Nutrition

Nutrition encompasses what our bodies need in terms of vitamins, minerals, protein, calcium, carbohydrates and a whole lot of other essential nutrients. Our bodies require wholesome food which is taken in moderation. This is the only way to meet the daily nutritional requirements of our bodies.

The body relies on external sources of energy to keep it going and fuel the normal body processes of the different organ systems. A lack of specific nutrients often leads to diseases, which is why the balanced amount of these substances needs to be observed on a regular basis.

Good nutrition coupled with healthy habits and regular exercises helps;

  • keeps a person disease-free and contributes to longevity

  • Good nutrition allows better immune system

  • Resistance to illness and good health

In the developed countries we are seeing an increase in cases of obesity, the implications of unbalanced dietary and life style practices that result in chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardio vascular diseases. However, both under and over nutrition are present in the same society in some countries and are associated with significant economic cause. Under nutrition of pregnant women leads to under weight babies and severely affects a child’s mental and physical development. Nutritional deficiency also leads to increase in infant mortality.

Many common ailments can be prevented by better nutrition. Nutrition science tries to understand the health influencing aspects of diet. It documents the body responses to diet. It clearly points out that eating fresh, whole and unprocessed foods are more hormonally and metabolically favorable to the body than eating processed foods. Whole grains provide the necessary balance and vital ingredients necessary for the management of the body better than processed grains. The food intake should be systematically scheduled everyday for the body to get used to it, rather than haphazard intake.

Understanding the major food groups

First and foremost, in order to get an understanding of nutrition, it is essential to know all about the major food groups. Primarily, there are 4 food groups namely;

  • Grains and Breads

  • Fruits and Vegetables

  • Foods which have fat and sugar

  • Milk and Dairy products and lastly Meats.

Each of these food groups is essential for our bodies in moderate proportions. The starchy food types like bread, rice and other grains are essential. However, they need to be consumed moderately (approximately one-third of a meal needs to be made up of starchy foods). The next food group is the fruits and vegetables category. It is always better to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. Usually, most diet experts recommend at least 4-5 servings of fresh fruit everyday. Foods high in sugar and fat are a strict no-no although healthy fat choices such as from nuts like almonds, Flaxseed, walnuts etc. are very healthy and good for our bodies. Dairy products are also crucial as milk and other such products help provide essential calcium for our bodies. Lastly is the protein category which comprises meats and various beans, eggs etc. This is essential to build our muscles and tissues. Most growing children need more protein. A high protein diet will also help reducing weight.

Which foods comprise the food groups?

Once you know the basic food groups you can decide the healthy food choices to maintain proper nutrition for the body. For example, in order to have a healthy balance of whole grains and starchy foods try having 2 slices of whole grain bread, some cereal or porridge and a glass of milk. You could also add in a handful of nuts to up your healthy fat intake. Try also including a portion size of lean meat like chicken or fish into your diet. You could try scrambled eggs with a slice of lean chicken breast or bacon crumbled over it. Accompany this with a bagel and some oats and you have a very healthy breakfast! Make sure to also consume lots of water and fresh fruits. In corporate green and leafy vegetables into your diet as these provide plenty of fiber that is essential to flush out toxins from the body. Some people are lactose intolerant which means milk and other dairy products are not feasible. In such situations you can substitute regular cow or goat milk with soy milk. Instead of cottage cheese you could have tofu as an alternative.

Ultimately, it all depends on which foods suit you and how much you like them. Try spicing up boring or dull foods with spices and garnishes to perk up a meal. For example, you can perk up a leafy green salad with a dash of vinegar, pepper and some lime juice. The idea is to stay away from all fatty foods and that means also cutting down on the mayonnaise and other fatty salad dressings.

Nutrition : Top 10 Worst Foods

Nutrition : Top 10 Best Foods

 

Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber and Water

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water are the important nutrients to be consumed on a daily basis for better health. Consumption of these either in excess or in deficiency affects body functions cumulatively and indirectly the hormonal function. Dieticians and nutritionists often provide information to the general public on the balanced diet which contains all the basic food groups. It is said that there should be sufficient sources of carbohydrates, fats and oils, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water in the diet on a daily basis.

Carbohydrates are the body’s energy sources. The sun is the main source of energy for the planet earth, and only plants have the ability to synthesize sugars from energy they collect from the sun. As humans eat plant products, they absorb this energy, and when it is broken down by the digestive system, it converts to energy for movement and for maintenance of the body’s internal environment. Carbohydrates are of two types namely simple and complex carbohydrates. The basic types of carbohydrates are commonly called sugars. Complex carbohydrates take long time to metabolize, where as simple carbohydrates metabolize quickly and raise the blood insulin levels. Processed foods contain simple carbohydrates, which in excess increases blood sugar levels, causes abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure and reduced HDL cholesterol, paving the way for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Foods that are high in carbohydrate content are pastries, wheat products, some vegetables like potatoes and yams, and many others.

Protein is needed for tissue repair in times of injury or when there is damage. Protein is composed of amino acids, which form the body’s structural material and provides support the organs and the rest of the body. The human body requires new body protein regularly to replace the damaged proteins lost in urine. Rich sources of protein are fish, meat, chicken, milk and cheese, eggs and whole grains. Vegetarians can also get their protein sources from tofu, beans, and soy milk. Some part of protein consumed is converted into carbohydrates through gluconeogenesis.

Fats and oils are needed for specific components of cells. Fats are composed of fatty acids which are non essential and are produced inside when needed by the body. But fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are reportedly good for maintaining better health. Fats control the immune system and cell division, so the intake of them should be upto the required level only. They provide energy when they are broken down by the body into simpler molecules. When the body is exposed to cold temperatures, fats serve as insulation to maintain the normal temperature of the body’s internal environment. Sources of this are beans, butter, and many others. The amounts of fat should be regulated, as unburned fats end up as deposits in problem areas of the body.

About 12 vitamins and 12 minerals are essential for healthy body. Some of the known vitamins and minerals are: Vitamin B12 for prevention of pernicious anaemia. This can be obtained from liver, meat, milk, and eggs. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents scurvy and other infections. We can get this vitamin from citrus fruits as well as green leafy vegetables. Iron is an essential mineral that the blood needs for effectively distributing oxygen throughout the body. We can get iron from liver, sardines, mackerel, and ready to eat cereals. Minerals like calcium are required for muscle strength, magnesium for increase in alkalinity, potassium and sodium as electrolyte and sulfur for amino acids. Vitamin deficiency causes scurvy, goiter and osteoporosis.

Fiber adds strength to intestines stimulates peristalsis and controls constipation.

Of course, a person should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Water serves as a solvent that helps regulate the body processes. Water requirement is 2 to 7 liters per day depending on the activity, temperature and humidity. Food intake contributes 20% of water requirement and the rest comes from drinking water and beverages. A lack of water in the diet can lead to dehydration and loss of other important nutrients.

Nutrition : Top 10 Worst Drinks



Antioxidants are required to neutralize the free radical compounds.

All the above can be obtained by consuming whole grain foods including oat meal, whole wheat bread and brown rice, olive oil, soya bean oil, sun flower oil, vegetables in abundance, fruits, nuts, fish and eggs. White rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta, sweets, red meat and butter should be occasionally consumed.

Malnutrition and infection coexist together. Good nutrition ensures all round development and quality of life. Hunger alleviation and access to good nutrition is a basic right for the development of a just society.

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