During the different ages of evolution of human beings, one thing was loud and clear that it was the “Survival of the Fittest”. During the initial ages the humans were dependent on fruits, vegetation and animals for their daily diet requirements. They had no knowledge about what is good and what is not good for the body. But slowly through the generations the mankind started keeping a record of all vegetation available in the region and their effects on our body. This legacy was transferred from one generation to another. In the modern world, a lot of experiments were done by the scientists throughout the world to discover the reasons for our good or bad health. In the present day the information on various researches are available on internet and also transferred to different regions so that it can help the mankind to sustain. Many theories have been impounded on the basis of different discoveries on the healthy elements for the body and consized in balanced diet.
What is Balanced Diet
A diet which contains all essential elements for a healthy body in right proportion is called a balanced diet.
Essential Elements of Balanced Diet
The importance of protein could be understood with the fact that all the cells, tissues, muscles and genetic material is made up of protein. Life can not exist without protein. Not only human beings but also the animals need protein to exist in this world.
Protein is a long chain of bio-molecules, called polymer, of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen which form variety of amino acids through various combinations. The proteins may also be enzymes which are required for various functions of the cell as a catalyst. Proteins can be antibodies which strengthen our immune system by attacking the foreign bodies like bacteria and virus. Haemoglobin is also protein which transports oxygen from lungs to all parts of the body. Insulin is a protein responsible for maintaining glucose levels in the body. The cell membrane is made up of protein which allows certain substance to pass through its system to maintain a healthy cell. All connecting tissues & cartilage are made up of protein. The hair, nails, shells of animals are all made up of protein. The genetic material such as DNA, RNA, sperms etc are all made up of protein. The plants have the ability to synthesize all amino acids as per their need but animals and humans have to depend on plants to get nine amino acids known as essential amino acids which the animals can’t make on their own i.e. Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine. Each human cell has approximately 100-300 crore proteins on an average.
Symptoms of Protein Deficiency
The protein deficiency leads to diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmus. During such conditions when the energy is being derived from carbohydrates in the diet, many functions of the body are adversely affected due to less intake of protein from diet. Some symptoms associated with protein deficiency are as follows:
- Reduction in the muscles: The body tends to draw protein stored in the muscles for essential functions in the body to keep you alive. This is especially visible in case of elderly people.
- Weak bones leading to probable fractures: As the muscle mass is reduced, the bones lose strength and become susceptible to fractures.
- Water retention, Swelling in body: The right amount of protein is required to maintain the pressure in the blood vessels for intercellular transfer of water molecules. Low protein diet disturbs this equation leading to water retention in the cells. You may see puffiness and swelling in the skin at various places in the body.
- Fatty Liver: Low protein diet may also leads to fatty liver in which you may get continuous stomach pain especially towards the left side of the body you may have loss of appetite or quick satiation or bowl problems.
- Loss of glow on face: All the cells of the body are made up of protein. The visible areas being the face, hair, skin, nails etc. When the body needs protein to survive and the supply of protein from diet is not sufficient, it slows the supply of protein to beauty related parts of the body leading to black spots, hair fall, cracked skin and nails etc.
- Changes in eating habits: Low protein in the body stimulates the digestive system to provoke the body to eat more protein rich food to overcome the shortage. But actually you land up eating more calories, in the form of fast food & quick snacking which is full of fats & carbohydrates and less protein, in the process. This irresponsible eating after starvation tends to store excess energy and makes you obese. Your craving for food continues even when your stomach is full.
- Catching infections easily: One fall out of low protein is that our response to infections reduces considerably. Since all the functions of the body depends on the health of each cell, low protein doesn’t allow your antibodies, which neutralize foreign matter, to function properly and we tend to get infections easily.
- Slow growth in children: Low protein intake from diet affects the pituitary gland and doesn’t allow the children to grow well as proteins are the building blocks for the body. Such conditions lead to slow growth, low height, mental retardation, low IQ level, low vision, low physical & mental strength.
- Quick tiredness, laziness, low energy, weakness, headache: Since the bodily functions are compromised due to shortage of protein, the body tends to avoid working to store the nutrition for most necessary functions of the body. As you move your body it puts pressure on the tissues and some cells die in the process but in the absence of protein, sufficient cells are not formed.
- Leading to other problems: Since every ell in the body is made up of protein, low protein affects the functioning of all the glands secreting various harmones in the body. The enzymes which work as catalyst for many chemical reactions do not work properly. The supply of essential vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and even oxygen is affected which leads other deficiencies as well. This may lead to cardiovascular disease, anemia, vitamin A, B, C, D, K deficiency, low hemoglobin, imbalance in the levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron etc.
How to get Protein Rich Diet
Protein rich diet is available in abundance and you need to choose wisely when making your food choices. On an average an adult needs 50-60 grams of protein per day to stay fit and healthy. The sportspersons, body builders or persons with hectic schedule of physical activity may need more. High protein diet gives you a sense of fullness and you don’t feel hungry for a longer duration. This helps you in your weight management effectively. The best source of protein comes from animal based food such as milk and the dishes made from milk, eggs & other poultry, fish, animal meat etc. The vegetable sources include mushroom, soya, grains (especially sprouts), all kinds of pulses, nuts, all kind of beans etc. Apart from that all kinds of vegetables and seeds have some quantity of protein which collectively is sufficient for vegetarians to get their daily needs if they eat all kinds of vegetables.
Though Protein is an essential element for our body but too much of it may endanger our life and may lead to many problems. Too much protein intake may lead to constipation, stomach ache, dehydration, uneasiness, heartburn, acidity, bad breadth and odor from body, engina, increased heart beat etc. High dose of protein impacts the functioning of kidneys badly and in serious cases may lead to failure of kidneys. However, usually plant based protein is considered to be the safest to consume and digest.
Continued………… with the other elements of balanced diet.