“You are what you eat”, not just how much you eat, but eating smart is the key to a healthier, balanced lifestyle. There are certain essential nutrients that your body cannot synthesize on its own and therefore need to be consumed in an adequate amount to ensure a regular functioning of our system. Dietary habits of childhood define our old age. A well balanced diet, consisted of all the vital nutrients, makes us live longer by reducing the risk of chronic diseases and also boosts the energy levels, ensuring a higher quality of life. A healthy body promises a happy heart.
What’s Our Body’s Fuel?
Function: Carbohydrates are the main energy source in our body. Food rich in carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are digested by the small intestine in to glucose, which is absorbed by the blood stream and transported to all the cells in the body, especially the brain cells, which are highly dependent on the blood glucose levels as their primary source of energy.
Sources: Whole bread, grain, beans, fruits, Sweeteners, honey, Pasta, rice, Breakfast cereal and vegetables, such as potatoes and peas.
Function: Proteins are literally the building blocks of the body and are responsible for indispensable functions of our system. They are digested by the stomach and broken down into amino acids. They are required by the body to build and repair cells, strengthen the immune system by developing antibodies, make hormones and enzymes and build tissues and muscles.
Sources: Meat, Dairy, beans, nuts, lentils, eggs, cheese, seeds and vegetables.
Function: Like carbohydrates, fats are an essential energy source and contain double the energy as compared to carbohydrates. Animal products are rich in unsaturated fat, whereas vegetable oil contains saturated fats. Unlike carbohydrates, however, fats are stored by the body and utilized when the body is running low on energy. In addition, fats protect the body by forming an insulation layer under the skin and help the body in the intake and transportation of fat soluble vitamins.
Sources: Sunflower oil, canola oil, seeds, butter, egg yolk, cheese and red meat.
Function: Vitamins are essential for a healthy growth and development of the body and are responsible for many bodily functions, which help us survive. E.g. vitamin D helps the bones in the absorption of calcium and therefore ensures a stronger bone structure, vitamin A is required for the maintenance of our ability to see in night, vitamin B supports the nervous system and vitamin C forms collagen and is responsible for healthy nail and skin. Deficiency of vitamins could lead to severe diseases.
Sources: Fruits, dairy, leafy greens, Vitamin D is abundant in sunlight, dairy products and fish oil, and Vitamin C in citrus fruits.
Function: Minerals are required by the body in small quantities and are responsible for maintaining healthy functions of the body. E.g. calcium ensures the health of teeth and bones; sodium is responsible for the volume of water content outside the cell and muscle contraction, potassium protects the body against a high blood pressure, iron is used to make hemoglobin and magnesium is needed for a proper nerve transmission.
Sources: Dark green leafy vegetable, salt, liver, milk, cheese, meat, fish, nuts, dried beans, banana and various other fruits provide trace amounts of minerals.
Function: Water is the essence of all life. Your body can live off food longer than it can on water. Water is responsible for many functions of the body since it is the liquid part of your blood. From digestion to transportation of digested nutrients to your body’s cells, regulating body temperature, maintaining peristalsis and taking part in many chemical reactions, water is a prerequisite to containing life.
Sources: Water, Juices, beverages.