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Balanced nutrition fulfills all of body's nutrient requirements without excess or deficit of any of the nutrients.
Balanced NutritionBalanced food must contain all the requirements of macronutrients and micronutrients in the required proportions on a daily basis.
For balanced nutrition, macronutrients required in greater quantities are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber and water.
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients which are required in smaller quantities.
The shortage or excess of macro and micronutrients in our nutrition, affects normal body functions.
Carbohydrates in balanced nutritionThough carbohydrates are required for energy, they can cause nutrition disorders when in excess.
All types of foods sourced from plant origin have carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates can be categorized into three types based on the speed of their conversion into glucose in our system.
High density carbohydrates, are available in food like sugar, cookies, soft drinks and also in refined flours. When consumed, these are digested into glucose and absorbed into our body very rapidly, increasing the blood glucose levels.
With continued levels of high blood sugar for long periods, the insulin secretion mechanism of pancreas may go haywire and result in nutrition disorder, diabetes.
When this caloric intake is not spent it is further converted into fat deposits in the body, leading to another nutrition disorder, obesity.
For achieving balanced nutrition, whole flour, potatoes, beetroot, carrot having slower conversion rate must be consumed in smaller quantities so as not to cause spike in blood glucose, leading to conversion in to fat.
Vegetables and fruits with high water content can be consumed in greater quantities in our food a they are low in carbohydrates by weight but high in healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals.
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Balanced healthy food.
What is malnutrition.
Fats in balanced nutritionFats are one of the important nutrients and it is advised that up to 30% of our calorie intake can be from fat nutrition.
As fats are available in different forms, it is important to know which types are useful and which are harmful.
Monounsaturated fats in nutrition:
Mono saturated fats are good fats in nutrition, useful in reducing the levels of Low density lipoproteins (LDL - bad cholesterol) and enhancing the levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL - good cholesterol).
They are found in healthy food having olive oil, avocados, almonds, nuts and tea seed oil.
Polyunsaturated fats in balanced nutrition:
For the function of human body two fatty acids are essential and they cannot be manufactured by our body cells.
They are omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in fish, fish oil and sea food, with attributes like lowering the risk of cardiac arrest.
Omega-6 fatty acids are present in sunflower and safflower oils and are known for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Saturated fats to be avoided for achieving balanced nutrition:
Saturated fats are harmful to the body as their consumption can lead to risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases and stroke.
These fats are found in animal fats, butter, and tropical oils.
Trans fats are enemies for balanced and healthy nutrition:
Trans fats have the bad effect of lowering HDL and increasing the LDL and are open enemies for healthy heart.
These bad fats are found in hydrogenated oils, margarine, vegetable shortening and many fast foods like french fry and chips.
To sum up, it is to be remembered that the fat composition for balanced nutrition should not exceed 30% of the energy intake ( not the food intake) with main sources being nuts, almonds, fish, olive oil and sunflower oil.
Proteins for balanced nutritionIn nutrition, proteins are essential macronutrients for the growth and metabolism.
Proteins are found in all sources of animal and plant origins in varying concentrations.
Good nutrition sources of proteins include oil seeds, groundnuts, soya and all animal sources.
As most of the protein is also accompanied by high loads of fatty oils, good sources for balanced nutrition which are low in fat get restricted.
Inclusion of poultry meat in our food is advised as it is found to be low in fat when the skin is removed.
Defatted dairy products like low-fat milk, and cottage cheese are healthy balanced nutrition sources of proteins.
Fish though contains fatty oils, the fats being mostly polyunsaturated, is good for health and contributes to balanced nutrition.
Lentils, peas and beans contain higher amounts of protein nutrition among the vegetables.
Defatted soya meal and Tofu are very good nutrition sources of proteins.
You can find the nutrient split up for most of the food sources in the page on 'protein food sources'.
Essential amino acids:
In the balanced protein nutrition, the amino acid composition is the most important factor. Humans adults require eight essential amino acids which as their body cannot synthesize them.
Infants and children in addition to the eight, require four more amino acids in their food as they cannot synthesize them in their body.
The protein containing all the essential amino acids is called complete protein.
All the protein from animal origin is complete balanced protein for nutrition.
Proteins from plant origin are found to be deficient in one or more amino acids.
Wheat and rice are deficient in amino acid lysine, soy is deficient in methionine and legumes are deficient in cysteine or tryptophan or methionine.
The protein requirement for all age groups is given the post 'daily protein requirements'.
To sum up, for protein nutrition, our food must include proteins from low fat sources and to keep the it balanced we should include proteins from animal origin like defatted milk, fish or chicken.
Vitamins and minerals in balanced nutritionWhen our food is rich with vegetables and fruits we will get all the nutrition requirements of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin and mineral supplements:
People with specific nutrition ailments concerning vitamins or minerals must take the required supplements.
Pregnant women require higher levels of folic acid and iron for proper neural tube formation as well as oxygen transport to the growing fetus.
Nursing mothers require higher amounts of micronutrients for the growing nutrition demands of the infant.
People recovering from chronic diseases, deficiency diseases require supplements.
In nutrition of elderly persons due to malabsorption and utilization problems supplements will be required in their food.
Women past menopause will require more calcium to compensate calcium loss.
People living in higher latitudes require vitamin D supplements, especially in winter.
Fiber in balanced nutritionFiber is available in soluble and insoluble forms.
Fiber as a macronutrient is required for many nutrition functions in the intestinal tract. It has healthy effect on the absorption of other nutrients.
By binding to bile acids, the soluble fiber reduces their possibility of entering the body, which in turn lowers the level of cholesterol.
Soluble fiber attenuates the absorption of sugar, thus helping in lowering blood glucose level spikes.
Legumes, whole grains, bran, seeds contain fair amounts of fiber required for balanced nutrition.
Water for balanced nutritionWater is very essential for all life processes, making up nearly 70% of the human body mass.
In nutrition it serves as component of metabolic processes and functions as a solvent for many biological components.
The reference daily intake for water is 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men (inclusive of water and drinks).However the balanced nutrition requirement may vary greatly due climate as well as physical activities.
Related topics of interest:
Balanced healthy food.
What is malnutrition.