Friday, October 19, 2007

Nutrition- An Introduction

The National Institute of Health defines nutrition in a way that most people think about it: "The process of the body using food to sustain life; the study of food and diet." But nutrition also connects to the whole food system. The wide variation in seed and animal varieties, the way those plants and animals are raised, the harvesting, processing, and marketing -- including the people, natural resources, and political and economic forces that impact it -- all these are part of the food system, and so all these impact nutrition. Nutrition, therefore, needs to be thought of as a very broad and inclusive topic. At the same time, it begins with your most basic, everyday action: what you eat.

Do you know what you are eating? Or where your food comes from? Or who grows the food, and how? Do you know where you can find nutritious food? Or what foods are nutritious? Don’t be surprised if you can’t answer these questions, because, as Eric Schlosser writes in Fast Food Nation, our food has changed more in the last forty years than in the last forty thousand. We are in the midst of a crisis in our food system that is challenging our understanding of nutrition and food itself. An overabundance of food is available year-round, but fresh, nutritious food is often only available to those who can afford it. Inexpensive, nutritionally-poor food is contributing to the highest rates of obesity the United States has ever seen. The incidences of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are skyrocketing, particularly in poor populations who can least afford it. At the same time, growing numbers of hungry people are turning up at soup kitchens and food pantries.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Food, food groups and food pyramid

Before I get into details about nutrition, it is very important to really really understand what food is, what are the food groups and the food pyramids. What is food? Well, this question might sound very daft but trust me, it is very important to understand the term 'food' before you get into the details.

Definition 1: Food is anything solid or liquid which can be swallowed. digested and assimilated, nourishes the body.

Definition 2: This is a detailed definition. Food is a mixture of many chemical components. The study of food science, known as Bromatology (brom-a-tol'o-je), involves an understanding of the changes that occur in these components during food preparation whether natural or induced by handling procedures.

You must be knowing that many physical and chemical reactions occur during food preparation. For example: Why, rather how does spinach turn black when you cook it in a closed container? Or maybe why (how) does the milk curdle when you put anything acidic like lemon or vinegar? Well, these reactions are of course a result of the components, with the medium of cooking, and the environmental conditions like heat, cold, light or air to which they are subjected during cooking.

Foods have been classified into different groups depending upon the nutritive value, for the convenience of planning diets. Food groups like 'Basic four', 'Basic five' or 'Basic seven' can be used for planning diets as per convenience.

Let me now discuss a bit about each of these groups.

Basic Four:

  1. Cereals, millets and pulses
  2. Vegetables and fruits
  3. Milk, milk products, and animal food
  4. Oils, fats, nuts and oilseeds

Basic Five:

This group has been provided by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

  1. Cereal grains and products
  2. Pulses and legumes
  3. Milk and Meat Products
  4. Fruits and Vegetables
  5. Fats and Sugar

Basic Seven:

  1. Green and yellow vegetables
  2. Oranges, grape fruit, tomatoes or raw cabbage
  3. Potatoes, other vegetables and fruits
  4. Milk and milk prducts
  5. Meat, poulry, fish and eggs
  6. Bread, flour, cereals
  7. Butter or fortified margarine

What is the Food Pyramid?

The 'Food Guide' Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day based on the Dietary Guidelines. It's not a rigid prescription but a general guide that lets you choose a healthful diet that's right for you. The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and at the same time the right amount of calories to maintain healthy weight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Welcome to the nutrition blog

Unlike most other nutrition blogs, I will be posting not just about calories but also various aspects of nutrition that are somehow left untouched.

Here, I will be posting about:

  1. Food, food groups and the 3 food pyramids.
  2. Nutrition- An Introduction.
  3. Nutrients and their sources.
  4. Nutritional requirements of people of all ages (adults, infants, children, adolescents and aging persons)
  5. Nutritional requirements during various illnesses and diseases.
  6. Nutritional requirements of expectant mothers and lactating women.
  7. Nutritional requirements of athletics.
  8. Diet therapy

If you want me to write about something specific, please leave a comment here and I will surely write about it when I get time.