Is Your Food What You Are?

Posted on 2013-01-16 00:22:24

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="333"]What's in your plate? Source:Daily Nation[/caption]

The importance of food should never be underestimated. Food is taken into the body to:

  • Provide and furnish energy for normal daily activities,
  • Sustain the growth and repair of the body,
It is imperative that food should contain the essential groups that include protein, carbohydrate, and fat. These three are considered as macro nutrients.
  1. Carbohydrates provide the body with a source of fuel and energy that is required to carry out daily activities and exercise. They are also important for the correct working of our brain, heart, nervous, digestive and immune system and also help to protect the muscles.Simple carbohydrates occur naturally in food such as in a fruit, milk and table sugar and are broken down easily and fast as soon as they are consumed to provide energy.Complex carbohydrates are not easily broken down or digested quickly and are normally lower in fat. These are found in breads, beans, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and pastas.Unrefined carbohydrates such as whole meal bread, wholegrain cereals and whole meal pasta are generally heavier in texture, more filling, more natural and contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals, leave you feeling fuller for longer, and are definitely healthier for you.
  2. Proteins are building blocks of life. Protein is also needed to make hair, skin, nails, muscles, organs, blood cells, nerve, bone and brain tissues, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies which protect us from disease and illness.Protein can be found in foods such as cheese yoghurt, milk, eggs and pulses (beans, nuts and seeds) and other dairy food. Protein from animals is considered complete as it has all the essential amino acids while protein from vegetable sources is considered incomplete as it lacks one or more of the essential amino acids.
  3. Fats provide energy but taken in excess can make us put on weight when we consume more than we can burn. They are also crucial as they help to absorb vitamins into the body. The need for vitamins makes fats essential. Fats are either saturated or unsaturated.Saturated fats include foods such as pies, cheese, biscuits, cakes, butter. These raise our blood sugar levels and increase our cholesterol levels making us vulnerable to heart disease. Unsaturated fat provides us with the essential fats and helps to lower our cholesterol. Foods with unsaturated fats include oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oils and vegetable oils.
[pullquote_r] "Did you know that dietary fat is actually essential to the body and having food that is fat free can actually lead to health problems?" [/pullquote_r] In addition to the macronutrients, food should also contain vitamins, minerals and fat segments which are considered as micro nutrients.
  1. Vitamins. The body needs these in small amounts in order to work properly. They do not have calories and therefore do not provide energy. They assist in metabolism and assist our organs to work properly. Vitamins are found in fruits, vegetables and grains. Five or more portions of fruits and vegetables are encouraged.
  2. Minerals are essential for building strong bones and teeth, controlling body fluids inside and outside of cells and turning the food we eat into energy. There are two types of minerals which are major minerals and trace minerals.Major minerals include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and sodium. These minerals are found in a variety of foods including milk, meat, poultry, fish, and green, leafy vegetables.Trace elements are also essential nutrients needed for the body to work properly in small amounts. These are iodine and fluorine. Trace elements can be found in meat, fish cereal, milk, shellfish, seafood, whole grains and legumes, dairy foods and nuts.
  3. Fiber is essential for the elimination of waste, materials and toxins from the body. It absorbs large amounts of water in the body and therefore makes stools softer and easier to pass. It also helps to keep the intestines clean and free of disease. It also helps to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids, prevent certain diseases such as colon cancer and keep the weight under control. Getting enough fiber in the diet can also ultimately help lower the risk of getting the following diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, gall stones and kidney stones.It is considered a type of carbohydrate and can be found in beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, nuts, wheat bran, apples, oats and grains.
  These segments all offer different nutritional value in different ways to the body. Although nutrients can work alone, each depends upon the other to be most effective. Depending on how foods are made, they can become healthy or unhealthy.   Have a question?Click here to ask our nutritionist now.  

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