By Dr. Anjali Sharma
The food we eat contains macro nutrients and micro nutrients.
They all have a unique role in our diet. Their deficiency leads
to various health problems and diseases. The food components
are energy, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals,
fibers and water.
This is the basic requirement of body. The energy need of
body depends on factors like age, gender, body size, height,
weight, activity level, lifestyle, health status and also
the climate and environment. It is measured in calorie. Fats,
carbohydrates and proteins are source of energy. Adult males
require 2400 – 3900 calorie,
adult female require 1900 – 3000 calorie, pregnant
woman – 2200 calorie, lactating woman 2600 calorie,
infants 100 calorie / kg weight, children (1 – 12 years)
- 1200 – 2100 depending on age, adolescent boys – 2500 – 3000
calorie, adolescent girls – 2200 calorie.
Carbohydrates : These are primary source
of energy and helps in energy balance, energy reserve (glycogen),
growth of body tissue and function of body systems. These
are of two types. One is simple carbohydrates which are available
in sugar, honey, fruits, milk etc. It gives instant energy
but rises too quickly in blood. Other is complex carbohydrates
which are available in wheat, rice, corn, root vegetables
etc. These give sustained energy.
are the building blocks of body tissue. They help in
growth & repair of body,
give energy and are necessary for good immunity, oxygen carrying
capacity, acid base & electrolyte balance and help
various chemical reactions in the body in the form of enzymes.
Proteins consist of amino acids and it is necessary to
get essential amino acids. Both plant and animal proteins
must be included in diet. Good source of proteins are Meat,
cheese, egg, fish, milk, poultry, legumes, whole grains,
nuts, seeds etc.
: Fats are indicated
in some diseases but Lipids or fats are also important
in diet. They provide energy reserve, helps in insulation,
in thermoregulation, in protection of body tissue, required
for fat soluble vitamins, for brain function and for
some body chemicals like hormones etc. These are of three types.
Saturated fats are not good for health. These are available
in butter, lard, coconut and palm oil. Monounsaturated
fats & Polyunsaturated
fats are good for health as they lower the risk of heart
disease & give essential fatty acids. Monounsaturated
fats are found in avocado, olive oil, peanut, canola etc.
Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, cotton seed, peanut,
safflower, sesame, soybean etc. Other important lipids are
phospholipids & sterols.
Vitamins : These are
complex organic substances, required in small quantity
but are must for various body functions. Their deficiency
can badly impair health. These are divided into fat soluble
(A, D, E & K) and water
soluble (B Complex & C) vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins
- Vitamin A or
Retinol. Necessary for growth & vitality,
resistance against infection, nourishment and function
of mucus membrane / skin / hair, for vision & eye.
Found in liver, whole milk, egg yolk, cheese, butter,
carrots, beet, turnip, dark green leafy vegetables,
mango, papaya, apricots, almonds.
- Vitamin B 1 or Thiamin. Necessary
for nervous system, carbohydrate and energy metabolism.
Found in wheat germ, whole grain, cereals, pulses, nuts,
peas, milk, egg, banana, apple.
- Vitamin B 2 or Riboflavin. Necessary
for various metabolisms, for healthy skin, hair and
nails. Found in green leafy vegetables, wheat, cheese, milk,
eggs, almonds, sunflower seeds etc.
- Vitamin B 3 or
Niacin. Necessary for circulatory & nervous system, protein & carbohydrate
metabolism. Found in liver, fish, peanuts, whole wheat,
green leafy vegetables etc.
- Vitamin B 5 or
Pantothenic acid. Necessary for adrenal gland function,
fight against stress & toxins,
for vitality. Found in whole grain, cereals, green
vegetables, peas, beans, peanuts, egg yolk etc.
- Vitamin B 6 or
Pyridoxine. Necessary for protein & fat absorption, prevents nervous, skin & degenerative
diseases. Found in wheat germ, yeast, cereals, pulses,
banana, soybean, walnut, milk, egg, meat, fresh vegetables.
- Vitamin B 9 or
Folic acid. Necessary for cell division & growth,
red blood cells, healing process. Found in dark green
leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, peanuts, yeast
- Vitamin B 12 or Cyanocobalamin.
Necessary for nervous system, red blood cells, fat metabolism.
Found in milk, meat, egg, banana, peanuts.
- Vitamin C or
Ascorbic acid. Necessary for growth & maintenance of body tissue, healing, fight
against stress, infection, toxins & cold. Found in
citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, sprouts etc.
- Vitamin D or
Cholecalciferol. Necessary for bones & teeth,
thyroid functioning, absorption of nutrition. Found
in sunlight, fish, eggs, butter, meat, sprouts etc.
- Vitamin E or Tocopherols. Necessary
for reproductive function, fertility, sex hormones.
It acts as antioxidant, delays ageing. Found in whole grains,
vegetable oils, leafy vegetables, sprouts etc.
- Vitamin K or
Phylloquinone & others.
Necessary for blood clotting, bone proteins and liver
function. Found in leafy vegetables, cabbage, milk,
egg, meat etc.
for bones & teeth,
contraction of muscles, blood clotting and other enzyme functions.
Found in milk, milk products, whole wheat, leafy vegetables,
carrot, orange, almond, figs, walnuts.
for bones, teeth, nerves & brain. Found in cereals,
pulses, nuts, egg yolk, milk, legumes etc.
Iron. Necessary for hemoglobin in
blood, vitality, resistance to infection. Found in grapes,
resins, spinach, green vegetables, whole grains, cereals,
beets, dates, egg yolk etc.
Magnesium Necessary for nervous,
muscular and digestive system, energy metabolism, bones and
teeth. Found in grapes, figs, lemons, whole grain, celery,
cauliflower, orange, lettuce, cucumber, almond etc.
Sodium Necessary for regulation of
body water content and electrolyte balance, energy utilization
and nerve function, absorption of certain nutrients and water
from the gut. Found in table salt, milk, celery, spinach,
cucumber, lemon, orange, watermelon, grapes etc.
Necessary for water & electrolyte
balance, functioning of heart & other muscles, making
of new tissue. Found in dried fruit, banana, vegetables,
milk, potatoes, butter milk etc.
Iodine. Necessary for thyroid function,
energy metabolism, skin. Found in kelp, sea food, lettuce,
turnip, fortified salt, pineaaple, guava, garlic etc.
Chlorine. Necessary for digestive
acid, hormones. Found in cheese, milk products, berries,
tomato, rice, radish, lentils, coconut etc.
Sulphur Necessary for removal of
waste from body, for skin /hair /nerves. Found in onion,
radish, cabbage, cheese, carrot, egg yolk etc.
for hemoglobin & red
blood cells, digestive enzymes. Found in almond, beans,
peas, lentils, whole wheat etc.
Cobalt Necessary for blood cell
formation. Found in liver, leafy vegetables.
Manganese Necessary for nerves,
brain, muscle action. Found in citrus fruits, nuts, grains,
fish, egg yolk.
for enzyme action, healing, skin & hair, vitamin
A transport, immunity against infection, sexual maturity.
Found in milk, meat, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds
for prevention of damage to hemoglobin & other body
tissues, prevention of premature ageing. Found in yeast,
garlic, mushroom, milk, egg, seafood etc.
Fibres are edible parts
of plants that are not broken down and absorbed in the human
small intestine. Some are cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin,
gums, lignin etc. They serve many important functions in food
- They provide low calorie / no calorie bulk to diet. This
helps in giving feeling of fullness and thus helps in weight
- They hold water and gives soft bulk to stool thereby preventing
constipation and help in elimination of waste.
- They hold few chemicals
in stomach and intestine, this helps in slow & less
absorption of sugar, cholesterol etc. This helps in management
of diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol etc.
- Low fibre diet is said to be associated with diseases
like diverticulitis, colon cancer etc.
Fibres are found in wheat
bran, whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables
or can be taken as Isabgula husk.
is essential to live. Its deficiency can be fatal. About
50 – 70 % of our body is water. It has many functions
in the body. The amount of fluid needed varies between people
and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet,
health and levels of physical activity. We can obtain our fluid
requirements from a number of sources such as water and other
drinks, as well as from the food we eat. One should drink plenty
of water to keep healthy. Do not wait for thirst to drink water.
One should drink about 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day.
Water is necessary for a number of reasons like :
- It is necessary component of every single
cell of our body.
- It acts as a lubricant for joints, eyes and
almost every surface and tissue of the body.
- It helps in digestion and absorption of food
right from swallow to excretion.
- It provides the medium in which most reactions
in the body take place.
- It acts as a cushion for the nervous system.
- It is the medium of transportation as in
blood, lymph, bile etc.
- It helps to regulate body temperature.
- It helps in elimination of toxins from the
- It is good for skin, hair and nails.