Nutrition refers to the entire cycle of chemical changes occurring within the body depending on what we eat or don’t eat. It determines the strength of the teeth, bones, and connective tissues. A healthy diet during childhood paves the way for healthy adulthood. A well-balanced diet is essential for the repair and maintenance of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Vitamin B, C, D, K, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese are essential for healthy bones and connective tissues.
Nutrients are the chemical components present in food which provide energy for carrying normal physiological functions and also aid in metabolic processes of the body.
Good nutrition comprises of an adequate, well-balanced diet and is important for good health. Poor nutrition leads to increased susceptibility to diseases because of a weakened immune system and failure to thrive.
A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is one that provides an adequate amount of nutrients to your body to maintain good health. It should consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean proteins, whole grains, and water.
Calories in the food we eat provide energy to our body in the form of heat. The number of calories needed each day depends on our age, weight, sex and amount of activities performed. We must consume calories from healthy food sources as mentioned above to maintain good health. The food items prepared with sugars or solid fats such as butter are defined as empty calories by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Example, energy drinks, ice-creams, pizza, etc.
Nutrients in the Food
The essential nutrients needed by your body are:
The energy needed by your body to perform every activity each day is provided by carbohydrates.
Foods: Rice, Wheat, Maize, Potato, etc.
Proteins build your body and enable growth. Proteins are needed by all the cells of your body. They are also necessary to provide immunity.
Foods: Eggs, fish, meat, beans, etc.
Healthy fats are necessary for good health. Fats absorb vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, and K), cause muscle movement, blood clotting, build cells and protect from various diseases.
Foods: Vegetable oils, fish, seeds, etc.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and Minerals are required in small amounts by your body and are called micronutrients. They are necessary for the overall health of your body.
Foods: Fresh fruits and vegetables
These are plant-based carbohydrates. Most often, they are not digested by your small intestine improving your digestive health and preventing constipation.
Foods: Most fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, etc.
About 65% of an adult body is made of water. Water is necessary to flush out toxins, hydrate your body, carry nutrients to cells, etc. The amount of water needed each day by your body depends on your age, weight, sex, etc. An average adult needs at least 2 litres of water each day.
Food to Consume Daily
Eating a variety of food is necessary to get a balanced diet each day. Include these foods in your daily diet:
Consume starchy foods prepared with whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, etc. Starchy food provides carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Each day consume 5 portions of different fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and prevent various diseases including cancer and heart disease. This can be split up as 2 portions of vegetables, 2 portions of fruits and 1 portion of dry fruits. They provide vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre.
Milk and Milk Products
Choose low-fat milk and avoid the addition of sugar with milk and milk products. The various milk products include cheese, butter, yoghurt, buttermilk, etc. They are rich in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Protein Rich Food
These include eggs, fish, meat, beans, pulses, etc. Meat is a good source of zinc, iron and B vitamins. Minimize red meat consumption as they increase the risk of heart disease.
Fish, on the other hand, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids necessary for a healthy nervous system, eyes and heart, and protection against various diseases.
Oils and Fats
Consume nuts, fish oils, and vegetable oils. Do not consume certain cholesterol-rich foods such as processed food, fast food, fried food, and desserts.
Foods Bad for Your Health
Here are a few food items considered bad for your overall health. Avoid excess consumption to stay healthy:
- Sugary drinks
- White bread
- Industrial vegetable oils
- Fried foods
- Processed meats and cheese
- Ice cream and candy bars
If you are looking for a specific diet for weight loss or health reasons, consult your dietician to prepare for a medically safe diet plan.