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What do we eat and why

What do we eat and why – ETHOS HEALTH CARE

What do we eat and why

The food we eat contains macro nutrients and micro nutrients. They all have a unique role in our diet. Their deficiency leads to various health problems and diseases. The food components are energy, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibers and water.

  • Energy : This is the basic requirement of body. The energy need of body depends on factors like age, gender, body size, height, weight, activity level, lifestyle, health status and also the climate and environment.  It is measured in calorie. Fats, carbohydrates and proteins are source of energy. Adult males require 2400 – 3900 calorie, adult female require 1900 – 3000 calorie, pregnant woman – 2200 calorie, lactating woman 2600 calorie, infants 100 calorie / kg weight, children (1 – 12 years) – 1200 – 2100 depending on age, adolescent boys – 2500 – 3000 calorie, adolescent girls – 2200 calorie.
  • Carbohydrates : These are primary source of energy and helps in energy balance, energy reserve (glycogen), growth of body tissue and function of body systems. These are of two types. One is simple carbohydrates which are available in sugar, honey, fruits, milk etc. It gives instant energy but rises too quickly in blood. Other is complex carbohydrates which are available in wheat, rice, corn, root vegetables etc. These give sustained energy.
  • Proteins : Proteins are the building blocks of body tissue. They help in growth & repair of body, give energy and are necessary for good immunity, oxygen carrying capacity, acid base & electrolyte balance and help various chemical reactions in the body in the form of enzymes. Proteins consist of amino acids and it is necessary to get essential amino acids. Both plant and animal proteins must be included in diet. Good source of proteins are Meat, cheese, egg, fish, milk, poultry, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds etc.
  • Fats : Fats are indicated in some diseases but Lipids or fats are also important in diet. They provide energy reserve, helps in insulation, in thermoregulation, in protection of body tissue, required for fat soluble vitamins, for brain function and for some body chemicals like hormones etc. These are of three types. Saturated fats are not good for health. These are available in butter, lard, coconut and palm oil. Monounsaturated fats & Polyunsaturated fats are good for health as they lower the risk of heart disease & give essential fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocado, olive oil, peanut, canola etc. Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, cotton seed, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean etc. Other important lipids are phospholipids & sterols.
  • Vitamins : These are complex organic substances, required in small quantity but are must for various body functions. Their deficiency can badly impair health. These are divided into fat soluble (A, D, E & K) and water soluble (B Complex & C) vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are

(1) Vitamin A or Retinol. Necessary for growth & vitality, resistance against infection, nourishment and function of mucus membrane / skin / hair, for vision & eye. Found in  liver, whole milk, egg yolk, cheese, butter, carrots, beet, turnip, dark green leafy vegetables, mango, papaya, apricots, almonds.

(2) Vitamin B 1 or Thiamin. Necessary for nervous system, carbohydrate and energy metabolism. Found in wheat germ, whole grain, cereals, pulses, nuts, peas, milk, egg, banana, apple.

(3) Vitamin B 2 or Riboflavin. Necessary for various metabolisms, for healthy skin, hair and nails. Found in green leafy vegetables, wheat, cheese, milk, eggs, almonds, sunflower seeds etc.

(4) Vitamin B 3 or Niacin. Necessary for circulatory & nervous system, protein & carbohydrate metabolism. Found in liver, fish, peanuts, whole wheat,  green leafy vegetables etc.

(5) Vitamin B 5 or Pantothenic acid. Necessary for adrenal gland function, fight against stress & toxins, for vitality. Found in whole grain, cereals, green vegetables, peas, beans, peanuts, egg yolk etc.

(6) Vitamin B 6 or Pyridoxine. Necessary for protein & fat absorption, prevents nervous, skin & degenerative diseases. Found in wheat germ, yeast, cereals, pulses, banana, soybean, walnut, milk, egg, meat, fresh vegetables.

(7) Vitamin B 9 or Folic acid.  Necessary for cell division & growth, red blood cells, healing process. Found in dark green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, peanuts, yeast etc.

(8) Vitamin B 12 or Cyanocobalamin. Necessary for nervous system, red blood cells, fat metabolism. Found in milk, meat, egg, banana, peanuts.

(9) Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid. Necessary for growth & maintenance of body tissue, healing, fight against stress, infection, toxins & cold. Found in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, sprouts etc.

(10) Vitamin D or Cholecalciferol. Necessary for bones & teeth, thyroid functioning, absorption of nutrition. Found in  sunlight,  fish, eggs, butter, meat, sprouts etc.

(11) Vitamin E or Tocopherols. Necessary for reproductive function, fertility, sex hormones. It acts as antioxidant, delays ageing. Found in whole grains, vegetable oils, leafy vegetables, sprouts etc.

(12) Vitamin K or Phylloquinone & others. Necessary for blood clotting, bone proteins and liver function. Found in leafy vegetables, cabbage, milk, egg, meat etc.

  • Minerals :

(1) Calcium Necessary for bones & teeth, contraction of muscles, blood clotting and other enzyme functions. Found in milk, milk products, whole wheat, leafy vegetables, carrot, orange, almond, figs, walnuts.

(2) Phosphorus Necessary for bones, teeth, nerves & brain. Found in cereals, pulses, nuts, egg yolk, milk, legumes etc.

(3) Iron. Necessary for hemoglobin in blood, vitality, resistance to infection. Found in grapes, resins, spinach, green vegetables, whole grains, cereals, beets, dates, egg yolk etc.

(4) Magnesium  Necessary for nervous, muscular and digestive system, energy metabolism, bones and teeth. Found in grapes, figs, lemons, whole grain, celery, cauliflower, orange, lettuce, cucumber, almond etc.

(5) Sodium Necessary for regulation of body water content and electrolyte balance, energy utilization and nerve function, absorption of certain nutrients and water from the gut. Found in table salt, milk, celery, spinach, cucumber, lemon, orange, watermelon, grapes etc.

(6) Potassium. Necessary for water & electrolyte balance, functioning of heart & other muscles, making of new tissue. Found in dried fruit, banana, vegetables, milk, potatoes, butter milk etc.

(7) Iodine. Necessary for thyroid function, energy metabolism, skin. Found in kelp, sea food, lettuce, turnip, fortified salt, pineaaple, guava, garlic etc.

(8) Chlorine. Necessary for digestive acid, hormones. Found in cheese, milk products, berries, tomato, rice, radish, lentils, coconut etc.

(9) Sulphur Necessary for removal of waste from body, for skin /hair /nerves. Found in onion, radish, cabbage, cheese, carrot, egg yolk etc.

(10) Copper Necessary for hemoglobin & red blood cells, digestive enzymes. Found in almond, beans, peas, lentils, whole wheat etc.

(11) Cobalt   Necessary  for blood cell formation. Found in liver, leafy vegetables.

(12) Manganese  Necessary for nerves, brain, muscle action. Found in citrus fruits, nuts, grains, fish, egg yolk.

(13) Zinc Necessary for enzyme action, healing, skin & hair, vitamin A transport, immunity against infection, sexual maturity. Found in milk, meat, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds etc.

(14) Selenium Necessary for prevention of damage to hemoglobin & other body tissues, prevention of premature ageing. Found in yeast, garlic, mushroom, milk, egg, seafood etc.

  • Fibres

Fibres are edible parts of plants that are not broken down and absorbed in the human small intestine. Some are cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, gums, lignin etc. They serve many important functions in food like :

  1. They provide low calorie / no calorie bulk to diet. This helps in giving feeling of fullness and thus helps in weight management.
  2. They hold water and gives soft bulk to stool thereby preventing constipation and help in elimination of waste.
  3. They hold few chemicals in stomach and intestine, this helps in slow & less absorption of sugar, cholesterol etc. This helps in management of diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol etc.
  4. Low fibre diet is said to be associated with diseases like diverticulitis, colon cancer etc.

Fibres are found in wheat bran, whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables or can be taken as Isabgula husk.

  • Water

Water is essential to live. Its deficiency can be fatal. About 50 – 70 % of our body is water. It has many functions in the body. The amount of fluid needed varies between people and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet, health and levels of physical activity. We can obtain our fluid requirements from a number of sources such as water and other drinks, as well as from the food we eat. One should drink plenty of water to keep healthy. Do not wait for thirst to drink water. One should drink about 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day. Water is necessary for a number of reasons like :

–   It is necessary component of every single cell of our body.

–   It acts as a lubricant for joints, eyes and almost every surface and tissue of the    body.

–   It helps in digestion and absorption of food right from swallow to excretion.

–   It provides the medium in which most reactions in the body take place.

–   It acts as a cushion for the nervous system.

–   It is the medium of transportation as in blood, lymph, bile etc.

–   It helps to regulate body temperature.

–   It helps in elimination of toxins from the body.

–   It is good for skin, hair and nails.