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    Most people know that good nutrition is important Essay

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    for good health. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) are the daily amounts of essential nutrients that will preventdeficiencies in most healthy people.

    But not many people realize the importance a healthydiet can have on their health for years to come. To help us stay healthy a person shouldeat a variety of foods, maintain ideal weight, avoid too much fat, and eat foods withenough starch and fiber. A good diet helps children grow, develop, and do well in school. It also helps young and older adults to work productively and feel their best. A healthydiet can also lessen the risk factors for obesity and high blood pressure. For our benefit,the U.

    S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department ofAgriculture has issued Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines are designed to helpAmericans choose the recommended number of daily servings from each of the fivedifferent food groups; Bread, Meat, Vegetable, Fruit, and Dairy.

    The Nutrition FactsLabel is made to help you buy foods that will meet the Dietary Guidelines. Mostprocessed foods now carry nutrition information. People need energy and essential nutrients. These nutrients are essential because thebody cannot make them and has to get them from food. Energy needs vary by age. Adultsneed less food than younger and more active individuals.

    People who are less active or aretrying to lose weight will eat less food and have problems meeting their nutrient needs. Almost all Americans need to be more active, because an inactive lifestyle is unhealthy. Inorder to stay at the same body weight, people need to balance the amount of energy infood with the amount of energy the body uses. People need to put more energy into dailyactivities. The pattern of eating is also important. Snacks provide a large amount ofcalories for many Americans.

    Unless nutritious snacks are part of the daily diet, snackingwill cause weight gain. Also binge eating and fasting will add to weight problems. Maintaining weight in older people is important because they usually lose weight as they 3age. Some of that weight is muscle. People need to exercise regularly to maintain muscle,to feel better and to reduce the risk of falls and broken bones. The quality and variety of food in the United States allow almost everyone to have anutritious diet.

    Nutrients are divided into five major groups; proteins, carbohydrates, fats,vitamins and minerals. Each of these food components have a special function in the body,and all of them together are needed for overall health. The body uses energy to functionand keep itself at a constant temperature. Scientists have been able to find out that thebody gets its fuel from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. CarbohydratesCarbohydrates are the most available foods in the world.

    Carbohydrates in foods, likewhole grain breads and cereals, provide calories and nutrients and also increase dietaryfiber. Dietary fiber, like lettuce, if eaten daily, can decrease the risk of colon cancer. Ifthere isn’t enough carbohydrates in the body during exercise, the body tires faster. Research has proven that a daily diet high in carbohydrates is helpful. Most sportsnutritionists recommend a meal high in carbohydrates 3 or 4 hours before an event.

    Carbohydrates provide most of the energy in almost all people’s diets. The best sourcesfor carbohydrates are grains, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits. FatsEveryone thinks that fat in the diet is bad, but really the body needs it. Fat providesenergy by giving calories to the body. They are the most concentrated source of energy inthe diet. People need to watch how much fat they eat, not do without it entirely.

    Becausefat sources have little water in them, they take up less room, so we eat more fat withoutgetting full. So that’s why it is easy to get fat on a high-fat diet. Obesity increases the riskfor high blood pressure and eventually for stroke. It is also associated with heart disease.

    There is evidence that certain kinds of cancer like colon, lung, and bladder cancer run in 4people who have high-fat diets. It is also known that breast and uterine cancer are morecommon in obese women. Best sources of fat are margarine, vegetable/plant oils, nuts,meats, cheese, and cream. ProteinThe main purpose of protein in the body is to build and repair tissues.

    Most of thebody’s protein is located in the muscle tissue. Every cell in the body is partly made ofproteins. As a child grows, his muscles are built from proteins. A person with burns oropen sores need protein to heal these wounds. Also, if carbohydrates, starches, or fats areunavailable, protein can be used to supply energy. Everyone needs some proteineveryday.

    How much is needed depends on body size, rate of growth, and each personshealing requirements. The best sources of protein are eggs, milk, fish, meat, poultry, andnuts. VitaminsVitamins help your body use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In most cases, vitaminscannot be made by the body and must be taken from food.

    Vitamins are necessary forgrowth, healthy skin, teeth and eyes, and cell formation. They are also important indigestion, mental alertness, and resistance to bacterial infections. All natural vitamins arefound only in living things, plants and animals. Good sources of vitamins are meat, fish,poultry, milk, fruit, breads, and cereals.

    There are 13 known vitamins, 4 fat-soluble and 9water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. The water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the B-vitamin complex. A lot of people think vitamins can replace food.

    They cannot. If you eat a variety ofnutritious foods, you shouldn’t need vitamin supplements. Taking more nutrients than yourbody needs won’t give you any more energy, but will prevent nutritional deficiencydiseases like scurvy, beriberi, and rickets, although these diseases are rare in the United 5States. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent or give you more protectionagainst cancer has not been proven effective.

    It has been found that smoking slightlyincreases the body’s need for vitamin C, but not for nutrients over the 100% of theRecommended Dietary Allowances. High-potency vitamin/mineral combinations could bedangerous if taken in large amounts. Some side effects are fatigue, diarrhea, and hair loss. More serious effects are kidney stones, liver or nerve damage, or even death. Ifsupplements are dangerous, why are they being sold? Our laws do not allow the UnitedStates Food and Drug Administration to limit the amount of nutrients that go into a singlepill.

    WaterYou won’t find water listed on nutrient charts, but everyone knows that we can’t livewithout it. While we can survive for long periods of time without many vitamins andminerals, it takes only a few days without water to lead to death. Water is a colorlesscompound of hydrogen and oxygen that almost every cell in the body needs to survive, itcontains no calories. Even tissues that are not thought of as “watery” contain largeamounts of water.

    Water makes up about three-fourths of the brain and muscles, and boneis more than one-fifth water. In all, water accounts for about one-half to two-thirds of thebody’s makeup. One of water’s many important jobs is to carry nutrients and oxygen to all parts of thebody through the blood and lymphatic systems. Also, it plays an important role inregulating body temperature; the heat released when we lose water through perspirationhelps keep us cool. We cannot rely on thirst as the only indicator of water requirements. It is possible toquench your thirst without putting back into your body the amount of water you need.

    That’s the reason you’re advised to drink 6 to 8 glassed of fluid every day, whether you’re6thirsty or not. This recommendation has special meaning for the elderly, they are lesslikely to get thirst signals when their bodies need water. Drinking water past the point ofthirst also lessens the risk of dehydration for people who live in really hot climates, orathletes and laborers who sweat all the time. It’s almost impossible to take in too muchwater, since the body is very efficient at getting rid of what it doesn’t need. Most of the water we drink comes from beverages, including juice, milk, and softdrinks.

    Coffee and tea also supply water, but these sources are taken daily and theyincrease loss of water through the kidneys. Solid foods also add a lot to our daily waterintake. Most fruits are more than 80 percent water, and even foods that don’t seem juicyor moist supply us with large amounts of water. Minerals Minerals are necessary for good health and growth. Certain amounts of minerals areneeded to keep our bodies working properly.

    The two important body functions that mineral elements do are building and regulating. The building functions have to do with the skeleton and all soft tissues, including theblood. The regulating functions include heartbeat, blood clotting, maintenance of bloodpressure, water balance, nerve responses, and carrier of oxygen from the lungs to tissues. Large amounts of some minerals are needed in the diet because they are present in largeamounts in the body. These minerals – calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium,magnesium and sulphur are known as macrominerals. More than 100 milligrams of theseminerals are needed everyday.

    Others, called trace minerals, are needed in small amounts. These are iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. Somemineral elements are considered harmful, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Phosphorus helps strengthen bones and teeth and is also a part of every body tissue.

    It 7has more functions than any other mineral element. Antacids can interfere withphosphorus absorption. If used for a long time antacids could cause severe bonedemineralization. Good sources of phosphorus are meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Fruits andvegetables are usually low in phosphorus and are not good sources.

    Potassium is necessary for the fluid inside body cells. It helps control muscle actionand transfer of nerve impulses. Prolonged vomiting and kidney disease will causepotassium deficiencies. The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables. Sodium is found mainly in the blood and fluids outside body cells. It maintains waterbalance inside and outside the cells.

    The sending of nerve impulses also depends on theproper amounts of sodium. Doctors will often advise patients to reduce the amount of saltin their diet in cases of high blood pressure, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver andcongestive heart disease. A decrease in salt can reduce water holding, which usually isassociated with these health problems. Magnesium is important to the normal functioning of nerves and muscles.

    When thereis not enough magnesium in the body, people could have symptoms like muscle spasms,weakness, irregular heart beat, and leg cramps. In malnourished people, a lack ofmagnesium will cause tremors and convulsions. Since there are too many vitamins and minerals to research in full, I have listed belowthe essential ones and what each one does for the body. Vitamin A: Promotes good eyesight and helps keep the skin and mucous membranesresistant to infection.

    Vitamin B1: (thiamine) – Prevents beriberi. Important to carbohydrate energy and healthof nervous system. Vitamin B2: (riboflavin) – Protects skin, mouth, eyes, eyelids, and mucous membranes. Vitamin B6: (pyrido xine) – Important in the regulation of the central nervous system. 8Vitamin B12: (cobalamin) – Needed to form red blood cells. Niacin: Maintains the health of skin, tongue, and digestive system.

    Folic acid: (folacin) – Required for normal blood cell formation, growth, andreproduction. Other B Vitamins: biotin, pantothenic acid. Vitamin C: (ascorbic acid) – Maintains collagen, a protein necessary for the formation ofskin, ligaments, and bones. It helps heal wounds, and mend fractures and aids in resistingsome types of viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin D: Important for bone development. Vitamin E: (tocopherol) – Helps protect red blood cells.

    Vitamin K: Necessary for formation of prothrombin, which helps blood to clot. VegetariansSome Americans eat vegetarian diets for reason of culture, religious beliefs, health,dislike of meat, compassion for animals, and belief in non-violence. Most vegetarians eatdairy products and eggs, and have excellent health. Vegetarian diets meet with theDietary Guidelines and can meet all known nutrient needs. The key to a healthyvegetarian diet is to eat a wide variety of foods including fruits, plenty of green leafyvegetables, whole grain products, nuts, and seeds.

    Because animal products are the onlysources of vitamin B-12, vegetarians must supplement their diet with this vitamin. Alsovegetarian diets, especially for children, need to have the right amount of vitamin D andcalcium, which comes from dairy products. In the eighteenth century, scientists learned more about how food helped the bodywork. And in the twentieth century, vitamins were discovered as essential elements in thehuman diet. So much is known about nutrition today it’s hard to believe that 100 years agorickets was a common disease for young people, lack of iron for the wealthy, and cavities 9were a part of life for children.

    Two hundred years ago, the average life expectancy was35 years. One hundred years ago, it was 40 years. Today, with all our medical advancesand knowledge of nutrition the life expectancy could be 75 years. But even with thisknowledge Americans still continue to eat too much food that is too high in fat,cholesterol, sugar, and salt!

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