Nutrition is the biological and chemical process through which an organism utilizes food to support its daily life. It includes absorption, assimilation, metabolism, biosynthesis and excretion as important processes. It also involves vitamins, minerals, fat, proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids and other nutrients that are vital for life. The diet is formulated to provide the individual with the necessary nutriments that meet the requirements of the body. Nutrition is a complete system that has to be balanced for the body to function properly. It is a process that is organic in nature and does not depend on any food or foodstuff alone.
The food substances that constitute our daily diet are divided into two groups: the macronutrients and the non-micronutrients. The macronutrients are made possible by the foods building blocks of our body known as carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Non-micronutrients are also made possible by the foods building blocks of our body known as fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They include sugars, starches, fiber, water and other non-nutrient elements.
There are certain criteria on which a good diet must conform to for a proper nutritional status. Foods need to be consumed in their proper proportions according to the individual’s stage of life. Different kinds of diets are recommended for different age groups because different diseases and chronic diseases may affect individuals differently. Diets are advised for pregnant women, children, adults, athletes and lactating women.
Plants are the major source of food and other essential nutrients. Plants grow in three stages namely: initial growth, later growth and later ripening. During the initial growth period, the plants contain most of the nutrients, whereas later growth stage make up the remaining percentage. Ripening is the final stage in plant growth and the complete cessation of ripening means the end of plant nutrition.
Nutritional needs of humans are fulfilled through the foods that humans consume daily. Through this process of digestion, nutrition enters the human body. Proper intake of dietary nutrition is important in preventing and treating many health problems. The benefits of a healthy diet are numerous and they include prevention of diseases, maintenance of good health, enhancement in energy levels, reduction of risks of cancer and weight loss.
The effects of nutrition on health are more visible in prevention and treatment of serious diseases. In the case of heart diseases, prevention is better than cure. Regular exercise and consumption of balanced diet helps in avoiding heart diseases and other chronic diseases. The right kind of nutrition is important in maintaining a good physical, mental and emotional health and in preventing and curing certain chronic diseases.
Animal nutrition refers to the dietary needs of animals and birds and the products derived from them. The main sources of animal nutrition are meat, milk, eggs and fats. Plants derive nutrients from their extracts. Plants receive direct nutrition from their plants; animal nutrition comes from their meats, eggs and fats. Animal nutrition provides proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that are vital for the development of the human body and maintain good health.
Human nutrition on the other hand, refers to the food that people eat to maintain their body’s physical activities and to provide energy to perform daily chores. Humans get energy from carbohydrates, fats, vegetables, fruits, and other dietary fibers. Carbohydrates provide energy for daily activities and carbohydrates are converted into glucose or blood sugar for the brain and other bodily functions. Fats supply energy for burning up fat and replacing it with oxygen. Vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients are provided by vegetables and fruits.
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