The term healthy diet is not as complicated as it sounds to be. To keep it simple, food that enhances our mood, makes us feel energetic and improves our health is healthy.
In general, healthy food must be balanced with all nutrients like Vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates etc. Each nutrient is important for a balanced diet. Imbalanced diet can have adverse effects on our body and mind, where as junk and fast foods may lead to obesity and weight gain.
Healthy food provides essential nutrients like Vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, fibre etc to our body for a balanced growth ie physical and mental health. It helps us to remain energetic for our daily work, balances our mind and help us to keep in good mood. It improves our immune system to prevent us from falling sick.
Balanced diet is very important so that we get all the nutrients in right quantity. While deficiency of any nutrient may have some adverse effects on our health, taking them in excess may again be harmful. The key is to eat right and in right quantity.
Nutrients are required for proper growth and are some times referred to as essential nutrients. Essential nutrients are Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Proteins: Proteins contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen and sometimes iron, phosphorus, and sulphur. They help in the growth of new tissues and repair old tissues. Proteins are important for weight gain, growth, and gestation.
Sources of Proteins include soybeans, fish, lentils, pulses, eggs
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main source of the energy in our daily life. Carbohydrates are good for our brain health and helps increase memory.
Potatoes, Bread, grains are some of the foods rich in carbohydrates.
Fats: Dietary fats are the mien source of energy in our body. They also help form cell membranes and thus aid cell growth. They keep our body warm. Saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial when taken in moderate quantities.
Butter and Ghee are examples of Saturated fats and while vegetable oils are non-saturated fats. Nuts, Eggs are some important sources of fats to our body.
Vitamins: Vitamins keep our body healthy and help regulate body functions. The deficiency of vitamins can lead to a disease. Vitamins are classified as fat soluble and water soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins stored in the fat and released as they are needed by the body. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored for extended periods. They include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins dissolved by water. As water passes through the body, it carries out water-soluble vitamins. Thus, these vitamins need to be consumed every day. Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the B vitamins.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that controls the growth of almost every cell in your body. It also helps to produce White Blood cells which are important to fight illness. is beneficial to our eyes. It is also beneficial to our skin and hair.
Liver, Fish, Milk, Eggs, Leafy greens, Orange and yellow vegetables , Tomatoes, Cantaloupe, Apricots are some of the sources of Vitamin A.
Vitamin B: The B-complex group of vitamins includes vitamins B-6 and B-12, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin and pantothenic acid. These vitamins work together to help your body metabolize the carbohydrates, protein and fat that you eat. They also function as antioxidants, protecting you from illness and premature aging. They help in the production of Red Blood Cells.
B-1: Soymilk, watermelon
B-2: Milk, yogurt, cheese, whole and enriched grains and cereals
B-3: Meat, poultry, fish, fortified and whole grains, mushrooms, potat
B-5: Chicken, whole grains, broccoli, avocados, mushrooms
B-6: Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu and other soy products, bananas
B-7: Whole grains, eggs, soybeans, fish
B-9: Fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, oranges
B-12: Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, fortified soymilk and cereals
Vitamin C: is one of the safest and most effective nutrients. Benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
Vitamin C helps absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Vitamin C is a good anti-oxidant.
Citrus fruit, potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts are good sources of Vitamin C.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and is essential for strengthening of the bones. Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D supports immune system and fights inflammation.
Sunlight, Fortified milk and cereals, fatty fish are some of the sources of Vitamin D.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a kind of a fat-soluble vitamin that contains high amount of antioxidant properties. It protects our cell membranes from damage and is beneficial to our skin.
Vegetables oils, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts are some of the sources of Vitamin E
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is a vitamin found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin K is important in blood clotting. It supports bone health and also strengthens our teeth.
Minerals: Mineral deficiencies can result in poor weight gain and physical health. Minerals are classified as macro-minerals or micro-minerals.
Macro-minerals are minerals needed in the diet in relatively large amounts. Macro-minerals include calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulphur.
Calcium and phosphorus are needed in a certain ratio for bone growth and repair and for other body functions. Magnesium is needed for for skeletal growth. Potassium aids in the uptake of glucose. Sodium and chlorine are provided by salt (Sodium Chloride) and are necessary to maintain water balance and to provide sources of iodine. Sulphur is required for protein synthesis.
Microminerals: Microminerals, are minerals required in small quantities. These minerals are just as important as macro-minerals; they are just needed in smaller amounts.
Microminerals include chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. Chromium activates certain enzymes involved in the production of energy. Cobalt is a part of the molecule of vitamin B12. Copper is necessary for normal iron absorption. Fluorine promotes sound bones and teeth. Iodine is needed by the thyroid gland in the synthesis of the hormone thyroxine. Iron is required for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in the red blood cells that transports oxygen to tissues and carbon dioxide from tissues. Manganese plays an important part in the formation of bone and in blood clotting. Zinc, in proper amounts, has a major effect on bones, skin and hair.
Fiber: Diet rich in dietary fiber is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Over the ranges of intakes studied, it was found that as more dietary fiber was consumed a greater reduction in risk was observed. Higher cereal fiber consumption is associated with a lower incidence of coronary events. There is evidence of benefit to health associated with consumption of diets rich in fiber containing foods at dietary fiber intakes greater than 25 g per day.
The health benefits associated with dietary fiber are manifold, e.g. on gastrointestinal health and risk reduction of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2, colorectal cancer as well as reduced risk of weight gain. Main dietary sources of fiber include whole grain cereals, pulses, fruit, vegetables and potatoes.
The best approach to ensure a variety of vitamins and minerals, and in the proper amounts, is to adopt a broad healthy diet. This involves an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, low-fat protein, and dairy products.
A healthy diet is rich in fiber, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, “good” or unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. These dietary components turn down inflammation, which can damage tissue, joints, artery walls, and organs. Avoiding processed foods is important for healthy eating. Sweets, foods made with highly refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause spikes in blood sugar that can lead to early hunger. High blood sugar is linked to the development of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even dementia.