Nutrition is the biological and metabolic process by which an organism uses food as fuel to support its daily life. It involves absorption, assimilation, metabolism, catabolism and exocytosis. It is a science whose goal is to understand the entire nature of life in all its dimensions including nutrition, energy and the interactions among the living systems. It deals with the study of the interactions between living organisms and their soils, food and water resources. It also deals with the measurement and interpretation of nutritional data, with the use of both laboratory and field techniques.
Nutrition studies are usually done on animals, although human studies are also conducted, mostly on animals, to study the effects of nutrition on diseases. The goal of such studies is to discover if a diet containing known nutritious ingredients can improve the health and the performance of an animal. Nutritionists therefore usually test the effects of nutrients on various diseases and the responses of animals in controlled experiments before publishing any results. A published study must provide enough evidence and reliable conclusions. For this reason, it is very important that any nutritional studies have good methodology and adequate control and validity.
One of the major goals of nutrition is to provide a balanced diet for the animals used for scientific research and experimentation. Almost all diets recommended by the experts include some form of protein in them. Protein has become one of the most important nutrients in all forms of diets. The challenge is to provide this source of nutrients in a balanced and appropriate proportion to the animal foods. This can only be achieved if certain foods are chosen. Some of the animal foods that are recommended for diets should be the primary sources of protein.
Meat is one of the main sources of macronutrients for animals. Some of these are lean meats like poultry and fish, red meat and goat’s milk. Animal foods that are rich in protein and fat are usually recommended in a well balanced diet. These include beef, lamb, goat, venison and salmon.
Fatty acids are also essential in providing a healthy body weight. It is essential that the fats are replaced with the healthier carbohydrates, such as those in vegetables and fruits. These foods can be eaten liberally without worrying about the carbohydrates providing only energy for the day. In fact, a vegetarian or vegan diet can be classified as a healthy diet since most of its nutrients come from carbohydrates. However, it should be realized that a low calorie diet is recommended in order to keep the weight of the body constant.
Another major component of a balanced diet is minerals. Minerals are used by the body to make energy, repair cells and carry out other functions. Most nutrients from fruits and vegetables are not absorbed by the body because of their high percentage in the fiber content. Therefore, these foods are classified as staple foods. Some of the minerals that are found in these foods are iron, zinc, manganese and copper.
Fruits and vegetables, considered as the staple food of the modern world, are categorized as natural foods. They have to be taken in moderate quantities since they are rich in calories. Whole fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious, which include vitamins A, C and E, potassium, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid and magnesium. Since the whole fruits and vegetable diet need more than just fruits and vegetables alone, a multivitamin formula is also needed. However, the recommended diet for a balanced diet is still the whole fruits and vegetable diet.
Other minerals are phytonutrients, which are called non-nutritious substances that are required by the body but not present in plants. Examples of phytonutrients are vitamins B, C and E. Aside from minerals, a well-balanced diet requires a mix of essential fatty acids, vitamins and enzymes. Vitamins, minerals and enzymes play important roles in the proper functioning of the body. In fact, without vitamins, minerals and enzymes, the body’s normal functionality will be impaired. Examples of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are considered to be important in a balanced diet are: vitamin C, beta carotene, conjugated linoleic acid (CLCA), selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, thymoquinone and folic acid.
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