What Are the Advantages of a Balanced Diet?
Food is any material consumed to supply nutrition to the organisms. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and typically contains key nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, or minerals. In simple terms, food is food.
Plants, animals and fungi can survive without food, but only insects, vertebrates and bacteria can survive with a regular diet of food. Animal and plant food is divided into three main categories: sugars, starches and proteins. Fruits and vegetables are the richest in both carbohydrates and starches, with their simple carbohydrates making up the largest amounts of food. Plants have long been used to give food, in the form of grains, roots and tubers, that sustains them through the winter months. These plants have, however, also long been extensively domesticated for the production of food and fuel.
The study session 2 study of children in their early years (aged four to six years) demonstrated the relationship between body mass index, ethnicity and food intake, showing that ethnic minority children ate more starch, more protein and less fibre than white children. The association between ethnic minority race and diabetes was only seen in boys, suggesting that the link between carbohydrate intake and increased diabetes risk might be true for girls too. This study did not take account for the fact that many children eat a high fat meal after a smaller portion of carbohydrates at breakfast. Therefore it is not clear cut that type of starch or protein should be regarded as the staple food.
As part of the Westernised diet, meat and diary products provide most of the calories and the two groups combined consume about 70% of all food calories. Diarrhea is one of the major symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and may be a contributory factor in developing the disorder if it occurs during a period when sufficient vitamins and minerals are not being eaten. It is thought that the lack of fat in the diet may be responsible for the rise in cases of chronic diarrhea in Western countries over recent years.
In another study session, the effect of carbohydrate-restricted diets on blood pressure was investigated. A large group of children, predominantly from disadvantaged ethnic backgrounds, were randomly given a diet of either low-fat or low-carbohydrate food for ten weeks. While the levels of sodium, potassium and cholesterol were similar in both groups, there was a significant reduction in the mean blood pressure. Again, the reasons for this decrease were not identified but it is thought that the restriction of foods rich in potassium and magnesium could have a beneficial effect. This conclusion is not fully supported by scientific studies, however, as the study session ended early due to a serious laryngitis outbreak in one child.
In conclusion, it is clear that people need to consume a balanced diet, with a proportion of starchy foods and a limited amount of fat and salt. It is also clear that we should avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugar and flour. The next step is to reduce the amount of salt you eat, particularly in the forms of salt substitutes such as sodium chloride. Finally, it is important to get regular exercise, which can help you burn calories more efficiently and increase your metabolism. If you are overweight, a controlled diet and regular workouts should result in a weight loss of about five or six pounds per year.