Diet nutrition


What is nutritious food and a well-balanced diet?

Nutritious food is one that contains all the essential nutrients - proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A well balanced diet should contain all these in correct proportions and adequate amounts. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates provide the energy required for various activities. Vitamins and minerals do not supply energy but play an important role in the regulation of several essential metabolic processes in the body.

Does the quantity of food that an elderly person eats matter?

The quality, not the quantity matters. The requirements of essential nutrients varies with age, sex, level of physical activity and the height & weight of the individual. Even a sparse diet can be nutritious. For example 100 gms of wheat contains nearly 12 gms of protein, while the same quantity of rice has only 6.4 gms of protein. Similarly 100 gms of Ragi contains 344 mg of Calcium, while the same quantity of Rice has only 9 mg of Calcium.


Fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds & nuts

in suitable amounts should be included in our daily diet plan. Exercising can be done by means of exercising equipment for lifts, squats & presses or in various other ways like aerobic exercises (cycling, running, biking, swimming, rowing, etc.) and gymnastics such as pull-ups and push-ups, dips & sit-ups, rope climbing, pirouettes, splits, holds & flips. Doing all these exercises in different combinations increase our endurance and stamina.

Muscles are made of protein. This statement is rather obvious to all of us. So to build muscle, equally obviously, you need to take proteins. Muscle building protein can be found in eggs, fish meat, cottage cheese or protein concentrates like protein powder.

To appreciate the importance of proteins in your body, you have to understand that your body cells are constantly being replaced by new ones. The tissue, made of protein, is in a state of flux, constantly being changed as old cells die and new cells replace them. Rheo Blair states “It is as if you lived in a building whose bricks were systematically taken out and replaced every year. If you keep the same blueprint then it will still look like the same building. But it won’t be the same in actuality. The human body is in a constant state of flux, it loks the same from day to day, but through multiple biological processes, it is always rebuilding itself.”

Science has proven that 99% of the atoms in your body are replaced within one year. Every cell in your body is always being recycled. Protein is what is used in the creation of new cells. It is the building blocks of your body. Skin, hair, bones, hormones, and antibodies are formed of protein. Save for water, protein is the most abundant substance in your body.

Like other nutrients, proteins are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. But unlike other nutrients, proteins are the only nutrients that bring nitrogen into the body. Thus by measuring the amount of nitrogen in ones excreta, compared to the amount taken in, one can estimate the amount of protein used for muscle growth. If the difference is positive, then muscle is being made.

But if the difference is negative, there is a negative nitrogen balance, and the body literally begins feed on its own muscle to produce energy. Proteins are broken down by digestive acids like protease to smaller units called peptides. This occurs in the stomach where there are acidic conditions necessary for the digestion of proteins. The peptides are in turn are digested by peptidase, found in the duodenum, into amino acids. These are what the body actually absorbs and utilizes to form body tissue, including muscle.

There are 20 amino acids that are required for the normal growth of the body. Eleven of these are naturally made in the body and thus are called non-essential amino acids. The other nine have to be ingested into the body as it cannot synthesize them and are thus called essential amino acids. Foods containing both types of amino acids in the exact amounts as they are needed by the body are called complete proteins. Only when all the essential amino acids are available can the body grow muscles. Otherwise it starts breaking down body tissue to suffice the amount of essential amino acids for growth and repair purposes. Thus lack of these amino acids actually leads to muscle loss.

What are some tips for healthy eating?

Some general tips for healthy eating include:

* Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables – Eat fruit that is fresh, frozen, canned, or dried rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. Eat dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and beans and peas.
* Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk, or other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese. You can also try dark green, leafy vegetables, lactose-free milk products, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages for your calcium needs.
* Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.
* Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. And vary your protein choices with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.
* Know the limits on fats, salt, and sugars. Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. Saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol tend to raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn increases the risk for heart disease.