Healthy Eating Habits: Nutrition is the science of food and how the body uses it. Like all living things, human beings need food to live. Food gives us the energy to perform every action from reading this article to cooking to eating. Food also helps build and repair body tissues and regulate body organs and systems.
The food that we eat directly affects our health. A proper diet helps us maintain good health and prevents illness. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure that the body receives all the nutrients it needs.
Nutrition experts advise that our diet should include a certain number of servings from each of the five food groups:
- Cereals like rice and wheat
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese
- Dried beans and peas, nuts etc.
Food provides certain chemical substances called nutrients that are needed to maintain good health. Nutrients perform one or more of three function.
- They provide materials for building, repairing and maintaining body tissues.
- They help regulate body processes
- They serve as fuel to provide energy.
The food we eat contains thousands of chemicals. But only a few of these, called nutrients, are absolutely essential to keep us healthy. Nutrients are classified into six main groups:
The four groups called “macronutrients” are required in larger quantities and the last two groups called “micronutrients” are required in smaller quantities.
Adults should consume about 2.4 litres of water per day. To some extent, this can be in the form of water in the food we eat, but preferably as plain water.
They include all sugars and starches and serve as the main source of energy for living things. The main sugar in food is sucrose contained in the ordinary white or brown sugar. The sugar lactose is found in milk and the sugar fructose is found in most fruits and many vegetables. Starch is present in food such as cereals and their flour, beans, peas, potatoes etc. Each gram of carbohydrate provides about four calories.
They are highly concentrated sources of energy. Fats contain substances called fatty acids. There are three types of fatty acids: Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fatty acids must be included in the diet because they are essential for the body but the body cannot manufacture them. They are found in oils such as sunflower and sesame. Groundnuts and olives are sources of monounsaturated fatty acids. Most saturated fatty acids are derived from animals products such as dairy products. Each gram of fat provides about nine calories.
They are one of the main building materials of the body, apart from providing energy. Muscle, skin, cartilage and hair are mainly made up of proteins. Every cell of the body contains proteins called enzymes which speed up chemical reactions in the body. The body cells cannot function without these enzymes. Proteins also serve as hormones or chemical messengers and as antibodies or disease fighting chemicals. Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids.
The body must have a sufficient supply of 20 amino acids, whereas it can manufacture only 11 of them in the required quantity. The balance nine have to be acquired from food. Important sources of proteins are milk, cheese and other dairy products (Note: But never ever animals meat or flesh). These food items contains complete proteins, so-called because they contain all the required amino acids in sufficient quantities. Vegetables, cereals, grains, nuts and legumes provide incomplete proteins. Each gram of protein provides four calories.
They are required for growth and maintenance of body structures and for the composition of digestive juices and fluids that are found in and around body cells. Minerals are required in small quantities in our daily diet. The essential minerals are calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Milk and milk products, cereals, green vegetables etc. are good source of minerals.
They regulate chemical reactions by which the body converts food into energy and living tissues. There are 13 vitamins, viz., vitamins A, B complex, and vitamins C, D, E and K. Vitamins are found in milk and milk products, green vegetables, fruits, cereals etc.
We should eat a balanced diet- a varied diet that contains all the nutrients required by the body in the requisite quantities. Nutritionists have devised systems of grouping food according to the nutrients they contain.
Tips and Tricks For healthy living
Healthy Eating Habits: Eat less, not more
When a person consumes more calories than required by the body, the excess calories are stored in the body as fat and this leads to obesity. Obesity increases the risk of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and certain cancers. Health experts recommend physical exercise to reduce weight. So don’t overeat.
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Opt for vegetarian and never eat non-vegetarian food
By its nature, vegetarian food is said to be lighter and less fattening than non-vegetarian food. Green vegetables are particularly preferred since they provide a lot of fibre, which helps digest food.
Healthy Eating Habits: Eat fresh not fried
It is preferable to eat fresh raw vegetables and fresh raw fruits which are rich source of nutrients required by the body rather than deep-fried or junk food that’s fattening and, therefore, not advisable.
Healthy Eating Habits: Be fit, not fat:
Health experts recommends that you limit your intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, a waxy substance found in animal foods. Consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol raises the level of cholesterol in the body, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Health experts recommend avoiding or restricting the consumption of red meat and high fat dairy products.
Healthy Eating Habits: Calories count:
When it comes to a healthy and nutritional diet, calories do count. A carefully balanced diet with sufficient exercise would go a long way in keeping a person healthy and happy. One should not consume calories in excess of personal requirements. Otherwise, these calories would be stored as fat in the body, leading to obesity and its attendant problems.
Healthy Eating Habits: Eat slowly
Experts say that we should always eat slowly and chew the food throughly before swallowing. This is because the process of digestion starts in the mouth itself, when the saliva mixes with the food. Avoid gulping or golfing down food.
Also Read: Top 10 Super foods for healthy tummy.
Healthy Eating Habits: Eat to live, don’t live to eat
There are some people whose preoccupation seems to be eating. They eat when they are happy, they eat when they are sad and they eat at all times in between. This results? they look like popcorn, onions or potatoes- fat in front and fat behind! Excessive eating leads to obesity and all its attendant health problems. One should eat neither too less nor too much but just sufficient to lead a healthy and happy life.
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