Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Diet and Health

Good diet is essential in maintaining a healthy life style which in time will have a long lasting positive impact on the quality of life as we age. A good and healthy diet is a balanced one that contains the required amounts of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Basically, carbohydrate is a source of easily accessible energy; proteins, on the other hand, are essential in building muscles; and fats, aside from providing heat, may also be utilized as an energy source during more chronic stressful situations. A good diet must also contain vitamins and minerals for proper organ functioning, most of which can be obtained from fruits and vegetables.

Traditionally, Bhutanese diet is high in carbohydrate and fat content as rice is the main food, which is essential as source of energy for physically intense work such as farming. Consumption of thick butter and oil in the curry and sikam which is a favourite of almost all make diet rich in fat. Religious practices as well as the climate and the geographic location of Bhutan also influenced our traditional diet. We take chillies to keep ourselves warm, for instance.

Even today, Bhutanese office workers still consume a significant amount of carbohydrates and fat in the form of rice and oil in relation to their physical activity and intake of protein, vegetables and fruits. Although the traditional Bhutanese way of eating cannot be changed overnight, a shifting dietary requirement should come with a changing lifestyle and way of life.

To make Bhutanese diet healthy, we will have to divide our plate into three portions. The first should be filled with carbohydrate like rice and potato, the second one with meat, fish or egg for protein. For vegetarians, egg and the bean family like pea and dhal are good sources of protein. The last portion, which most Bhutanese lack, should be filled with fruits and vegetables.

The amount of food (measured in calories) that our body needs differs according to age, gender, height, weight and physical activity. In general, males need 1500 to 2500 calories a day and females need 900 to 1500 a day. A gram of carbohydrate and protein has 4 calories and a gram of fat has 9 calories. 40% of the calories should come from carbohydrates, 40% from protein and 20% from fat. Taking fewer calories less than what is required is also not good.

Eating smaller meals at least 3 to 4 times or more a day is good for digestive system. The breakfast must be the heaviest to have enough calories to start the day with and the dinner, lightest as we rest after it. There should be a gap of at least 2 hours to make sure that dinner digests before we go to bed.

The habit of drinking clean water until one's urine is crystal clear is also a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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