Food and Health: Balanced Diet, Nutrients, Roughage, Malnutrition

To stay healthy, one must live in a clean environment with fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink and wholesome food to eat. But do we eat the right kind of food? It is very important to eat healthy and nutritious food.

The food you eat each day, makes up your diet. All food items have nutrients. Nutrients are useful substances present in the food. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals are different types of nutrients,

Balanced Diet

A daily diet that provides all the nutrients in the right amount, is called a balanced diet. A balanced diet helps to grow well and remain healthy. If the diet contains less nutrients, the body becomes weak and if the nutrients are more it affects the body adversely.

Types of Nutrients

(1) Carbohydrates and Fats : Energy giving food—Carbohydrates and fats give us energy to work and play. Rice, wheat, sweet potato, bread and banana contain plenty of carbohydrates. Fats are found in oil, cheese, butter, ghee and nuts. Fats give more energy than the carbohydrates. The daily carbohydrates requirement of a child of your age: 4 to 5 portions of carbohydrates everyday to meet your energy needs. One chapati or half-a-cup cooked rice = one portion of energy-rich food.

(2) Proteins : For growth and you repair—Proteins help in the growth of your body. They also help in repairing the tissues of the body and in healing small cuts and wounds. Milk, eggs. meat, fish and pulses are rich in proteins. A balanced diet should include protein-rich food.

The children upto the age of 18 to 20 should contain 2 portions of protein rich food + one cup of milk. Half a cup of dal or half a cup of cooked legumes (moong, gram, peas, rajma) = one portion of protein-rich food.

(3) Vitamins and Minerals: Nutrients like vitamins and minerals are needed in small quantities. These nutrients give resistance to our body to fight against diseases. Our body needs vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Vitamin A is needed for growth and repair of bones, teeth and skin. It also helps in proper functioning of eyes. Vitamin B is needed for energy, growth and healthy skin. Vitamin C helps in the formation of blood, healing of wounds and keeps the gums healthy. Vitamin D is needed for the proper growth of bones. This vitamin is also made by the body in the skin with the help of sunlight.

Minerals are also needed by our body to keep it healthy. Fresh milk, green leafy vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals.

Calcium is the most plentiful mineral found in the body. Milk and milk products are rich in calcium. Fish, dry beans, wheat and nuts are also good source of calcium. Calcium helps in building strong bones, teeth and muscles. It is a body building mineral. It is also needed in the formation of blood.

Iron is a part of blood. Food items like fish. liver, apples walnuts. cashewnuts, groundnuts, beans, eggs and green vegetables are rich in iron.

You need to eat 4 to 5 portions to meet your vitamin and mineral needs. One banana or half-a-cup cooked vegetables or half an apple or quarter cup raw vegetable-one portion.

Fibre (Roughage)

Roughage is also an important part of our diet. It helps to carry waste material out of the body. Fruits, vegetables and seeds have roughage. It keeps our intestine in good working condition.

An example of a balanced diet
1 glass of milk, 1 banana, 3 chapatis with little ghee or butter, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup dal, 1/2 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup of raw tomato or cucumber, 1/2 cup cooked moong and 1/2 an apple, Balanced diet


A person who does not get a diet with required nutrients over a long period of time, can suffer from malnutrition. Children in whose diet there is shortage of carbohydrates and proteins, do not grow well. They do not get proper energy. They do not gain weight, become lazy and have sunken eyes. Their hands and legs appear as skin and bones. Such children look very weak and often fall sick.

Children who have enough carbohydrates in their diet but less protein not look thin but they are not active like healthy children. They have active like healthy children. They have swollen feet and hands and their stomach protein out. These children have this reddish hair.They have patchy and paled off skin. Malnutrition can be cured by taking a balanced diet.

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