Wonder why celebrities look the way they do? How some people manage to maintain that fab body while most of us wear only the clothes which manage to hide our belly fat and bulky arms? Why some people never have to see the doctor while some are wasting half their salary in clearing up long hospital bills. The answer lies in their diet. Not just some fad diet that they are following, but a proper, healthy diet, where they don’t starve, but eat. Contrary to the belief of avoiding specific food groups, a balanced diet actually means eating all kinds of foods so as to provide the body with all the nutrients that it needs for its day-to-day functioning.
Main Aspects of a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet focuses on two main aspects:
– Eating the right type of foods.
– Eating in the right quantity.
None of the above two are mutually exclusive. A diet that discourages you from omitting a particular food group should never be followed. Each food group contains different kinds of nutrients, and our body definitely needs all of these, but in different amounts, and it varies from person to person. When it comes to adopting a healthy diet, one size does not fit all. Everyone leads a different lifestyle, comes from different backgrounds, has different professions and fitness levels. All food is good when eaten as per your body’s needs. Yes! Even fats and carbs. How? Let’s see.
What does Balanced Diet Include?
– They keep the hormones balanced.
– Carbs stimulate the functioning of the immune system.
– They generate powerful antioxidants that protect the body cells from getting damaged.
Proteins play various roles in the functioning of our bodies. Their primary function is to build and repair the body cells. Proteins are as necessary as carbohydrates when it comes to maintaining a proper diet. Not only do they help you lose unnecessary fat, but they also help in increasing the circulation and mobilization of the stored fat. They also help in making antibodies that help us fight against infections. Proteins are found in high quantities in eggs, chicken, fish, milk, and milk products. You should include about 50 to 175 grams of protein in your daily meals.
Note: A low-protein diet doesn’t work, neither does a high-protein one. When eaten in high quantity, protein gets converted to fat by a process called deamination.
The belief that fats are bad for our body is nothing but a myth. They are just as necessary for the body as the other food groups, but only in smaller amounts. Fats protect our vital organs like the heart, kidney, liver, etc. They lubricate the joints and also transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, K, E, D around the body. In short, not just are fats necessary for having a healthy body, they are necessary for the sustenance of life itself. Fats are found in red meat, pizzas, and all kinds of oils. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, and hence, should be more carefully eaten to avoid weight gain. You should have only 65 to 85 grams of fat each day. Seafood, nuts, milk and milk products, olives, and flax seeds are good sources of fats (monounsaturated fats) which should be consumed daily. You can use a balanced diet chart for more information. Sources of trans fats or saturated fats like red meat, deep-fried foods, biscuits, cakes, and pastries should be avoided.
Vitamins and Minerals
Like the above-mentioned food groups, vitamins and minerals do not provide us with energy, but they are important so that our body can utilize the energy that it gets from carbs, proteins, and fats. These are found in large quantities in all kinds of fruits and vegetables. They play a very important role in our body as catalysts and co-enzymes. We need them for various reasons, ranging from the growth and development of the body to regulating the hormones.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, which are found in milk, green leafy vegetables, all colorful fruits, vegetable oils, oats, and whole grain. Since they are fat-soluble, they are easily stored in the body, and hence should not be consumed in excess. Vitamins C and B (all of them) are water-soluble vitamins, which should be consumed every day. We need them to produce hormones, maintain the respiratory system, to protect us against heart diseases, and to aid digestion. These are found in plenty of eggs, cheese, fish, and nuts. To ensure that you get enough vitamins, aim on eating fruits with different colors. The importance of a healthy and balanced diet should be known.
Minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper are very essential for the body. They maintain the health of our bones and joints, regulate blood pressure, prevent acne and wrinkles, etc. They are found in milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and whole grains.
Fiber is a nutrient that helps our body to prevent constipation and promotes healthy digestion. It also enables the intestines to function properly. Not only this, but fiber also helps us from overeating. Fiber is found in cucumber, beetroot, and carrots. When eaten before meals, these fill the stomach, thereby preventing us from overeating. Focus more on eating unprocessed foods that are naturally rich in fiber, e.g. brown rice, barley, legumes, and nuts. Overcooking of vegetables should also be avoided to retain the fiber content in them.
Supplements for Balanced Diet
The vegetables and fruits that we buy from the market today go through a lot of processing before reaching our doorstep. During this, the nutrient content of these becomes comparatively low. The poor storing conditions further aid this problem. Plus, we add different kinds of seasonings and sausages while cooking them. Hence, the amount of nutrients that our body finally absorbs is very low, thereby leading to nutritional deficiencies. Taking supplements to make up for the same ensures proper nutrition of the body. The supplements that our body needs regularly are vitamin A, B, E and C supplements, and mineral supplements of zinc, calcium, chromium, and selenium and they should be present in our balanced diet. However, it is always necessary to consult your doctor before starting on one.
Water is the most essential nutrient that our body needs. Without water, all the carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that you consume are pure waste. The basic reason why our body is dehydrated is the lifestyle we all lead today. We eat too much-processed food, drink a lot of aerated drinks, and consume a lot of caffeine – all of which leaves the body dehydrated. We drink water only to quench our thirst and not to meet the body’s requirements. If your body is not hydrated, your muscles contract, your joints start hurting, and the skin loses all its glow. Plus, it also interferes with the proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Drinking up to 10 glasses a day is a must. But remember, you should always sip water from time to time and not gulp a lot of it. Gulping too much water at the same time leads to water retention. The importance of a healthy diet cannot be denied.