Nutrition is the study of food and water and how it affects your body and health. It is also a study of how your body uses essential nutrients to support your health and well-being.
Food provides vital nutrients to the body, which produces energy for body activities, growth, and all other functions such as keeping the immune system healthy, digestion, breathing, and more. It also helps prevent chronic disease risks and other health-related conditions.
Below are terms to help you further understand more about nutrition;
- Nutrition facts: provide information on nutrition content found in your food and beverages labels. It includes the amount of sugar, salt, fat, calories, and minerals.
- Nutrition Value: measures the quality of essential food that forms a balanced-diet. Nutritional value depends on the food quality and quantity that you digest and absorb.
- Nutrition Diet: in nutrition, diet is the amount of food you consume. A nutritious diet gives you nutrients to support your health and weight.
Why Is Nutrition Important
Good nutrition means your body gets all the required nutrients from vitamins and minerals to work its best. You can achieve that by eating healthy. Here are the reasons good nutrition is vital;
- Strengthen your immunity: When you eat healthy foods, you get nutrients to boost your immune system. A robust immune system enables you to fight infections and diseases.
- Protect you from chronic diseases: Having good nutrition helps you reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases.
- Help you keep a healthy weight: Obesity increases your risk of developing chronic diseases. Thus, eating nutrient-dense foods helps you keep your weight in check, reducing diseases’ risk.
- Support your mental wellness: Eating foods rich in macronutrients helps you get iron and omega-3, which boost your mood. Also, they protect you from mental diseases.
- Delay you from onset aging: Good nutrition boosts your immunity, enables you to fight illness, and keep a healthy weight. Thus, improving your diet helps you to live longer and healthier.
Types of Nutrition
There are seven classes of human nutrition, which form two categories; macronutrients and micronutrients.
These are nutrients that your body requires in large quantities. Examples of such nutrients include;
Carbohydrates (carbs) include simple and complex carbs.
- Simple carbs: are sugars found in vegetables, fruits, and processed foods. They are easy to digest and give you rapid energy.
- Complex carbs: are high in fiber, take longer to digest, and leave you full for a long time. They include legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
Proteins are the building blocks of our body that repair and build worn-out tissues. They include complete and incomplete proteins.
- Complete proteins: give your body all the 9 essential amino acids it requires. They include eggs, milk, poultry, and lean meat.
- Incomplete proteins: lack either one or more amino acids; and they are plant-based proteins.
Fats provide your body with energy during starvation. Fat comprises unsaturated and unsaturated fats.
- Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and they include cheese and butter. Conversely, unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature; and they are avocado oil and vegetable oil.
A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded fats could contribute to obesity and heart diseases.
Water is a vital nutritional need for your body. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. A number of nutritionists recommend consuming 8 glasses or 2 liters of water for females and 3 liters for males in a day.
This of course varies based on an individual’s location, body size, age, and gender. Drinking water has many benefits, some of the essential functions obtained from drinking water include;
- Lubricates your body joints.
- Protect your sensitive tissues and spinal cord.
- Flushing waists from the body through urination
- Keep your body at room temperature.
- Facilitates excretion.
- Boost your energy
- Forms saliva
- Acts as shock observer for the brain
Note: If you don’t drink enough water, you can suffer from constipation and kidney stones.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Your body needs them in small quantities to perform its function.
Vitamins are nutrients that our body needs to develop and function properly. They help you fight infection, blood clotting, among other functions. Vitamins are classified into two classes, which include water and fat-soluble vitamins.
Dissolve in water, and they are not stored in your body. These vitamins are;
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): is a group of nutrients vital for your nervous system functions. It also helps your body convert carbohydrates into energy. Lack of vitamin BI leads to beriberi, which may affect your heart and circulatory system.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): helps your body to break down macronutrients into energy. Consuming excess vitamin B2 can damage your liver.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): facilitates cell development and functions in your body. Niacin may also help you lower cholesterol. Lack of niacin causes pellagra, a condition that affects your skin, mucous membrane, and digestive system.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): is necessary for making blood cells in your body. Further, it helps you convert food into energy. Mayo Clinic states vitamin B5 deficiency is unlikely to cause medical problems.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): is essential for normal brain development. It also improves your mood. Eating healthy foods like beans and liver helps you avoid vitamin B6 deficiency.
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): facilitates the metabolism in your body. Biotin deficiency can cause liver diseases.
- Vitamin B9 (folate): helps you make red blood cells and produce DNA. Lack of enough folic acid can cause anemia.
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): helps to form red blood cells and support your nervous system. If you lack enough vitamin B12, you may suffer from anemia and impaired brain.
- Vitamin C: is an antioxidant that strengthens your immunity and helps you reduce dementia risks.
Dissolve in organic solvents. Your body absorbs and transports them just like fat. These vitamins include
- Vitamin A: supports healthy vision and boosts your immunity. Further, it supports healthy bones and reduces the risks of certain cancers.
- Vitamin D: regulates the absorption of phosphorus and calcium, which supports your immune system functions. Getting enough Vitamin D also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth.
- Vitamin E: helps your body to support its immunity, cell functions. Most plant sources provide your body with vitamin E.
- Vitamin K: helps in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Further, vitamin K supports bone and heart health.
These are inorganic substances that help your body to perform its functions properly, facilitate growth, bone health, fluid balance, among other functions.
They include macro and micro minerals. Your body requires macro minerals in large amounts, while micro minerals in small quantities.
Eating a varied diet full of nutrients ensures your body gets all the minerals it needs.Here are some essential minerals to include in your diet;
- Iodine: produces thyroid hormones that support growth and a healthy metabolism.
- Fluoride: supports healthy bones and teeth.
- Calcium: your body needs calcium to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Besides, calcium helps your blood to clot.
- Magnesium: regulates your blood sugar level and produces protein for your body.
Antioxidants are chemical substances that protect your cells from the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are particles your body produces during digestion or when exposed to pollutants.
Free radicals may damage your cells and expose you to heart diseases and cancers. Thus, antioxidants help you remove these toxic substances from your body. Nutrients such as; vitamins, minerals, and proteins contain antioxidants.
Diseases and Condition Influenced by Nutrition
What Is Nutritional Deficiency?
A nutritional deficiency occurs when your body doesn’t get enough nutrients from the foods you take. Deficiencies can lead to skin disorders, chronic illnesses, and digestion problems.
Multiple factors can cause deficiencies. For example, you don’t consume a healthy balanced diet or health conditions like pregnancy.
However, it can be difficult to notice these conditions unless you’re seriously deficient. But the best solution is to visit your doctor, who can run a nutritional deficiencies test.
For instance, a doctor may perform a blood test to check if you’ve vitamin D deficiency.
Nutritional Deficiencies Diseases and Conditions
Poor nutrition is the primary cause of most health conditions and diseases. Your body may fail to absorb some nutrients over time, which can lead to deficiencies. Some of these diseases and conditions are;
- Diabetes mellitus: occurs when your body cannot regulate blood sugar—the food you take may trigger these conditions. Thus, it would be best if you were careful about what you eat.
- Anemia: is an iron deficiency disease that affects your blood cells. It occurs when you don’t get enough iron to transport oxygen in your body.
- Osteoporosis is an old age condition that affects your bones. It occurs when you fail to consume enough calcium and vitamin D.
- Heart Diseases: occur when you consume a diet full of fat and cholesterol. High cholesterol may cause fatty deposits in your blood vessels. With time, the deposits grow and block your arteries. Hence, difficult blood flow, which may lead to heart diseases.
- Certain types of cancers: A diet high in refined carbs and processed foods may increase your risk of cancer. These cancers include kidney, breast, colon, and endometrial cancers.
Nutrition is the study of food and how it affects your health and well-being. Conditions. Lack of proper nutrition may cause nutritional deficiencies diseases like anemia, diabetes, cancer, among others.
A diet rich in healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins prevents these deficiencies and diseases.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Water and Healthier Drinks (October 12, 2020). cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html#
- NIH. Vitamins and Minerals (April 29, 2019). nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals
- Harvard School of Public Health (n.d). Nutrition and immunity. hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/#
- Mayo Clinic Staff (July 20, 2019), Nutrition Facts: A guide to food labels. mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/nutrition-facts/art-20048426