Nutrition: nourishment, or the supply of materials, food, required by organisms and cells to stay alive.
Nutrition science studies how the body breaks food down (catabolism) and repairs and creates cells and tissue (anabolism) – catabolism and anabolism = metabolism.
What are nutrients made of?
Nutrients are made of substances (micro and macro) that the body needs to live and grow. The body requires more than 45 nutrients, and the ways they are used are as different as the molecules, cells, and tissues they help to create.
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — called macro-nutrients – are broken down (metabolized) to provide energy. Vitamins and minerals; called micro-nutrients, which are not used for energy themselves, but are needed to help macro-nutrients be used for energy. Watch video on: The good fats and the bad fats.
Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in the body’s normal metabolism, growth, and development. For example, while a vitamin is not a source of energy by itself, it can provide the key the body needs to unlock energy stored in food. -University of Maryland Medical Center.
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The human body is made up of thousands of different chemicals that create nutrition.
It is incredible that, being fed sufficient food and given enough calories, the body is capable of manufacturing nearly all of its needed nutrients. There are however, some 45 or so essential nutrients that the human body is incapable of manufacturing.
The essential nutrients can be divided into seven general categories: water, proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is not an essential nutrient, but it is also extremely important in prevention of certain diseases.
The human body is made up of thousands of different chemicals. It is incredible that given enough calories, the body is capable of manufacturing nearly all of its needed nutrients.
- Water. Approximately 60% of the adult human body is composed of water.
- Calorie Sources. There are three sources of caloric energy: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Proteins make up the structural foundation of the cells, tissues, and organs.
- Vitamins. Fourteen vitamins have been identified to play key roles in the metabolism of the healthy body. These vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamine), C, biotin, folic acid, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
- Minerals. Minerals are inorganic (not made by living things) substances that are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Minerals are divided into two general categories: electrolytes and trace elements. Electrolytes must be consumed in relatively large quantities, but trace elements are needed in very small amounts.
- The trace elements include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, iodide, sulfur, molybdenum, and a few relatively unimportant minor elements. Iron is the most important of all the trace elements because it is essential in the structure of hemoglobin, the red blood cell molecule that carries oxygen to the tissues.
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Here is a list of the seven major types of nutrients that the human body requires.
Carbohydrates. Molecules consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Carbohydrates include monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, glactose), sisaccharides, and polysaccharides (starch). See a video slide presentation of; What is Nutrition.
Proteins. Molecules contain nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Simple proteins, called monomers, are used to create complicated proteins, called polymers, which build and repair tissue.
Fats. Molecules consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Fats are triglycerides – three molecules of fatty acid combined with a molecule of the alcohol glycerol. Fatty acids are simple compounds (monomers) while triglycerides are complex molecules (polymers).
Fats. Fiber consists mostly of carbohydrates. However because of its limited absorption by the body, not much of the sugars and starches get into the blood stream. Fiber is a crucial part of essential human nutrition.
Water. About 70% of the non-fat mass of the human body is water. Nobody is completely sure how much water the human body needs – claims vary from between one to seven liters per day, drink plenty of clean fresh water to be on the safe side, and keeps things operating and cool.
Minerals (Micro-nutrients). Dietary minerals are the other chemical elements our bodies need, apart from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen: Potassium, Chloride, Sodium, Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Iodine, Selenium, Molybdenum.
Vitamins (Micro-nutrients). These are organic compounds we require in tiny amounts. An organic compound is any molecule that contains carbon. It is called a vitamin when our bodies cannot synthesize (produce) enough or any of it. So we have to obtain it from our food.
Vitamins are classified as water soluble (they can dissolve in water) or fat soluble (they can dissolve in fat). For humans there are 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C) vitamins – a total of 13.
Water soluble vitamins need to be consumed more regularly because they are eliminated faster and are not readily stored. Urinary output is a good predictor of water soluble vitamin consumption. Several water-soluble vitamins are manufactured by bacteria.
Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestines with the help of fats (lipids). They are more likely to accumulate in the body because they are harder to eliminate quickly.
Some vitamins and minerals work together, such as the mineral zinc and vitamin A. Zinc enables the body to use vitamin A to promote good vision. Not getting enough vitamin A may lead to night blindness, a condition in which the eyes have trouble adjusting to darkness. -University of Maryland Medical Center.
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A balanced diet of the essential Nutrients is vital for the optimal supply of the building blocks of good health, along with plenty of physical activities outdoors in clean fresh air. Also important is healthy sleeping patterns and a positive state of mind, being relaxed physically, spiritually and emotionally does affect your overall state of wellness. For more information on food and health, watch a video slide show here: What Food is Good
How to ensure a balanced diet of nutrition?
- Get a nutrition guide for your self/family.
- Write a list what foods you need for 7 days.
- Write a 7 day menu for your self/family.
- Make a shopping list, 2 per week.
- Learn and train your family to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, even if the vegetables are bought frozen.
- Stick to a healthy eating plan, and also stay physically active outdoors.
The above is a general common sense advice only, it is not intended for those with serious medical condition, always seek medical advice when health problems occur.
Watch a video presentation on Nutrition from the Nordic Cuisine Focus perspective.