The word diet (from the Latin “diaeta” and greek “diaita”) literally means “life, lifestyle,” although in everyday language is very often used as a synonym for “dietary restriction”.
There is no food, however, which is itself “complete” or “perfect”; to have all the nutrients you need it is necessary to vary as much as possible what you eat. Only this way your body is going to have the right amount of all nutrients, namely carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water. A varied and balanced diet breaks flavors monotony, satisfies the taste and avoids vitamin and minerals supplements use, since everything we need can be found in nature.
Remember that food is not only a biological necessity, it is also sharing common experiences with family and friends.
Healthy eating involves consuming five meals (luch and dinner are the main meals):
Remember that a good breakfast is essential to start the day and have the right energy for school and sport.
All this is part of a balanced lifestyle!
WHO-World Health Organization – Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) (http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-standard/en/)
The food principles
About the basic nutrients:
Carbohydrates are the basis of our diet: provide 60% of the total energy we use every day to carry out any type of activity.
The carbohydrates are essentially nothing more than sugar, and are divided into:
- simple carbohydrates, composed of one or two types of sugars. They are found especially in fruits and sweets;
- complex carbohydrates, consist of long chains of sugars. They are present in bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
Among the carbohydrate-rich foods (those complex carbohydrates that are not directly usable by our organism) there are those rich in dietary fiber such as whole grains.
The fiber has no nutritional or energy value, but it is very important to regulate various physiological functions of the organism.
Dietary fiber is divided into:
“Insoluble fiber“: found in whole grains, vegetables and in vegetables which delay the emptying of the stomach by increasing the volume of food and help us to deliver the satiety feeling.
“Insoluble fiber” contained mainly in legumes and fruits, appointed to the adjustment of assimilation of certain nutrients: contribute to the level of glucose control and blood cholesterol.
It is true that the fats or lipids must be totally avoided, isn’t it?
Although they are often “viewed with suspicion” fats are essential nutrients in our body, and it is suitable to introduce them in our diet.
They have to cover 30% of our daily energy requirements and can be:
- Simple. Among these the most important are triglycerides, in other words the form in which is stored the energy produced at the level of the adipose tissue;
- complexes. The most known are the phospholipids and cholesterol.
Triglycerides, in their turn, are constituted by fatty acids, they are divided into:
- saturated. They are solid, and are found mostly in butter and cheese;
- Unsaturated. They are in a liquid form and among them there are the omega 3 and 6; they are present in particular in olive oil, in seed oils and fish.
Why are proteins so important?
They are composed of chains of amino acids, in other words the building blocks of our body, they build and regenerate the muscles, the skin, but also enzymes and hormones.
The human body, for its tasks, demolishes every day from 20 to 30g of protein; It is therefore very important to introduce them trough food.
The proteins also have an energy function: if taken in abundance, can be converted into sugars and used as a ready energy or converted into lipids, and then in energy reserves. The proteins can be of origin:
- animal. They are found in animal meat, fish, eggs, milk and its derivatives.
- vegetable. They are mainly found in legumes (such as chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils).
And the minerals?
They are more necessary than you think:
Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are the primary constituents of the bones and teeth; sodium and potassium are essential for the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction; iron becomes part of hemoglobin molecule that carries oxygen to the tissues; iodine is the basis of the hormones of metabolism and those thyroid ones;
The minerals are mainly dissolved in the water, or between the constituents of plant foods and animals.
Vitamins are present in all foods; They are necessary in very small amounts but absolutely essential for our body.
We are unable to produrce all vitamins alone, and must therefore be taken through food. Vitamins are divided into:
- Water-soluble, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins;
- Liposoluble, such as vitamins A, D, E, K.
In the body there are reserves of vitamins, mainly in the liver. If you don’t take it assume it, and reserves would end, you could face serious shortcomings and disorders in your organism.
The last but not least : water.
Our body is 70% water: for this reason we cannnot live without it. The water, in fact, is the main component of cells and blood. It helps among other things to adjust the temperature of the body.
Thanks to water the nutrients are distributed throughout the body and participate in the elimination of toxic substances. In addition to the water we take as such or in the drinks, even fruit and vegetables constitute a valuable source.
WHO-World Health Organization- Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) (http://www.who.int/topics/nutrition/en/)