Nutrition is the biological and chemical process by which an organism uses food to support its daily life. It involves absorption, assipation, metabolism, biosynthesis and excretion. The nutrition of the food provides the nutrients to build, develop and maintain an organism’s physiology, and to maintain normal body functions, which include growth, development, maintenance, repair and death.
Nutrition is important in ensuring a healthy way of living. We all need a healthy balance of nutrients to maintain our bodies at their optimum level. This enables us to perform daily activities properly, to live healthily and even to be able to think and reason properly. Many of the nutrients we need are not always available from the foods that we eat, or are only available in small, specific quantities in certain foods. We would need to consume a number of specific food choices to obtain all the nutrients we need. A balanced diet is therefore essential for maintaining a healthy and disease-free body.
A balanced diet should consist of a wide range of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, lean meat, poultry and fish, and other types of foods that are rich in nutrient content when eaten in their appropriate proportions. All of these food choices have their own individual nutritional value and should be included in a balanced diet as per the guidelines set out by the Food and Nutrition Board of Advisors (FNBA’s). The FNBAs are an international organization that sets guidelines for the inclusion of nutritional information on food labels. These values are used in the United States by the American Nutrition Information Services Division (ANSI) as well as many other countries around the world.
Nutritional quality does not have a single definition; rather it is dependent upon the type of food, the nutrients included and the amount of those nutrients that are present in the diet. There are several factors that play a significant role in determining an acceptable diet and the appropriate nutritional value. The first factor that contributes to good nutrition is that the diet should contain the right amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Another factor is that the diet should provide the right amount of vitamins and minerals.
Some other key factors in nutrition include fiber, minerals, water, fat and salt all of which are comprised of different essential nutrients in varying amounts. Many foods such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, beans, rice, vegetables and fruits contain some nutrients in varying amounts. Meats and dairy produce are also important building blocks for healthy nutrition.
Carbohydrate is one of the primary nutrients needed for energy and physical activities. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. It is important to select these foods carefully based on their carbohydrate content to obtain the most nutritional value. Some foods are naturally more carbohydrate dense than others, while some vegetables and fruits are naturally more fibrous.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in important fiber. Fibers can aid in weight gain, digestion and cardiovascular health. In addition, fruits and vegetables have a wide range of other health benefits including protection against certain diseases and infections, protection against some cancers and effective immune system functioning. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables help to protect the body from harmful free radicals that can result from exposure to environmental factors such as tobacco smoke and ultraviolet radiation.
Vitamin C has been recognized as an essential nutrient by various health organizations. However, vitamin C needs to be consumed in adequate dosages or it can cause toxicity if taken in large quantities or for a prolonged period of time. Some foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, some leafy green vegetables and tomatoes are higher in vitamin C than other fruits and vegetables and some vitamin C supplements are available on the market that will meet the recommended daily dosages of vitamin C to bring about optimal health.