Eating to Health? Think Again!

So, what is new about this that you already don't know? Think again. It is not what-you-are-aware that is important, but are-you -alert, that is. Keep your eyes and mind open to avoid upsets to your normal health. Well, take out your diet chart and critically examine it again. Are you eating the right food? And are you eating healthy?

At the onset, we will accept that eating healthy doesn't just end at eating good food. The daily nutrients and calorie charts vary for each individual depending on her requirements. An athlete and a sedentary person have different requirements for their nutrients and calories as they burn up different amounts of them. It also depends on your age and body mass index.

The USDA has compiled required calories chart for Americans for 2005 which is here for you.

If you are consuming less than 1800 calories and you are a teen, you should think of raising it to at least 2000 counts a day. Now, where will you get these many calories from and how do you calculate the calorific values of the food you take? And what other nutrients you need?

I won't go into boring details about a fantasy called food. In brief, the USDA has also drawn up a chart to suggest us all what to eat to get these many calories. And they call it the food guide pyramid. It is just that you have to do a bit of a calculation in order to balance your diet.

Up to 5 servings of vegetables

Up to four servings of fruits

Three servings of milk products

Up to 11 of pasta, cereals, and bread

Two to three servings of meat (both red and white), eggs, nuts and beans put together.

Very sparingly fats and sweets.

So, how much should you treat a serving to be? Let us see what USDA has to say on this. One serving of grains is a slice of bread, one ounce of cereal, ½ cups of cooked rice and vegetables each, one cup each of juice and milk and 2 -3 ounces of lean meat, one and a half cups of boiled beans (Omi? so much!!)

Additives or preservatives are regulated stringently by FDA for our benefits. The manufacturers establish to FDA, the proven benefits and whatsoever adverse effects of the new additives conclusively before approval. The major criteria for approval are that additives should not cause cancer or heart diseases.

SNAC - S T U D E N T N U T R I T I O N A W A R E N E S S C A M P A I G N, UCLA, has done some interesting findings. According to them, the additives constitute just about 1% of your total food supply. Of which 98% are sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, corn syrup, citric acid and baking soda. And preservatives such as calcium propionate are used to extend the shelf life of bread. But wait a minute! Beware of preservatives like saccharin, sodium nitrate, ace sulfame K, BHA, and BHT. They are known to cause cancer.

The controversies on additives need not worry you if you took some extra caution. This isn't something none of the Americans do. A good way is to learn more about additives and resorting to more of the fresh or minimum processed foods. Also, keeping track of additives help minimize exposure to particular additives.

It makes sense to be a little careful while buying vegetables or fruits. It is better to buy fresh in season. Look for bruises and scratches or cuts on the vegetable skin. These cuts and bruises hold microbes that spoil the food very quickly. Buy when you want to instead of stuffing your refrigerator. Most fruits and vegetables have a shelf life of 4 -5 days.

Now where on earth this food poisoning came from? Or is it that some body intentionally ?? Well. Vegetables and fruits have high health protection values. Still they get contaminated unintentionally because of their handling at the farm or at the market and during transportation. The bacteria and virus come from the environment and soil. And then there are pesticide residues. You never know when you don't get your health upset, because of any of these. Handle this issue carefully. You don't need to use specialty cleaning agents for washing your food. For vegetables and fruits use 10% soap solution to soak before washing in running cold water. You know, washing in running water effectively removes up to 90% of bacteria. So, washing twice removes maximum contaminants and bacteria. Also you can use a mild scrub/brush with soap solution to clean. Take care not to damage the skin of your food. Some experts also recommend potassium permanganate to soap solution. But it leaves its characteristic odor.

Never forget to sanitize all surfaces you prepare your food on. Warm soap water or bleaching water (1 tea spoon bleach powder to a liter of water) kills most known kitchen bacteria. Wash your grill twice, before and after you use it. Dry it before you start using it. Don't forget to wash your hands before you handle the now clean food and every time after you use toilet, sneeze or cough, clear a table et cetera. Use paper disposable towels to dry off hands rather than cloth. This ensures maximum safety by eliminating recontamination chances.

Finally, what chop board you use also determines how healthy you eat. If you are using a PVC, acrylic board, they will have smooth and non-porous surfaces when they are new. They do not have scratches or cuts. As you use them on, scratches appear on the surface and they can hold vegetable particles and microbes begin to develop. This can not be entirely washed away as the scratches are smaller than most of the brushes. Health experts recommend chop boards made of maple wood. Maple wood is less porous than most wood, very hard and is known to have anti bacterial qualities. Wash it with hot water with a tinge of bleach and prop dry it. It is a good idea to oil it twice a month (odorless vegetable oil or mineral oil).

The secret lies in not leaving anything to fate but keeping your eyes open to possible risks to your health. Alertness can only keep you fit, slim and more than anything else -healthy. Wish you 'Happy Eating'.

The author Rajgopal has been writing on technical matters and in this avtar he started healthcare writing. Rajgopal is a mechanical engineer and served the pharmaceutical industry. Oflate he has been putting his experience in to healthcare writing.

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