By definition, more or less we all know that FOOD is any nutritious substance that helps any living organism to maintain the growth and any vital process, also to furnish energy. Plants produces their own food by photosynthesis, whereas animals source their foods from either plants or other animals as per the ecosystem.With passing time, we, humans have started to overlook the importance of “good food” for healthy living. Though,last few decades have seen the renaissance of food science and scientists. The importance of food towards leading a healthy life has evolved. People have became more conscious about lifestyle diseases,like- cardiovascular diseases, diabetes , obesity etc.
We all want to follow a healthy lifestyle, but are often misled by vague concepts about food habits, diets and end up demotivated, discouraged and sometimes being sick.
This series of articles is aimed to provide insight on basic concepts of food science and nutrition, declutter misinformation about diets and try to encourage readers to shift to a healthy lifestyle with scientific explanation of it.
Let us start with a few basic terms.Here you go:
What is Health?
As stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is the “state of complete physical. Mental and social well being and not merely absence of disease and infirmity”.
So, being healthy does not necessarily mean only absence of disease, it is also achieving optimal growth & development, having an active and productive life, withstanding and minimising the disabilities due to some inevitable process, like- ageing, and finally potent ability to combat diseases and basic resistance capacity from any pollutants and environmental toxins.
Now to achieve a healthy life, one must follow a balanced diet. And here comes most of the misconceptions. Let us understand what balanced diet is:
“Balanced diet is one which contains different types of food in such quantities and proportions so that the need for calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients is adequately met and a small provision is made for extra nutrients to withstand short duration of leanness.”
In addition to that a balanced diet should provide required bio-active phytochemicals, such as- dietary fibre, antioxidants and nutraceuticals which have certain health benefits;around 60-70% of total calories should come from carbohydrate, 10-12% from protein, and 20-25% from fat.
So, precisely one should keep this thing in mind that following a balanced diet does not mean starving or skipping a meal, it is about the right proportion and distribution of foods throughout a day as per one’s need. Now this need is different from person to person as per body weight, health condition, gender and many more factors.
There comes the concept of Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
RDA can be defined as “the average daily dietary intake level that suffices the nutrient requirements nearly all (97-98%) healthy persons of specific sex, age, life stage , or physiological conditions (such as, pregnancy, lactation).”
so, good understanding with these basic terms are necessary to start off the journey towards healthy food habits.
It is advisable to not abruptly follow any guidelines regarding diet practices available in internet without consulting a professional as it is particularly important to understand one’s body needs and condition to recommend a diet chart. Moreover, a country like India has diversified food habits as per the regions. An expert would not encourage you to change your basic food habits , rather will suggest you a menu plan according to individual’s food preferences. As every human is different and might have predisposed health conditions, so never try to advocate a diet plan by yourself unless you are an expert, seek HELP.
Stay tuned for the next episode in this series.
(This is a Get Insight initiative to enlighten readers about foods and its importance.)
Copyright GetInsight 2020