The Basics of Nutrition

The Basics of Nutrition
 

Definition

The processes during which all the food a person consumes are taken in and the necessary nutrients in them are absorbed by the body is called nutrition. Good nutrition is a crucial step to obtaining good health and preventing disease.

A key part in nutrition are vitamins and minerals. Minerals are the building material needed for muscle, bone, and tissue, and are also important because they have a role in many life-supporting systems, e.g., the transportation of oxygen, enzyme systems, and hormones. vitamins are organic materials found in food. Vitamins are required for a few purposes, the main of which are the regulation of metabolism, maintenance of normal growth and functioning.

The body absorbs many nutrients found in food, and each food group supplies at least one nutrient. To illustrate the point, carrots, which are root vegetables, are rich in carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, and dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. The point of a good nutrition plan is to create a ballance of food groups consumed, and thus the balance of nutrients supplied by the groups.There are many nutrients the body absorbs from food and each of the food groups supplies at least one nutrient.

Purpose

Nutrition has many purposes, depending on the age of the person, for example, children require good nutrition in order to grow and develop in a normal manner, young adults require good nutrition to enable their active schedules, adults in general require good nutrition to promote health and prevent disease. Good nutrition is especially important to pregnant women. One of the main reasons for good nutrition nowadays is a worldwide (developed-world-wide) trend of obesity. Studies have clearly demonstrated, that obesity has become a problem largely because they eat the wrong food, rather than eat too much food, which is the usual assumption. Good nutrition in this case means eating food that is rich in nutrients, rather than fat and sugar. Bad nutrition can cause many health problems, for example, it can lead to such conditions as hypertension.

Bad nutrition is linked to bad health in many ways. For example, some diseases are linked to having a bad diet quite directly; these include high blood pressure, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Others are linked indirectly, for example, through obesity, which is caused by bad nutrition.

Diets can be made addressing any particular nutrition-related disease, for example, high cholesterol can be dealt with by following a diet filled with fiber and low in saturated fats, high blood pressure can be dealt with by consuming less salt and certain fats, as well as by reducing weight in general.

Description

There are many guidelines for good nutrition, some are good and some are outdated. As a rule, you should avoid uniform guidelines – nutrition needs vary according to gender, level of physical activity, and age.

Food groups

These are the basic food groups as outlined by by the USDA:

1. Grains. It is recommended to eat a minimum of 100 grams of whole grain products every day. Also, at least a half of all grains consumed should be whole grains.

2. Vegetables. It is recommended to eat more dark green and orange vegetables, also, more dried beans and peas. The required amount per day is approximately 2.5 cups.

3. Fruit. In itself, fruit is great, but fruit juices should be consumed in moderation. The required amount per day is approximatelly 2 cups.

4. Milk products. Milk products are rich in calcium, which is very important. However, low fat milk should be used instead of fat-rich milk. Lactose-intollerant people should use other sources of calcium, such as yoghurts.

5. Meat and beans. The most important nutrient in meat are proteins. Whenever possible, people should choose lean meat, which is prepared by grilling, baking, or broiling. Fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds should be included in the diet as much as possible.

6. Oils and fats. Recommended fats are those that come from nuts, fish, and vegetable oil. Solid fats should be avoided.

Specific adult populations

Specific groups of people have specific nutrition needs: people over 50 require vitamin b12 consumed with fortified foods or supplements; women 20-50 years of age require iron-rich foods or foods that help absorb iron, such as those rich in vitamin C; pregnant women in their first trimester require synthetic folic acid every day from fortified foods or supplements; Older people, dark-skinned people, and people lacking sunlight should consume more vitamin D rich fortified foods or use supplements.

Fluids

Many people watch what they eat, but completely ignore what they drink – this is a huge mistake. High-sugar drinks, fruit juices, and particularly alcohol should be consumed in moderation. Also, the truth of the matter is, most people get the fluids they need daily simply by responding to their thirst, and with meals.onsuming fluids with meals. 

Nutrition for strength

Athletes have very different nutritional needs than most adults (which will be outlined in a separate article). The basic truth is they require more fluids, as well as ore  carbohydrates and protein.

Vegetarian diets

Although many people claim vegetarianism is unhealthy due to the fact that it is very difficult to consume all the necessary nutrients, this is not necessarilly true. Vegetarians can achieve a good diet by choosing food groups according to their requirements. The tricky part with vegetarian diet, however, is how to obtain the necessary amount of protein, iron, some vitamins. This can most easily be solved by consuming an adequate amount of nuts, seeds, and eggs.

Calories and weight management

The new guidelines and pyramid focus back on the basics of calorie management. It’s all about balancing energy, or the amount of calories eaten vs. the amount of calories used by the body. By managing portions, eating a balanced diet from the food groups and not using discretionary calories on high-sugar or high-fat foods, people can maintain a reasonable intake of calories. Regular physical activity can help use calories to provide better balance. Research has shown that subtracting just 100 calories a day from the diet can help manage weight, and eating 500 fewer calories a day can result in losing one pound per week in weight. But every individual is different and it is recommended to involve a physician or dietician in a weight loss plan.

Precautions

Though supplementation of nutrients sometimes is necessary, physicians and dieticians recommend that nutrients come from food, not from vitamins and supplements. Excessive use of vitamins and mineral supplements can lead to serious health problems and it is best to involve a physician to ensure that supplements are being used at appropriate and safe levels. It also is best not to change a diet without the advice of a nutritional expert or health care professional. People who are chronically ill, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding only should change their diets under professional supervision.

 

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