Nutrition is the supply of materials, as food, required by the body’s cells to stay alive. Stated differently, nutrition is the science of consuming and utilizing foods. Nutritional science studies how metabolism works in the body. According to Harvard University, “metabolism is the internal process by which your body expends energy and burns calories. It runs 24/7 to keep your body moving, even when you’re resting or sleeping, by converting the food and nutrients you consume into the energy your body needs in order to breathe, circulate blood, grow and repair cells, and everything else it does to survive.” The truth about metabolism
7 Major Types of Nutrients
Human biology requires seven types of nutrients, which includes the 3 macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and water and fiber. This article will cover the 3 macronutrients as well as several reasons why you need to pay attention to what you eat.
According to Medical News Today, “proteins are long chains of amino acids that form the basis of all life. They are like machines that make all living things, whether viruses, bacteria, butterflies, jellyfish, plants, or human function. The human body consists of around 100 trillion cells. Each cell has thousands of different proteins.” How much protein does a person need?
Protein is abundant in animal foods, such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy. It can also be found in certain plant foods, like nuts and seeds and it much smaller amounts in grains, fruits and vegetables.
Fat molecules are mostly made of carbon and hydrogen atoms and are insoluble in water. Think oils. Fat
Dietary fat is essential to human health because it supports a number of bodily functions. As one example, certain vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning that they must have fat to dissolve so that they can be absorbed by your body.
There are 3 major categories of dietary fat; saturated fat monounsatured fat and polyunsaturated fat. All types of fats are healthy but the amount to consume varies greatly by individual. It’s best to get blood or microbiome testing done to know for sure how to personalize your own fat consumption for optimal health. And needless to say, working with a nutritionist or dietician can help as well.
Carbohydrates are primarily sugars and starches, that are used by the body for energy. Carbohydrates can also be defined chemically as neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbohydrates are often categorized by their rate of digestion, means slow vs. fast. This is an important distinction in today’s modern world, with the current epidemics of obesity and Type II Diabetes. See this article for more information on carbs: Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You
Why is Nutrition Important
Scientists and medical professionals may not always agree on which foods are best for us, but there is general agreement that a healthy diet will prevent malnutrition and protect against many diseases. Below are several important reasons to consider cleaning up your diet and improving your nutrition.
Good Nutrition Improves Both Physical and Mental Health
It’s obvious that good nutrition leads to better physical performance, in the sense of less bodyfat, more muscle and lower disease risk. However, the Mental Health Foundation reports that approximately 65% of those who eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily report no mental health issues. This is significant because mental health issues are rising dramatically in the western world.
The Cost of Poor Nutrition
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, good nutrition could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs and lost lives, by reducing diet-related coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. What’s perhaps most remarkable about this statistic, is that it does not include other diet-related illnesses, so is likely understated!
Maintains Your Immune System
The immune system is the body’s defense against disease, and poor nutrition is the number one cause of immunodeficiencies worldwide. Maintaining a healthy immune system requires an adequate consumption of vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Diets May Lengthen Your Life
Food is necessary for humans to survive, but the process of breaking down food, metabolism, causes stress on the body. Research done at Columbia University showed that 18% of deaths among Americans can be attributed to obesity. Diets that are rich in nutrients have been found to have a positive effect on life expectancy.
There are many good reasons to improve your nutrition, and hopefully, this article has helped to provide you with the motivation to do so. If you need help getting started, please contact me for a free consultation.