Food culture and Its Impact on Health
If one looks up for definition of ‘Food’ on Google, he or she will come across this –
Indeed, it is something that is keeping us up all day – maintaining us. Because of the intake, we are able to continue our day with full energy. Good eating habits help to reduce the risk of any health problems like heart disease, diabetes and many more.
It also helps with sleeping patterns, energy levels, and your general health. You would have noticed that your mood often affects the types of food you choose, as well as how much you eat. Well, this doesn’t mean that the taste buds are same for all. Like the diversity in
language one can observe while travelling from region to region, the eating habits and the items used for intake also changes. For example, Indians are famous for having spicy foods where as in Western countries, especially in USA, people prefer to have less spicy food. The Japanese have a traditional
diet comprises of minimally processed, seasoned foods.
If we talk about our Indian culture only, we have our own unique culture. Our food habits and the style of making food dishes show our culture, ethnicity, religion, etc. With so much diversity in our religion, culture, caste, faith, beliefs, etc., food is the resemblance of our recognition of distinct community. The most important features of food that
it gives same
nutrition result even if we eat either veg or non-veg food items as per our food choices and eating habits.
Now, as a part of basic question, one can be easily curious to know – how are different food habits impacting the health?
As per science and dieticians, six nutrients are essential for human body.
• Proteins – They are essential for body as they help in repairing cells and making new ones.
• Vitamins - Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's fatty tissue. The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are absorbed more easily by the body in the presence of dietary fat.
• Carbohydrates – They are main source of energy. They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. For instance, fibre is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion, helps you feel full, and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check.
• Fats – More than being a source of energy, they function as structural building blocks of the body. Carry fat-soluble vitamins, are involved in vital physiological processes in the body, and are indispensable for a number of important biological functions including growth and development.
• Water – It protects body organs and tissues. It is the carrier of nutrients and oxygen to cells. Besides it lubricates joints, lessens burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products.
• Minerals – They help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. They are used to perform many different functions — from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.
So, how do food cultures across different regions fare on the grounds of nutritional benefits?
You will be surprised to know that the Indian cookery has a history of almost 5000 years. Indian cuisine is a true blend of flavour and nutrition. But in our busy schedule of daily work we often relied on fast food beverages such as instant noodles, soft drinks and various other packaged food items. Income levels, limited access to healthier foods and avoiding exercise habits might play a big role in our food culture. By seeing the current changes we even decide to remove the culture from our food and let our health to suffer. This is a cause of concern because food cultures are deeply rooted parts of our natural history that have evolved and developed overtime, they are essential parts of how we support our overall health and nourish our bodies. For this reason it is important to know how food and culture conflict significantly.
All we have to do is take a look at the blue zones of the world (the areas of the world researched to have the happiest and longest lifespans) to understand that our food culture is as much a part of our personal and societal well-being, as our food itself. There are no rules when it comes to developing a strong food culture. Some people may have grown up with one, while others develop one later in life.
Some foreign countries’ situation is different from Indian food culture:
• As stated in an article by BBC Good Food, those following the Japanese dietary guidelines – a diet high in grains and vegetables, with moderate amounts of animal products and soy but minimal dairy and fruit –reduces risk of dying early from heart disease or stroke. Their diet is traditionally high in soy and fish, probably plays a significant role in reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Normally, the Japanese have the lowest rates of obesity amongst men and women as well as long life expectancy.
• In a journal based on ethnic foods, published in 2015, Indian traditional foods are recognized as functional foods. They consist of functional components such as body-healing chemicals, antioxidants, dietary fibres, and probiotics. These functional molecules help in weight management and blood sugar level balance and support immunity of the body.
• The Korean diet is low in saturated and trans fats (the less healthy fats). They come with complex carbohydrates as found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds. There is presence of fibre important for digestion. However, it is low on calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin E.
• Canada’s Food Guide have a specialised chart to display balanced diet for different age groups, based on gender (https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/food-guide-snapshot/, https://www.nwhu.on.ca/ourservices/HealthyLiving
The diet plans are there on pen and paper in every province across the world and in the articles over the internet. But on ground level, how much are they implemented?
Here, we are asking you this question but you have to answer this to yourself because no one will come to take care of your best friend ever i.e. your body.