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As a consumer I have interest in food and its nutritional values. From this point of view I am also concerned about the health that mainly depends on my diet. These days I am faced with various types of dietary advice that range from official governmental publications to magazines and TV shows. Some food advertisements in fact require advanced chemical and physiological knowledge to understand therefore one’s personal diet should be of one’s great concern.
An accurate evaluation of one’s diet is an essential component that determines a healthy lifestyle. MyPyramid Tracker is an online tool, developed by the US Department of Agriculture and Health that is used to evaluate diet as well as physical activity. This tool had brought me better understanding of my energy balance status and clarified the importance of keeping track of my dietary intakes. It provided information on the quality of my diet, as well as drawn parallels between my daily food intake and recommended nutritional guidance.
Proteins make up around 20% of the human body mass, and over 50% of lean cell mass (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2002). In human tissue cells proteins do not get laid away for reserve, therefore their daily intake with food is essential. Ten out of twenty amino acids that make up proteins are synthesized in the human body, and the other ten amino acids are essential and have to enter the organism via the alimentary tract.
Comparing to the recommendations of CNPP my recorded protein intake of 152 gm was much higher than the recommended 56 gm. Food proteins vary according to their bioavailability. The latter depends upon the ratio of replaceable and irreplaceable amino acids in those proteins, as well as their digestibility in the alimentary tract. The most effective sources of protein on my recorded daily intake are milk, pork chop, grilled chicken sandwich, as well as rise with beans.
On average, the bioavailability is higher for animal-origin proteins. Their digestibility in the alimentary tract reaches 97%. Milk, eggs, meat, and liver have the optimal proportion of essential (irreplaceable) amino acids, hence if my protein intake was low it would be wise to add more of these products to the diet, as low protein intake shall cause decrease of body’s plastic processes.
Vegetable proteins are digested somewhat poorer (83-85%) as they contain a significant amount of indigestible substances. Vegetable food contains mainly small amounts of protein, and often deficient in some essential amino acids. But considering the fact that my protein intake exceeds the norm by almost 300% it would be good to increase physical activity so that the energy spending would be equivalent to and balance out to the protein intake level, as such levels of protein intake might soon elevate the production of lipids and cause overweight.
Only legumes, such as peas, beans, and soybeans contain a high percentage of proteins (24-25%). Sunflower seeds and nuts have around 20% of proteins. The only vegetables containing proteins that are nearing animal proteins according to their amino acid pool are soy, rice, and rye.
I am not performing any significant physical labor, therefore my protein intake should add up to about 1 gm/kg of body weight. Protein should make up around 1/6 of my daily food intake as they cover 13% of the total energy spending. At this 55% of proteins must be of animal origin.
Carbohydrates are contained in food products in form of monosaccharides (fructose and glucose), oligosaccharides (saccharose and lactose), as well as polysaccharides (amylum, glycogen, fiber, and pectin substances). For human organisms carbohydrates are the main source of energy, as oxidation of 1 gm of carbohydrates produces 4 kcals. Average requirement of carbohydrates for humans not involved in physical labor is 400-500 gm/day (Mitchell, 1997).
Vegetables are my main source of carbohydrates that make up 90% of their dry mass. Vegetable products are quite rich in indigestive polysaccharides, mainly cellulose. Coarse fibred indigestible food stimulates the vermiculation of the bowel, adsorbs some catabolites (including toxic) in the large intestine, induces cholesterol clearance, and is one of the nutrient sources of beneficial extraintestinal bacteria.
Vegetable fibers are a nonnutritive essential part of every fruit and vegetable. They are not considered nutrients that provide the body with energy, but they play a vital role in the metabolism. Fiber is most common for vegetable-origin carbohydrates with low or very low level of sugar.
Fiber is the vegetable remains that counteract enzymes in the small bowel, and are partially turned into liquid by bacteria in the large bowel. The chemical structure of the fiber is formed of complex carbohydrates that are called unassimilable.
According to the CNPP website recommendations my daily recorded fiber intake of 37 gm almost met with the recommended norm of 38 gm. This slight difference of 1 gm is not considered significant, and I believe that my daily fiber intake is just right. My diet also met the minimum amount of fiber-containing servings. Looking at my diet, the most fiber-containing products were the cooked corn and the carrot, followed by apple pie and banana. There were also considerable amounts of fiber in the lettuce, beans, and tomatoes.
There are two types of fiber – dissolvable and indissolvable. The latter is called cellulose and lignin. It is present in vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. The dissolvable fiber is pectin found in fruits, as well as resins found in legumes. If I were to consider consuming more fiber, it would probably be rational to eat more legumes such as kidney beans, and cut down on meat products, replacing them with more vegetables.
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It is known that fiber decreases the blood cholesterol levels and prevents hepatoliths. Products rich in fiber contain many beneficial nutrients, needed for proper functioning of the body. Dissolvable fiber decreases the assimilation of carbohydrates and lipids. Therefore if one was to eat products rich in dissolvable fiber, one would lower the risk of rising blood sugar level. in this case the secretion of insulin would be reduced, and as this hormone induces fat deposition, there is lower risk of being overweight.
Such products as fruit juices do not contain any fiber, but are rich in calories therefore if one was to drink fruit juices instead of eating whole fruits, one would obtain high energetic values, but no fibers. Meat, eggs and milk products do not contain any fiber and still should be used in order to balance out the adequacy of the diet with proteins and lipids. An adequately chosen high fiber diet must be sufficient according to all the other nutrients.
Goldstein, M. C., & Goldstein, M. A. (2002). Controversies in Food and Nutrition. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Mitchell, M. K. (1997). Nutrition across the Life Span. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.