Significance of Healthy Food for Good Health
It gives energy. ‘We are what we eat’.
We all know that we eat to live. But more than giving the
required energy to live (and satisfying our taste buds) food
that we eat may helps us in a number of ways if it is healthy.
- It gives energy.
- It is required for growth and repair of body.
- It helps to keep us healthy and avoid sickness.
- It helps mind & body functions to
work at best.
- It helps in meeting requirement of various stages of life.
- It may even help in treatment of diseases.
Apart from various diseases
due to deficiency of various food components, our nutrition
has a role in some of the major diseases of today’s life like Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic
Heart or Renal insufficiency, Gout, Obesity, Inflammatory Bowel
Disease etc. It is, therefore, vital to choose our food in
quantity & quality with utmost care.
Healthy Balanced Diet
A healthy balanced diet
is one which provides the right amount and proportion of
necessary food components required by our body. It is not
a fixed type but varies with respect to our age, gender,
lifestyle, health status etc. The underlying idea is to provide
to our body what is healthy and necessary in quantity & quality and to avoid what is not. One does not
need a training & degree in nutrition to select healthy
balanced diet. For this, we need understanding that why such
diet is good for us and some common sense selection along with
sensible balance of taste temptation & nutritive value.
To select a healthy balanced diet, it is helpful to know some
basic facts about food & nutrition.
What do we eat and why
food we eat contains macro nutrients and micro nutrients.
They all have a unique role in our diet. Their deficiency leads
to various health problems and diseases. The food components
are energy, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals,
fibers and water. For details of nutrition, click here.
Food during different stages of life
must be careful about nutrition during different stages of
life. Every stage of life from infancy to old age has a different
requirement. Infants and children have a rapidly growing body
so they need high energy & protein diet along
with higher intake of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, vitamin
D etc required for growing body and mind. Pregnant and lactating
mothers need to be extra particular about food hygiene to avoid
food poisoning & infection. They must choose nourishing
diet for themselves and child. Fibres must be taken to avoid
constipation. Pregnant mothers require supplements like folic
acid, iron etc and lactating mothers require Vitamin D supplement.
Students must make qualitative changes in diet like higher
proteins to assist their mental work. Adults must be careful
about energy balance to avoid obesity and make necessary changes
in diet according to lifestyle. Old age also has specific requirement.
One must take into consideration decreasing body needs and
health status. On the other hand lack of care in taking required
nutrition can severely affect health.
Healthy eating tips
Include health promoting food in diet.
Avoid or minimize artificial food and additives.
Have regular eating schedule & eat
Watch out for food allergy, intolerance, spoiled food.
Avoid unnecessary / mega doses of vitamins and minerals.
Observe weekly / occasional fast to revitalize digestive
Fruits should not be mixed with other foods. Avoid incompatible
Avoid alcohol & smoking. These are
bad for digestion and overall health.
Be selective about food. Eat keeping in mind age, body
needs, health etc.
Avoid or minimize unhealthy foods like refined carbohydrate,
unhealthy fats etc.
Maintain oral hygiene, chew your food well, it helps digestion
and keeps you healthy.
Eat diversity food. Select from variety of cereals, pulses,
fruits, vegetables, milk products etc. Prefer seasonal foods
like seasonal fruits. This provides higher quality nourishment.
Do not surrender totally to taste temptation. Keep a good
balance of taste and healthy nutrition. Although it is not
desirable to completely avoid eating out / junk food but
one can keep hygiene in mind. Try to be high on eating wholesome,
Super foods are those which improve health and have profound
preventive and curative action on various health conditions.
- Aloe Vera : Improves
general health & immunity.
Helps in skin disorders.
- Banana : Rich in energy & nutrients,
helps in constipation, hypertension, PMS, anemia etc.
- Carrots : Good for vision,
protects from cancer, arthritis, heart disease etc.
- Cruciferous Vegetables :
Rich in antioxidants, protects from cancer.
- Fish : Rich in antioxidants & polyunsaturated
fats, helps in high cholesterol, hypertension, arrhythmia,
goiter, crohn’s disease. Good for joints & skin.
- Flaxseed : Rich in
essential fatty acids, helps in angina, hypertension
lupus & other
skin disorders, parkinson disease & other nerve
disorders, fights infection, improve uterine function.
- Garlic : Contains antioxidants,
helps in cancer, heart disease, asthma, atherosclerosis,
boost immunity and healing powers.
- Ginseng : Improves
energy & immunity.
Improves concentration, reduces stress.
- Green Tea : Rich in antioxidants,
improves immunity. Helps in cancer, high cholesterol, cardiovascular
disease, arthritis, infections, premature ageing etc.
- Red Grapes : Improves cardiac
function, reduce blood vessel clogging, gastric ulcer, stroke,
osteoporosis and inflammatory diseases.
- Soy : Helps in cancer, high
cholesterol, osteoporosis etc.
- Spinach : Rich in antioxidants,
helps in cancer, anemia, heart disease, mental disorders.
- Spirulina : Improves
energy & immunity.
Helps liver function.
- Wheat Grass : Gives
energy & rejuvenation,
increase hemoglobin. Said to fight tumors.
- Whole Grains : Boost
immunity, helps in cancer, arthritis, infertility & alzheimer’s
- Yogurt : Helps in digestion.
ulcers, improves immunity.
Some more facts about nutrition
Acid Alkali Balance
Our diet must maintain our body’s acid alkali
balance. Acid diets are associated with many diseases
like premature old age, rheumatism, hypertension, arthritis
etc. Four fifth of our diet be alkaline diet such as
juicy fruits, tubers, leafy vegetables, legumes etc.
Cereals, grains, nuts, bread, meat, sugar etc are acid
: It is said
to be good for healthy living. Vegetarian diet helps in
digestive process, hypertension, high cholesterol, constipation,
cancer, obesity etc.
Glycaemic Index of food refers to how fast it raises
the blood sugar level. It runs from 0 – 100. Glucose has GI
value of 100 as reference and other food are compared to
it. Foods with high GI value raise the blood sugar rapidly
but one feels hungry quickly. Foods with high GI value
give steady supply of energy and satisfaction. Foods with
low GI value are helpful in diabetes, obesity, heart disease,
high cholesterol etc. Some low GI value foods are – roasted
peanuts, low fat yogurt, lentils, dried soybeans, whole
milk, apples, pears etc. High GI value foods are – glucose,
honey, potato, steamed rice, puffed wheat, cornflakes,
French fries, white bread etc.
are substances that protect body cells against the effects
of free radicals which are produced when body breaks down
food, by metabolism, by environmental exposures like tobacco
smoke and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells, and
are said to cause heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Antioxidant substances include Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene,
Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Antioxidants
are found in many foods like wheat grass, green tea, garlic,
fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, poultry and fish.
The Ayurvedic Diet
According to ancient ayurvedic medical science sickness of
a person is the result of imbalance of humour in body called
dosha. Tridosha (vata, pitta and kapha) are formed from combination
of five elements (called panchtatva) which are earth, fire,
air, water and ether. Ayurvedic diet in addition to nourishment,
corrects the tridosha and brings it back to balance to give
- Vata Dosha : People with vata dosha will
suffer from worries, anxieties, impulsiveness, impatience,
agitation, insecurity, insomnia, dryness, headaches, constipation,
arthritis, stiff joints, cramps etc. To regain balance they
must prefer warm soothing food with some fat, milk, warm
cereals, nuts, warm drinks, sweet and sour food.
- Pitta Dosha : People
with pitta dosha will suffer from anger, being critical & bossy, arguementative,
fitful sleep, disturbing dreams, acidity, diarrhea, hot flushes,
skin eruptions, fever, night sweats etc. To regain balance
they must prefer bitter, sweet and astringent food, cool
or warm food but not hot, complex carbohydrates, fruits,
milk, beans & other green vegetables. They must take
less stimulants, sour & spicy food.
- Kapha Dosha : People
with kapha dosha will suffer from sluggishness, apathy,
sadness, lethargy, clinginess, excess sleep, obesity,
mucus congestion, diabetes, water retention, poor digestion
etc. To regain balance they must prefer warm light food
cooked with less water, stimulating food, spicy / pungent/
astringent taste, hot water lemon & hot
ginger tea is good. They must take less of salt, sweets,
dairy and fats.
The Dietary Precautions of Sickness
Food plays a crucial role in treatment of sickness. Good nutritional
choices can aid treatment and helps in early recovery. Factors
which assist in selecting food during sickness are :
- Underlying disease condition.
- Overall health status.
- Diet factors required to be altered.
- Patient’s tolerance to food.
Some of the benefits of such dietary modifications are :
- It keeps good nutritional status.
- It reduces complications of sickness.
- It makes treatment more effective.
- It avoids & corrects deficiency
- It gives required energy to fight sickness.
- It gives required change in body weight.
- It gives rest to body by avoiding load on
Some common precautions are :
- Avoid high salt food in hypertension.
- Avoid food with high glycaemic index in diabetes.
- Avoid excessive stimulants and spices
in peptic ulcer & gastritis.
- Avoid high protein diet in gout and hepatic failure.
- Proteins and sodium is restricted in renal failure.
- Easily digestible, high calorie & good
protein diet is good in tuberculosis.
- Take plenty of fibres in constipation, high cholesterol,
- Replenish water and electrolyte losses in diarrhea.
- Take indicated nutrient in deficiency diseases like rickets,
osteoporosis, anemia, hypothyroidism, night blindness, beri
beri, scurvy etc.
- Avoid indicated nutrient in allergic state and malabsorption
and Weight Management
Diet is said to be one way of weight management.
But one must be very clear in what to do and what not. Some
people resort to crash dieting and starve to lose weight. But
such measure only spoils health & invites various diseases.
Apart from various diseases like deficiency diseases of various
nutrients, lack of energy, disorders in various body functions,
disturbed water & electrolyte balance and disordered digestion,
it gives many psychological disorders like poor self esteem,
anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, depression etc. In fact
one need not starve to lose weight. One can eat and enjoy anything
and still get required weight along with even better health & prevention
of many diseases like arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, gallstones
etc. All one is required to do is to adopt a flexible and sensible
diet plan. See Fitness and Weight Management for