What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of consuming food and using it for growth, metabolism and repair. A healthy nutritious diet can also help in preventing diseases and other health conditions. Nutrition also involves the identification of the factors related to diet that may lead to the development of allergies, stomach intolerance or stomach problems.
Types of Nutrition
Our body required multiple things to survive and function properly. So, it is important to know the types of nutrients to understand its importance. Nutrition can be classified into two broad categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients can further be classified into three categories: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All of these macronutrients have specific functions and provides the body with optimum energy.
Carbohydrates comprise sugar which is broken down into glucose - a major source of energy for the body. 45-65% of your diet should include carbohydrates in them. It also helps the brain, kidneys, heart and the muscles to function properly. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods, potatoes, fruits, milk, yoghurt, nuts, and seeds.
Proteins are essential to regenerate body tissues and cells – to strengthen the immune system and maintain hormonal levels. Proteins are found in beans, pulses, legumes, seeds, nuts, avocado, spinach, fish, lean meat, and mozzarella cheese.
Fats are made of fatty acids and glycerol, which are required for growth and energy. Fats are metabolized slowly but they provide a lot of energy. 15-20% of your diet must comprise of fats. Good fats that can boost your health include:
- Fish and other seafood like prawns and salmon
- Dry fruits like walnut and almonds
- Flaxseed oil
- Vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, sunflower, canola and corn
Micronutrients are needed in fewer numbers as compared to macronutrients. However, they are vital to keep the body functioning and to maintain energy levels. It helps maintain the health of your brain, muscles, nerves, skin, and improves blood circulation.
Dietary minerals are crucial elements for our bodies. A well-balanced diet can provide the essential nutrients that our body needs.
Potassium is a micronutrient mineral, which means that they are needed by your body in small quantity but they are important for the proper functioning of the various functions of the body. Potassium helps maintain fluid balance, heart health, and nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Some of the foods high in potassium are bananas, dried apricots, beets, figs, melons, orange juice, potatoes, soy products, dairy products and meats.
Chloride is important for the functioning of nerves and it also helps in transporting of molecules between cells.
Sodium helps in regulating body fluid levels and improves nerve function. Some of the high-sodium foods are meat, bacon, ham, frozen meats, salted nuts, beans, eggs and dairy products.
This is important for heart, muscle and digestive health of the body. Foods high in calcium include spinach, okra, white beans, salmon, orange juice, oatmeal and breakfast cereal.
Phosphorus can be found in poultry, fish, nuts, beans, meats, and dairy products.
Foods that contain magnesium include green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, seafood, legumes, vegetables such as peas, broccoli, green beans, and chickpeas.
Some foods that are high in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, and dark chocolate.
Oysters, shellfish, nuts, whole grains, potatoes, and nuts are some good sources of copper.
Tofu, cashews, breakfast cereals, beans, lentils, spinach, whole grain foods, and bread are some great sources of iron.
Here are some of the iodine-rich food sources that can help prevent diseases: seaweed, dairy, iodized salt, shrimp, tuna, eggs and prunes.
It helps with vision development and cellular growth. The good sources of vitamin A are sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, turnip greens, and spinach.
Daily Dose of Nutrition
A human needs nutrients according to his age and biological function. Each age group including children, pregnant women and adults should include nutrients in their diet. Here is how much you require daily:
- Protein - 64 gm
- Fiber - 30 gm
- Vitamin A - 900 microgram
- Vitamin C - 45 mg
- Calcium - 1000 mg
- Thymine - 1.2 mg
- Riboplastin - 1.3 mg
- Liquids - 2.5-3 litres
- Niacin - 16 mg
- Vitamin B6 - 1.3 mg
- Folate - 400 microgram
- Iodine - 150 μg
- Iron - 8 mg
- Magnesium - 400 mg
- Potassium - 3800 mg
- Sodium - 460-920 mg
- Zinc -14 mg
Nutrition and Children
Proper nutrition is important for children to stay fit and healthy, especially because it is directly linked to their overall growth and development. Children will have a better quality of life if they are given proper nutrients. Proper nutrition helps to improve the functioning of brain among children. Kids affected by malnutrition show lower levels of energy, weak cognitive functioning and social connections.
Nutrition and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the mother has to load on nutrition for not just herself but also her baby because not only does ample nutrition allow for the optimum development of the baby but also pushes away any complications.
For your own use, about 100 calories per day would be needed but for the growing foetus, the nutrition required is much more. They need to choose those food groups that are rich in nutrition. Sufficient balance between the important nutrients - carbohydrates, protein and fats is important for providing enough nutrition to the foetus and the mother.