Adriel is a fitness enthusiast. He enjoys eating healthy foods and working out.
Nutrition can be described as the process of obtaining the food requisite for growth, development, and health. It encompasses all actions that are necessary for obtaining, handling, preparing, cooking, serving, eating, and utilization of food by the body.
Nutrition is a fundamental human need and is vital to a healthy life. A proper
diet is indispensable from infancy to adulthood.
Food provides the human body with energy to carry out daily activities. It also provides the body with the components needed for the repair and maintenance of tissues as well as sustaining life.
Most people do not pay close attention to their nutritional requirements. The advent of food processing and fast food joints across the world has created an unhealthy culture of eating hyper-processed food.
Determinants of Malnutrition
Malnutrition is caused by an inadequate diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. Other determinants are:
• faulty feeding habits,
• lack of purchasing power
• a huge family,
• poor health care
• regular infections,
• inadequate sanitation
• low agricultural production.
A healthy and balanced diet
A balanced diet furnishes all the nutrients in the required amounts and correct proportions. It can easily be achieved through a combination of the four basic food groups. The quantities of foods needed to meet the nutrient requirements of an individual vary with gender, age, physical activity, and physiological status.
Research has proven that consumption of processed food coupled with a sedentary lifestyle leads to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. All these diseases are potentially fatal.
Lack of proper nutrition also leads to diseases such as scurvy, rickets, goiter, and anemia. It may also result in stunted growth, neuromuscular disorders, and death.
People in remote and drought-prone rural areas and urban slums are highly susceptible to malnutrition.
Malnutrition can be eliminated by ensuring availability, accessibility, and consumption of adequate amounts of foods.
The importance of nutitious food
Food provides us with the nutrients we require for growth, development, maintenance of normal body functions, energy for activities, and overall health.
Therefore, we require nutritious food to sustain our lives and engage in daily activities.
Our diets should provide all essential nutrients in the required amounts. Requirements of essential nutrients vary with gender, age, physical activity, and physiological status.
A balanced diet should provide between 50% and 60% of total calories from carbohydrates, ideally from complex carbohydrates, around 10% and 15% from proteins, and 20% and 30% from fat.
Furthermore, a balanced diet should provide other critical non-nutrients such as dietary fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants and which confer positive health benefits.
Antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, riboflavin and selenium protect the human body from damage due to free radicals.
Components of a healthy and balanced diet
A healthy and balanced diet will consist of:
• Vitamins and Minerals
Carbohydrates are major sources of energy in our diets. They can be either complex carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy of 4 Kcal/g.
Simple carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose are found in honey, fruits and vegetables.
Sucrose is found in sugar while lactose is found in milk. Complex carbohydrates are starches found in millet ,cereals, pulses, and root vegetables and glycogen in animal foods.
Dietary fiber is composed of cellulose in vegetables and whole grains, and gums and pectin in vegetables, fruits and cereals.
Dietary fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and fats and increases the satiety value. Diets rich in fiber reduce lipids and glucose in the blood. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates are healthy alternatives to the low-fiber diets found in refined and processed foods.
Sources of Carbohydrates
- Whole grains: Millet, Sorghum flour, Whole wheat flour (brown) and Whole maize meal (brown).
- • Roots: Cassava, Irish potatoes, Sweet potatoes and Yams.
- • Starchy vegetables: Pumpkin and Plantain
Proteins are the building blocks of every living cell. Around half the protein in the body is in the form of muscle and the rest of it is in bone, skin and cartilage. Proteins are complex molecules that are composed of distinct amino acids.
Some essential amino acids can not be synthesized by the body and can only be obtained via a protein rich diet. Nonessential amino acids can be synthesized in the body to create proteins. Proteins perform a vast array of functions and also provide energy (4 Kcal/g).
Protein requirements vary with gender, age, physiological status, and stress. Protein requirements are high for infants, children, pregnant women, bodybuilders, and sick individuals.
Animal foods such as meat, milk, fish, and eggs and plant foods such as legumes and pulses are rich sources of proteins.
Animal proteins are of high quality as they furnish all the essential amino acids in correct proportions, while plant or vegetable proteins do not have a complete essential amino acid profile. However, a combination of various plant protein sources provides most of the amino acids, which complement each other to provide higher quality proteins.
Sources of Protein
Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, veal, and game meat (e.g., rabbit, squirrel)
• Organ meats: giblets, offal, kidney, and liver.
• Poultry: Chicken, duck, guinea fowl, turkey, and eggs
• Fish: Salmon, Cod, silverfish, Nile-perch, tilapia, mud-fish, lungfish, and catfish.
• Dairy products: Milk, cheese, sour milk, and yogurt.
• Plant: soybeans, beans, lentils, and quinoa.
• Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, Brazilian nuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
• Edible insects: Grasshoppers, white ants, and termites
Fats are found in plant and animal sources. Fats are vital in the diet. A lack of adequate fat in the diet leads to atrophy.
Fats are a rich source of energy providing 9 Kcal/g. Dietary fats are derived from two sources:
• invisible fat present in plant and animal foods
• visible or added fats and oils (cooking oil).
Fats act as a medium for fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K and carotenes and encourage their absorption.
They are also sources of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Diets should include adequate amounts of fat, particularly in the case of infants and
children, to provide concentrated energy since their energy needs per kg body
weight is nearly twice those of adults.
Intake of fat should be restricted to small quantities. Excessive consumption of fats leads to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
Sources of Fats
Animal source: Ghee, butter, beef fat, chicken fat, and lard.
Plant source: peanut butter, nut butter, margarine, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil.
If you enjoyed reading this article check out Types of Vitamins and Their Role in the Human Body
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Adriel Ananiel