Food is the basic need for nourishment of our physical bodies which is scripturally proven (1Kings 19:8). Right from the womb a baby is developed by the food stored by the mother as well as what is being consumed. Food is made up of nutrients which perform important functions in the body. Without food life cannot continue.
The body requires energy for its activities such as respiration, movement, reproduction etc. foods that provide energy are those that contain the nutrients Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat. We will take a critical look at Carbohydrate for now. The main function of Carbohydrate is to provide energy while protein and Fat provide energy when there is no carbohydrate in the body. Carbohydrate is completely broken down to glucose which is the fuel that gives the body energy. Also, glucose is the only food required by the brain to function.
The energy needed by the body in a day is around 2000 calories (unit for measuring energy) however your body might need more or less depending on your gender, age, weight, height and most importantly your level of activity. Carbohydrates are found in the following foods; Fruits, Vegetables, Bread, Cereals and grains (rice, maize, wheat, millet etc.), cereals and grains food product like Banku, Koko (fermented corn dough porridge), Tuo zaafi etc., Milk and milk products (yoghurt, ice cream etc ) and Foods containing added Sugars (cakes, cookies, sugar sweetened drinks/beverages). Carbohydrates are basically broken down to sugars and it is important not to consume more than the body needs. Excess carbohydrate can be converted to Fat in the body and increase the amount of fat in the body than required. It is therefore necessary to feed the body with the right amount of carbohydrate mainly from healthier foods and not from foods with added sugars like Sweetened drinks.
Healthy foods high in carbohydrates include ones that provide
- Dietary Fiber eg. Beans, Oatmeal, Fruits, Vegetables, Wheat bread, Brown rice
- Whole grains eg. Corn, Rice, Millet, Sorghum
It is recommended that 45% – 65% of the body’s energy should come from carbohydrate meaning that about 50% of your meals should be carbohydrate not more, not less. Most people especially in Africa consume more carbohydrate and very little of the other food nutrients.
- Assuming your body needs 2000calories of energy in a day,
- About 1000calories should come from carbohydrate.
- 1 gram carbohydrate =4 calories
- Thus you need about 250g of carbohydrate in a day. 250g carbohydrate in a day can be obtained from eating
- A bowl of breakfast cereal, 3 slices of bread and a plate of rice or 1 cup size Banku or a plate of pasta
By: Frema Addy
Research Assistant at the University of Ghana, Legon