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What is Nutrition? Essay

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Nutrition, nourishment, or aliment, is the supply of materials – food – required by organisms and cells to stay alive. In science and human medicine, nutrition is the science or practice of consuming and utilizing foods. A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism’s metabolism which must be taken in from its environment.

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is:

* utilization of food to grow, repair and maintain our bodies; * getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations; * making smart choices about the foods you eat;

* proper nutrition helps you develop and maintain good health; * a choice — choose good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle! Sign up for the newsletter and get free weekly Healthy Lifestyle recipes and tips.

The essential nutrients for life include carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats), as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water—the solvent for all soluble ingredients in the blood and cells.

The absorption of nutrients starts the moment we begin to digest our foods, as they are transported to assist all the metabolic processes in the human body. Good nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations. Having nutrition knowledge and making smart choices about the foods you eat can and will help you achieve optimum health over your lifetime, and be a key to avoiding obesity, illness, and many of today’s most prevalent chronic diseases.

Nutrition is just one key to developing and maintaining good health. Good health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being — a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Nutrition is at work during our entire life-cycle — from infancy to adolescence, adulthood and in our senior years — and can be the antidote for many of today’s common problems, such as stress, pollution, sexual vitality, and disease prevention. For me personally, nutrition translates into health, and health is freedom. Being healthy not only makes us feel great, it enables us to enjoy life to our fullest potential, and to follow our dreams.

Conversely, a poor diet can have a serious impact on health, and rob you of your freedom. Food therapy is emerging as the latest prevention against multiple lifestyle diseases. Experts now believe it’s better to pop an apple, rather than popping a pill. Negative influences such as stress, shock, injury, emotional upsets and worries can have a direct impact on life-long health. The good news is that the body can heal itself, if given what it needs to do its job. The nutrition in certain foods can naturally increase your body’s oxygen levels, eliminate many sources of toxins, improve your digestion, and prevent, heal, or reduce the severity of various diseases. Nutrition is about choices. Healthy eating is the best recipe for an abundant life. Make every bite count.

Vitamins

These are organic compounds we require in tiny amounts. An organic compound is any molecule that contains carbon
* Vitamin A
chemical names – retinol, retinoids and carotenoids.
Solubility – fat.
Deficiency disease – Night-blindness.
Overdose disease – Keratomalacia (degeneration of the cornea).
* Vitamin B1
chemical name – thiamine.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Overdose disease – rare hypersensitive reactions resembling anaphylactic shockwhen overdose is due to injection.
* Vitamin B2
chemical name – riboflavin
Solubility – water
Deficiency disease – ariboflanisosis (mouth lesions, seborrhea, and vascularization of the cornea).

Overdose disease – no known complications. Excess is excreted in urine.
* Vitamin B3
chemical name – niacin.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – pellagra.
Overdose disease – liver damage, skin problems, and gastrointestinal complaints, plus other problems.
* Vitamin B5
chemical name -pantothenic acid.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – paresthesia (tingling, pricking, or numbness of the skin with no apparent long-term physical effect). Overdose disease – none reported.
* Vitamin B6
chemical name – pyridoxamine, pyridoxal.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – anemia, peripheral neuropathy.
Overdose disease – nerve damage, proprioception is impaired (ability to sense stimuli within your own body is undermined).
* Vitamin B7
chemical name – biotin.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – dermatitis, enteritis.
Overdose disease – none reported.
* Vitamin B9
chemical name – folinic acid.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – birth defects during pregnancy, such as neural tube. Overdose disease – seizure threshold possibly diminished.
* Vitamin B12
chemical name – cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, methylcobalamin. Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – megaloblastic anemia (red blood cells without nucleus). Overdose disease – none reported.
* Vitamin C
chemical name – ascorbic acid.
Solubility – water.
Deficiency disease – scurvy, which can lead to a large number of complications. Overdose disease – vitamin C megadosage – diarrhea, nausea, skin irritation, burning upon urination, depletion of the mineral copper, and higher risk of kidney stones.
* Vitamin D

chemical name – ergocalciferol, cholecalciferol.
Solubility – fat.
Deficiency disease – rickets, osteomalacia (softening of bone), recent studies indicate higher risk of some cancers. Overdose disease – hypervitaminosis D (headache, weakness, disturbed digestion, increased blood pressure, and tissue calcification).
* Vitamin E

chemical name – tocotrienols.
Solubility – fat.
Deficiency disease – very rare, may include hemolytic anemia in newborn babies. Overdose disease – one study reported higher risk of congestive heart failure. * Vitamin K
chemical name – phylloquinone, menaquinones.
Solubility – fat.
Deficiency disease – greater tendency to bleed.
Overdose disease – may undermine effects of warfarin
* Fiber

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. For more details go to What is fiber? What is dietary fiber?

* 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 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. Somebody who consumes a lot of salt will require more water than another person of the same height, age and weight, exposed to the same levels of outside temperatures, and similar levels of physical exertion who consumes less salt. Most blanket claims that ‘the more water you drink the healthier your 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

* Minerals

Dietary minerals are the other chemical elements our bodies need, apart from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The term “minerals” is misleading, and would be more relevant if called “ions” or “dietary ions” (it is a pity they are not called so). People whose intake of foods is varied and well thought out – those with a well balanced diet – will in most cases obtain all their minerals from what they eat. Minerals are often artificially added to some foods to make up for potential dietary shortages and subsequent health problems. The best example of this is iodized salt – iodine is added to prevent iodine deficiency, which even today affects about two billion people and causes mental retardation and thyroid gland problems. Iodine deficiency remains a serious public health problem in over half the planet.

Experts say that 16 key minerals are essential for human biochemical processes by serving structural and functional roles, as well as electrolytes: * Potassium What it does – a systemic (affects entire body) electrolyte, essential in co-regulating ATP (an important carrier of energy in cells in the body, also key in making RNA) with sodium. Deficiency – hypokalemia (can profoundly affect the nervous system and heart). Excess – hyperkalemia (can also profoundly affect the nervous system and heart).

* Chloride

What it does – key for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, also important for cellular pump functions. Deficiency – hypochleremia (low salt levels, which if severe can be very dangerous for health). Excess – hyperchloremia (usually no symptoms, linked to excessive fluid loss).

* Sodium

What it does – a systemic electrolyte, and essential in regulating ATP with potassium. Deficiency – hyponatremia (cause cells to malfunction; extremely low sodium can be fatal). Excess – hypernatremia (can also cause cells to malfunction, extremely high levels can be fatal).

The American Heart Association (AHA) announced on November 5, 2012 thatsodium consumption should be limited to 1,500 milligrams per day, and that includes everybody, even healthy people without high blood pressure, diabetesor cardiovascular diseases. AHA’s chief executive officer, Nancy Brown said “Our recommendation is simple in the sense that it applies to the entire U.S population, not just at-risk groups. Americans of all ages, regardless of individual risk factors, can improve the heart health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by restricting their daily consumption of sodium to less that 1,500 milligrams.”

* Calcium

What it does – important for muscle, heart and digestive health. Builds bone, assists in the synthesis and function of blood cells. Deficiency – hypocalcaemia (muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, spasms, and hyperactive deep tendon reflexes). Excess – hypercalcaemia (muscle weakness, constipation, undermined conduction of electrical impulses in the heart, calcium stones in urinary tract, impaired kidney function, and impaired absorption of iron leading to iron deficiency).

* Phosphorus

What it does – component of bones and energy processing.
Deficiency – hypophosphatemia, an example is rickets.
Excess – hyperphosphatemia, often a result of kidney failure.
* Magnesium
What it does – processes ATP and required for good bones.
Deficiency – hypomagnesemia (irritability of the nervous system with spasms of the hands and feet, muscular twitching and cramps, and larynx spasms). Excess – hypermagnesemia (nausea, vomiting, impaired breathing, low blood pressure). Very rare, and may occur if patient has renal problems.
* Zinc

What it does – required by several enzymes.

Deficiency – short stature, anemia, increased pigmentation of skin, enlarged liver and spleen, impaired gonadal function, impaired wound healing, and immune deficiency. Excess – suppresses copper and iron absorption.

* Iron
What it does – required for proteins and enzymes, especially hemoglobin. Deficiency – anemia.
Excess – iron overload disorder; iron deposits can form in organs, particularly the heart.
* Manganese
What it does – a cofactor in enzyme functions.
Deficiency – wobbliness, fainting, hearing loss, weak tendons and ligaments. Less commonly, can be cause of diabetes. Excess – interferes with the absorption of dietary iron.
* Copper
What it does – component of many redox (reduction and oxidation) enzymes. Deficiency – anemia or pancytopenia (reduction in the number of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets) and a neurodegeneration. Excess – can interfere with body’s formation of blood cellular components; in severe cases convulsions, palsy, and insensibility and eventually death (similar to arsenic poisoning).
* Iodine

What it does – required for the biosynthesis of thyroxine (a form of thyroid hormone). Deficiency – developmental delays, among other problems.
Excess – can affect functioning of thyroid gland.

* Selenium
What it does – cofactor essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes. Deficiency – Keshan disease (myocardial necrosis leading to weakening of the heart), Kashing-Beck disease (atrophy degeneration and necrosis of cartilage tissue). Excess – garlic-smelling breath, gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, sloughing of nails, fatigue, irritability, and neurological damage.

* Molybdenum

What it does – vital part of three important enzyme systems, xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. It has a vital role in uric acid formation and iron utilization, in carbohydrate metabolism, and sulfite detoxification. Deficiency – may affect metabolism and blood counts, but as this deficiency is often alongside other mineral deficiencies, such as copper, it is hard to say which one was the cause of the health problem. Excess – there is very little data on toxicity, therefore excess is probably not an issue.

Foods can be classified as Go, Grow, Glow. Go foods are foods that gives a personenergy such as those foods containing carbohydrates. Grow foods are those foods giving a person proteins such as meat and fish. Glow foods are those rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits and vegetables. Go, Grow and Go foods are a list of foods that are supposed to accomplish certain things for the body. Go foods provide energy for activities, the ability to “go” and they include foods rich in carbohydrates. Grow foods enhance growth development, the “growth” in the human body and consist of foods high in protein. Glow foods are those foods which culminate in healthy, “glowing” skin and hair, which are foods rich in vitamins and minerals.Go foods are high in carbohydrates and include the following: bagels, breads (white or whole wheat), rice (white or brown), wheat bran, muesli, buckwheat, barley, corn, shredded wheat, oatmeal, spaghetti (or any other kind of pasta), muffins, crackers, pastries, pizza, porridge, doughnuts, cake, chapati, bran, and popcorn.

Other high energy foods include avocados, almonds, raisins, figs, dates, currants, sultanas, walnuts, flaxseeds, water, sunflower seeds, and potatoes. Of course other desserts are also high in carbohydrates as well, though the key is to consume the healthiest high carbohydrate, high energy foods, which include whole grains.Grow foods are high in protein and include the following: beans, dairy, and meat. In the beans category, black beans, garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas), kidney beans, lentil beans, lima beans, navy beans, soybeans (also known as edamame) and tofu are especially high in protein.

High protein dairy products include cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, milk, muenster cheese, Swiss cheese, yogurt and sour cream. For high protein meats there are eggs, anchovies, halibut, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, veal and lamb.Glow foods are rich in vitamins and include fruits and vegetables: cantaloupes, grapefruit, guava, mango, papaya, banana, grapes, pomegranate, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, broccoli, Brussels sprout, squash, carrots, cabbage, kale, leeks, peas, spinach and green beans. Dark green and leafy vegetables are especially high in vitamins. Sources of Vitamin D are also important

Mineral A mineral is a naturally occurring substance that is solid and stable at room temperature, representable by a chemical formula, usually abiogenic, and has an ordered atomic structure.

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