Nutrition required for Food

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition can be defined as the process of consuming food and using it for growth, metabolism, maintenance and repair. Our diet is what determines the level of nutrition our body receives, and a balanced diet is one that provides you with all the 6 essential nutrients.

According to the World Health Organisation, these nutrients can be divided into two groups:

  • Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. These fall under this category since they are beneficial when consumed in small but appropriate amounts.
  • Macronutrients are to be consumed in larger amounts in order for the best result for your body. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water fall under this category.

 How do these nutrients benefit your body?

Indian culinary culture prides itself in the way it balances its meals, and every Indian household claims to have a balanced diet. Let us breakdown the components of a balanced diet, and understand the nutrition provided by common ingredients in the Indian household.

Vitamins help in the growth of an individual and assist in maintaining a healthy body. Being a micronutrient, it is best consumed in smaller quantities and they are required to be consumed since our body does not produce these naturally. There are 13 essential vitamins, and while their sources can be confusing, there are some standard ingredients that can suffice for most vitamins.

  • Common ingredients:

Non vegetarian: Meat, poultry, fish

Vegetarian: Beans, carrots, nuts and seeds, vegetable oil, spinach, sweet potato

 Minerals are essential for good development and maintenance of bones and teeth, as we were always told from a very young age. Minerals, which are also micronutrients, are also essential when it comes to converting food into a form of energy the body can utilise. Primary minerals we must consume are iron and calcium.

  • Common ingredients:

Non vegetarian: Meat, fish,

Vegetarian: Cereals, milk and dairy products and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach.

 Proteins form the building blocks for our body. They form muscle, bone, skin and hair. We derive 20 amino acids from the protein we consume, out of which 9 are essential, because our body does not produce them at all. Proteins also help form antibodies, enzymes and hormones.

  • Common ingredients:

Non vegetarian: Chicken, fish, egg

Vegetarian: beans, peas, yogurt (curd), milk, cheese, seeds, nuts, and whole grains

 Carbohydrates perform many functions for our body apart from providing energy. They fuel various organs in our body and also keep components of our blood in check, such as cholesterol. They primarily consist of fibers, starch and sugars.

  • Common ingredients:

Non vegetarian: There are no non vegetarian sources of Carbohydrates

Vegetarian: bread, beans, milk, popcorn, pastas, corn, sugar (raw and brown), honey, fructose from fruits, rice, oats

 Fats here refer to dietary fats. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding fats in food, but dietary fats are healthy in the right portions, just like every other nutrient consumed. Fats (in particular monounsaturated fats) can reduce cardiovascular problems and assist in brain function and cell growth (polyunsaturated fats).

  • Common ingredients:

Non vegetarian: fish

Vegetarian: coconut, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dairy products (whole fat), tropical oils

 Water is essential for our systems. For something that makes up 60% of our body, we do not give nearly enough importance to water in our day to day habits. An average adult requires anywhere between 2-3 litres of clean, drinking water every day. Every function our body performs draws its performance from water intake. It improves energy, removes waste from the body, keeps organs functioning and gives a healthy external appearance as well. So, to say the least, stay hydrated!

The debate of what we must eat is a constant one, with science constantly having something to say. But a balanced diet, which provides you the six nutrients mentioned above, alongside regular exercise and proper sleep patterns will make any individual healthy, fit and ready to take on their day.

 


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