A well-balanced diet consists of all the essential foods needed by our bodies for energy and nutrients for growth and repair. Here’s a refresher on why eating a balanced diet is important, and how diet and health are connected.
What Defines a Balanced Diet?
A balanced diet for good health by definition consists of different varieties of food that offer all the essential carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals that our body require for healthy functioning.
Here are 5 ways in which a balanced diet benefits our body:
1. Growth and Development
The body is under a constant process of growth and repair. It needs nutrients in the form of protein, vitamins and minerals to form new cells. A balanced diet involves servings of fruits and vegetables, and lean protein from sources such as lean meats, nuts, and whole grains.
2. Weight Control
A well-balanced diet can also help in weight control in people who are overweight or people who are working to maintain a steady weight. Such a diet involves low-calorie foods that are dense in nutrients and fibre which satisfy hunger without the extra calories.
3. Supplies Energy
A calorie is a unit for energy obtained from foods. Foods with higher calories give you energy to stay alert and functioning all day. However, intake of more calories than what you need can cause weight gain.
4. Builds Immunity
Foods rich in Vitamins like A, C, E, selenium and potassium are essential for building a robust immune system that can fight off infections to keep you healthy.
5. Improves Mental Well-being
Along with making you strong and improving your immunity, balanced diets consisting of fish, high-quality meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can boost mental health.
What are the Advantages of Having a Balanced Diet?
- Choosing a balanced diet is the first step toward a happy and healthy lifestyle.
- Vitamins and minerals are vital to maintaining healthy immunity and growth.
- Healthy diets can protect the body from lifestyle related, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, skeletal problems and many types of cancer.
- Balanced diets, along with fighting obesity, help maintain optimal body weight.
Why Is a Balanced Diet Important for Children?
- Because children are continuously growing, a balanced diet which includes all the essential nutrients is vital for their development. Lack of it can lead to deficiency diseases, stunted growth and delayed milestones.
- Their diet influences everything, from children’s brain functions to behavioural patterns. It is also critical to prevent a number of childhood disorders such as obesity and diabetes.
- Vitamins such as vitamin C are important for building immunity and formation of collagen which is a protein needed to make healthy bones, joints, skin and blood vessels. Vitamin B is essential for the energy cycle of the body along with build and repair.
- Minerals such as calcium are critical for the development of bones, teeth and other functions of the body. Iodine is needed for brain development, concentration and learning ability. Zinc is needed for normal growth and development along with good immune functions.
- The importance of a balanced diet for children can be seen in the contrast between healthy children who grow up getting all the nutrients, and children with deficiency disorders and stunted growth due to lack of nutritious food.
Importance of Balanced Diet During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are not only eating for the nourishment of their own bodies, but also for the growth and development for their babies. Because of this, their energy requirements (macronutrients) and requirements of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) go up. For example, women’s energy requirement goes up by 240 calories per day during their second trimester and 453 calories per day during their third trimester to support fetal growth. Their requirement of iron is up by 975 milligrams to make all the extra blood needed to nourish the baby. A balanced diet consisting of lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, dairy and healthy fats contains all the essential nutrients needed to nourish the growing fetus.