No diet will directly change your life. Eating a plate of fruit before the interview won’t get you that new job you’re looking for. Nor will eating a plummet of broccoli make you kick a winning point in a county final.
A balanced diet won’t change your life. However, it will play a major role in changing it for the better.
We know eating is essential to live but do we recognise the role our diet is playing on our short and long-term health? Eating too little food, too much food, or the wrong mixture of foods can seriously endanger a person’s health. Balance is key. But why a balanced diet? We have all heard about a balanced diet is but what is the purpose of it?
Below, we explain why a balanced diet satisfies 3 needs of human existence:
The primary function of food is to keep you alive. At base level, food provides the chemical energy required by vital cells, tissues and organs to function. The initial calories consumed in the diet serve these vital organs, which include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys etc.
After food is ingested, it is converted to Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an energy carrying molecule found in all living things. Once converted, it helps power all human processes, from breathing to running. Ingesting a range of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) helps people meet their continuous requirement for ATP.
Macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) are the primary components of all food. A balanced diet should contain a suitable amount of each macronutrient specific to an individual needs and goals. The proportion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates depend on many factors: age, gender, activity levels etc.
The need for dietary proteins in healthy adults is a consequence of the constant turnover of cells. Cells are damaged during biological processes and are in constant need of repair.
Proteins help repair and grow these cells. The amino acid content of this protein is crucial in supporting growth and tissue maintenance. Dairy products, meats and vegetables are good sources of protein.
Carbohydrates provide energy; it has a positive effect on physical activity, sleep and brain performance. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the liver.
From here, it passes into the bloodstream and onto the working muscles. Good sources of carbohydrates are fruits and vegetables and wholegrain products.
Fats serve many functions within the body. These include energy storage in the form of adipose tissue (fat), insulation and for the protection of vital organs. They allow Vitamins A, E, D and K work effectively and supply essential fatty acids that will be discussed below.
Good fat sources include nuts, coconut oils and avocados. Vegetable oils, chips and fatty meats should be eaten sparingly.
There are four classes of essential nutrients required in the human body; essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Essential nutrients are necessary for optimal health and prevent disease.
Essential amino acids: These are required to make proteins. A person will get all their essential amino acids by consuming a range of proteins from meat, dairy and vegetables.
Essential fatty acids: We can create most of the essential fatty acids ourselves. Seeds, grains and vegetables give ample quantities of EFA. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid found in fish oil and is necessary for the proper development and function of the brain and nervous system.
Vitamins: These are required in very small quantities, but many provide an invaluable purpose. The human body requires 13 vitamins.
Two invaluable vitamins are Vitamin A and D. We get Vitamin A from orange and green vegetables. Vitamin A serves as an antioxidant and prevents damage to cell membranes. Vitamin D is derived mostly from dairy products and sunlight. It promotes the absorption of calcium and aids in bone growth.
Minerals: Like vitamins, these are required in tiny amounts. Some examples of minerals at work include calcium which helps build and maintain bone. Iron that is a component required in respiration and sodium that helps maintain water balance and nerve function.
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