Nutrients and Balanced Diet


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All living organisms require food to live. Food comprises of six important nutrients - carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Nutrients are essential to perform various metabolic activities.

a) Carbohydrates are compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, always in the ratio of 1:2:1.

  • They are oxidised in the cells to release energy. Carbohydrates include sugars, starch and cellulose.
  • Carbohydrates are oxidised in the body into simple sugars like glucose.
  • They provide instant energy. When oxidised in the body, one mole of glucose releases 686 kilocalories of energy.
  • Carbohydrates are present in rice, wheat, jowar, maize and other grains.
  • They are also present in tubers and fruits. They are mainly present in rice, potato, banana, etc.

b) Proteins are formed by carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.
  • Nitrogen is the most essential element in proteins. Some proteins contain sulphur and phosphorus also.
  • Proteins on digestion form simple molecules called as amino acids.
  • Proteins act as building blocks and serve as materials helping in growth and repair of the body cells and tissues.
  • In an emergency, they may also get oxidised to release energy.
  • Protein helps in the formation of hair, nails etc.
  • Proteins also help our body in the synthesis of antibodies. Antibodies provide resistance against germs.
  • Proteins are required for children who are at the stage of growth.
  • Protein deficiency in the diet causes diseases related with PEM (Protein Energy Malnutrition).
  • Proteins can be animal proteins of plant proteins. Animal protein rich food include eggs,fish, meat, milk, cheese and pulses. Plant protein rich food include pulses of beans. Food rich in proteins include lean meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, beans, peas, etc.

c) Fats are also made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Fats have very little oxygen content.
  • Fats produce more energy than carbohydrates do.
  • Fat below the skin protects the body against rapid loss of heat.
  • It serves as a solvent for fat-soluble vitamins. It is an important form of energy storage for future use.
  • Common food rich in fats include milk, cheese, butter, cream, ghee, vegetable oils, meat, and fish liver oils.

d) Vitamins are the chemical substances that help in maintaining a healthy body. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble and can be stored in the body. Vitamin B complexes and Vitamin C are water soluble forms. They cannot be stored for a long period of time in the body.
  • Vitamin A: It promotes growth, vision. It is present in butter, egg yolk, milk, carrot, etc.
  • Vitamin D: It helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus which aid in the formation of bones and teeth. It is present in fish liver oil, milk, eggs, etc. It helps individuals from disease called scurvy
  • Vitamin E: Prevents the oxidation of vitamin A. It is present in meat, milk, whole wheat. It prevents person from ageing.
  • Vitamin K: It helps in blood clotting mechanism during injury. It is present in cabbage, spinach, leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B complex: B-complex vitamins are made up of 11 individual vitamins. All these B-complex vitamins are water soluble substances. These vitamins are necessary for healthy functioning of brain, nerves and muscles. It is present in wheat, rice and liver. They prevent individuals from being affected by diseases like beri-beri.
  • Vitamin C: It helps in fighting against diseases like common cold, scurvy throat infections. It is present in oranges, tomatoes, lemon and guava.

e) Mineral salts are needed in the diet in small quantities. These are obtained from table salt, green vegetables and fruits. Some important minerals are listed below.

Calcium is required for the following functions
  • Strengthening of bones and teeth.
  • Blood clotting.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Rich sources: Milk, meat, eggs, fish, pulses, vegetables, etc.

Phosphorus is required for following functions
  • Strengthening of bones and teeth.
  • ATP production during cellular respiration.
  • Conduction of nerve impulses.
  • Rich sources: Milk, meat, eggs, fish, pulses, vegetables, etc.

Iron is required for following functions
  • Formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • Rich sources: Green leafy vegetables, liver, etc.

Iodine is required for following functions
  • Proper functioning of thyroid gland.
  • Normal body growth.
  • Rich sources: Vegetables, mineral water and iodised salt.

Sodium is required for following functions
  • To control the fluids in the body.
  • To carry nerve impulses in the body.

Potassium is required for following functions
  • Formation of new cells.
  • To carry nerve impulses in the body.

f) Water is the vital nutrient which helps the body in the process of absorption of nutrients from the food.
  • It also helps the body to get rid of toxic wastes through urine and sweat.
  • It helps to maintain constant body temperature.
  • It keeps our skin moist.
  • It keeps the body soft.
  • It provides the medium for transportation of substances in the body.

g) Dietary fibres are necessary for smooth movement of food in the alimentary canal. They provide bulk roughage to remove the undigested waste during defecation.

Balanced diet
It is the diet that contains all the principle constituents of food in appropriate quantities required by the body. In other words, balanced diet is the diet that nourishes the body with sufficient amount of nutrients required by the body. Balanced diet comprises the components like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and sufficient amount of water. Balanced diet keeps our body fit and resistant to diseases. RDA is the Recommended Dietary Allowance which should be followed by individual in order to maintain good health.

Category Body weight (kg) Energy in kcal Protein in gms Fat in gms Carbohydrate in gms
Man 60 2875 60 15-20 225-300
Woman 50 2225 50 15-20 220
Boy 47 2450 70 22 130
Girl 46 2060 55 22 130

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Activities & Simulations

Activity 1 has sparked an interactive activity to explain different types of nutrients making up a balanced diet. The instructions are given to the student who can use drag and drop method of constructing a balanced diet. Activity is very interesting as student can know the information as to which food contains which specific nutrient.
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Activity 2 has created an interactive lesson which brings in the information about the food and nutrients in it. It also explains the significance of balanced diet. It has also illustrated the roles of  each type of nutrients present in our food. Additional information is given through questions in the form of quiz. Students are tested for their knowledge on balanced diet. Correct answers are also provided in case of mistakes
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Activity 3 has demonstrated the role of balanced diet in human beings. It provides more information in simple language about the nutrients in the balanced diet. The animated video is colourful and based on cartoon template to make it interesting to the student. Important terms and information regarding the nutrients are highlighted with small captions being scrolled at the bottom.
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