Your Balanced Diet And Your Health
The word food refers to anything consumed to supply nutrition to the organisms. It also indicates the process of creating and managing food, and sometimes by extension food habits. The world’s population is constantly growing; in this situation food becomes an integral part of people’s lives. Food provides energy, growth and maintenance of life. Most living organisms feed on food.
Food is generally of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, and contains necessary nutrients, like carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins. The carbohydrates provide energy; the fats provide a source of energy and protect the body from heat. Proteins are the main substance used by the body to produce cells and hormones. Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are also found in foods. The process of digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins results in the release of glucose, which is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
Carbohydrates are separated into three categories according to their physiological makeup: simple sugars, complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Simple sugars are those that can be easily metabolized by the human body; they are found in fresh fruits and vegetables and in many forms such as juices, milk and coffee. Complex carbohydrates contain one or more sugars that cannot be easily metabolized, like starch, corn, rice, pasta and white breads.
Simple carbohydrates are found in large amounts in vegetables, cereals and legumes. They give small amounts of energy without much effort; however, they are quickly converted to glucose and stored as glycogen. As the amount of glycogen increases, the rate of metabolism slows down; this causes obesity. Because the main sources of carbohydrates are grain products, bread and pasta; they are consumed in large amounts every day.
Unsaturated fats are a major component of healthy foods, but they need to be included in the diet in reduced amounts. Unsaturated fatty acids are essential for the production of short-term energy supplies during physical exercise. Most foods in the supermarket are heavily advertised as rich in unsaturated fats. However, the majority of them do not have the proportion of unsaturated fats to make any difference to your health.
Saturated fats are found in palm nuts, sunflower seeds, safflower oils and tropical oils. They are not the healthiest sources of fat because they contain a high level of trans fat. Trans fats can cause heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Instead, eat foods that are high in monounsaturated fats and eat nuts and seeds only in moderation.
Carbohydrates provide energy and glucose to the body. They are found in foods like cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. The food industry exploits people’s tendency to eat more carbohydrates than they want, creating food like pasta, cookies, candy bars, chips and soft drinks. High calorie foods can lead to weight gain, especially if the majority of them are highly processed or sugar coated. If you choose to buy sugar free foods, make sure they are marked as having less calories than their regular counterparts.
Milk, cheese and yogurt also contain some carbohydrates and proteins. These food groups can be combined in many different ways to create a balanced diet. Just remember that milk, cheese and yogurt are a staple food group for infants and should only be introduced to them at a young age. At least two servings of these food groups should be consumed daily for a healthy, balanced diet.
Fats are another important source of nutrition and should be consumed in moderation. Though fats are classified as saturated fats, it is important to note that unsaturated fats are just as important. Unsaturated fats come from plants, fruits and nuts. While animal sources of fat are bad for you, these types of fats are beneficial to the heart and the rest of your system. Some good animal sources of fat include: butter, cheese, oils and spreads, mayonnaise, monounsaturated fats, olives and olive oil, nuts, peanut butter and tropical oils.
Beans are another important food group. They are low in fat but high in fiber and protein. They are a staple food for most people, because they are easily digestible, have high nutrient density and provide a wide range of nutrients. Legumes are rich in fiber and protein, which is important to maintain a healthy digestive system. However, a lot of people don’t eat enough legumes because they are rather messy and hard to store. If you eat enough beans on a regular basis, you will begin to feel fuller quickly.
Vitamins and minerals are also essential in a balanced diet. A person needs to eat a varied, healthy diet to get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need. While some vitamins are easier to obtain than others, you will want to get small amounts of all of the major vitamins and minerals each day. Foods that contain a large amount of vitamins include: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meats, fish and fortified dairy products. Milk is considered one of the smallest sources of vitamins and minerals and is easy to obtain through the normal drinking of milk.