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How important is a balanced diet in maintaining good health?

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How important is a balanced diet in maintaining good health? A healthy and well balanced diet is the body's main energy source. In adults, it encourages regeneration and self-healing within the body. In children, it constitutes the building blocks for future health as well as producing energy. A well balanced diet will provide the body with all the essential nutrients it needs. This will be achieved by eating a variety of foods from each food group. A pyramid of food groups is shown in appendix A. There are many different nutrients in each food group; about 50 are known to be essential to human life. Carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, fats and vitamins are the five types of food nutrients. Water can also be classed as a nutrient as it is essential to life. The following assignment aims to describe the functions of the major food nutrients above. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients needed for healthy living depends on age, sex, and degree of activity. Larger amounts of certain nutrients are needed throughout life. These are called macronutrients. Fats are one of the three macronutrients and can be divided into two categories, saturated and unsaturated. Fats are an important part of the diet as they provide a source of energy. It is stored under the skin where it acts as an insulator and also stores certain vitamins. The building blocks of fat are fatty acids and glycerol. ...read more.


In children, severe deficiency can lead to Kwashior, a disease characterised by stunted mental and physical development, loss of hair pigment and a swelling of the joints. (Media company, 2001) Carbohydrates are the third macronutrient that is needed in a larger quantity. They are important to supply energy for all activities and maintain body temperature. Additionally, they supply indigestible fibrous material to aid digestion and are important in the structure of cells. Carbohydrates are compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Most food starts off in the green leaves of plants, where the sun's energy is trapped. This energy is then used to join a molecule of water to a molecule of carbon dioxide to form a simple sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate or monosaccharide. Glucose, fructose, glactose are examples of simple sugars. The reason it is called a simple carbohydrate is because it doesn't take very long for the body to digest it. Starches are complex carbohydrates. They are called this because it takes the body quite a long time to digest them. Two monosaccharides can join to form a disaccharide. Sucrose, maltose and lactose are examples of double sugars. Many monosaccharide units form polysaccharides. See appendix C. Vitamins are required in smaller amounts than macronutrients, consequently are called micronutrients. They are essential for efficient running of the body. They promote health, have an effect on the ageing process and help prevent disease. ...read more.


Found in most foods of animal origin, milk, eggs, meat, poultry C, ascorbic acid Formation of connective tissue, heals wounds, keeps skin & bones strong Soft summer fruits, citrus fruits, vegetables Fatigue, easy bruising, bleeding gums Scurvy & rickets A Retinol Beta-carotenes Good for eyes Antioxidant Whole milk, fatty fish, meat, meat products, liver Apricots, carrots, tomatoes, green vegetables Dry skin, slow reaction time in retina, dry sore eyes, bacterial conjunctivitis or even death in small children. D Developing strong bones & teeth, accelerated healing time for fractures, absorption of calcium in intestine Fish, liver oils, egg yolks, fortified milk E Formation of DNA, RNA & RBC. Acts as antioxidant to inactive free radicals Fresh nuts, wheat germ, seed oils, liver, eggs, green vegetables Oxidation of monounsaturated fats resulting in abnormalities in mitochondria K Blood clotting Spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, eggs, milk, liver Delayed blood clotting time. Source: class handouts Appendix E This table has been produced to show some of the minerals essential for life and their functions. Mineral Function Source Deficiency Calcium Blood clotting. Muscle contraction Milk, cheese, salad greens, many fortified processed foods Rickets, weak bones Magnesium Helps muscles to relax. Digest meats Whole grain, nuts, seeds, apples, corn Fatigue, spasms, muscular weakness. Phosphorus Builds bones and teeth. Metabolic processes. Milk, cheese, nuts, meat, fish and eggs. Anaemia Sodium Transmits nerve pulses. Transports carbon dioxide. Bananas, citrus and dried fruit. Most food. ][High blood pressure Iron Formation of red blood cells Liver, kidney, heart, eggs, bread, potatoes, green vegetables Anaemia Source: class handouts. ...read more.

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