LIFE RESEARCH CENTRE INTERNATIONAL

Food Science & Nutrition

 

                                                   HEALTH & NUTRITION

 Good health may be considered that state of human body when all its organs are -functioning properly. Health can vary in degree from one individual to another. Good health may mean building shoulders and thigh muscles to a wrestler, a slim body to a dancer and greater stamina to an athlete. It may mean good mental health and emotional stability and absence of diseases to others. Thus, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. The physical and mental health are interrelated. Apart from good food for physical health, personal hygience and care of our environment are very important.A major problem in achieving good health is lack or ignorance of health education-. The rate of malnutrition (inadequate nutrition) is quite high in our country. Many pregnant women suffer from anaemia. The infant mortality rate due to malnutrition is also quite high in some parts of the country. In spite of many local sources of cheap and nutritious food, ignorance keeps people away from properly utilising them. Wrong food habits, customs and misconceptions about foods and their nutritional values are responsible for poor health. Children need more of energy-giving and body-building food, as compared to adults.There are several factors which help in achieving good health. These include balanced diet, cleanliness of body as well as environment, physical fitness through exercise and a sound mental health. On the other hand, there are several other factors which can bring about ill-health or diseases.Food is needed for the growth of our body. It gives us energy to work and all the nutrients which are needed for growth and maintenance of our body. It also gives us resistance against diseases. Food is absolutely necessary for sustaining body functions. Food builds body' s tissues, protects it against infection, regulates the metabolic activities and provides energy of different types of body functions. These tasks are performed by the energy which is given by the food consumed by an individual.The main components of food are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. We also need to take a balanced diet as it contains each' of these components in required quantity. Fruits, green leafy vegetables and other vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Our diet should include cereals, pulses, vegetables including green leafy vegetables, meat, fish or eggs, milk and milk products, fruits and nuts. This choice of food helps us to have a proper growth and stay healthy. A balanced diet is that which provides the minimum daily requirement of various nutrients, i.e., carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and roughage.

1) Carbohydrates: These are compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Sugar and glucose is the simplest example of carbohydrates. Molecules of most of the carbohydrates consist of a large number of carbon atoms. For example, a molecule of sugar contains 12 carbon atoms. The main carbohydrates found in our food are in the form of starch and sugars. These are the main sources of energy for our body. Some common sources of carbohydrates in our diet are rice, wheat, maize, potatoes, sugar and jaggery. Fruits like bananas, mangoes and melons also contain carbohydrates.

2) Fats: Fats are a source of energy and like carbohydrates they act as fuels in our body. But the same amount of fats supplies more than double the energy that is given by carbohydrates. Fats are essential for the absorption of some vitamins-in the body. Fats consumed by human beings are obtained either from animals or from plants. Fats like butter and ghee are obtained from animals. These are usually found in solid state at room temperature. Mustard oil, groundnut oil and other vegetable oils are examples of fats. These are derived from plants and are usually found in liquid state at room temperature. Meat, fish, eggs and all types of nuts are other common sources of fats. The total requirement of fats for an adult is about 70- 80 grams per day.

3) Protein: These are made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. Some proteins may also contain sulphur, phosphorous and iron. A molecule of a protein is made up of a large number of smaller molecules called amino acids. Our body is unable to produce some of these amino acids. It is essential that these amino acids are present in the food that we eat. These are called essential amino acids. The quality of the protein is more important than the quantity, particularly for children. The proteins are available from two sources - vegetables and animals. Milk, fish, meat and eggs are the main sources of animal proteins. They contain sufficient quantity of essential amino acids to maintain a normal functioning of our body. Vegetable proteins are generally lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids. Pulses or dais are good sources of vegetable proteins. The daily requirement of proteins of an adult is about 50 to 60 grams, i.e., approximately 1 gram per kg body weight.

4) Vitamins: These are a special group of compounds which are needed by our body only in very small amounts. They do not provide any energy to us. But vitamins are an essential component of our diet as they perform specific functions in our body. For example, vitamins help in keeping our eyes, bones, teeth and gums healthy. Many chemical reactions in our body will not take place if vitamins were not present. We are likely to fall sick if our diet lacks in vitamins. Different types of vitamins have been given specific names, hke Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamins E and K. One group of vitamins together is known as Vitamin B complex. Some of the vitamins are soluble in water while some others dissolve only in fats.

a) Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Its sources include fish oil, milk and milk products, carrots. Vitamin A keeps our skin healthy. Lack of Vitamin A in our diet makes the skin very dry. Deficiency of Vitamin A also causes night blindness.

b) B Vitamins are water-soluble. They are found in wheat, rice, yeast extract, Liver and kidney. One particular disease resulting from lack of Vitamin B is beri-beri. People suffering from this disease have weak muscles and very little energy to do work.

c) Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is found- in all citrus fruits and many fresh vegetables, including potatoes. But Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat during cooking. This is one reason why we should try to include fresh, uncooked fruits and get vegetables in our diet. Vitamin C helps to keep skin healthy. Without it, the skin on the gums begins to crack and bleed. Wounds on the skin and other parts of the body also take a longer time to heal due to deficiency of Vitamin C. This is known as scurvy.

d) Vitamin D is a fat-soluble yitamin. It is found in fish oil, eggs and milk and milk products. Our skin also makes this vitamin in sunlight. Vitamin D helps our body to use calcium for bones and teeth. The bones of a person become soft and bend due to the deficiency of Vitamin D. This is know as rickets.

5) Minerals:. Present in our body, these are mainly in the form of compounds of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chlorine, sulphur, iron, iodine and copper. Only small amounts of minerals are required in our daily diet. Each one of these minerals is necessary for the proper growth of the body and to maintain good health. Bones and teeth are made up of salts of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is found in abundance in milk, including skimmed milk and buttermilk, cheese and green leafy vegetables. Rice is deficient in calcium. Therefore, rice eaters should supplement their diet with some food materials rich in calcium. However, ragi contains sufficient calcium. Milk contains phosphorus in lesser amount than calcium. Cereals, pulses, fish and meat are also good sources of phosphorus. Children need relatively more calcium and phosphorus for the growth of their bones. Iron is essential for the formation of haemoglobin in blood. Leafy and other green vegetables, nuts and jiggery are some of the rich sources of iron. Iron deficiency causes anaemia. An anaemic person may feel weakness and appear pale. Iodine is another mineral essential for proper functioning of the thyroid glands. Our body requires a very small amount of iodine. Usually, the iodine present in fruits and vegetables that we eat is sufficient to meet our requirement of iodine. Deficiency of iodine in our diet leads to goitre in which glands in the neck appear swollen. Deficiency of iodine in children can make them mentally retarded.

6) Roughage: Roughage is also necessary for our food. It helps the body to get rid of the waste and keeps the bowels clean. Roughage is found in vegetables and fruits which have fibres, e.g., grapes, mangoes, spinach, mustard leaves, cabbage, ladyfingers, etc. We should remember to wash the fruits and fresh vegetables before eating. Vegetables should also be washed well before cooking. Unwashed fruits and vegetables may have dust and germs on them.

7) Water: Our body needs a large quantity of water. We need to take about 2-3 litres of water every day. Water is required to perform several different functions. It is essential for all the reactions in the cells in which energy is produced or utilised. Blood plays an important role in transporting substances to different parts ofthe body and Blood is mostly water. A person becomes severely dehydrated if the body loses too much of water. The blood gets thicker in the event of de­hydration. It moves more slowly around the body causing severe pain and cramps in muscles. Our body makes use of water in several other ways. It helps in digestion. Water also dissolves waste products of the body so that these could be removed through urine. Sweating and evaporation of water from the skin helps to keep our body cool.

    

Balanced Diet: For maintaining a healthy body, we need a balanced diet. Foods that are deep-fried and roasted usually lose their nutritive value. Similarly, oily arid spicy foods, though tasty, may not be quite nutritive. Stale and rotten food could be very harmful to our health. Any food may be eaten to fill the belly and satisfy our appetite. However, it may not fulfill the major requirements of our body. A balanced diet contains various groups of foodstuff, such as energy-giving foods, body-building foods and protective foods in correct proportions. The components of a balanced diet differ according to age, sex and physical activity of an individual. For designing a balanced diet for an individual, it is essential to know about the daily requirements of different nutrients of that personOur body also needs sufficient exercise, fresh air, water and sunshine. Adequate physical and mental rest is the other essential requirement of the body.   

                                                  

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