In this article we look at the main food groups and what they do for the body.
What is a balanced diet?
It is essential that we all eat a balanced diet in order for our bodies to function properly. Eating the right food fuels our body with the right energy and nutrients. But what does a balanced diet consist of? In order for a diet to be considered well balanced, we will need to ensure that we eat plenty of foods that derive from the 5 main food groups. The groups consist of the following:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Fats and sugars
- Milk and dairy
Fruit and Veg
Consuming at least 5 portions (80 grams) of fruit and vegetables each day is recommended for fighting off illness. This is because fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day will reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Carbohydrates and sugars
Carbohydrates play a number of vitally important roles in the body and are the body's primary source of energy. The brain needs the simple carbohydrate glucose as an energy source to function correctly. This is why you often feel light headed and tired when you refrain from eating carbs. It is recommended that the daily intake of carbohydrates is 230 grams for women. In the absence of carbohydrates, the body will use fat and protein for energy. This is why diets such as the keto diet which focus on low carb consumption are so successful in producing weight loss. Although these diets are successful it is not healthy or practical to remain on them for any great length of time (no longer than 3 months). Some good sources of carbohydrates that you can consume are oats, buckwheat, bananas, sweet potatoes and blueberries.
When considering the main food groups and what they do we have to mention fats. A small amount of fat is essential in order to produce the required energy for cell growth. Fats also help protect your organs and keep the body warm as well as producing hormones. A person who does not consume enough fat can suffer from extreme mental fatigue, skin problems, menstrual cycle problems, issues with body temperature and constant feelings of hunger. UK guidelines state that the average women between 19-64 should consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day. A good example of healthy natural fats is oily fish, eggs, avocado and nuts.
Consuming enough protein each day is very important for rebuilding muscle tissue in the body and maintaining cellular structure. Protein also helps in the fight against low blood sugar as it can be broken down into glucose. Foods such as lean chicken, beans, natural yogurt, seeds and nuts are all excellent forms of protein.
Milk and dairy
The calcium found in milk and dairy products helps the body with hormonal secretion, adequate functioning of muscles and nerve transmission. Dairy products are also high in vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc, and protein which all help the body function to its optimal level.
Be sure to leave a comment in the comment section below should you have any questions on the main food groups and what they do to our body.