NUTRITION

NUTRITION

What is nutrition, and why does it matter?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses them, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease.

Nutritionists use ideas from molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics to understand how nutrients affect the human body.

Nutrition also focuses on how people can use dietary choices to reduce the risk of disease, what happens if a person has too much or too little of a nutrient, and how allergies work.

Nutrients provide nourishment. Proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water are all nutrients. If people do not have the right balance of nutrients in their diet, their risk of developing certain health conditions increases.

This article will explain the different nutrients a person needs and why. It will also look at the role of the dietitian and the nutritionist.

Macronutrients

a mother and baby eating a corn of the cobb for good Nutrition
Consuming the right balance of nutrients can help maintain a healthful lifestyle.

Macronutrients are nutrients that people need in relatively large quantities.

Carbohydrates

Sugar, starch, and fiber are types of carbohydrates.

Sugars are simple carbs. The body quickly breaks down and absorbs sugars and processed starch. They can provide rapid energy, but they do not leave a person feeling full. They can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Frequent sugar spikes increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications.

Fiber is also a carbohydrate. The body breaks down some types of fiber and uses them for energ; others are metabolized by gut bacteria, while other types pass through the body.

Fiber and unprocessed starch are complex carbs. It takes the body some time to break down and absorb complex carbs. After eating fiber, a person will feel full for longer. Fiber may also reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colorectal cancer. Complex carbs are a more healthful choice than sugars and refined carbs.

Learn more here about fiber.

Proteins

Proteins consist of amino acids, which are organic compounds that occur naturally.

There are 20 amino acids. Some of these are essential, which means people need to obtain them from food. The body can make the others.

Some foods provide complete protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs. Other foods contain various combinations of amino acids.

Most plant-based foods do not contain complete protein, so a person who follows a vegan diet needs to eat a range of foods throughout the day that provides the essential amino acids.

Learn more here about protein.

Fats

Fats are essential for:

  • lubricating joints
  • helping organs produce hormones
  • enabling the body to absorb certain vitamins
  • reducing inflammation
  • preserving brain health

Too much fat can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, liver disease, and other health problems.

However, the type of fat a person eats makes a difference. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are more healthful than saturated fats, which tend to come from animals.

In this article, learn more about the different types of fats and where to find them.

Water

The adult human body is up to 60% water, and it needs water for many processes. Water contains no calories, and it does not provide energy.

Many people recommend consuming 2 liters, or 8 glasses, of water a day, but it can also come from dietary sources, such as fruit and vegetables. Adequate hydration will result in pale yellow urine.

Requirements will also depend on an individual’s body size and age, environmental factors, activity levels, health status, and so on.

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