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Why we need different foods

Discusses energy foods, building and repair foods, and protective foods

2005

The food we eat has three main functions; to give us energy, to build and repair our bodies and to protect us from disease. Most foods have a mixture of nutrients. To keep healthy, we should eat a good mixture of foods each day.

  • Energy foods help us to work and keep active. These are staple foods such as maize, rice and plantain, fats such as vegetable oil and animal fat, and sugar. Fats and sugars are only needed in small quantities for adults.

  • Building and repair foods help children grow and repair our bodies. Examples are groundnuts, beans, lentils, milk, eggs and meat. Foods made from milk and any food containing bones that are eaten (such as small fish or pounded dried fish) are good sources of calcium, needed to build strong bones.

  • Protective foods contain vitamins and minerals, which help the body to work smoothly and give protection against illness. Most fruits and vegetables are protective foods. 

Clean drinking water is also important to maintain a healthy body. 

Discussion

  • What kinds of foods are readily available in our local area? Do people eat a good mixture of staple foods, pulses, fats, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish? If not, consider why not?
  • How many different ways can you think of to add pulses, vegetables, oil and fruit to the staple foods eaten in our area?>
  • What kind of diet do young children in our community eat? Do they have plenty of opportunity to eat meals containing meat, milk products or pulses to help them grow strong, healthy bodies? Is there any way we could improve this?
  • Are enough ‘protective foods’ eaten on a daily basis in local households? How can people add more fruit and vegetables to their diet?
  • Why is clean drinking water important to keep our bodies healthy?

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