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PROPER NUTRITION: FOOD HYGIENE

In current usage of our language we distinguish between hunger and appetite. Hunger is a physiological need for food. The appetite comes from the appetence, which means readiness to eat, depends on the mood and involves - as opposed to hunger - the pleasure of eating.

  • The person who is suffering from loss of appetite or lack of appetite lost this pleasure, sitting in front of food without joy and without interest. Rarely manifests particular desires and does not increase his appetite not even with elaborate preparations. The appetite of the child is often linked to bad experiences people had with certain foods in early childhood. Such aversions then persist even as adults and the same applies, on the contrary , for the favourite foods. The grogginess as aversion to fat may be a sign of disease in the liver or the gall bladder, and the total lack of appetite for meat is frequently found in patients with stomach cancer.
  • The refusal of food is the active manifestation of loss of appetite. It can mean, by the patient (especially if it's an elderly hospitalised ), a declaration of war against life, against a certain contingent situation, against certain people. In extreme cases it may amount to an unconscious desire to commit suicide.
  • Hunger, of course, is not a disease: in fact it disappears with proper nutrition. Instead, a ” starving ” (call in medicine with various terms such as bulimia, cinoressia, Acoria, iperoressia ) is often symptom side of certain metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and hyperthyroidism.
  • Details cravings may also appear during pregnancy or at times of psychological crisis: they are clearly an expression of a type of non-physiological hunger, which can not be satisfied only materially.
  • The thirst normally acts as a regulator for the ingestion of liquids and occurs when the body feels impoverishment water because it is subject to the influence of the outside temperature, atmospheric moisture, for the work performed and the type of food ingested. A greater need of water occurs in certain diseases involving the loss of liquids, such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting. There is dehydration when a sufficient amounts of fluids is not absorbed: the skin becomes loose and rough, the mucous membranes are dry, his voice trails off, the clarity of mind is disturbed and occurs apathy.

Regarding food intake in normal subjects the appetite sense constitutes a guide in the choice instinctive quantitative and also qualitative food. The regulation is due to the appetite center, a nerve center located in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is stimulated through complex metabolic mechanisms. In addition, other factors such as gastric contractions (partly regulated through the hypothalamus ), gastric distension, the passage of food into the pharynx, the water balance, changes in ambient temperature and even psychological factors, environmental and cultural interacting with each other, help regulate food intake. In cases where there is direct or indirect alteration of any of the above mechanisms, occurring conditions to generate malnutrition. The state of poor nutrition is characterised by a lack of subcutaneous fat deposits. The weight is lower than normal and the patient is tired, sluggish and inefficient . It is called cachexia when you are in the presence of severe organic impairment, physical weakness and mental manifestations of general weakness and that is ” tired ” of all the organs . Due to the absence of subcutaneous fat, the skin becomes loose, wrinkled and the face is sunken. The weight loss occurs in many diseases such as, for example, in infectious diseases, in gastrointestinal diseases, in endocrine dysfunctions, in tuberculosis and malignant tumours.

The obesity or adiposity is characterised by an excess of fat tissue distributed more or less uniformly in the body. The complications arising from obesity are numerous and in most cases there is an overload of the vital organs; may arise dangers of organic disorders of the cardiovascular system, metabolic disorders, problems for the skeletal system etc. . Excess weight is almost always due to poor eating habits or a massive ingestion of food: there is rarely a result of glandular disorders.

Both excess intake of foods and the lacking of food are to be considered states of malnutrition.

In most countries of the world prevails malnutrition from lack of food and even specific food programs supported by governments and international organisations (FAO ), the situation has been estimated at about 500 million undernourished people in the world. The situation is particularly serious in Africa, Asia and Central and South America, where there are still deficiency diseases of vitamins, proteins and minerals. At our latitudes are quite frequently states of deficiency of folic acid ( a vitamin ) and iron in children, especially in the elderly and in women of childbearing age ( loss of blood and then the Iron content in red blood cells, increases with menstruation the need for iron , and therefore favours the establishment of a deficiency state) and in pregnancy where the greater risk of anaemia for the parameters of iron and folic acid by the fetus.

Frequently malnutrition in developed countries, industrialised nations, is represented by an excess of supply. This excess can result in obesity as we have said, but more subtly lead to elevated blood fats that may increase the risk of stroke or cerebrovascular disease ( stroke). Obesity moreover, in addition to being closely related to diabetes and heart attacks would be, according to some studies, correlated with an increased incidence of tumours.

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A HEALTHY AND BALANCE DIET

The goals of a healthy balanced diet are:

  • Satisfying the need for food;
  • The functionality of the body;
  • The growth and maintenance of the organism according to the development phase ;
  • The suitability of the school , at work and in everyday life ( physical ) ;
  • The maintenance of normal weight.

These objectives are achieved with the right amount of all the nutrients necessary for life : carbohydrates, proteins , fats, vitamins , minerals ( sodium, chloride , potassium, calcium , phosphorus, magnesium , etc. . ) And water. Foods, however, must be hygienic, they must be:

  • genuine,
  • digestible and absorbable,
  • harmless.

The genuineness of a food indicates that its features and its composition are natural. You may have lack of authenticity for alteration (for natural processes such as the putrefaction) or for adulteration (for treatments such as the dilution of the milk), or still for sophistication (for substitution or addition of substances of different nature, such as the addition of seed oil in olive oil). A non-genuine food may not be toxic, but it is always unappetising or otherwise of lesser nutritional value.

The digestibility and absorbability of various foods are different in relation to the diversity of composition. Not all foods that we use are digestible: for example, the cellulose contained in the plant are fibre not digestible or absorbable but consider equally useful because it stimulates the normal intestinal function. Furthermore, also foods digestible contain small parts that are not absorbed and are eliminated without being used. Carbohydrates and lipids are completely digested and absorbed, proteins a little less.

The safety of a food is the absence of pathogens (germs must not be originally in the food itself, as might be the case of the tubercle bacillus in milk or encephalitis virus in the flesh, nor germs placed in food as a result of manipulations contaminants ) or substances hazardous to health (toxins fungi, toxins produced by phenomena of putrefaction, pesticides, hormones, preservatives etc. . ) .

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TECHNIQUES OF FOOD PRESERVATION

People have always felt the need to store food in such a way as to be used when needed. Today, especially in industrial areas, the continuous exchange of food from one area to another, considerably distant from each other, makes it particularly important the development of techniques for food preservation.

The processing and food preservation processes are implemented to protect the food from microbes and other harmful agents and to allow also non- immediate consumption of the product. The food stored should maintain a good aspect, a pleasing taste and texture, as well as, to the extent possible, its initial nutritional value.

Many factors can cause the deterioration of fresh foods: among these are especially microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, but also simple enzymes, which may change the texture and the original flavour of foods. So the main methods of preservation have the effect of inhibiting the enzymatic reactions or destroy microorganisms which may be pathogenic and non- pathogenic to man. Even though the oxygen present in the atmosphere can react with some components of food, causing rancidity and changing the colour. In addition, severe alterations of food can be caused by infestations of insects and rodents.

There is no single method of preservation which alone can preserve you from all risks, indefinitely. At the South Pole has been found in the canned food that has remained edible for more than 50 years, certainly not one might expect a similar retention time for the same food in a tropical climate. The food storage can be achieved by physical means (heating, cooling and drying ) or by chemical means (salt, sugar, vinegar, smoking and additives ).

PHYSICAL MEANS OF FOOD STORAGE

Heating

During this process, the food, subjected to a treatment at high temperature (around 121 ° C), is freed from all microorganisms, including those harmful to human health. Most industrial processes for canning of foods is based on the principle that the destruction of bacteria increases by 10 times for each increment of temperature of 10 °C. The food subjected to high temperature for a very short time maintains more of its original flavour . Some interesting food preservation processes are based on the heating pasteurisation and sterilisation.

Pasteurisation is a process of heating a liquid (particularly milk ) to a temperature between 55 and 75 ° C for a few seconds, done to destroy microbes potentially dangerous. This process is named after the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who put him up in 1865 to inhibit the fermentation of wine and milk. For the common milk short conservation in the past has been used very much the so-called ” low- pasteurisation ” : the milk was heated to 63 ° C for 30 minutes, then was rapidly cooled to 45 °C and stored at a temperature below 10 °C . Today, however, it uses the high-temperature pasteurisation: this hit the milk for about 15 seconds at a temperature of 75 °C in a sealed environment to prevent contact with air. Another way of treating the milk, always short conservation, is the so-called UHT (Ultra High Temperature) that consists of exposing the milk to a temperature of 90 ° C for 1 second. The highest and UHT pasteurisation at 90 degrees only destroy the germs in the form “active”; ones so to say “asleep ”, more resistant, remain such until the milk is kept in a refrigerator, but will ” wake up ” and multiply rapidly soon as it is brought to room temperature. The so pasteurised milk can then be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, after this period of time has, however, even in a refrigerator, an awakening of germs, for which the milk is considered ” expired” not safe from the point of microbiologically safe. To obtain, always with the method of UHT long-life milk is necessary to expose it at a temperature of 150 ° C for 12 seconds. This type of treatment destroys all the germs present, even those asleep, for which the milk can stand at room temperature for over 6 months. Unfortunately, the UHT milk causes serious damage (not caused, however, by the normal pasteurisation): decrease in the biological value of proteins; marked reduction of vitamins B1, B2 and C; almost complete disappearance of the enzymes; decrease and transformation of fat, partial transformation of lactose, which produces taste “cooked” . Furthermore, calcium becomes less assimilated. The pasteurisation of other liquid foods, such as fruit juices, beer and wine, takes place instead with a heating at 70 ° C for about 30 seconds.

Sterilisation is a technique usually used for canned (plants, animals). The foods are placed in the autoclave inside metal containers sealed and exposed to temperatures exceeding 120 °C for more than 15 minutes. The sterilisation is achieved by introduction of steam at 160-170 degrees for fractions of a second.

Cooling

This technique of food preservation include refrigeration and freezing. Already prehistoric times men had learned to store food in ice caves. Even today we all use refrigeration in special “ice caves housewives” cold calls, which have a temperature of between 0 and 4 °C. The refrigeration decreases the temperature, the result is the slowdown in activity of microbes and enzymes. The freezing was used commercially for the first time in 1842, but large-scale has emerged only in the late nineteenth century, with the advent of mechanical refrigeration. It brings the food to a temperature of 20-25 degrees below zero so as to completely block the reproduction of the microorganisms (which is not obtained with the simple refrigeration). Keep in mind that at this low temperature the water present in the cells of the food passes slowly to the state of ice forming large crystals which tend to break the cell membranes; these ice crystals when the food is thawed are not reabsorbed by the cells of the food itself, for which there is loss of fluid, protein, vitamins, etc. . Therefore, freezing is a technique of conservation valid only for water -poor foods, such as meat. Moreover there is to say that the freezing, even if it allows to store foods in that it prevents the microorganisms to multiply, however, does not kill all types of bacteria and those that survive are even more active than before and at the time when the food is thawed reproduce more quickly, which is why a defrosted food may not be refrozen. The freezing is achieved very quickly by lowering the temperature of a fresh food to 80 degrees below zero and then keep at 20-25 degrees below zero. Frozen foods retain more than that preserved by other techniques the appearance of fresh foods. In freezing the ice crystals are very small, such as not to spoil the cells of the food; when the frozen food is returned to room temperature, the water of these tiny crystals unable to return to their seats without generating cellular injury .

Drying and dehydration

Although these terms indicate both the extraction of water from the foods, in the terminology of food preparations is designated by ” drying ” the natural process ( such as sun exposure of fruits on racks ) and with ” dehydration ” drying obtained by artificial means ( such as the use of hot air). The ” freeze-drying ” is another drying process, which involves the freezing of the foods and the extraction of all the water present in them in vacuum conditions . The elimination of water provides excellent protection against the most common causes of deterioration of foods. The microorganisms, in fact, can not grow in an environment free of water, where the enzymatic activity is absent , and most of the chemical reactions is greatly slowed. These characteristics make it preferable dehydration canning, if the food is to be stored at high temperatures. Once removed the water, the food must then be closed in a casing which is impermeable to moisture so that the food can not reabsorb it from the air. This food storage dehydrated often happens in hermetically sealed boxes. Such containers also offer the advantage of preventing the attacks of insects and rodents and the contact with external agents such as oxygen and light. Vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and other foods, which contain as much as 80% of humidity, with dehydration can be reduced to one-fifth of their weight and half of their initial volume. The disadvantages of this method of preservation are time and the laboriousness of rehydration, necessary for the consumption of food. The food, in fact, absorbs only about two thirds of the initial water content and this phenomenon tends to confer a hard consistency and rubbery. The drying was used by primitive men to preserve many foods, such as figs. For meat and fish, other preservation methods such as curing and smoking were preferred since they maintain these foods taste more palatable. But it was only after the Second World War that dehydration began to take hold as an industrial process. Foods today undergoing this treatment are limited to milk, soups, eggs, baking powder and coffee powder.

CHEMICAL MEANS OF FOOD STORAGE

Numerous chemicals are used to preserve food: one of these is salt. The salting of fish and pork has been practiced for a very long time, using both the simple dry salt, and the brine (an aqueous solution rich in salt). Salt enters the tissues and captures water, thus inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause the deterioration of the food itself. To enhance the action of the salt in sausages are added chemicals such as nitrates and nitrites. Even sugar, the main ingredient of jams and jellies, is another preservative. For there to be effective conservation, the total content of sugar in must be greater than 65% of its final weight. The sugar acts with the same mechanisms of the salt, inhibits the growth of bacteria after the product has been heated to high temperatures.

Another method is smoking, which is often applied to fish and meats. The smoke is obtained through the slow and incomplete combustion, without flame, of various types of wood. The smoking is done not only for conservation, but also to give the food a distinctive fragrance and flavour.

Vinegar is often used along with the salt and heat for the storage of meat and fish ( food ground ), mushrooms etc. . Given its high degree of acidity, sufficient to inhibit bacterial growth, vinegar (which contains at least a 6% acetic acid ) is used as a preservative especially for vegetable and fish previously cooked .

The fermentation due to certain bacteria, which produce lactic acid, is the basis of the conservation of foods such as sauerkraut.

The sodium benzoate, used in concentrations below 0.1%, is used to preserve the fruit by yeasts and moulds.

Another method currently under study of specialists in food preparations is the preservation of fruit and vegetables by the anaerobic treatment with gas such as nitrogen or dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Given the increasing distrust of public opinion towards the use of potentially toxic chemicals, the use of ionising radiation can be considered a viable alternative. The irradiation delays, in fact , the maturation of fruits and vegetables, inhibits the germination of bulbs and tubers, disinfestation of the grain, cereals, fresh and dried fruit as well as vegetables, and destroys the bacteria in fresh meat . However, even the safe use of radiation is the subject of debate and therefore their use is not for extended hours on a large scale.

Reference


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