Know the Importance of Food and Nutrition

Have it ever come into your mind why we give so much importance to food and nutrition?

The answer is simple: food gives the energy to work plus grow. Also without food nobody can survive. Nutrition is equally important as food. Our body requires micronutrients like vitamins, minerals in small quantities and macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fat in large quantities. These nutrients help the body in different ways and a deficiency of any of them can affect proper functioning of the body and can even lead to death.

That is why doctors always recommend a healthy, balanced diet for both adults and children.

healthy-food

When we talk about the importance of nutrition and balanced diet, another question pops up-what is a healthy food? Any food item which can help stay healthy including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy products, nuts, seafood, meat and egg is considered as healthy.  On the other hand, a balanced diet involves consuming only the right amount of food required for a healthy body weight and taking different types of foods in the right proportion. A balanced diet, thus will be high in fruits and vegetables; starch (potatoes, rice, bread, pasta); protein (meat, fish, lentils), dairy products (milk) and will be low in salt, sugar and fat.

Balanced diet has been known to protect against many chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and diabetes in adults. Similarly, food and nutrition has a critical role in a child’s life. A balanced diet helps brain development, improves concentration, boosts self-confidence, keeps bones strong, fights obesity, improves immunity and keeps diseases away.

However, unfortunately, everyone in the world does not have the opportunity to eat healthy. About 870 million people around the globe fight hunger every day and are at higher risk of malnutrition, stunting, wasting and death.

Deficiencies of vitamin A, iron and zinc have found their places among the top ten leading causes of death in developing countries.  It is concerning to know that nearly two billion people are affected with micronutrient deficiency, mainly deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

Iron deficiency is known to cause brain damage in children and pose heart risk in adults. Similarly, a deficiency in vitamin A in children can lead to blindness and increase the risk of dying from measles, malaria or diarrhoea. An iodine deficiency during pregnancy can lead to poor mental health in babies, stillbirth, abortion, and mental retardation in adults.  Also a zinc deficiency in children can affect proper growth, immunity and cause death.

Food for education

All these years, some international organisations like UN, WFP, UNICEF have been trying to end this problem.  In India, we, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, have been fighting hunger and malnutrition since 2000 by delivering nutritious mid-day meals to government school children. Our mid-day meals contain all the nutrients required for children’s healthy growth.

Over 1.4 million children have benefitted out of our Mid-Day Meal Programme. However, millions of children still require our help. So create awareness about the importance of nutrition with us and help us provide food and nutrition to more children across India.

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Feed the Children to Promote Healthy Living

Think of healthy food

Have you ever considered why children should eat healthy food? The answer is simple: childhood is one of the most important stages in life and following a proper, nutritious diet is crucial for remaining healthy later in life.

A healthy diet, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is one which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains like unprocessed wheat, rice. The experts also recommend eating at least 400 grams or 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.  A healthy diet can help improve cognitive development in children and can also protect them against malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

In India, millions of children lack access to a single healthy meal a day. There are NGOs all over the country that works tirelessly to combat this. One of them is The Akshaya Patra Foundation, children NGO that has been providing unlimited food for school children in India since 2000.

Gujarat Children NGO

The NGO for Children has brought rays of hope to over a million underserved youngsters in India.  Starting the journey by feeding 1,500 children in Bengaluru, Akshaya Patra at present delivers nutritious and tasty meals to over 1.4 million children from 10,845 schools in 24 locations across 10 states in India. The meals prepared by the foundation contain the vital nutrients required for growth.

To feed the children, the organisation depends on support from the Government of India, corporates and donors.  People from across the world come forward to feed the children. The organisation accepts donation both in the form of money and kind. An interesting fact about Akshaya Patra is that it takes just ₹750 to sponsor a child for a whole year.  An additional incentive to sponsor a child is the opportunity to save on tax. Well-wishers who contribute ₹500 or above are eligible for 100%tax exemption under section 35 AC!

Although Akshaya Patra has made great progress in the past 15 years, the Foundation’s mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020. So Sponsor a child and enjoy the joy of giving!