Obtaining the 6 Essential Nutrients through Regular Balanced Meals
Water makes up 60% of body. It is lost from the body daily as, sweat, saliva, urine, etc. and has to be replaced. If we do not replace this water we will be like plants that are not watered, withering and wilting. All our muscle movements from the blinking of the eyes to walking and moving about will be slow and sluggish. We burn less calories throughout the day and pave the way for obesity. The latest research says we need 10 glasses or 2-2 and a half liters of water daily.
If your are on a weight reduction diet then it is mandatory that you drink more water, over and above 2 and a half liters as there will be toxic waste products formed in the body from fat breakdown like ketone bodies, etc., which need to be flushed out. So those on weight loss diets must consume 2 and a half to 3 liters daily.
Research also shows that a person’s mental capacity to work with figures and numbers and make mental calculations is much higher when the body is fully hydrated than when water intake is inadequate. All of us, even children are making calculations all the time, why should our brain function at a lesser level. Fourthly when we don’t drink enough water our saliva becomes very thick and concentrated and gives a very offensive odour. Also your perspiration (sweat) is more concentrated and the body odour becomes strong and offensive. As people, always interacting with one another we want to be pleasant and pleasing not smelly and offensive. So make sure you drink plenty of water daily.
Lastly water is protective against cancer. Research shows that a lot of the cancer today is caused by pollutants that are coming into our body through the air we breathe and the food we eat. These poll +utants can attack weak organs or tissues and cause cancer cell formation. We cannot stop breathing or stop eating but all of us can drink more water, which can flush out these toxic pollutants from our bodies. Water is almost medicinal for our bodies and I would say that it is one of the greatest and simplest tonics for good health.
Mineral and Vitamins
Minerals and Vitamins do not supply energy or calories but they play an important role in the regulation of several essential processes of the body.E.g. The mineral calcium, is important for proper muscle contractions so that our heart beats properly and our limbs move easily. It also makes up our teeth and bones and it is essential that it is supplied through our daily diet, from birth to death.
Iron is necessary for oxygen to be properly carried from our lungs to all parts of the body. Iron from the food goes into the blood to make up hemoglobin (Hb), which is the oxygen lorry of the body. If your hemoglobin count is 10 instead of 12 it is like saying you have only 10,000 lorries instead of 12,000. Your oxygen supply to the whole body is less and you will feel tired and weak. This is called Iron deficiency anemia.
Sodium and potassium are also minerals essential for the water or fluid balance of the body.
Similarly we see that vitamins also play important roles. If we have calcium in the diet but do not have enough Vitamin D the calcium will not be absorbed properly. If we have enough iron coming from our food but do not have enough Vitamin B and C then the iron cannot be absorbed fully.
Most of the minerals and vitamins are required in small amounts but are required every day. They can be easily obtained from food if one condition and principal is strongly followed.
EAT A BALANCED DIET EVERYDAY AND NEVER MISS A MEAL. That means that we eat Three Carbohydrate plus Protein balanced meals daily.
Foods can be broadly classified into food groups such as FRUITS, VEGETABLES, CEREALS, DHALS AND PULSES, MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS, EGG, FISH, POULTRY, MEAT, NUTS, OILSEEDS AND FATS.
Eating foods from all these groups is the secret of getting a good supply of all mineral and vitamins. Besides this one must consume at least 2-3 cups of milk/curd daily as the quantity of calcium that the body requires can only be met from this source. “But milk is fattening” is the common belief – yes, it is fattening but we can remove the cream thoroughly or even use commercially skimmed milk or curd made from skimmed milk. It is a must, I believe, and I do not agree with the present theories that it is useless after a few years of age and not necessary for adults to consume milk.
Iron is another nutrient that is required in significant amounts. Non-veg food, eggs, dhals, pulses and greens are a rich source of iron but mainly it is also got by eating properly balanced meals and never skipping meals. If you eat only one or two meals/day then you will soon be anemic (i.e. deficient in iron, looking pale and feeling weak and tried always). Most vegetarians believe that palak and other greens is their main source of iron. Latest research shows that though the greens contain good amounts of iron they also contain a inhibitor which prevents the iron from getting absorbed into the human body.
Therefore the better sources are whole wheat products like atta rotis and atta bread to be eaten daily at least in 1-2 meals and dhals or pulses to be eaten both at lunch and dinner. Those who are non-vegetarians can consume chicken or fish once a day, preferably at lunch.
Carbohydrates are the energizers of our body and are the main energy supply for us to work and play. Carbohydrates are any foods containing starch or sugar. There are 3 main food groups that give us these, namely, fruits, vegetables and cereals. These 3 food groups are also good sources of vitamins and minerals but they are poor in proteins.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body. We build our house with blocks or bricks, we build our bodies with cells. Every cell’s, cell wall is made up of protein so we cannot make a single new cell in our body without supplying protein. Therefore growing children must very consciously consume enough proteins and adults though not growing still need sufficient protein for maintenance of skin, hair, muscles, etc. Every day we need at least 50-60gms protein distributed in all the three meals. A meal ideally should consist of cereal foods combined with protein foods namely dhal/pulses, milk/curds, egg or non-veg.
Fat is the reserve fuel of the body. A small amount, 2-4 teaspoons is essential every day for certain functions like absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, etc. Any excess consumed above this amount is converted to reserve fuel and stored as fat in fat cells. Most oils are unsaturated and ideal for consumption. Vegetable fats that solidify at room temperature like coconut oil, dalda, etc. and animal fats like butter, ghee and cream are saturated and must be avoided as they are dangerous for the heart.