The term balanced diet is one of the oldest definition still ringing in my brain since class 3. I was told a balanced diet is a meal that contains all the six essential nutrients.
These nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water. Although this definition is still correct in our days, one of the element of the definition which is usually left out is “in their right proportion”.
The proportion of each nutrient in the food we eat is very essential. A meal can consist of all the six food nutrients but if there is too much oil in the food, it will result in adverse effect on the consumer.
“All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” – Paracelsus. Everything that one consumes in the wrong proportion can be detrimental to health no matter how beneficial it it.
Functions of the Components of a Balanced Diet
It is a very essential component in our meal. It serves as the primary source of energy for the brain. Life activities such as running, walking, playing, etc. are made possible through the energy produce by carbohydrate.
The sources of carbohydrate include tubers, grain, fruits and some starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Fiber is another source of carbohydrate usually gotten from grains and it aids in digestion, reduces the risk of heart disease and it helps in controlling blood sugar. Averagely 40% – 50% of your meal should consist of carbohydrate to get enough energy for your daily activities.
Protein helps in repairing and building body tissues. It forms the structural component of cells and it is made up of blocks of amino acids. These amino acids are grouped into two; essential amino acids (cannot be synthesize in the body) and non-essential amino acids (can be synthesized in the body).
Most of the proteins we consume in our daily lives are the essential ones which the body cannot produce on its own. Sources of protein are soya beans, milk, fish, chicken etc. 15% – 20 % of your plate should consist of protein not just any protein but lean protein (lower in saturated fat and calories).
Almost every one in the world has a bad perception about fats but it is a vital nutrient in the body. It helps to insulate the body, helps in brain development and helps in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Most of the time, the amount of fats one consumes is not a problem but the type. Consuming Omega 3 fatty acids is a healthy way of life and it can be obtained from vegetable oils, seafoods and nuts.
Minerals are very precious element in this world and so are they in the body. They are essential for strong bones, and the transmission of nerve impulses. Minerals are grouped into macro and micro minerals not because of their functionality but on the amount needed by the body.
Some examples of macro minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur and examples of microminerals are chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc.
Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and even whole grain will provide you with the amount of mineral one need for the day.
Vitamins are a group of substances that are essential for overall health, normal cell function, growth and development. Vitamins can be either water soluble (soluble in water) or fat soluble (soluble in lipids).
Examples of fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D, E, K and there are two water soluble vitamins, i.e. Vitamin B and C. Sources of vitamins include; carrots, sweet potatoes, Nkontomire, and fruits.
The human body is made up of 60% of water. The benefits of water in the body can not be exshausted. It aids in digestion, absorption, the regulation of body temperature.
Water is used for both nutrition and non nutritive purposes. Taking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is good for one’s health. There are numerous sources of water; lakes, rivers, rain water and others.
The functionality, proportion and the amount of the nutrient we consume per meal all makes it up to a balanced meal.
As Benjamin Franklin quoted “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”