Foods That We Should Eat on a Regular Basis

When the supply of money is plentiful, there is a tendency to eat rich expensive food which is not always conducive to good health. Principles governing good eating habits are therefore worth recounting so that you are normally eating food that lies within the framework of healthy food.

There is another reason also to redefine these principles. There has been, lately, a great change in our thinking about food. For example, a vegetarian diet is no longer considered inferior to non-vegetarian food but an essential part of our diet.

Vegetarians are no longer considered second-rate humans of inferior health status because it is now known, that they live longer and healthier than non-vegetarians. The excess proteins and fat that the westerners have been eating are now considered unhealthy.

The foods that we eat contain the following ingredients which form their bulk:

Proteins: body-building substances

Carbohydrates: a source of ready energy

Fats: a source of stored energy

In additions to the above bulk materials, foods contain small amounts of the following essential items;

  • Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Minerals and trace elements
  • Fiber

Proteins:

Proteins are body-building substances and are required to replace tissues that are constantly breaking down as a result of body metabolism. They are also required to fight infections.

Foods that are rich in proteins are meats, dairy products, beans, grains, and pulses. No distinctions need to be made between animal and vegetable proteins. If there is any milk compensates for it.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates form the major part of our food. They occur in two forms-simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are simple chemical compounds such as glucose and fructose in some fruits and vegetables, or sucrose which is refined cane sugar.

Complex organic compounds that form the bulk of plant-based carbohydrates foods occur as digestive compounds that are broken down by the body into simple sugar (glucose) for utilization as energy, and as indigestible fiber or roughage.

a) Simple carbohydrates like refined sugar are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and cause a steep and abrupt rise of blood sugar, which in turn stimulates the secretion of insulin in an effort to metabolize and bring down the blood sugar level.

If matching physical activity is not present, the unutilized sugar is converted into fat and deposited into the fats depots of the body. This is the reason why sugar and sweet dishes are so fattening.

b) Complex carbohydrates: the naturally-occurring digestive complex carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, and other foods are accompanied by indigestible fiber. They take time to disintegrate into simple sugar, and fiber further delays their absorption.

The result is that they enter the bloodstream slowly, do not stimulate the secretion of insulin excessively, and because of the bulk of indigestible fiber, lead to early satiety and are therefore less likely to be overeaten. They are more easily handled by our bodies and are less fattening.

Rich sources are potatoes, sweet potatoes, grains, beans, and other vegetables and fruits. In addition, the naturally occurring complex carbohydrates are accompanied by other important food factors such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Refined sugar, on the other hand, supplies only extra calories and no nutrients.

The healthy form of carbohydrates is therefore the naturally occurring complex carbohydrates. The more you refine them, the more nutrients are lost in the process.

Fats:

Fats, I,e., butter, egg yolk, and vegetable oils, are sources of energy that can be stored. They carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. They lend flavor and texture to food and provide a feeling of satisfaction on eating, which leads to overeating.

Like sugar, they provide extra calories and are fattening. The animal fats, in addition, contain a fatty substance called cholesterol which circulates in the blood and is implicated as the causative agent of heart attacks and strokes.

About Cholesterol:

It is a fatty substance produced in the liver of animals, including man. It is an essential ingredient of animal tissues, especially the brain and internal organs. Plants do not manufacture it.

Therefore, vegetable oils do not contain it. It circulates in the blood in combination with lipoproteins which are of varying densities. Low and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C and VLDL-C) have the propensity to get deposited in the walls of major arteries as plaque (atheroma) and result in obstruction to the flow of blood.

It thus causes heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is protective because it helps to scavenge cholesterol from the atheromatous plaques.

Eating excessive amounts of animal fats or saturated vegetable fat products elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDL-C and VLDL-C). Cigarette smoking and physical inactivity have the same effect. On the other hand, regular exercise and a physically active lifestyle elevate good cholesterol (HDL-C).

Sources of Food Material:

What you need to know is broadly what common foodstuffs contain, so as to balance out your diet. It must be understood that almost all items of food contain most of the food factors but in varying proportions. Hence if you take a varied and mixed diet, you are unlikely to go wrong.

Common sources of food materials are given below:

Proteins

  • Milk and its products
  • Meats
  • Pulses
  • Beans
  • Grains
  • Albumen (White part of the egg)
  • Fish

Animal Fats:

  • Butter, Ghee Cream
  • Egg Yolk (Yellow part of the egg)
  • Organ meat such as brain

Vegetable fats (Unsaturated):

  • All vegetable oils

Vegetable fats (Saturated):

  • Vegetable Ghee (Hydrogenated oil)
  • Margarine 

Carbohydrates:

  • All vegetables particularly root vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Rice, wheat flour, and other cereals

Fiber:

  • All vegetable foods
  • Legumes (beans) – a rich source of soluble fiber
  • Wheat bran-rich source of insoluble fiber

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Grains, nuts and seeds
  • Animal fats and oils (fat-soluble vitamins only)

Also Read: What are Easily Digested Foods

A Healthy Diet:

A healthy diet will contain enough of body-building proteins, enough of carbohydrates, small amounts of the cooking medium in the form of vegetable oils and butter in the ratio of 3:1. Sugar and fats should be taken sparingly.

The amount of salt in the food should me minimum compatible with taste so that children get used to this diet from the beginning. This will keep there and your blood pressure in check.

The diet should be non-fattening. For a sedentary person of moderate physical activity, 25 calories per kilogram of ideal (not real) body weight, as given in the appendix I, are enough.

It is now generally agreed that a healthy died should compromise 60-65 percent calories derived from carbohydrates, mainly complex, from plant sources, i.e. cereals, vegetables, nuts, and fruits.

Only about 15 percent need to come from proteins, without making any distinction between animal and vegetable proteins. Only about 20-25 percent should be obtained from fats. It must be understood that about half the fat that we eat is invisible as part of the food.

Visible fat in the form of butter or oil should, therefore, be not more than 5 percent by weight. If you take plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, they will provide you enough minerals and water-soluble vitamins.

How to Balance Your Diet:

You should broadly know what you are eating. A broad proportion of various food-stuffs which is healthy and balanced is given in the chart below.

Ensure that you constantly vary the food-stuff in each category and avoid food fats. This will ensure a balanced proportion of various food factors, including vitamins and trace elements.

Balanced Diet Chart:

If you balance your diet in the proportion mentioned against each category of foodstuffs, you do not have to worry about individual constituents in them. But you do need to keep a watch on your total calorie intake.

The calorific needs of the body are approximately 25 calories per kilogram of ideal body weight (Appendix I). Thus a person who actually weighs 80 kg but whose ideal weight is 72 kg needs 1800 calories per day. He will have to cut down on this figure if he wants to reduce his weight. 

Blanced Diet Chart

The essential requirements of a healthy diet are:

  • Eat-in Moderation
  • Avoid overeating
  • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits of the season
  • Eat minimum quantity of sugar, sweets, fat, and fried foods, avoiding them usually, but taking them as a treat occasionally.

All these points have been incorporated into the Balanced Diet Chart.

Some Hints on Food:

• Sugar, sweets, sweet dishes, ice creams, etc. are empty calories which merely add to bodyweight without the benefit of bodybuilding proteins, vitamins, or minerals. Restrict, better avoid them.

• Fats and fried foods are also empty calories, Animal fats, in addition, contain cholesterol. The number of calories from sugar and fats are far more important in determining body weight then the total number of calories consumed.

• Common salt, if used in excess, tends to elevate blood pressure. To reduce the consumption of salt, reduce the chili content of food because chilies demand more salt for taste.

• It should be noted that summer is rather harsh when much salt is lost in sweat, restriction of salt in the summer of hot countries should, therefore, be mild. If cramps occur, extra salt may have to be added to the diet.

• If animal food is to be consumed, it should not be at the expense of vegetables and fruits. It may be consumed in the ratio of one to three plant food.

• Apart from vegetable oils and ghee, foods have their own invisible fat. To reduce the fat content of your diet, you ought to know the low-fat foods. They are fruits, vegetables, bread and chappatis (without ghee), grains, fish, lean meat, skinless poultry, egg-white, skimmed milk.

• If you are strictly vegetarian, you ought to know good sources of protein. They are milk and yogurt, nuts, seeds, dried peas and beans, green peas, soya bean, pulses.

• Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur in strict vegetarians. It can easily be corrected either by adding a small quantity of animal food or by treatment with Vitamin B12.

• It may be added that the old ideas of first-class proteins in animal foods and second class in vegetarian food is no longer valid.

Summary:

Affluence tends to bring inexpensive food, usually from animal sources. Animal foods tend to elbow out vegetables and fruits from the diet. Animal fats may supplant vegetable oils. Fried and deep-fried foods take the place of healthy foods.

Ice creams, cakes, pastries, and sweets replace fruits. Whiles these items may be harmless if taken occasionally, their regular consumption causes problems including obesity and abnormalities of fat metabolism which lead to such serious diseases as diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.

When vegetables and fruits are missing or insufficient in our diet, we deprive ourselves the benefits of vitamins, particularly antioxidants, which stave off diseases of degeneration such as cataracts, cancers, heart attacks, and Parkinson’s disease, and delays the aging process.

The fiber in vegetarian food helps keep the blood sugar and blood pressure at a healthy low. It prevents constipation, cancer of the gut, appendicitis, and diverticulitis.

While in the present state of knowledge it cannot be said that animal food is harmful to our health, but it can be asserted that the absence of plant food is unhealthy.

God has made a herbivorous animal. He does not possess the ferocious claws and teeth of neither carnivorous animals nor their short intestine.

Our intestine tract is long which is necessary for the digestion of plant food with much indigestible matter. Our instinct is herbivorous. We do not relish killing an animal. Few people can tolerate the sight of a slain animal.

Carnivorous animals have no such compunctions. Since our health and performance are best when we obey nature, we are best when we eat vegetables and fruits.

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