What Is Nutrition And Why Should You Take It Seriously?
Nutrition is your body taking in nutrients from the food you eat. Plenty nutrients mean good health, and this is why nutrition is important.
What is nutrition? To understand nutrition, you would understand the relationship between diet, health and disease. You would also understand how nutrients affect the body. Quite simply, nutrition is the study of nutrients in food.
Nutrients provide the body with nourishment. Proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water are all nutrients. When your body lacks the right balance of nutrients, your health may develop problems. This is one great reason to take your nutrition seriously. Here's everything you should know about nutrition.
What Is Nutrition And Why Should You Take It Seriously?
As we established above, nutrition is how food affects the health of your body. Food is important; it provides the nutrients for your survival and helps your body stay healthy.
Food is comprised of macronutrients; which are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These macronutrients give your body calories to fuel it and give it energy; they also play specific roles in maintaining health. Your food also supplies micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals that don't provide calories; but serve a variety of critical functions to ensure the body operates optimally.
Macronutrients are nutrients that people need in relatively large quantities.
The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy and fuel the body the same way gasoline fuels a car. Foods such as corn, beans, plantains, rice, tortilla, potatoes and other root vegetables such as bread and fruit deliver sugars or starches that provide carbohydrates for energy.
Energy allows the body to do daily activities as simple as walking and talking and as complex as running and moving heavy objects. You need fuel for growth, this makes sufficient fuel especially important for growing children and pregnant women. Even at rest, the body needs calories to perform vital functions; such as maintaining body temperature, keeping the heart beating and digesting food.
Sugar, starch, and fiber are types of carbohydrates.
Sugars are simple carbs. Your body quickly absorbs sugars and processed starch. They can provide energy quickly, but they do not leave you feeling full. They can also cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Frequent sugar spikes increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications, so you need to watch it with sugars.
Fibre is also a carbohydrate. The body breaks down some types of fibre and uses them for energy; others are metabolized by gut bacteria, while other types pass through the body.
Fibre and unprocessed starch are complex carbs. It takes the body some time to break down and absorb complex carbs. After eating fibre, a person will feel full for longer. Fibre may also reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer. Complex carbs are a more healthful choice than sugars and refined carbs.
You'll find protein in beef, pork, chicken, game and wild meats, fish and seafood, eggs, soybeans and other legumes. Proteins provide the body with amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that are needed for growth, development, and repair and maintenance of body tissues. Protein provides structure to muscle and bone, repairs tissues when damaged and helps immune cells fight inflammation and infection.
There are 20 amino acids. Some of these are important, which means you need to get them from food. Your body can make the others. Some foods provide complete protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs. Other foods contain various combinations of amino acids.
Most plant-based foods do not contain complete protein; so if you follow a vegetarian diet, you'll need to eat a range of foods throughout the day that provides the essential amino acids.
Dietary fat, which is found in oils, coconut, nuts, milk, cheese, meat, poultry and fish; provides structure to cells and cushions membranes to help prevent damage. Oils and fats are also good for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, a nutrient important for healthy eyes and lungs.
Fats are essential for:
- lubricating joints
- helping organs produce hormones
- enabling the body to absorb certain vitamins
- reducing inflammation
- preserving brain health
However, the type of fat you eat makes a difference. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are more healthful than saturated fats, which tend to come from animals.
What Is Nutrition? Explaining Micronutrients Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are food components that help support overall health and play important roles in cell metabolism and neurological functions.
Vitamins aid in energy production, wound healing, bone formation, immunity, and eye and skin health.
Minerals help maintain cardiovascular health and provide structure to the skeleton.
Consuming a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein foods and whole or enriched grains helps ensure the body has plenty of nutrients to use. Providing a few examples of specific micronutrient functions can enhance the effectiveness of nutrition education:
- Vitamin A helps the eyes to see
- Calcium and magnesium help muscles and blood vessels relax, preventing cramps and high blood pressure
- Vitamin C helps wounds heal and the body’s ability to fight off germs
- Iron helps the blood transport oxygen throughout the body and prevents anemia
Using Metaphors to Explain Nutrition
According to professional dietitian nutritionists, metaphors and simple concepts are useful in teaching basic nutrition. An example of this could be conveying foods rich in carbohydrate as "go" foods, protein-rich foods as “grow” foods and colorful produce as "glow" foods. Good nutrition requires eating at least one serving of these three types of food at each meal:
Foods Simple Concept of Function
- Carbohydrate-rich foods Fuel
- Protein-rich foods Building blocks
- Fruits and Vegetables Helpers and protectors
Now you can answer the question what is nutrition with ease. You also know that a balanced diet is non-negotiable, and nutrition is your ticket to great health.
Watch this video from BBC to know more: