National Nutrition Week is celebrated every year from September 1 to 7 to raise awareness among people about the importance of having food loaded with all essential nutrients. It emphasizes on choosing nutritious foods for improving overall health among all age groups be it infants, children, adults and geriatrics.

Nutrition is a must have essential

Good nutrition is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain an ideal weight, prevent the risk of chronic diseases, boost immunity and promote well-being.

Good nutrition signifies that our body gets all essential nutrients needed for it to function at its best. Let’s learn about the role and function of essential nutrients for healthy adults.

Essential nutrients are components that the body can’t synthesize on its own or present in very inadequate amounts. These nutrients should ideally come from the food we eat and are potent for growth, prevention of disease and promote well-being.

Essential nutrients are broadly classified into two categories macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients comprise the chief source of food taken in large amounts which form the major part of the diet regimen - protein, carbohydrate and fat providing fuel for the body.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals required in minimal amounts. There are five must-have essential nutrients to be added in the regular diet plan. Let’s read more about their function and role in promoting health.

1.Protein

Proteins are the building blocks of the body consisting of one or two long-chain amino acids. It performs several bodily functions and almost 16% of average adults body weight is from protein. Protein is the quintessential nutrient required for growth and body maintenance. It makes up the antibodies, DNA synthesis, hormones, provide structure and support for every single cell, mobility and transport molecules throughout the body.

Proteins are made up of a different type of amino acids, the body makes few of the amino acids but there are nine essential amino acids that must be obtained from the diet. Good sources of essential amino acids include lean meat, fish, egg, and dairy products. Legumes, soy and nuts are plant sources that provide protein.

The recommended dietary allowance of protein for healthy adults is 0.8gram/kg body weight/day.

2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body, and one of the key foods in a well-planned diet. Carbs provide instant energy, especially to the brain, nervous system and muscles. Carbohydrates are essential for proper brain function which help to boost mood and memory. Healthy sources of carbs include whole-grain cereals, wheat, millets, brown rice and fibre-rich veggies and fruits. Almost 45% -60% of the daily calories should be met from carbohydrates.

3. Fat

Fats are an important component of a well-balanced diet. They play a vital role in cell structure and maintenance, absorption of vitamins and minerals, insulate the body, protects the organs, act as messengers and source of energy. Types of fats include-saturated, unsaturated and trans fats. To maintain a healthy lipid profile and lower the risk of heart diseases limit the intake of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fat and include unsaturated fats. Less than 15% of the total calories should come from fat. Healthy sources of fat include nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, and mustard oil.

4. Vitamins

Vitamins are micronutrients, the body requires in small quantities for proper functioning and metabolism. Vitamins are broadly classified into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins - A, C, D, E, K and B complex. Every single vitamin plays an important function in the body and deficiency may lead to a compromised immune system and other health issues. Vitamins are essential for healthy skin, good vision, bone health, lower the risk of cancer, wound healing, trigger the immune system and keep diseases at bay.

Eating a balanced diet and including an array of colourful vegetables and fruits will help you to meet your daily dose of vitamins.

5. Minerals

Minerals are essential micronutrients which the body needs to perform several bodily functions. Minerals play a crucial role in bone development, metabolism, maintain nerve functions, muscle contraction and relaxation, the formation of red blood cells, enzyme reaction, the receptor of hormones and bolsters immunity.

Some of the essential minerals include iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc to mention a few. A well-balanced diet regimen will help you meet your mineral needs.

To keep your body function effortlessly you require all of these essential nutrients to be included in your regular diet plan.

Sample nutritious diet

Here is a sample vegetarian diet plan for a healthy adult: 2200kcalories, 60-gram protein.

Early morning: Tea or coffee 1 cup (with skim milk)

Breakfast: Idly 4 /Millet Dosa 3 /Dhokla 4 pieces/Upma -2 cups /Multigrain cereals -1 bowl/ Brown bread vegetable cheese sandwich 3 slices

Paneer bhurji or legumes boiled 1cup

Sambhar – 1cup/Onion, tomato chutney ½ cup

Mid-morning: Green Tea 1cup/Buttermilk 1 glass/Fruit 1

Lunch: Rice 2 cups + Roti 1 or Roti/paratha 4

Dal or Vegetable Curry 1 cup

Cooked vegetable sabzi or dry vegetable 1 cup

Vegetable salad -1 plate

Curd 1 cup

Mid-Evening: Tea / coffee /Milk 1 cup

Fruit 1 or mixed nuts ¼ cup or boiled legume 1 cup

Dinner: Roti or Phulka 4 /Millet Dosa -3 /Kichadi 2 cups

Legume curry or Paneer gravy or Dal 1 cup

Vegetable salad -1 plate

Bed-Time: Milk -1 glass

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