Balanced Diet – Food All People Should Eat To Stay Healthy And Fit
Food is any material consumed in order to provide nutrition to an organism for life. It may be in the form of food we eat daily, food that animals consume for survival, or food for plants in the process of growth. In essence food is the fuel for our bodies.
There are two types of nutrients found in food: carbohydrates, which can be stored as glycogen in the liver, muscles and liver, and fats, which can be stored as adipose tissue (fat), or as stored energy in the liver or muscles. Since our body requires a certain amount of each of these kinds of nutrients to maintain a healthy metabolism, it is important to get enough carbohydrates and fats in our diet. The challenge is to get the right balance of carbs/fats/meals to meet our daily energy requirements without getting too much or too little. Food quality and nutrition is determined by the proportions of the different macronutrients present in the food – carbohydrate, protein, fat and fibre.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and therefore should be included in the diet. Carbohydrates can be divided into simple sugars, complex sugars and saturated fats. Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, lactose, sucrose, brown sugar and turbinado sugar; complex sugars include cane sugar, agave nectar, millet, milling grains, corn bran, sorghum, tapioca, flax seed and buckwheat. Other fibrous food sources include beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
Proteins are the main building blocks of our muscles and tissues, and also contain amino acids which are the building blocks of our organs. Thus, protein provides the bulk of our muscle mass and is the most important macronutrient for building muscles and bones. Meat, fish, eggs and milk are the most important sources of proteins. However, plant foods such as lentils, pulses, cereals and wholemeal bread are excellent sources of protein without increasing the carbohydrate content of the food.
Fats are essential to keeping the skin and coat of our animals as well as the internal organs and tissues. Fats are made up of two different kinds: saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are called polyunsaturated fats while unsaturated fats are called monounsaturated fats. The consumption of some foods like nuts, seeds, cheese and avocados increases the intake of unsaturated fats whereas the consumption of many other food types, especially dairy products, poultry and red meat, increase the intake of saturated fats. Some studies show that some kinds of alcohol may also contribute to higher blood levels of saturated fats. Therefore, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of alcohol particularly in the case of young women and men.
A balanced diet consists of a variety of food groups such as carbohydrates, protein, unsaturated fats and vitamins. It is recommended that the food be eaten in its entire as well as most natural form. Fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and seeds are recommended as staples while dry foods like meats, butter, cheese and eggs are considered as supplements. Some food groups are easily digested while others need to be chewed or liquefied before swallowing.