Nutrition Fundamentals

Nutrition Fundamentals

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The human body cannot produce everything by itself that it needs for normal functioning. Essential nutrients are those compounds that the body is unable to produce in sufficient amounts. To maintain health, our body needs to consume six essential nutrients through dietary sources.let’s gradually move to the review on nutrition fundamentals.

Why We Need Nutrients

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nutrients are essential for the body to support the good health, growth, and reproduction of the body. These nutrients are divided into two categories by the world health organization (WHO). These are micro nutrients and macro nutrients.

The nutrients that are needed in small amounts by the body are known as micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Although they are required in small doses by the body, their deficiencies can result in certain health issues.

Nutrition Fundamentals

What are Macro-Nutrients

The nutrients that are required in larger amounts by the body are called macro nutrients. These include water, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Improper nutrients in the diet can lead to several complications such as lack of growth and development. A healthy diet should include a wide range of food in the perfect amount that the body needs. All the main nutrients should be present in the diet to sustain a healthy life. You cannot exclude a single category of nutrients from your diet.

Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water are the 6 essential nutrients for supporting the proper body functions.

Proteins

Protein is a macro nutrient. It means that our body needs a relatively higher amount of it to function properly. Protein is an essential element for all the cells in our body. A significant part of the proteins is present in hairs and nails. Your body utilizes proteins to build and repair the tissues.  Also, proteins have a variety of functions, including:

  • It keeps our immunity strong, keeps our heart and respiratory system healthy.
  • Protein is vital for the growth and development of kids for maintaining health in adulthood.
  • It reduces the chances of cardiovascular ailments.
  • Proteins help to protect the body from external germs.
  • It helps in the digestion process.
  • Proteins form antibodies, hormones, and other essential substances for the body.
  • Proteins are served as sources of energy for the body tissues and cells.

Following foods are the good sources of proteins:

  • Poultry
  • Legumes and beans
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Red meat
  • Grains

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are too critical to support the basic functions of the body. They are the important sugars or starches that act as a fuel to support all the cells and tissues in the body. There are five important functions of carbohydrates in the body. These are:

  • The first and foremost role of carbohydrates is to supply energy to all the cells in the body.
  • It stores energy when there is excess energy in the body that is enough to support the functions.
  • Carbohydrates have a major role in building macro molecules that are necessary for protection against oxidative stress.
  • It has an important role in the metabolism of lipids.
  • Complex carbohydrates support the immune system
  • It helps in the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Like other nutrients, carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation otherwise, too much or too little consumption of it can lead to serious ailments. Highly processed foods such as bread pastry, sugar, sodas contain carbohydrates that can make you fat. They can easily increase the possibility of diseases.

The fat around your abdominal organs and liver can cause diabetes. Calories from processed foods like candies, soda, coffee drinks are more likely to add up fat in around your abdomen. Therefore, a reduction in the number of sugary foods can lower the risk of diabetes and slim the waistline.

Naturally occurring sugar in foods like fructose in fruits and lactose in milk, fulfill all the needs of sugar that your body needs in average amount. The sugar that is mixed with processed food in industries has no nutritional benefits but just means to increase the empty calories, help to gain the weight as well as increase the risk of serious health diseases.

Sources of Good Carbohydrates

  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Whole fruits
  • Tubers
  • Unrefined whole-grain starchy vegetables

Sources of bad Carbohydrates

  • Sugary drinks
  • White bread
  • Pastries, cookies, and cakes
  • Ice cream
  • Candies and chocolates
  • French and chocolates
  • French fries and potato chips
  • Fruit juices

Fats

It is also a macro nutrient that provides a significant amount of energy for growth and development. There are two forms of fats. These are:

  • Unsaturated fats
  • Saturated fats

It is essential to eat healthy fats in diets such as mono or polyunsaturated fats and avoid consuming saturated and Tran’s fats. According to a research of Harvard Medical School, fats are vital for the body as they help to maintain optimal health.

There is no doubt that fats are high in calories but these calories provide the necessary energy to the body.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, around 20 to 35% of daily calories come from fats. But according to the World health organization, fats are responsible for 30% calories in the body.

Healthy fats carry the following important functions in the body:

  • Growth and development of cells
  • They are helpful in blood clotting after an injury.
  • Fats have an essential role in the development of new cells.
  • They help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
  • They are helpful in the movement of muscles.
  • Fats have a role in regulating the proper brain functioning.
  • They keep a balance in blood sugar levels.
  • Fats produce the necessary hormones need for the body.
  • They help boost the immunity of the body.

Fats are powerful anti-inflammatory agents and they help to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and Arthritis. Polyunsaturated fat is a type of dietary fat. It is suggested as a healthy fat. Eating the average amount of unsaturated fats instead of saturated fat is beneficial for the body because they maintain cholesterol at a normal level.

Nutrition Fundamentals
Good sources of monounsaturated fats include
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts include almonds, peanuts, cashews
  • Peanut butter
  • Olive, canola, peanut and sesame oils
Polyunsaturated fats are found in
  • Walnuts
  • Soy milk
  • Soybean and sunflower oil
  • Flax seed
  • Pumpkin seeds

Animals are good sources of Saturated fats. It includes,

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Chicken skin
  • Dairy products
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Lard

Tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil

Vitamins

Vitamins are extremely important to regulate different functions of the body. They have an important role in the formation of tissues, genetic material, chemicals, and hormones for the nervous system. Vitamins are essential for body growth, development, physical health as well as maintain the emotional balance.

There are two basic types of vitamins.

  • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Fat-soluble vitamins.

As the name suggests, water-soluble vitamins can dissolve in water. Fruits, vegetables, milk, and meat products are the good sources of water-soluble vitamins. While fat-soluble vitamins also called liposoluble vitamins can only dissolve in oils and fats. Liposoluble vitamins are found in vegetable fruits, fish, egg yolks, and some nuts.

The human body can only produce two types of vitamins that are Vitamin D and vitamin K. The other vitamins must be taken through diet or supplements.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid): Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen which is important for the healing purpose after an injury. Vitamin C absorbs iron and has antioxidant properties. We need to provide vitamin C to our body because our body cannot synthesize vitamin C by itself.

Oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, and broccoli are the important sources of Vitamin C. It is recommended in the amount of 60-70mg per day.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): It is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain nerves, muscles heart tissues. Vitamin B1 reacts with energy metabolism and converts proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy for the body consumption.

It is found in significant quantities in spinach, oranges, pork, milk, eggs and cantaloupe. Its average recommended dose is 1.5-2mg per day.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): It supports the body antioxidant functions. The body must maintain the tissues and mucous membranes such as nails, hair, and skin. Besides, it is also important for the regulation of the nervous system and immunological system.

Cheese, coconut, mushrooms, eggs, almonds, milk, meat, cereals, and lentils are all rich sources of vitamin B2.

1.8mg per day is the generally recommended dose of vitamin B2.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): It participates in the process of metabolism of energy. The primary function of niacin is to convert food into energy. This vitamin absorbs in the stomach and intestine.

Poultry, salmon, beef, and legumes are important sources of vitamin B3. Average daily intake value is 15mg.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Like niacin, it also converts food into energy that is necessary for the body. This vitamin is essential for the different processes occurring in the human body.

It is present abundantly in eggs and whole grains. Avocado, milk, sweet potatoes, yoghurt, and mushrooms are also good sources of vitamin B5. It should be taken in the dose of 50mg per day.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): It facilitates the metabolism of proteins and is used in the formation of coenzymes. Pyridoxine functions as a determinant in the regulation of the nervous system.

Potatoes, bananas, nuts, legumes, poultry, and avocado are good sources of pyridoxine.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin): It keeps the blood cells and neurons healthy. Besides, it has a function in the elaboration of DNA and the other genetic material in cells. Besides, it also helps to prevent anaemia.

Animal products are the only rich sources of vitamin B12. It is recommended in a much lesser amount (0.0005 mg per day).

Nutrition Fundamentals

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A (Retinol): It is important for the health of the tissues and good vision. It has significant antioxidant properties which are essential to protect the body against toxic damage from oxidation.

Vitamin A is present in many foods such as fruits, vegetables including parsley, spinach, carrot, apricot, and pumpkin. Besides, egg yolk, cheese, and tuna are also rich sources of Vitamin A. The average daily intake of vitamin A is 0.8 to 1 mg per day.

Vitamin D (Calciferol): It facilitates the metabolism of phosphate and calcium by the body. It has a special role in the growth and development of bones and teeth.

Milk, sardines, mackerel and salmon are good sources of vitamin D.

It should be consumed in 0.01 mg per day.

Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol): It is called as the vitamin of youth. Because of its antioxidant properties, it participates in the protection of lipids. This is the reason that it is important for cell membranes to protect them.

Vitamin E is found in nuts, soy, vegetable oils, liver, blackberries, fish, avocados, and whole grains.

The average daily intake of Vitamin E is 0.08 mg per day.

Vitamin K (fitomenadione): It is produced by intestinal flora. It is important to store carbohydrates in the body.

Egg yolks, liver fish, Alfalfa, soybean oil are some of the important sources of vitamin K.

0.1 mg per day is the average daily intake amount of Vitamin K.

Minerals

Like other nutrients, minerals are also important to support the different functions of the body. They are known as the second types of micro nutrients. Minerals are divided into major and trace minerals.

Major minerals are:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sulfur
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium

They are important to balance the water levels in the body. They are mainly related to bone health. Minerals are the key supplements in our diet that should not be ignored. Approximately every cell utilizes major minerals in some way or the other. They make the bones and teeth stronger at any age.

Trace Minerals are:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Chromium
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum

These minerals help to strengthen the bones, blood clotting, boost up the immune system and keeps the blood pressure normal.

Egg yolks, leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products, whole grains, beans, legumes, iodized table salt, and red meat should be included in the diet of a person to ensure the consumption of enough minerals.

Nutrition Fundamentals

Water

It is probably an essential nutrient that a person needs to survive on earth. A human can only live a few days without drinking water.

Every cell of the human body requires water for proper functioning because the human body is made of mostly water (62% water is present in the human body). Even mild dehydration can cause headaches and impaired with the normal functioning of the body.  Water has the following functions in the body:

  • It flushes the toxins outside of the body.
  • It helps in transporting nutrients throughout the body.
  • Water is important for the lubrication of body organs.
  • It prevents constipation and hydrates the body.
  • It helps improve your mood and the functions of the brain.
  • Water act as a shock absorber in the body.

In a Nutshell

Last words on nutrition fundamentals, Consumption of the above nutrients keeps us healthy and prevents the risk of diseases. Adults have significant knowledge of food that is good for their health; they know that food is necessary for balance and moderation in life. However, they find it difficult to follow all the rules regarding their health; despite they have higher knowledge than kids. Eating a variety of food including vegetables, fruits, fats, proteins, and whole grains is the perfect way to ensure the best possible health.

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