The most basic definition of nutrition is "the science of how food nourishes the body." (Null) Still, nutrition is a very broad and complex subject. The food we eat must go through many changes before our bodies can use it for nutrition. Nutrition includes the physical act of eating, digesting and absorbing nutrients.
Nutrition is the process that living things take in food and use it. Plants can be nourished by air, water and sunshine. But human beings have much more complicated needs. Our nutrition may be good or poor, depending on the food we eat.
Well-nourished persons have strong bones, muscles and teeth and healthy skin and blood. (Fuller) Poor nutrition, or malnutrition, results when a person eats too little food or the wrong kinds of food. Serious deficiency diseases attack people who do not have enough to eat.
Nutrition and eating properly are an important part of living. An individual's diet is an important part of his being and lifestyle, and nutrition should be something that is maintained on a daily basis. Food provides us with the energy and vital nutrients necessary to remain healthy and can be helpful when coping with illnesses.
Good nutrition is maintained by balance, which can be gained by eating a variety of different foods and moderating how much of each type is eaten. (Null) For example, we can eat high fat foods as long as they are offset with low fat foods. And if we eat more food than we require, we should be exercising to burn off the extra energy. A healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein, which are the main components of nutrition, are needed to maintain good nutrition. In addition, vitamins are important supplements to this diet.
Many people make the mistake of believing that eating less food is always best. This is a myth. Eating too much food can result in excess weight, while eating too little can lead to being underweight, which can cause many illnesses. Eating too many fatty and sugary foods can also cause illness and disease.
Important Food Elements
By eating food, we gain energy. (Braverman) The measure of all food is known as calories, which are a measure of heat energy. Scientists have discovered 50 to 60 nutrients, some of which are needed in larger amounts than others. A normal, healthy diet should include all the nutrients the body to operate correctly. There are six major kinds of nutrients. These are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.
Proteins are an important part of each cell in our bodies. (Pfieffer) The body uses proteins to build and repair body tissues, and to create antibodies and enzymes needed for chemical reactions in the body. All proteins consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Some also contain sulphur and phosphorus.
Carbohydrates are important energy sources for humans and animals. Carbohydrates such as sugar or starches are high-energy sources. Some carbohydrates contain no usable energy because humans cannot digest them. Carbohydrates are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Fats are a great source of stored energy. (Pfieffer, Null) Fats contain carbon to help store the energy. Fats are divided into two general typed based on their principal characteristics. Saturated fats tend to increase blood cholesterol and a fatlike substance found in the brain.
Vitamins are nutrients that regulate body processes. Scientists have discovered 20-25 substances that are called vitamins. At least a dozen are required for vital processes. Some of these are Vitamins: A, C, D and the B. vitamins thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Each performs a unique function.
Minerals make up a large part of our bones and teeth. Small amounts of minerals are essential part of muscles, blood and nerves.
A healthy diet is one that contains the right nutrients and the right amount of calories. Too many calories will then to make a person gain weight and too few calories will cause a person to lose weight. To keep weight balanced, your intake, or the amount you eat, should balance your output, or activities and exercise.
NUTRITION FOR A HEALTHY MIND AND BODY
Benefits of Good Nutrition
Conventional medicine has determined that 80% of all disease is caused by poor nutrition. (Shapiro) Good nutrition is the groundwork for good health. Many people realize this and want to eat well but do not know how to go about it.
Good nutrition is vital for good health. Research reveals that a balanced diet that is high in plant foods and low in fat, sugar and salt is beneficial for good health. Studies also reveal that many people fall short of achieving a balanced, healthy diet, yet good nutrition is relatively easy to obtain.
The most important areas of health involve individual approaches to stress reduction, physical activity, happiness, and spirituality. All these factors play a role in a healthy mind and body and are greatly influenced by good nutrition. Stress reduction and physical activity are important to fight disease and keep the body strong. Happiness and spirituality are essential for a strong mind, which in turn will make a strong body. Good nutrition contributes to the development and maintenance of a strong, healthy body and mind.
Nutrition for a Healthy Body
There are foods that will help to keep a strong immune defense in the body. This shows how nutrition can prevent the onset of chronic disease. (Braverman)
The first step in a strong immune system is taking care of the digestive tract. The primary function of the digestive tract is to provide nutrients to the body and keep toxins out of the body. When our gut is not functioning properly both of these systems may be disrupted, nutrient absorption may be impaired and unwanted substances may enter the body. The digestive tract is a primary site for immone tissue. Dysfunction can lead to conditions such as nutrient deficiencies, chronic fatigue, and poor brain function. Good nutrition can prevent and treat these illnesses.
Nutrition for a Healthy Mind sharp, clear mind is influenced by good nutrition. Experts believe that, as time goes on, as much as half of a person's brainpower is lost. And while older individuals are more likely to suffer from significant cognitive decline, even young people sometimes notice symptoms of fuzzy thinking or waning memory. Experts also agree that there are ways to defend against this. Optimal intake of vitamins, minerals, and herbs are extremely helpful in building and maintaining a healthy mind.
A recent study compared poorly nourished black children to a matched group of well-nourished black children over a period of seven years. (Shapiro) Each time IQs were tested, the poorly nourished group was between fifteen and twenty IQ points below the other group. At the final testing at age eight, the well-nourished group was twenty-three IQ points above the children who had remained malnourished. This proves the connection between good nutrition and a healthy mind.
Nutrition for the Future
Many nutrition choices that we can make can increase the likelihood that we will remain healthy and independent. (Matsen) Scientific studies have established that lifestyle choices, more than heredity choices, determine health, functioning, and vitality in later life. The 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health noted that two-thirds of all deaths are due to diseases associated with poor diets and dietary habits.
Therefore, nutrition significantly affects our health, quality of life, and longevity. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining cognitive and physical functioning. It plays an essential role in the prevention or management of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.