Nutrition is the relationship of foods to the health of the human body .
Proper nutrition means that you are receiving enough foods and supplements for
the body to function at optimal capacity. It is important to remember that no
single nutrient or activity can maintain optimal health and well being, although
it has been proven that some nutrients are more important than others. All of
the nutrients are necessary in different amounts along with exercise to maintain
There are six main types of nutrients used to maintain body health.
They are: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water . They
all must be in balance for the body to function properly. There are also five
major food groups. The groups are: fats and oils, fruits and vegetables, dairy
products, grains, and meats.
Exercise is also an important part of nutrition. Exercise helps tone
and maintain muscle tissue and ensure that the body’s organs stay in good
Healthy eating without exercise will not result in good nutrition
and a healthy body – neither will exercise without nutrition. The most
important thing about exercise is that it be practiced regularly and that it be
practiced in accompaniment with a healthy diet. It is also desirable to
practice more that one sport as different sports exercise different areas of the
body. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the sources of energy for the body.
The contained energy is expressed in calories. There are 9 calories per gram in
fat and there are about 4 calories per gram in proteins and carbohydrates .
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. This energy is mostly
used for muscle movement and digestion of food. Some sources of carbohydrates
are : grains, fruits, vegetables, and anything else that grows out of the ground.
The energy in carbohydrates is almost instantly digested. This results in a
quick rise in blood sugar which is soon followed by a drop in blood sugar which
is interpreted by the body as a craving for more sugars. This sugar low may
also result in fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, and headache.
However, not all
carbohydrates do this. Most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are
digested more slowly. Fats, which are lipids, are the source of energy that is
the most concentrated. Fats produce more that twice the amount of energy that
is in carbohydrates or proteins. Besides having a high concentration of energy,
fat acts as a carrier for the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. Also, by
helping in the absorption of vitamin D, fats help make calcium available to
various body tissues, in particular, the bones and teeth.
Another function of
fat is to convert carotene to vitamin A. Fat also helps keep organs in place by
surrounding them in a layer of fat. Fat also surrounds the body in a layer that
preserves body temperature and keeps us warm. One other function of fat is to
slow the production of hydrochloric acid thereby slowing down digestion and
making food last longer. Some sources of fats are meats and nuts as well as
just plain oils and fats. Proteins, besides water, are the most plentiful
substance in the body.
Protein is also one of the most important element for
the health of the body. Protein is the major source of building material in the
body and is important in the development and growth of all body tissues.
Protein is also needed for the formation of all hormones. It also helps
regulate the body’s water balance. When proteins are digested they are broken
down into simpler sections called amino acids. However, not all proteins will
contain all the necessary amino acids.
Most meat and dairy products contain all
necessary amino acids in their proteins. Proteins are available from both
plants and animals. However, Animal proteins are more complete and thus
desirable. Knowledge of the nutrients and their function is essential to
understanding the importance of good nutrition. As mentioned above, there are
six nutrients. All vitamins are organic food substances that are found only in
living things, plants and animals .
It is believed that there are about twenty
substances that are active as vitamins in human nutrition . Every vitamin is
essential to the proper growth and development of the body. With a few
exceptions, the body cannot make vitamins and must be supplied with them.
Vitamins contain no energy but are important as enzymes which help speed up
nearly all metabolic functions. Also, vitamins are not building components of