A healthy, balanced diet contains a variety of foods. A well-balanced diet means eating the right amount of nutrients to supply the body with the energy it needs to function properly. A well-balanced diet contains nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are sugars that break down inside the body to create glucose which is moved around the body in the blood and is the primary source of energy for the brain, muscles, and other essential cells.
Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates are found in foods such as fruits, and milk products and also in processed and refined sugars such as sweets, table sugar and soft drinks. They are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy.
Complex carbohydrates contain high levels of dietary starch and are also usually rich in fiber. They are digested slowly by the body, releasing energy over a long period of time.
Complex carbohydrates are found in food such as grains, pasta, legumes, bread, vegetables. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body it is an essential nutrient, responsible for multiple functions in your body, including building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and anti-bodies. Protein can be found in milk products, meat, fish and beans. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, it helps to keep the digestive system working properly, helps to remove waste products from the body.
Fiber can be found in fruit and vegetables, whole-meal bread, nuts and seeds. Vitamins are nutrients required by the body in small amounts, for a variety of essential processes. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins.
Most vitamins cannot be made by the body and have to be provided from the diet. Vitamin D can be made by the body in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Minerals just like vitamins, help the body grow, develop, and stay healthy. There are two kinds of minerals: macro-minerals and trace mineral our body need larger amounts of macro-minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride. The trace minerals are iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. Calcium can be found in milk, cheese and other dairy foods. Calcium helps to build strong bones. Potassium sources: Bananas, oranges, potatoes, broccoli. Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. Nutritional guidelines. The Public Health in England in association with the Welsh and Scottish Government and the Food Standard Agency in Northern Ireland developed The eat well plate model which illustrates a healthy diet. It shows the five main food groups and the proportions of each food group.
The food groups include:
Humans body need water or other fluids to work properly and to avoid dehydration. It is very important to drink enough fluids. According to NHS in climates such as the UK’s, we should drink about 1.2 liters which is six to eight glasses of fluid every day to stop us from getting dehydrated.An essential nutrient is a nutrient that humans’ body is not able to synthesize on its own (sometimes it can produce, but not the required amount of it) therefore it has to be provided by the diet. There are 6 essential nutrients:-carbohydrates-protein-fat-vitamins- minerals -waterAll of those nutrients are needed for the body to function properly. Poor diet has a very big impact on our health and general wellbeing. It can contribute to the risk of developing many different sorts of illnesses such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, osteoporosis. Different groups of people may have different food/diet requirements. It can be related to age, ethnic or cultural background but also due to allergies and certain food intolerance such as gluten intolerance or simply due to individuals’ choices i.e. veganism or vegetarianism.
Additional sources of support regarding the information about nutrition and hydration can found online on many professional webpages i.e. NHS, but we can also contact GP, nurse, dietitian.A balanced diet is very important for our body. Our organs and tissues require nutrition to work properly and without it our body is more prone to disease, infection. There are different ways to promote healthy eating and the public sector has a massive impact on promoting healthy eating. Public Health is influencing health-related professionals as well as patients and the public in general. Educating from the early years to promote the right eating habits and choices. Water is essential for our health, is involved in many important functions, including -flushing out waste from your body-regulating body temperature-helping your brain function-regulates body temperature-It improves blood oxygen circulation-helps with nutrient absorption-helps prevent constipationDehydration is when the body is not having enough water. Because water is crucial to many functions within our body, dehydration can be very dangerous.
Signs of dehydration: feeling thirsty, dark yellow and smelling urine, feeling dizzy, headaches, nausea, confusion, fatigue, dry mouth, lips, muscle cramps Severe dehydration can result in a number of severe complications, including swelling brain, kidney failure, seizuresPromoting hydration is very important. In care setting, especially in care homes, water should be always available and easily accessible. It is also a very good practice to record the daily intake of water. There are many factors that may affect nutritional intake. The intake might be determined by appetite, lifestyle, financial/economical situation, mood or even health issues such as heart condition, dementia or eating disorders. It can also be affected by cultural background and beliefs. Malnutrition can be caused by a poor diet or by problems with absorbing nutrients from food. There are many health conditions that can lead to malnutrition, it can be celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, long term illness that cause loss of appetite, feeling sick etc, but also dementia, mental health illness, depression, eating disorders.
There are many signs and symptoms of malnutrition. We can observe weight loss in individuals, reduced appetite, the person is feeling weak and feeling tired. Poor concentration, depression and low mood. The individual gets ill more often and wound take longer to heal. Food fortification is adding to the meals’ high energy food to increase the calories to promote weight gain. For example, it can be adding to mashed potato grated cheese, milk powder, butter and cream. It is common to use nutritional supplements but is should be food first rule. Supplements are not a substitute for a balanced diet. It should be discussed with the doctor or dietitian what kind of supplementation is suitable for the individual and what form i.e. pill, liquid, etc. Nutritional screening is the first step in identifying patients who are at risk for nutrition problems or who have undetected malnutrition. The purpose of this screening is to define a patient’s nutritional status, to define clinically relevant malnutrition and to monitor changes in nutritional status.
In the health and social care sector carers have the responsibility to support individuals to meet their needs including nutritional and hydration needs. Also the manager is responsible to meet those needs by making sure he staff is trained and knows how to manage these needs as well as monitor it by recording the food and fluids intake on appropriate chart/form. The individuals should be weight regularly and weight should be recorded. It is crucial to work according to a person cantered care plan where the dietary requirement is specified. In social care setting when promoting healthy eating we have to consider different factors in different groups. There will be different dietary requirements for older people in good health and different for people with health problems. There might be some people from a different culture or simply vegans or vegetarians.
Individuals with disabilities or mental health problems. Again working according to person cantered care plan in a holistic approach is very important. There might be some factors creating barriers to healthy eating. It can be culture and religion i.e. Muslims will not eat all day during the Ramadan, individual’s habits, oral issues, (problems with chewing etc. psychological factors – depression, eating disorders. It can be financial difficulties or ethics, morals i.e. individuals won’t eat any animal products. Some individuals might have a severe food allergy and it can be life-threatening. Some have food intolerance i.e. gluten intolerance or celiac disease or are at risk of choking. It is very important that they follow their diets to maintain their health. It should be specified it the care plan.