EATING WISELY AND WELL
Food is vital to everyone, not simply because it is pleasurable to eat, but because it is essential to health. It contains nutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and
minerals) which are needed for growth, repair and normal body functioning.
In general, most people in the developed world eat reasonably adequate diets, often taking in more nutrients than their bodies actually need. The wide variety of foods available mean that on a balanced diet it’ s virtually impossible to be seriously defıcient in any vital nutrients. Nevertheless, doctors and , nutritionists are concerned ;1bout people’s eating patterns and how these affect their health.
Over the past hundred years or so, the average western diet has changed dramatically .People now eat more meat, dairy foods, sugary and salty foods, refıned carbohydrates and drink more ıilcohol. Fewer cereals (particularly the unrefıned ones) and less fresh fruit and vegetables are consumed.
In nutritional terms, this has meant a diet high in saturated fat, sugar and salt and low in the dietary i fıbre which is an essential part of healthy eating.
These changes seem to be associated with a high incidence of certain diseases which were previously rare and remain rare in those countries which still eat a diet equivalent to ours of a century ago. These include coronary heart disease, certain cancers, maturity onset diabetes and dental caries (tooth decay). Coronary heart disease is currently the biggest singIe killer in the west. In Britain over 150,000 people die from it each year and it is estimated that two out of every fıve men will suffer some form of heart disease before they reach retirement age. Tooth decay doesn’t kill, but its treatment is time-consuming andcostly .
Some people eat a healthy diet with Iittle or no room for improvement. Most could improve their diet by consuming Iess fat-particularly saturated fat-Iess sugar, salt and alcohol and more dietary fıbre. This does not mean cutting out certain foods altogether; just eating Iess of some and more of others. It does not mean constant vigilance over what you eat; a few basic changes will automatically produce a heiılthy diet.
CARBOHYDRATES AND FıBRE
These are important suppliers of energy to the body and, although in the past people were often advised to cut down on carb~hydrates as a means of controlling weight, research has shown that everyone should be eating more foods which are high in the unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole- meal bread, wholemeal flour and brown rice. When these are refined into white bread, flour and rice most of the dietary fibre is removed, reducing their food value.
TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF 30g OF FIBRE
25 g (1 oz) high fibre breakfast cereal 7 .5 g 2 slices wholemeal bread 4.5 g 1 Iarge apple 2.5 g 1 Iarge orange 3.0 g 1 jacket potato, weighing about
200g (7oz) 5.0g 2 medium raw carrots 3.0g 1 banana ” 3.5 g
50 g (2 oz) uncooked wholewheat spaghetti or macaroni
50g (2oz) uncooked brown rice
Dietary fıbre, known as roughage, is found only in plant foods, where it gives structure to plant cell wal1s. It is indigestible and remains in the intestine after the nutrients have been absorbed. Although it is of no nutritional value, it plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy .It prevents constipation and may also prevent certain diseases of the intestine, such as diverticulosis, cancer of the Iarge bowel and possibly other disorders Iike varicose veins and heart disease, although this has yet to be proved.
Dietary fıbre works by holding a lot of water . The more fıbre that is eaten, the more moisture is absorbed and it becomes easy for the intestine to push the soft, bulky waste matter along without pressure or straining. It also means that any poten- tial1y harmful substances are diluted and eliminated quickly from the body , spending Iittle time in contact with the wal1 of the intestine.
The fıbre found in cereals is particularly effec- tive at absorbing moisture, but the fıbre in vegetable foods may have other roles in preventing disease, so it is sensible to eat fıbre from a variety of sources.
There is no recommended daily intake for dietary fıbre, but experts agree that at Ieast 25 g (1 oz) a day, rather than the average 20g Goz) would be benefıcial. In parts of Africa, where diseases of civilisation such as cancer of the colon are rare, the average intake of fıbre is around 150 g (5 oz) a day, proving to a Iarge extent the damage Iack of fıbre can do.
Increasing fıbre intake doesn’t mean adding bran to everything. It is much better to eat more foods that are natural1y high in fıbre, Iike whole grain cereals (including wholemeal and brown bread which include brans or fıbres), wholegrain breakfast cereals, muesli, wholewheat pasta and rice, fruit, vegetables and pulses. There’s Iittle danger of eating too much fıbre. An excess of uncooked bran can reduce the absorption of zinc and certain other minerals but an adult would have to eat quite a bit for this to happen. Children under the age of two, however , should not be given uncooked bran.
EATING WISELY AND WELL