium also provides enough phosphorus. Other important minerals are sodium, potassium, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

6.  Water

Water is the most abundant compound in the human body and is necessary for the digestion of food, transport of food to the tissues, elimination of body wastes, circulation of body fluids (like blood and lymph), acts as a lubricant in the joints and internal and for the regulation of body temperature.

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