Nutrition is the physiological and biochemical process through which an organism uses food as a source of energy to support its daily life. It involves absorption, assimilation, metabolism, biosynthesis, and excretion. There are five chief nutrients essential for the body; calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Some of these nutrients are found in many foods and some are only available naturally. The five main food groups include: protein, vegetable fat, fruits, and grains.
The five key elements required by the body for optimal nutrition are calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and E. These elements can be found in most plant foods, although the best source is protein from animal sources. An animal source protein has a greater absorption rate and higher levels of all vitamins and minerals. Vegetable protein tends to be lower in calories but higher in vitamins and minerals. An animal source protein has a higher fat content and a lower absorption rate. This is why cow’s milk, egg yolk, fish eggs, and poultry meat are the best sources of nutrition.
Nutrition is affected by two main factors; the diet and activity level of the person. Nutritional needs change throughout the day and therefore the type and amount of nutrients required changes as well. Daily activities affect nutrition due to the fact that some nutrients are lost through the digestive system when digesting food. Therefore, during the day, carbohydrates are used to provide energy, fats are used for fueling physical activities, and vitamins and minerals are used to maintain the body’s internal balance of nutritional requirements.
Good nutrition is important to everyone for a number of reasons. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with chronic diseases are all at risk for poor nutrition. Most people need a well balanced diet to maintain good health, however, this cannot happen for most if not all of their food selections. Some foods are very good for one purpose or another and are good for all of the different nutritional needs. These substances are called complete foods because they offer all of the necessary nutrients in varying proportions.
The first category of substances that should be considered are complete foods. They are foods that contain all of the nutrients that are needed by the body in varied proportions. Examples of complete foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein rich foods, dairy products, and whole fats such as nuts, fish, and olives. In addition, these types of foods are recommended to be eaten in large quantities daily for the purpose of maintaining the proper balance of nutrients and reducing the risk of deficiency.
The second category of substances that the body uses is non-nutrient based. Non-nutrient-based foods are made up of chemicals and other substances that can provide the body with a number of necessary nutrients but also have little or no effect on the deficiencies or illness in a person’s body. Many chemicals that fall under this category are salt, sugar, caffeine, artificial flavors, and various preservatives. The exception to this is salt, which the body uses in a large amount and is beneficial for a variety of purposes. Foods that fall into this category include artificial meats, some dairy products, some nuts, and many seafood species.
The last category is carbohydrate-based foods. These foods provide energy to the human body by providing carbohydrates. The carbohydrates that are derived from the foods in this category are glucose, fat, protein, and various carbohydrates. There is some debate as to whether or not all carbohydrates are healthy or not, but it is safe to say that all provide energy to the human body and should be included in the diet.
The primary sources of carbs and fats are plant sources. The reason for this is that the human body cannot produce them in sufficient quantities. Plants such as nuts and seeds and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans are the perfect source of carbs and fats. If the focus is to lose weight then eliminating the fat is a good idea as the fats can be stored easily in the body once you remove them. However, the benefits of including plant sources in the diet far outweigh any loss of fat. Plants such as oatmeal, walnuts, almonds, spinach, garlic, and tomatoes are excellent fat sources.
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