Building Blocks

BLOCKS

Nutrition is the process of getting food into your body and using it as raw material for growth, fuel for energy, and a source of nutrients needed to keep your body healthy and functioning properly.

The basic building blocks that maintain and nourish our body are:

Macronutrients – Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein

 You need energy to work and the food you eat provides that energy.  Your body needs a steady supply of energy-providing foods every day to efficiently run the complex machine that it is!. The chief energy providers are:

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are molecules made up of sugar units like glucose, fructose or galactose. Glucose is your body’s favorite form of energy. Our body most easily makes use of the energy obtained from carbohydrates. You should get most of the energy from complex carbohydrates (eg. starch) and less from sugars. If you don’t get enough carbohydrates, your body can make glucose from protein through a processed called gluconeogenesis. If you get too many carbohydrates, your body will convert them to fat for storage in your adipose tissue.

Sources: Complex Carbohydrates: Fiber – bran, whole-grain cereals like oats, bajra, jowar, ragi, etc, whole pulses, raw vegetables and fruits (especially with skins) and nuts.
Starch: – Cereals like bread, pasta, rice (made of multi-grain flour or wheat flour) and vegetables like potatoes.
Simple Carbohydrates: Refined cereals like refined flour (maida) and its products, soft drinks, table sugar, fruit juices, honey and other sweets.

Protein:

Protein is an important component of every cell in the body . Protein provides the nutrients for bones, muscles, cartilage, organs, skin, hair and nails. Your body uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, other body chemicals, certain components of the immune system and also to build and repair tissues. Protein comes from the foods you eat and is broken down into individual amino acids. Your body uses the amino acids to build and repair the various parts of your body. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. This is why we need regular replenishment.

Sources: Pulses, Meat ,Eggs, Fish, Milk and milk products like curd, cheese, paneer are good source of protein. Vegetable proteins tend to be limiting in one or more of the essential amino acids of human requirement. Hence it is beneficial to include combinations of foods like rice and pulses/khichdi, pulses with chappati, muesli with yoghurt or milk, wholegrain bread with cheese etc to derive all the essential amino acids.   

Fats:

Despite its bad image, fat has many important functions in our body. Fat stores and provides energy when food intake is limited, aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin A, D, E and K), surrounding fats protect vital organs (like kidney and gut) against physical shock and fats beneath the skin help preserve body heat. Fat is also a building block for hormones and cell membranes.

Fats also help the body use carbohydrates and proteins in a more efficient manner.

Sources: Nuts and seeds, Milk and milk products like cheese and butter, oils, Coconut, Avocados, Meat, Fatty fish etc.

Micronutrients – Vitamins and Minerals 

The vitamins and minerals you get from your diet are just as important as carbohydrates, protein, and fats, even though you only need them in small amounts.

They usually function as co-enzymes, which means they help some of your body’s chemical reactions happen a lot faster.

For example, many of the B-complex vitamins help burn carbohydrates for energy, vitamin A is needed for vision, zinc is involved in many metabolic processes, and vitamin C helps keep connective tissue strong and your immune system functioning.
Calcium has several functions in your body, but it’s best known as the mineral that is stored in your bones and teeth. You need calcium from your diet to keep your bones and teeth strong.

Your diet needs to provide adequate amounts of all of these “little helpers.” A healthy, balanced diet will give you lots of vitamin and minerals. An unhealthy diet may make your body deficient in one or more of them.

Sources: All plant and animal foods contain different vitamins and minerals.

Additional Nutrients

Good nutrition provides more than energy, structural components, vitamins, and minerals. There are other substances in the foods that you eat that have become better known over the last few years.

Antioxidants help protect your body from damage that comes from the sun, pollution, smoke, and poor dietary choices. They are the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, and some vitamins and amino acids function as antioxidants as well.

Phytochemicals are antioxidants found in plant-based foods. Although they aren’t required for body functioning, they may have a very powerful impact on your health.
For example, quercetin (found in red apples) functions like an antihistamine and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Sources: Almost all plant foods and some animal foods contain antioxidants. The deeper the color of the plant based food the better!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.