Health and Ayurveda

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eat Healthy Live Healthy

Good health is not an upshot of fortune, but fairly something, one can accomplish through hale and hearty lifestyles. The role of nutrition in maintaining health and to thwart disease is a hot topic of tete-a tete, nowadays. The contemporary nutritional regimes vary from erstwhile ones, globally. Socio-economic development along with advancement in food supply has transformed our food choices as well as our eating behaviours. Current scenario divulges two sort of eating etiquette – one of strict “dieting” and other of passion for “fast- food”. Methods of food production, processing and preservation have also advanced rapidly over the past few decades. These renovations, however, bestows favourable as well as detrimental effects on public health.
A balanced diet is one that comprises the exact blend of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and ample quantity of vitamins and minerals. It also contributes the precise quantity of calories to meet with ones energy requirements. Furthermore, it supplies adequate fiber and water to enable efficient functioning of the digestive system. The key to health eating is a sundry nutritional regime with accent on ample fluids, high – fiber carbohydrates, a moderate consumption of fats, sufficient protein and adequate sum of vitamins and minerals. However, no single food can provide all the nutrients that one requires. Even, the intake of two or three varieties may not satisfy all the energy requirements. The optimal strategy is to eat as many different kinds of naturally occurring foods. There is not much requisite for complicated computations using nutritional value tables of foodstuffs. Intake of a well-assorted and wide-ranging diet that comprises cuisine from all foremost food groups would indeed impart favourable domino effect.
Nutritional requirements vary in individuals, on the basis of energy expenditure and physical functions. As a rule, carbohydrates should provide approximately 55% of one’s energy needs, protein nearly 15% and fat about 30%. However, as cited earlier, the energy expenditures vary, as mentioned in the table.
The prime dietary problem is the excessive food consumption, both quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Over- eating can heap on any hereditary tendency, ranging from obesity to diabetes. Many people eat surplus food that they attain superfluous protein, carbohydrate and fats, than required.
Any calorie intake that surpasses the energy requirement, turn out to be fat in the body, which may either invigorate the production of new fat cells or enlarge the existing fat cells, the resultant of which is obesity. Population studies illustrates that, obesity is awfully allied with diabetes, coronary heart disease, gout, hypertension and disorders of reproductive system.
All fats contain almost the same calorie per serving, no matter what be the magnitude of high density or low-density lipoproteins. Henceforth, a high intake of fat definitely leads to obesity. Therefore, decreasing the consumption of fat is the foremost action in precluding obesity. Similarly, consuming too much refined carbohydrates such as white flour (Maida), white sugar, polished white rice etc. tend to contribute to obesity. Furthermore, these refined stuffs are very much devoid of fiber content, which turns out to be a causative factor for bowel disorders, especially constipation. Intake of dietary fiber promptly mitigates constipation by enhancing the bulk of stools and curbing the relocation period through the bowel. In addition to this, high-fiber carbs are capable of modulating the absorption of glucose during digestion, thereby playing a pivotal role in the management of diabetes.
Another significant dietary problem is the varying eating behaviours, the foremost among them being affinity to fast food. Eating at fast food bistros is trendier, these days. Although they impart speedy service and are extremely convenient for the busy society, the health tribulations they pose are execrable. Majority of the fast foods are of high calories, high fat, increases level of sodium and low fiber content. These render all ranges of health problems ranging from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to cancer. The villainous ingredient of fast foods is monosodium glutamate, fondly called as ajinomoto, which is commonly used for enhancing the flavour. The reactions of ajinomoto ranges from headache to even partial paralysis. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, stimulating the brain cell activity. Researches demonstrated a glutamate link with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism. So, however convenient may it be, it is better to avoid fast foods or telling more pragmatically, never make it a daily routine, atleast that could curtail the detrimental effects.
Many statistical studies prove that dietary factors possess a salient role in instigating cancer. The finest statistical correlation, derived from population surveys, is between dietary fat and several cancers. It becomes evident that the incidence of cancer is relatively high in countries where fat and low-fiber intake is high, compared to others. Certain food additive like nitrites, used to preserve meat is a proven factor for the causation of caner. Likewise, benzopyrene, a substance found on charred surfaces is also a known cancer causing dietary factor. So resorting to dietary fiber (unrefined foods), Vit. C rich foods (orange, gooseberry, guava etc.) Vit. A rich foods (green leafy vegetables, carrot etc.) and avoidance of high fats (red meat, egg yolk etc) would definitely reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Avoid too much fat.
  • Change to low-fat milk
  • Cut-out butter, egg yolk, ghee etc.
  • Switch on to vegetable oils (sunflower oil, safflower oil etc.)
  • Avoid red meat (beef, mutton, pork etc.)
  • Remove skin of poultry when cooking, as it contains much fat.
  • Grill or bake food rather than frying.
  • Avoid refined foods.
  • Opt for fiber-rich complex carbs (whole grain products, brown rice etc.)
  • Drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses daily)
  • Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in daily diet.
  • Eat when hungry; tackle your appetite cues.
Dr. K. M Reshmitha MD (Ay)
Lecturer (Swasthvritta),
Parassinikkadavu Ayurveda Medical College, Kannur.


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