Table of Contents
Our body is a collection of complex systems and organs that may be affected by everything and anything around us, including the environment we live in, pollution, the food and beverages we consume, our sleeping habits, and how we engage in daily activities, among other things. Some of these things are out of our hands, but our diet is entirely in our hands. For this, we must learn the basic nutrition concepts of diet.
When we eat or drink something, our body breaks it down and absorbs the simple but essential minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and even water. It then turns these things into blood and energy, which helps us stay healthy and grow.
Why is Nutrition Essential for Human Health?
We all know that a healthy body and mind need good food and clean water. All healthy and good foods have vital nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. All these perform different work to keep our bodies healthy and make new cells. Many diseases only happen because people eat the wrong and unhealthy foods. Some conditions, like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, etc., are caused by or change the course of certain foods or diets.
How Organs Work
Lungs: Provide oxygen to the blood
Heart: The heart pumps blood all over our body.
Stomach: The stomach helps break down food.
Intestines: Extract nutrients from food
Liver: It filters the blood and breaks down food into nutrients.
Kidneys: They remove waste and extra fluid from the blood.
Basic Nutrition Concepts
Nutrition is the study of how food affects the body’s health. Food is important because it gives us the nutrients to live and helps our bodies work and stay healthy. It comprises macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat, giving the body calories and energy and helping keep it healthy in specific ways. Food also gives you micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals, which don’t give you calories but do many essential things for your body.
Macronutrients comprise most of a person’s diet and give them energy and essential nutrients. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are all considered a macronutrient. But too many macronutrients without enough physical activity can lead to too much nutrition, which can cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and other long-term illnesses. Undernutrition happens when there aren’t enough macronutrients, leading to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.
Carbohydrates are composed of sugars and starches. They are an essential source of energy that gives you four kcal/g. Moreover, carbohydrate is small molecules that break down quickly. These molecules are called monosaccharides or disaccharides. Because of this, simple carbohydrates are easy to break down and absorb into the bloodstream. It means that they have the potential to raise blood glucose levels quickly. Table sugar, syrup, soda, and fruit juice are all examples of simple carbs.
Complex carbohydrates have larger molecules called polysaccharides that break down more slowly. It means that blood sugar levels rise more slowly and for longer after eating them. Whole grains, beans, and vegetables are all examples of complex carbohydrates.
Foods are divided into different groups based on their glycemic index, which measures how quickly glucose levels in the blood rise after eating carbs. The glycemic index help people with diabetes mellitus control their blood sugar levels. Some foods, like white bread, white rice, and white potatoes, process a high glycemic index. After you eat, they quickly raise blood glucose levels and release insulin. It can make you feel more hungry and cause you to overeat. But foods with a low glycemic index include fruit, green leafy vegetables, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and bran breakfast cereals. These foods keep blood sugar from raising insulin levels after you eat. These foods make you less hungry and less likely to overeat.
Proteins are peptides and amino acids which give 4 kcal of energy per gram. They are essential for tissue repair and function, growth, energy, fluid balance, clotting, and making white blood cells. Nitrogen balance is another way to talk about protein status. Nitrogen is consumed in the diet and eliminated in the urine and feces.
A negative nitrogen balance means that the body gets rid of more nitrogen than it takes in through food. People starving or have a severe infection have a negative nitrogen balance. In contrast, a positive nitrogen balance refers to a situation in which the body takes in more nitrogen than it excretes. When there is a positive nitrogen balance, extra protein is turned into fat tissue to store it.
There are three types of proteins: Complete, Incomplete, and Partially complete. There must be complete proteins in the diet. They have enough amino acids to help their bodies grow and keep their tissues healthy. People can find Complete proteins in soy, quinoa, eggs, fish, meat, and dairy products, among other things. Proteins that aren’t complete don’t have enough amino acids to keep you alive. Most plants, like beans, peanut butter, seeds, grains, and grain products, have incomplete proteins. So to make a whole protein, you must add amino acids from incomplete proteins from other proteins. For example, vegetarians must be careful to eat proteins that go well together, like grains and legumes, or nuts and seeds and legumes, to ensure they get all the proteins they need daily. Partially complete proteins have enough amino acids for life but not enough for tissue growth and maintenance.
Fats consist of fatty acids and glycerol and are necessary for tissue development, insulation, energy, energy storage, and hormone production. It has 9 kcal of energy per gram. You need some fat to get fuel and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, but too much fat can lead to heart disease and obesity. Due to its high caloric density, a small amount of fat goes a long way.
There are three types of fats: saturated, unsaturated, and trans. Saturated fats come from butter and red meat; both are animal products (e.g., steak). At room temperature, saturated fats are solids. Because saturated fat raises cholesterol and contributes to cardiovascular disease, the recommended intake is less than 10% daily calories.
Oils and plants are two sources of unsaturated fats. Chicken and fish also have some unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are not as good for your health as unsaturated fats. Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, almonds, and pumpkin seeds have unsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats, such as those with omega-3 fatty acids, help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high amounts in fish and other seafood.
Trans fats have been changed through hydrogenation and are no longer in their natural state. During the process of hydrogenation, fat changes in a way that makes it more challenging at room temperature and lasts longer. You can get Trans fats in processed foods, like chips, crackers, cookies, margarine, and salad dressings. One should intake Trans fat in small amounts because it raises cholesterol and makes heart disease more likely.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins are essential for many things in the body, like growth, development, healing, vision, and reproduction. Most vitamins are necessary because the body can’t make them and needs to get them from food.
Some vitamins, like vitamins A, D, C, B6, and niacin, can make you sick if you take too much of them. On the other hand, vitamin deficiencies can cause due to a variety of factors, such as poor food intake due to poverty, malabsorption issues with the gastrointestinal tract, drug and alcohol abuse, proton pump inhibitors, and prolonged parenteral nutrition. Deficiencies can take years to form, so patients usually have to deal with them for a long time.
Vitamins are either soluble in water or soluble in fat. Vitamins C and B (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, cyanocobalamin, and B9) are water-soluble vitamins that cannot be stored in the body (folic acid). Biotin and pantothenic acid are two more vitamins that dissolve in water. The kidneys eliminate too many of these vitamins through urine, so toxicity isn’t usually a problem. However, too much vitamin B6, C, or niacin can cause toxicity.
Minerals are inorganic substances necessary for hormone and enzyme production and bone, muscle, nervous system, and cardiac function. They are essential in different amounts and are present in a balanced diet. In some cases of mineral deficiency, a healthcare provider may suggest taking mineral supplements. Deficiencies can be caused by not getting enough food, not being able to absorb it, or taking certain medicines, like diuretics.
Minerals are either macrominerals or trace minerals. Examples of macrominerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. The “Electrolytes” section of this book’s “Fluids and Electrolytes” chapter goes into more depth about macrominerals.
We only need minimal amounts of trace minerals. Zinc, iron, chromium, copper, fluorine, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, and selenium are trace minerals.
My Healthy Plate for the Day
The plate, designed by the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition, suggests obtaining macronutrients and micronutrients from a minimum of eight food groups per day to achieve a balanced diet that would satisfy the calorie or energy requirements of Indians.
A balanced diet should get between 50 and 60% of its calories from carbs, preferably complex carbs, 20 to 30% from fats and oils, and at least 10-15% of its calories from proteins. “My Plate for the Day” gives you about 13.5% of the calories or energy (E) you need in a day from protein, 29%E from fat, and 56%E from carbs. You need 2000 calories a day.
So if you want to learn more about food and nutrition, you can enroll in a certification course on food and nutrition from any recognized institution like Henry Harvin.
Ans: A healthy diet throughout life helps women have healthy pregnancies, supports normal growth, development, and aging, helps people stay at a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of chronic diseases, which is good for their health and well-being.
Ans: Using these simple marketing techniques, you can get students excited about the healthy changes you make to the school cafeteria menu. The 4Ps are product, price, placement, and promotion.
Ans: The 80/20 Rule says that every meal and snack is a chance to refuel your body in the best way possible. 80% of the time, eat the foods that are best for you, and 20% of the time, eat some of your favorite foods that may be better for you. Balance is the key to life!