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What is meant by the term “balanced diet”?

Introduction

The dictionary definition says a diet is what someone uses if they want to lose weight.

Nutritionist’s think otherwise because to us a balanced diet is what we need for the body to work perfectly and properly.We therefore need to eat the correct amount of Proteins, Carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins.Food also needs to supply sufficient amounts of water to maintain good health.

Water makes up our fat free mass which is about 72.5 per cent of our body weight.

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It also contains small amounts of calcium, magnesium, Potassium, sodium, Sulphate and Nitrates: Vittel Mineral water. A diet should not contain items that are harmful. A balanced diet should be nutritious and wholesome.

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why– is- a- balanced- diet- important

Government departments use expert committees to provide dietary guidelines to help us to achieve a balanced diet. The Dietary reference Values and the recommended Dietary Allowance are commonly used. Carbohydrates provide most important source of energy. They contain elements of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. The name also indicates that “Carbo”, contains carbon, “Hydro” for the hydrogen part and “ate’’ – Oxygen

The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars and starch. This is then absorbed into the blood. This process produces Carbon dioxide and water and releases energy for other processes.

A good source of carbohydrates can be found in Potatoes, Breads and Cereals.

Proteins are needed for growth and repair. Proteins contain Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and sometimes sulphur. Proteins have very large molecules, so they cannot get directly into our blood; they must be turned into amino-acids by the digestive system. There are over 20 different amino-acids. Our bodies can turn the amino-acids back into protein. Our cells do this very well by lining the long chains of the amino-acids together in the correct order. There are millions of possible combinations or sequences of amino-acids. It is our DNA which contains the information about how to make proteins. The cells get their amino-acids from the blood in order for the function to take place.

Proteins can also be used as a source of energy too. The Body can sometime produce excessive amino-acids and these are removed from the body. The Nitrogen form the amino acid is excreted as a chemical called urea. The liver makes urea in the kidneys, and this is excreted in the urine.

Like carbohydrates, fats also contain elements Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. Fats are a source of energy. They are also stored beneath our skin to help to insulate the body against the cold. Fruits and vegetables are important in our diets as this will provide us with vitamins.

If we eat too much carbohydrates and proteins, well convert the excess into fat and gain weight as a result. It is important to balance the amount of energy containing foods with the amount of energy that you use when you take exercise. There must be some fat in your diet because it contains fat soluble vitamins.

Vitamins are only required in very small quantities. Vitamin A: These are good for your eyes, Vitamin B: Contains about Twelve different chemicals, Vitamin C: Is needed for your body to repair itself, Vitamin D: can be made in your skin, also known as the sunlight Vitamin, required for absorption of Calcium. Vitamin E: the nice one for reproduction.

Mineral salts are also needed in small quantities, but we need more of these than we need vitamins. Iron is required to make haemoglobin for the red blood cells. Calcium is needed for the making and maintenance of healthy teeth, bones and muscles. Sodium is used by all cells, especially nerve cells. Iodine is used in the production of a hormone called thyroxin.

Fibre in our diet cannot be digested; it is often referred to as cellulose or called roughage. This is a carbohydrate used by plants to make their cell walls. If you do not eat food materials which contain fibre you might end up with problems of the colon and rectum. The muscles of your digestive system mix food with the digestive juices and push food along the intestines by peristalsis. If there is no fibre in your diet these movements cannot work properly.

You must have carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, mineral salts and fibre in the correct proportions. If there is not enough protein, you will not be able to grow properly and you will not be able to repair yourself i.e. wounds will not heal properly. If you do not have enough energy containing foods you will feel very tired. If you have too much energy containing foods will become overweight. If you think that you are overweight you might try taking more exercise to burn off some of the excess food which you ate at your last meal.

Nowadays there are many health problems that people are experiencing due to several reasons. For most of the problems the only solution is a balanced diet. People have a misconception that a balanced diet means avoiding specific foods which may prove harmful to the body. Eating a balanced diet means all types of food but in moderation to provide necessary nutrients to maintain a healthy body. All essential nutrients play an important role for the proper functioning for the human body. Not having a balanced diet can be more harmful to the body.

Eating foods in a well balanced proportion helps prevent infections and disorders. If the body gets all the required nutrients it will improve the function of the immune system. Following a balanced diet you reduce the possibilities of some types of cancer, control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Alcohol has no nutritional benefits in our diet it only increases our energy intake. http://www.purhon.com/biology/diet

For the purpose of reducing and controlling weight people tend to forget the importance of a balanced diet. People who want to reduce weight try different ways but seldom succeed; this is because the routines chosen often include consuming huge amounts of food that don’t contribute to weight loss. There are several weight loss diets to name but a few, crash diets recommend a near starvation diet plan because the calorie and food intake are drastically reduced. Fad diets are used for those who want to lose weight very quickly. These types of diets can be unhealthy and one must remember the weight gain did not happen in a day or a month. Atkins diet is becoming more and more popular not just by the clients but also the press.
There are many different diets often recommended for weight loss. High fibre diets, Low calorie diets, Low carb diets and south beach diets. Zone Diet, Weight loss pills, Liquid Diets, Weight Loss Supplement. Time needs to be given for a controlled and efficient weight loss programme.

If the body gets all essential nutrients regularly it will certainly be fit promoting a healthy body growth and maintenance. Body composition, age, gender affects our diets, in terms of Kilo calories consumed daily. For example, a pregnant woman needs 2500kcal a day during the pregnancy and 2600kcal per day during lactation. A normal adult needs 2200kcal in women and 2500kcal for men. The elderly 2000kcal per day with a variety of foods eaten you need to ensure you get you correct amounts of vitamins and calcium for bone maintenance. The elderly energy reduces with age and only requires enough calories for their well being. Physical activity is important to ensure that the amount of energy taken in is burnt off equally. A balanced diet should have about 15% protein, a third of the calories must be carbohydrates and a man 30g of fat per day, woman 20g per day. Eat less sugar and salt per day no more than 2g for age 1-3, 3g for 4-6, 5g for 7-10 and over 11 to adults 6g. Educate yourself with package information in the shops to ensure you do not over consume salt and sugar, and where possible make most things yourself from fresh and avoid adding salt to dishes, especially pre-prepared foods. This way you can ensure you are adding correct quantities of salt to food and you are in control of what you put inside the body. http//www.nhs.uk/livewell

The routines of a growing child or a teenager are also very important because they are constantly growing and their energy demands vary from infants through childhood. Infants need the help of supplements at an early age because their diet is mainly liquid and not complex. By the pre- school age their eating habits are more advanced their dietary pattern will start to set to later life. Infants should be given small meals as they have small appetites but still have a high nutrient dependency. Meals should be kept interesting to avoid irregular food intake and to allow them to fall into lazy habits such as chewing and more reliance on snacks. If possible during their play time a pretend cafe setting and food songs all help with their knowledge and understanding of foods. Infant diets too have a calorie intake guide; boys 1-3, 1230kcal per day and 4 years, 1715kcal per day. Girls age 1-3, 1165kcal per day and 4years 1545kcal per day.

Feeding school children through to adolescent can also be a challenge as there can be many issues. Some may have poor food intakes and some foods will be alien to them depending on their socioeconomic background. The media can sometimes influence a child’s choice of food, none the less a high quality diet is what is important to prevent most childhood nutritional problems such as obesity, tooth decay, anaemia, diabetes and heart conditions later in life.

The inserted table shows how much calories is need per age group in Boys

Age (years)4-6

7-10

11-14

15-18

Energy (kcal)1715

1970

2200

2755

The inserted table shows how much calories is need per age group in Girls

Age (years)4-6

7-10

11-14

15-18

Energy (Kcal)1545

1940

1845

2110

Physical tasks should be easily performed without exertion on the body, this is necessarily in modern day living as there is so much physical and mental stress in the lives of people. Healthy eating would also be beneficial to the state of mind. An active lifestyle is good for both the body and mind. This helps you co-ordinate effectively, take immediate decisions, tackle problems effectively and increase the remembering and memorising capability of a person. Knowing these benefits you can plan your diet and put into practise as soon as possible. The chances of your body getting infected would be reduced considerably. It would also help you to stop development and spreading of diseases and infections. Nutrition and Child Health 2000 Pages 4,12,13,&14, 60-72 http://www.buzzle.com/articles

The united Kingdom (U.K) is an example of a country with a typical western diet. Western diets contain several food groups that provide nutritional needs of the body. The food groups in the diet that provide all the nutrients and non- nutrients for good health include: cereals, bread, vegetables, fruit, roots and tubers, dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, protein, fats and oils. In human diet, cereals amount to the most important plant foods because it contributes energy and carbohydrate intake. Fruit and vegetables are sources of vitamins and an important source to the dietary fibre intake. The potato skin contains large amounts of vitamin C which is an important source of vitamins.

In many developing counties non animal based sources of protein e.g. legumes are still number one in their diet. In the USA and the U.K meat sources are from pig, sheep and cattle. In India, Middle East and Africa goat and camel are mainly consumed. Other meat sources include rabbit, deer for venison, poultry e.g. chickens, duck, turkey and geese. In the U.K chicken has now become the most popular meat source. Meat is also a source of fat in the diet and in the United Kingdom the consumption is very high. The main varieties of fish eaten are white fish, oily fish and seafood. These also form an important source of good proteins and are low in fat with the exception of oily fish. Oily fish provides a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fish provides a good source of iodine, calcium from fish bones and vitamin D also known as the sunlight vitamin. Human Nutrition 2011 pages 4-7,68-69, 88-89

From the information given above it is clear that a balanced diet is not about eating one type of food and cutting out another. The correct way to deal with this is to eat a variety of quality foods and follow the recommended energy allowances per age groups and to live an active life style in maintain general well being. Over eating and irregular mealtime, stress, impaired sleeping and the large supply of cheap food stuff must be avoided at all times.

References:

Colour Oxford English Dictionary, 2002. Oxford: Oxford university press

http//www.buzzle.com/articles/why– is- a- balanced- diet- important, accessed, 12/02.2011

http//www.purhon.com/biology/diet, accessed, 12/02/2011

http//www.buzzle.com/articles/Atkins -Diet/2000-2010,2011, accessed, 24/02/2011

http//www.buzzle.com/articles/fads-diet,31/07/2010, accessed, 24/02/2011

http//www.buzzle.com/articles/crash-diet, accessed, 24/02/2011

http//www.nhs.uk/livewell accessed 24/02/2011

Holden Chris and MacDonald Anita, 2000 Nutrition and child health: London: Harcourt Ltd

Geissler, Catherine A and Powers, Hilary J. 2011 Human Nutrition: 12th Edn. London: Elsvier Ltd

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