A balanced diet is one that covers an individual’s nutrient requirements to cover all of the essential factors necessary for growth so that every part of the body gets what it needs to function properly. While everyone needs are different, there are certain basic principles that can help us achieve a balanced diet which allows the body to obtain all the substances it needs to function optimally.
Healthy Living requires keeping the body fuelled and not only eating the right food items, but you’re also eating them in the proper amounts. Understanding what our bodies need, how they react to different foods, how to learn to read the signs that our bodies send us, and how to adjust our eating habits to boost our health in our changing lifestyles.
What exactly should we include in a balanced plant-based diet?
There are six main components of a balanced diet: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water.
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body’s activities and are obtained from grains, cereals, bread, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, pulses, dairy products and sugars. Fibre also forms part of the carbohydrate group.
Fats main roles include providing the body with insulation (helping to maintain a constant temperature), participating in the production of hormones and absorption of vitamins, and as an important source of energy for the body.
Proteins give structure to the cells of the body and are important for cell growth, repair and maintenance. They are in every type of tissue in the body including bones, skin, muscle and organs. Good sources of protein include pulses, grains, nuts and seeds.
Vitamins are naturally occurring chemicals essential for health. While food is the main source of vitamins, a few of them are obtained by other means: vitamin D is synthesized in the skin with the help of natural sunlight, and vitamin K and biotin are produced by micro-organisms in the intestine. Vitamins are present in minute quantities in most of the foods that we eat.
Minerals are substances originating in rocks and metal ores and are essential for health. Minerals make their way into the body by the plant-based foods that we eat, and (to some degree) by drinking water. Minerals are needed by the body in tiny amounts and they work together to make and break body tissue in order to regulate metabolism
Water accounts for approximately 80 percent of the human body: it is involved in temperature control and as facilitator for chemical reactions in the organism. To maintain adequate levels of hydration, the body sweats excreting water and salts through the pores. For that reason, making sure the body gets plenty of fluids is extremely important.