Why nutrition is important? Eating a balanced diet is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live, grow and function properly. We need a wide variety of different foods and in sufficient amounts to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health.
Good nutrition can help:
• Reduce the risk of some diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, and osteoporosis.
• Reduce high blood pressure.
• Lower high cholesterol.
• Improve your well-being.
• Improve your ability to fight off illness.
• Improve your ability to recover from illness or injury.
Nutrition also focuses on how diseases, conditions and problems can be prevented or lessened with a healthy diet. In addition, nutrition involves identifying how certain diseases, conditions or problems may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, metabolic diseases, etc.
Good nutrition is the key to good mental and physical health. Eating a balanced diet is an important part of good health for everyone. The kind and amount of food you eat affects the way you feel and how your body works.
Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Tips for Eating Well
Eat plenty of fruit – To get the benefit of the natural fiber in fruits, you should eat fruit whole rather than as juices.
Eat plenty of vegetables – Eat a variety of colors and types of vegetables every day.
Eat plenty of whole grains – At least half of the cereals, breads, crackers, and pastas you eat should be made from whole grains.
Choose low fat or fat free milk – These provide calcium and vitamin D to help keep your bones strong.
Choose lean meats – Lean cuts of meat and poultry have less fat and fewer calories but are still good sources of protein.
Try other sources of protein – Try replacing meats and poultry with fish, beans, or tofu.
How to fix 5 common eating problems
As you age you may lose interest in eating and cooking. Small changes can help you overcome some of the challenges to eating well:
1. Food no longer tastes good:
• Try new recipes or adding different herbs and spices. Some medicines can affect your appetite or sense of taste – talk to your doctor.
2. Chewing difficulty:
• Try softer foods like cooked vegetables, beans, eggs, applesauce, and canned fruit. Talk to your doctor or dentist if there is a problem with your teeth or gums.
3. Poor digestion:
• Talk to your doctor or registered dietician to figure out which foods to avoid while still maintaining a balanced diet.
4. Eating alone:
• Try dining out with family, friends, or neighbors. See if your local senior center hosts group meals.
5. Difficulty shopping or cooking:
• Check with your local senior center for programs that can help you with shopping or preparing meals.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
A registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) studies food, nutrition, and dietetics through an accredited university and approved curriculum, then completes a rigorous internship and passes a licensure exam to become a registered dietitian.
A nutritionist (without the title of an RD or RDN) studies nutrition via self-study or through formal education but does not meet the requirements to use the titles RD or RDN. The two terms are often interchangeable, but they are not identical.
Dietetics is the interpretation and communication of the science of nutrition; it helps people make informed and practical choices about food and lifestyle in both health and disease.
Part of a dietician’s course includes both hospital and community settings. Dietitians work in a variety of areas, from private practice to healthcare, education, corporate wellness, and research, while a much smaller proportion work in the food industry.
A dietitian must have a recognized degree or postgraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics and meet continuing education requirements to work as a dietitian.
Nutritionists sometimes carry out research for food manufacturers.
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease.
Major food manufacturers employ nutritionists and food scientists.
Nutritionists may also work in journalism, education, and research. Many nutritionists work in the field of food science and technology.
There is a lot of overlap between what nutritionists and dietitians do and study. Some nutritionists work in a healthcare setting, some dietitians work in the food industry, but a higher percentage of nutritionists work in the food industry and in food science and technology, and a higher percentage of dietitians work in healthcare, corporate wellness, research, and education.
The human body requires seven major types of nutrients
A nutrient is a source of nourishment, a component of food, for instance, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, fiber, and water.
• Macronutrients are nutrients we need in relatively large quantities: Macronutrients can be further split into energy macronutrients (that provide energy), and macronutrients that do not provide energy.
Energy macronutrients: Energy macronutrients provide energy, which is measured either in kilocalories (kcal or calories) or Joules. 1 kilocalorie (calorie) = 4185.8 joules. Energy macronutrients include:
Carbohydrates – 4 kcal per gram
Carbohydrate molecules include monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose), disaccharides, and polysaccharides (starch).
Nutritionally, polysaccharides are favored over monosaccharides because they are more complex and therefore take longer to break down and be absorbed into the bloodstream; this means that they do not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels, which are linked to heart and vascular diseases.
Proteins – 4 kcal per gram
There are 20 amino acids – organic compounds found in nature that combine to form proteins. Some amino acids are essential, meaning they need to be consumed. Other amino acids are non-essential because the body can make them.
Fats – 9 kcal per gram
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 are required in the diet for health as they serve many functions, including lubricating joints, helping organs produce hormones, assisting in absorption of certain vitamins, reducing inflammation, and preserving brain health.
Types of fat: The good and the bad
Macronutrients that do not provide energy. These do not provide energy, but are still important:
Fiber consists mostly of carbohydrates. However, because it is not easily absorbed by the body, not much of the sugars and starches get into the blood stream. Fiber is a crucial part of nutrition, health, and fuel for gut bacteria.
For more details go to “What is fiber? What is dietary fiber?”
About 70 percent of the non-fat mass of the human body is water. It is vital for many processes in the human body.
Nobody is completely sure how much water the human body needs – claims vary from 1-7 liters per day to avoid dehydration. We do know that water requirements are very closely linked to body size, age, environmental temperatures, physical activity, different states of health, and dietary habits; for instance, somebody who consumes a lot of salt will require more water than another similar person.
Claims that ‘the more water you drink, the healthier you are’ are not backed with scientific evidence. The variables that influence water requirements are so vast that accurate advice on water intake would only be valid after evaluating each person individually.
• Micronutrients are nutrients we need in relatively small quantities: Micronutrients are required in smaller quantities:
Minerals: Minerals are found in a range of food types.
Dietary minerals are the other chemical elements our bodies need, other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
People with a well-balanced diet will, in most cases, obtain all the minerals they need from what they eat.
Minerals are sometimes added to certain foods to make up for any shortages.
The best example of this is iodized salt – iodine is added to prevent iodine deficiency, which affects about 2 billion people, globally; it causes mental retardation and thyroid gland problems. Iodine deficiency remains a serious public health problem in over half the planet.
Experts at the University of Florida say that 16 key minerals are essential for human biochemical processes:
Our bodies cannot synthesize vitamins, so we must consume them. 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 need to get it from our food.
Vitamins are classified as water soluble (they can be dissolved in water) or fat soluble (they can be dissolved in fat). For humans, there are four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and nine water-soluble vitamins (eight B vitamins and vitamin C).
Water-soluble vitamins need to be consumed more regularly because they are eliminated faster (in urine) and are not easily stored.
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 get rid of quickly. If too many vitamins build up, it is called hypervitaminosis. A very low-fat diet can affect the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
We know that most vitamins have many different functions. Below is a list of vitamins, and some of their roles. Note that most often vitamin overdose symptoms are related to supplementation or impaired metabolism or excretion, not vitamin intake from foods.
Most foods contain a combination of some or all of the seven nutrient classes. We require some nutrients regularly, and others less frequently.