The IndUS Network e-magazine

"Food" for thought

Derive beauty by good health not by starvation !


Some of us “Eat to Live” where as some others “Live to Eat”. To whatever category we belong, we are eating food and thus living. Gone are the days when our food types and food habits were limited to the regional produce and availability. Now, globalization has brought in a sea of change where one can get “imported” fruits, veggies, snacks, and what not. Thanks to the modern preservation techniques. In this scenario, it becomes important for us to know about the quality of food we take as well as the quantity of food we need to take, so that our diet fulfills the “Balanced Diet” criteria that is most essential for ones health and longevity.

What is Food-Calorie?
Calorie is the unit of food energy. If a food has a calorific value of 600, then the energy-producing potential of that food when eaten is 600 calories. If you don’t use this energy then it gets converted to fat and is stored in our body. So, input calories should match the output calories or in other words eat only as many calories as you are likely to burn out. This will keep one non-obese. So, do read food labels!

What are Food Nutrients?
Our food is a complex mixture of the following nutrients namely Carbohydrates, Fats, Protein, Vitamins, Minerals and Water. Fiber is also considered essential. Out of these the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats contribute calories where as water, vitamins, minerals, and fiber don’t contribute any calories. All our foods have a mix of 2 or 3 nutrients, but labeled by its most predominant nutrient, for ex., a bowl of cereal is considered as carbohydrate food even though it also contains protein.

How to Count Calories?
One gram of protein contains 4 calories and same with 1 gram of carbohydrate, but 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. Alcohol, though not a nutrient, contains 7 calories in 1 gram!

We have empty-calorie foods like sugar candy where they provide no nutrients. On the other hand a nutrient-dense food like orange provides 3 grams of fiber, 100 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement, and a good amount of folic acid plus a variety of other micronutrients and phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, all from just 60 calories. So, snack a fruit!

Are we eating enough?
The calorie-requirement for an average male or female above the age 30 has been calculated as 2200-3000 (males) and 1600-2400 (females). However, factors like weight, activity level of the individual, basal metabolic rate etc greatly contribute on one’s calorie-requirement. A nutritionist can be quite helpful in charting out calorie counts of the various foods that you choose for your requirement. So, we have to divide the day’s requirement between, say 3 meals and 2 snacks by calculating the calorie count of each meal and plan the foods in such a way that all nutrient combinations are available and add more of nutrient-dense foods of fruits and vegetables. This way we can balance our whole day diet.

Why diet must be balanced?

We must neither have deficiency nor excess of any nutrient. The reasons are;

1. Carbohydrates are the fuels for our body engines. So, take complex carbohydrates like whole foods (grains, vegetables, legumes) with valuable nutrients and fiber. Simple carbs like sugar has to be restricted.

2. Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. They help muscle tissue development and function. Our hair, skin, nails, muscles, organs, blood cells, nerve, bone and brain tissues, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies all require protein. Protein (amino acids) is found in both plant and animal foods.

3. Fats are important. They provide insulation for the body and padding around internal organs. Several nutrients are found in fat, including vitamins A, D, E, K and essential fatty acids. Unsaturated fats in small amounts are good compared to saturated fats. Go with oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower.

4. Vitamins are important for metabolism and for our organs to work properly. Anyway, too much of fat-soluble vitamins of A, D, E, K stored in our body result in toxic build-up.

5. Minerals are important for all bodily functions. The major minerals of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and sodium are found in a variety of foods including milk, meat, poultry, fish, and green, leafy vegetables. The trace minerals include iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, and cobalt which are found in shellfish, seafood, whole grains and legumes. Minerals often work in unison. Too much or too little of any one may affect the function of other minerals.

6. Water is important for the other nutrients to function. It helps in the body metabolism and temperature regulation. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Water, soda, milk, coffee, juice, tea are all sources of water. Also, lettuce, celery, melons, and most fruits contribute water to our body.

7. Fibers are from whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Fibers are the parts that cannot be digested by the body, so it helps to get rid of constipation. It adds bulk to the diet and makes one feel fuller faster and thus helps weight-control, but too much will result in gas, bloating etc.

So, love your food-the healthy ones; don’t hate carbs as they are crucial; know your calorie intake and expel them effectively; exercise daily to boost your body metabolism rate; derive beauty from good health and not by starvation.

Watch the Video: Understanding the food groups

Your body is a baggage ...


“"Your body is the baggage
you must carry through life.
The more excess the baggage,
the shorter the trip."

~ Arnold H. Glasgow

Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.