Jennifer Ellison-Brown: Good health and good choices
HEALTH AND NUTRITION
The World Health Organisation describes health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity".
Good health starts with making good choices, which leads to good health habits. Physical Health deals with maintaining the condition of your body, which requires the following:
- Eating balanced meals
- Engaging in physical activity
- Practising good hygiene
- Getting enough rest
- Avoiding alcohol, drugs and smoking
Mental health is the way that you cope with the demands of daily life and involves the following:
- The ability to handle stress effectively and to solve problems
- Openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things
- The ability to adjust to change.
Social health is defined by the way one interacts with people. How well an individual gets along with others is important to one's overall sense of well-being.
All parts of your health are equally important to overall wellness. Sports involvement is an excellent means of achieving overall wellness.
Nutrients and Food Groups
Good health starts with a good diet. The body needs nutrients in order to prevent malnutrition, which is a state of unhealthy tissues and organs due to faulty or inadequate nutrition. Nutrients required by the body can be found in the six food groups. A healthy combination of foods from these six food groups will provide us with the energy we need to live, grow, and repair ourselves. The food groups are:
Fats and oils
Foods from animals
Nutrients are the substances in foods that are absorbed into the blood and transported to cells throughout the body. These nutrients are as follows:
This is a source of energy. Carbs are found in sweet and starchy foods, i.e., the staple food group. Active sports persons need 60 per cent of their diet to be from carbohydrates. Meals high in carbohydrates are known as high-energy foods, e.g., rice, pasta, yam, corn, cereals, etc. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose. Excess glucose is then stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
This is needed for cell building, blood making, and for muscle and tissue repair and restoration. Proteins cannot be stored and are mainly found in the food from animals group. Examples are meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs, seafood, and legumes (peas, nuts, beans). The body can also use protein as energy.
Fats are used as energy with a mixture of glycogen as it cannot be used on its own. The mixture depends on how intense the activity is and how long it will last. Fats are supplied from the fats and oils group and also from varying food from animals. It is also found in nuts and some plants. The wrong type of fats may lead to high cholesterol. fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol.
Vitamins and Minerals
The body only requires a tiny amount of vitamins. Some vitamins like A and D can be stored in the liver. Some have to be consumed regularly, e.g. vitamin C. The body will excrete excess amounts. Minerals are just as important. Vitamins and minerals are found in all types of food but are particularly present in fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin A promotes healthy eyes and skin
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system
Vitamin D promotes strong bones and teeth, and essential for absorption of calcium.
Calcium promotes healthy teeth and bones
Iron promotes blood production, prevents tiredness.
Iodine promotes production of thyroxine hormone controls metabolic rate
This is a substance called cellulose, which is found in plants. Fibre is part of a healthy diet and is found in vegetables, whole grain foods, and other cereals. It cannot be digested by the body but, it prevents constipation and bowel cancer. It absorbs poisonous waste from digested foods.
This makes up 70 per cent of the body's weight. It aids the digestive system. A lack of water could decrease the amount of food that is digested, resulting in fewer nutrients reaching the cells. Eight glasses of water must be consumed daily to replace water lost through sweating, urination, and breathing.
The seven important nutrients must be part of the diet in the right proportions to make it balanced.
Next Week: Foods for Health and Athletic Performance/ Eating Disorders