Nutrition is the biological and physical process through which an organism utilizes food for its survival. It includes absorption, assimilation, utilization, degradation, metabolism and excretion. Nutrient nutrition addresses the needs of humans, plants, animals and in some cases even microbial entities. This means that nutrition has to do with the way an organism gets its food, the sources of nutrients and their functions.
Nutrition can be seen as the complete process of feeding a person. This process starts from the time when the person grows old and the food that they eat becomes their source of nourishment. It involves the ingestion of foods and the processes that involve the utilization of these foods. Some of the foods that are included in nutrition include carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fat, minerals, fluids, vitamins, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, enzymes, digestive enzymes and micro-nutrients.
Nutrition is important in ensuring a healthy diet that meets the individual’s requirements. However, not all the nutrients are actually consumed when eating foods. In fact, nutrition is about intake and not consumption. A healthy diet should always aim at supplying the minimum amount of nutrition required by an individual for his/her daily activities. Therefore, one should not focus on a particular nutrient but should provide a balanced diet consisting of all the essential nutrients.
The food pyramid helps in determining the nutritional level for an individual through the food consumption patterns. In the US, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid also serves as a useful tool in determining the level of nutrition. The Food Guide Pyramid is divided into five categories with the bottom two consisting of foods that are recommended for those who are lactose intolerant. There are different levels for children, adults and infants. These levels have been determined by the studies conducted on the nutritional needs of different age groups.
Nutrition is also determined by the types of food. There are two types of dietary sources like plant and animal sources. The plant sources include fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds whereas animals include meat, milk and eggs. It is important to consume a balanced diet containing different foods from each category. It is not mandatory for an individual to completely eat these different foods; rather, it is wise to mix and match them in equal proportions.
The food industry is largely dependent on animal fats. Therefore, it is not surprising that dairy products and fish form an important part of a balanced diet for many people. Milk is a very important source of calcium for both young and old people. Many people need a lot of fat in their body in order to remain slim. Therefore, fat contains different nutrients including omega fatty acids, vitamin E and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and calcium.
Calcium and iron are the main nutrient sources for young growing children. Children also require a lot of fat in order to remain strong and healthy. Iron can be absorbed through food and is essential for proper cell formation and development. However, too much iron can be toxic and must be avoided.
Other than fat, oil also provides many nutrients that are beneficial for a healthy body. The main fat found in meats such as beef, pork and lamb, poultry and fish is called saturated fat. This type of fat is more harmful to the body than unsaturated fat because it accumulates in the arteries. This type of fat contains different nutrients such as cholesterol, vitamins A, D and E, beta carotene, lecithin, lysine, potassium and silicon. However, consuming saturated fat should be avoided, particularly if the diet is rich in fruits and vegetables.