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Nutritional Analysis

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This essay encompasses the literature on my nutritional analysis, with regards to cultural influences. Nutritional analysis is the concept of over-viewing the nutritional content of food intake within a described period of time. It could be based on a number of factors but mostly calorie intake is the commonly used. Calorie intake is crucial in weight balance and health and depends on sex, height, weight, lifestyle and activity involved in day to day life. Hence the required calorie intake is based on an individual rather than a generalized set notion. However, nutritionists have arrived at certain caloric values based on sex, having in mind the difference in the genetic composition of the different sexes. Males have a recommended intake of about 2500 calories whereas women have a recommendation of about 2000 calories. The difference lies mostly with the differences in metabolism and body structure of the two sexes, with men having more muscle composition than their female counterparts, thus require a higher energy intake to sustain normal homeostatic processes (Nelson & Cox 2000).

Eating habits are normally due to a number of contributing factors like social, economic, cultural and ethnic influences on individuals. Cultural influences usually provide guidelines regarding acceptable foods, food combinations, eating patterns and eating behaviors. A culture tends to have some food preferences or taboos, while some have restrictions concerning what foods are acceptable in their diet, for example Kosher foods are permitted by Judaism while Halal foods by Islam. Compliance with these guidelines creates a sense of identity and belonging for the individual. In addition, someone who is repeatedly exposed to certain foods is less hesitant to eat them. For example, lobsters are traditionally available on the coastal lines thus it’s more likely to be accepted as food by coastal dwellers (Nelson & Cox 2000).

In my Latino culture, food plays a central role, especially in terms of hospitality. Food is seen as a social uniting factor, as it brings individuals together to share a common interest. In this culture, like many, there are certain preferences to some foods compared to others. It’s been found that Latinos and Hispanics tend to eat more rice but less pasta and ready to eat cereals than their non-Hispanic counterparts. We are also less likely to indulge in vegetables although they tend to have a higher consumption of fruits. According to the research, twice as many Latinos than non-Latinos would drink whole milk twice daily but are less likely to drink low fat or skimmed milk. We are also more likely to eat eggs and legumes than non-Latinos. However, we also consume fats and oils or sugars. Macronutrient content analysis reveals that Latinos have a lower intake of total fat and higher fiber intake compared with the non-Latino population, with much of the fiber coming from fiber intake (Galdston 1960). 

Comparing the research done by the U.S Department of Agriculture with the submitted Food groups and Calorie reports, the research information is not far off. The intake of grains,5 ½ ounces  is okay, comparing with the recommended intake of 6 ounces, proving the thesis that the Latino intake of legumes is higher compared to their counterparts. In addition the protein food intake is high as suggested in the research. It’s seen that this class of foods is well above over the recommended intake, exceeding by 1 ½ ounces, and the entire source being meat, poultry and eggs. This auger on extremely well with the research details that I am more likely to consume beef and eggs than their other counterparts. Moreover, the cultural tendencies to direct eating patterns is clearly evidenced in the Food groups and Calories report that the Latinos are less likely to consume oils, with the indication that well over half the recommended amount was taken in oils (Nelson & Cox 2000).  

However, not everything suggested by the research is confirmed by the report. For example, the fruit intake is under the recommended intake, indicating that the high predisposition of Latinos to indulge up fruits than vegetables may not always be so. In addition, the proposal that we have a lower consumption of total fats is cancelled out by the report. The differences could be due to possible acculturation. This can be briefly defined as a transition away from one based on traditional values and ancestral customs as one adopts values and behaviors of the adopted country, which could be characterized typically by a more sedentary lifestyle and a change in dietary patterns (Curley & Mark 1990).

Contemporary Hispanic diets in the US are influenced by traditional dietary patterns of their countries of origin as well as by the dietary practices of the adopted communities in which they live. Many Hispanics still retain core elements of the traditional Hispanic diet, including a reliance on grains & beans and the incorporation of fresh fruits and vegetables in diet, a concept reiterated by the U.S. Department of Agricultural research on cultural influence on dietary habits. However, the effects of acculturation bare some serious complications to the state of Hispanic health. As a result if this, the prevalence of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is two-three times higher in the health of Hispanics. Moreover, the risk associated with Obesity is high in the Latinos due to the acculturation. This is because in the United States, a typical American meal is composed of a hamburger, French fries and soda. This meal contains a lot of trans-saturated fats, empty calories in terms of high sugar content as well as ea high amount of bad cholesterol that increases the predisposition to these lifestyle diseases (Galdston 1960).

An approach to improve the nutritional status across all borders is the providence of a nutritionally sound diet that consists of a balanced variety of nutrient dense foods and plenty of water. The nutrient dense foods include consumption of nutrients obtained by eating the appropriate amounts of foods in all the food groups. However, a healthy nutritionally balanced diet is subject to an individual genetic make-up, his/her environment and health status. More so, the arrival of a balanced diet by the nutritionists has to take into account the knowledge of food habits and practices of the communities in which they work so that they can help reinforce the positive habits as well as strive to change any negative ones. As an example of this concept, Hispanic diets of the individuals based on the US, can be improved based on a combination of preserving some elements on traditional Latino diets e.g. reliance on beans, rice and tortillas and a change in other e.g. reduced consumption of high fat dairy products and less use of fat in cooking. Ideally, this approach tends to focus particular dietary habits of different communities and ultimately improving their general nutritional status without compromising on their traditional beliefs and values (Nelson & Cox 2000).

The medical fraternity usually recommends the achieving of a balanced diet based on the individual in context, though they agree on certain health habits that can be incorporated to improve the overall well being of an individual. These include a generally active state of physical activity, including at least 30 minutes of walking every day. Physical activity can be increased depending on the health status of the individual, with more activity recommended on individuals that border on the higher range of weight scale. This will generally improve their overall health by lowering their body fat and cholesterol levels. In addition, they also recommend drinking plenty amounts of water, around 8 glasses to maintain a hydrated and well functioning body. It’s also advised that people should generally increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, while cutting down on their intake of refined and processed foods as well as their sugar intake. Eating whole grains and cereals instead of white processed types betters the status of one’s health (Curley & Mark 1990).

I also recommend eating often, to avoid being famished and overeating. Six meals are usually the suggested ideal, with breakfast being the heaviest meal and supper being the lightest. The meals should contain half the amount as vegetables, followed by protein and then starch. The in between meals should be snacks mostly comprising of nuts, fruits and healthy fruits, like yoghurts and healthy sandwiches. In fact, for individuals aiming to lose weight, they recommend changing plate sizes to smaller ones to provide the illusion of being full, drinking water before a meal to fill full faster, to substitute refined sugars with natural ones, to opt for high fiber whole grains bread and cereals and many more suggestions. I also highly recommend viewing of the nutritional content of the label packs before purchasing of food items as it enables one have a rough estimate of their caloric intake. This eventually goes down to help in the nutritional analysis thus evaluation of their general health status (Galdston 1960).  

In conclusion, the report on the Food groups and caloric intake is an ideal evaluation of nutritional content. In accordance to the report, the subject has a generally good health status with a caloric intake of 1752 calories. The person could improve on their intake of fruits, dairy and vegetables. I could cut down on their intake of empty calories, opting for better substitutes for their sources of these calories. I could also vary their source of proteins to more intake of white meat, which is generally healthier. My intake of oil could be increased by indulgence of food sources that have a high content of healthy natural oils e.g. nuts, but in minimal quantities e.g. an ounce (Nelson & Cox 2000). 

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