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Balanced diet

The junk food culture and lack of nutritious, balanced diet is responsible for several health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension etc. But the realization that a balanced diet and exercise are the most essential elements required for maintaining good health is creeping in, and people are opting for a healthier lifestyle.

 Benefits of a balanced diet:

  • Keeps you active and increases your muscle performance
  • Maintains overall health
  • Controls weight
  • Keeps your heart healthy and controls blood pressure
  • Reduces the risk of diseases like diabetics, osteoporosis, etc.
  • Necessary for overall mental and physical well-being

 What is a balanced diet

A balanced diet does not mean eating less; it means eating the right kind of foods in the right quantities. The human body obtains essential nutrients from various foods. Our body requires a balanced proportion of all these nutrients in order to build and repair cells and body tissues, maintain the organs and bones in optimum working condition, and to obtain energy, fuel and warmth.

Food can be classified into five major groups- carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and roughage and water. Our body needs these in balanced amounts, and either excess or deficiency of any of these types in our diet can produce a negative impact on our health. Hence, it is very important to follow a balanced diet, which includes eating all nutrients in adequate amounts.

Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. There are two types of carbohydrates- simple and complex. The carbohydrates in sugar, honey, white bread, etc. are simple carbohydrates and they provide energy but lack nutrients. These should thus be included in your diet in very small quantities. The carbohydrates in whole cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, etc. are complex in nature and provide optimum energy and nutrients which is why they should be included in our diet on a daily basis.

Fats – Fats and oils are also an important part of a balanced diet, and they are essential for healthy skin, vitamin absorption, and regulation of other body functions. They provide insulation and warmth to our body. They make you feel full and satisfied even if you have had less portions of food.

Proteins – Proteins are essential for a healthy body, as they are important for growth and development. They make up for the loss caused by regular wear and tear, and are thus important for healing and keeping the body tissues healthy. Proteins also help in improving the immune system and balancing hormones. Food items like meat, fish, eggs and milk are the best sources of protein. Apart from these many other foods like nuts, beans, legumes, etc. are rich sources of plant protein.

Vitamins and Minerals – The right balance of vitamins and minerals is extremely essential for the body. Vitamins and minerals are present in various fruits, vegetables as well as eggs, milk, dairy products, and meat. The various vitamins help fight different diseases and prevent various disorders. Minerals like iron, phosphate, manganese, etc. are also essential to maintain a healthy body.

Water and Roughage – Water and roughage constitute an essential part of a balanced diet. All fruits and vegetables have certain amount of water as well as roughage (fibres) in them. It is essential to maintain water balance in the body in order to prevent dehydration and other disorders. Water along with fibre is required in the formation of stools and excretion of this waste.

 Balanced diet portions and servings for a day:

Food group

Servings

Proportions and quantities

Cereals

10-11

1 roti, 1 bread, 1 small bowl of rice, 25gm cornflakes/dalia/suji

Pulses

2

25gm raw dal

Milk

2

250ml milk

Fruits and Vegetables

5

100gm fruit and 100-125gm vegetables

Fats and Oils

3-4

1 teaspoon

 It is important not only to include the above mentioned foods in your daily diet but also to space out your meals and eat in small portions. Munching in between meals can help you to avoid eating too much during meals. It is also important to chew your food properly and enjoy what you eat.

If your heart beats 70 times per minute then by the time you are 70 years old, your heart beat count would be two and a half billion. It will pump around 48 million gallons of blood... phew! No wonder it is the most efficient organ in the body.