My daughters love bread – alongside pasta, sausages, custard and baked beans, it is one of their favourite foods! They would happily eat bread with every meal. But, my 5-year-old wants to know, why is it unhealthy to eat only bread and nothing else?
Well, the human body is like a machine. It needs energy to be able to work. It also needs materials to grow and to repair any parts that get damaged or broken. You get the energy and materials your body needs by eating foods, which are broken down or ‘digested’ inside your body into the chemicals or ‘nutrients‘ that you need to keep your body working.
Foods contain different types of nutrients: protein; carbohydrate; vitamins and minerals; fats; and fibre.
- Protein is found in meat, fish, pulses, grains and dairy foods. It helps your body to grow and repair. Your muscles, bones, hair and nails are all made of protein.
- Carbohydrate is found in grains, fruits and vegetables. It gives your body energy.
- Vitamins and minerals are found in lots of foods and are used in chemical reactions inside your body.
- Fats are found in dairy, meat, fish, nuts and seeds. Fats are stored inside your body to help keep you warm. They are used in chemical reactions and can be used to make energy.
- Fibre is found in cereals, fruits and vegetables. It is a kind of carbohydrate that you can’t digest, so it moves through your digestive system and helps to make poo. A good example is sweetcorn – have you ever noticed yellow sweetcorn skins in your poo the day after you ate corn on the cob?!
However, there is no one food that contains all the nutrients your body needs. To stay healthy, it is important to eat a ‘balanced diet‘: a mixture of foods that together contain all the different types of nutrients in the right amounts. It is also important to drink plenty of water.
And what about bread? Well, bread is mainly made up of carbohydrate. It also contains some vitamins and minerals and fibre. But it doesn’t have all the nutrients your body needs. So you wouldn’t get a balanced diet if you only ate bread and nothing else.