What Our Body Needs? Nutritional Requirments, Protein Calculator and more | For many (perhaps most) people. “Nutrition seems to be an impossible subject, very remote from them, and extremely difficult to understand. Personally, I attribute this to the very poor, or often non-existent, nutritional education many of us received while we were at school. Although things seem to be getting better now in some schools, there’s still an awful long way to go.
More People are killed through the stomach than by the Sword:
What Our Body Needs?
Adults who never learnt to read when they were young face a very hard task when they try to learn the skill in later life. They find written English strange and foreign to them, full of complications and hard to master. Likewise, the vast majority of people go into adult life as nutritional ‘illiterates, completely ignorant of the essential and basic knowledge they need to feed their bodies properly.
It’s really a scandal that this most important subject isn’t included in every child’s education. Of course, there are lots of books around that can give you that basic information if you’re prepared to work your way through them. But most of us simply don’t bother. There are other problems, too that tend to discourage us from learning about our own nutrition.
What Our Body Needs? Some of them are:
• Who do you believe? Sometimes, it seems as if everyone’s shouting conflicting advice at you. ‘Eat high protein foods, Cut down on fats: Increase your polyunsaturated fats: ‘Cut down on carbohydrates!… Frequently, this so-called advice comes from very interested parties, such as food manufacturers. And the bombardment starts early in life, with all the expensive, glossy ‘information’ packs that many manufacturers mail out to schools.
• ‘Eating for Health by Albert Einstein’. Many books are just too complicated, and so put off more people than they attract. With pages and pages of data, RDAs, and amino acids, and other technicalities, it’s not surprising that you can end up thinking that nutrition is for geniuses only.
• Grossed-Out on Diet Books. Diet books are very big business, andit’s been estimated that thirty per cent of all women try at least one diet in any year. Officially, thirty-two per cent of all women and thirty-nine per cent of all men in this country are classified as overweight, a horrifyingly high percentage. But the answer for these people isn’t to buy one more fad book on dieting. First and foremost, it should be to learn the basics of good nutrition
Just cutting back on calories isn’t going to help these people if they’re not eating a balanced diet in the first place. If more people were to eat a healthy diet, there would be much less obesity around – and probably fewer diet books!
What Our Body Needs? The Knowledge You Need
I don’t want to bore you with endless facts and figures in this chapter. nor do I want to try to turn you into a nutrition freak. By cutting meat out of your diet, you have taken a very positive step forward towards establishing a good and healthy pattern of eating. But the job isn’t over yet.
To continue your progress, you should start to develop an awareness for the foods that go to make up a well-balanced intake, so that you automatically know when you and your family are eating well. What we’re talking about here is dispelling ignorance.
There is no sin but ignorance said Christopher Marlowe in the 16th century. Ignorance of the basic facts breeds worry, which renders you vulnerable as a consumer to being misled or exploited. So first of all, let’s answer some of the questions which seem to worry people most often.
Give Me Back My Protein!
Meat has very cleverly been identified with protein in the mind of the public. Some people even think that meat is the only source of protein. So when you threaten to remove it from their diets, people tend to get upset. Once, when I was doing a phone-in on a radio station, a butcher phoned me to state in categoric terms that no-one could get enough protein without eating meat.
That’s very interesting. I replied ‘Since you seem to know all about it could you tell me what protein actually is?’
‘Er’ he stumbled, ‘Well I don’t really know, but everyone needs it!
‘Well how much do we need?’ I asked him.
‘I don’t know exactly he answered, but we all need lots!
That was his total knowledge on the subject of protein, and I suspect that there are many others who are just as ignorant.
What Our Body Needs? Protein is All Around Us
You can find protein in every living thing, plant and animal. Proteins are quite simply, long collections of amino acids, which in turn are constructed from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Protein is naturally very plentiful. Next to water, it is the most plentiful substance in the human body. It helps build muscles, blood, skin.
hair, nails, and our internal organs, as well as helping to create enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Also, the body can actually ‘burn’ protein if necessary to provide energy, at the rate of four calories of energy per gram of protein.
How much do you need? That depends on individual factors relating to you personally, such as your height weight, sex and level of activity. Various organizations have produced recommendations. which have almost always been set at a very high level. partly to allow for a good safety margin: There is a growing feeling that many such official bodies have set their recommendations much too high. And this has meant that authorities such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation have reduced their recommended levels of protein intake by as much as fifty per cent over the past fifteen years.
The old idea that you can’t get too much protein is slowly dying, partly because excess protein intake is being associated with some degenerative diseases, such as osteoporosis (softening of the bones through calcium loss), obesity, and other curses of the Western way of living. Human milk is without doubt our most ‘natural’ food, and it is interesting that it contains a relatively small quantity of protein – less than thirty percent of the protein that
is found, for example, in cow’s milk.
To see what your own personal recommended daily protein intake is, use the Protein Calculator on page 207. This is based on figures that are suggested by Britain’s Department of Health and Social Security. First, find the category that applies to you (for example, a woman aged eighteen in a moderately active job would be in
Then read across to find your minimum protein requirement in this case. 38 grams per day) and your recommended protein requirement (55 grams). Now – just how easy is it to get this in your diet? Well, a selection
of common meat-free foods is also given in the table. All you have to do is to follow the same row across the page until it is in the column corresponding to a food of your choice. For example, go to the column headed
What Our Body Needs? Nutritional Requirments,
‘Pasta. The notes at the end of the table will tell you that this is 100 per cent whole wheat spaghetti, and
that one cup will provide 21 grams of protein. Now follow the Pasta column down until you find your category (in our example, U). You will find a percentage figure that tells you what proportion of your Recommended Daily Allowance (R.D.A.) is supplied by 1 cup of pasta (in our example, one cup of whole wheat pasta provides 38.2
per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of protein for a woman (aged eighteen with a moderately active lifestyle).
You may be surprised at just how easy it is to supply all the protein you need and remember, this is a percentage of your recommended Daily Allowance-not your minimum allowance. Here are some more foods that you should recognize as good suppliers of protein:
Grains, Legumes, Nuts
- Whole Wheat
- Soya Beans
- Sunflower Seeds
- All Soya Products
- Sesame Seeds
- Kidney Beans
- Cashew Nuts
- Rice (especially brown) Bean Sprouts
- Hazel Nuts
- Chickpeas Walnuts
In addition, dairy foods such as milk (skimmed preferably, to remove the excess fat), yogurt, eggs (free range), and cheese all contain useful quantities of protein.
Combining Foods to Maximize Protein
This is a useful tip for anyone who may be worried that they’re eating a poor diet, and not getting enough protein. For the rest of us, it’s just useful information. It has been found that the maximum amount of protein is liberated from foodstuffs when they are combined together in the diet, and eaten at the same time. A very good combination is any grain product together with any legume – the two bring out each other’s proteins very strongly. Another good combination is any legume with any nut. And either grains, legumes or nuts can be well
combined with a dairy product. In fact, there are lots of dishes that naturally take advantage of this principle Some of them are:
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Cereal and milk
- Rice pudding
- Minestrone Soup
- Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Baked Potato and Cheese
- Beans on Toast
And there are many, many more for you to devise yourself.