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Nutrition is the supply of essential nutrients from food to the body for life sustenance. It can also be described as the relationship between diet and health of humans. Nutrition can either be good or poor. A good nutrition is necessary for development and functioning of body organs, body growth, reproduction and maintenance. For a body to attain an optimum production efficiency and required activity level, a good diet is essential. A nutritious diet helps a human‘s body have the capability to repair injured and damaged cells, resist infections and ailments. The major essential nutrients needed by the body for proper growth are proteins, fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals and water. The supply of the named nutrients should be proportionate to sustain a healthy body.
Diet and Human Health
Human health is generally maintained by a healthy diet. A diet that has balanced nutrients lowers the chances of chronic health risks like heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Consumption of appropriate quantities of nutrients and sufficient amount of water is what makes a healthy diet. Many diets are considered to be healthy, because, there are many types of foods with a diversity of nutrient contents. A good diet is the one with a balance of all nutrients to support the energy requirements without surpassing the required amounts. Excessive intake of these nutrients brings negative effects like obesity because the body has no mechanisms of shedding of extra the extra energy.
Essential Nutrients, Minerals and Water
Carbohydrates are the major sources of energy for the body. Most of the foods consumed incorporate carbohydrates. They are found in foods like bread, rice, potatoes, spaghetti, fruits, candy, juices and vegetables. These foods contain starch. Carbohydrates are broken down into smaller molecules by the enzymes in the saliva, in juices produced by the pancreas, and in the intestines lining. The starch in the carbohydrates is broken into maltose by saliva and pancreatic juice. Finally, the maltose is broken to glucose in the intestines lining, where the glucose is absorbed into the blood and transported to the liver for use as an energy provider to the body.
Proteins are used by the body to repair damages or injured body tissues. Proteins are found in foods such as eggs, meat, milk and beans. The proteins from these foods have giant molecules which are digested by enzymes, then used to repair and develop body tissue. The protein is digested in the stomach. The digestion of the protein completes in the small intestine. The broken down proteins are absorbed in the small intestines into the blood and supplied to all whole body to build cells.
Fats are a rich supply of energy. Fats from foods like butter are digested and dissolved into the watery substance in the intestines. These fats are dissolved into water by bile acids produced by the liver, then, enzymes break down the dissolved fats into smaller molecules for channelization by the blood, to storage depots in various body parts.
Vitamins are substances needed by the body to grow and develop in a normal way. A person body needs thirteen vitamins. The vitamins are A, B, C, D, E, and K. These vitamins are found in foods, but also, the body can make vitamins D and K. The foods that give all these vitamins are both vegetables and animal products. Each vitamin has a specific responsibility in the body. Deficiency of vitamins results to deficiency diseases, like rickets, which is a deficiency of vitamin D. An optimal intake of essential vitamins is achievable through eating balanced diets from diversity of foods because the levels of the vitamins vary greatly in different food types.
Water and salt are dissolved in the small intestines cavity. Most of the water and salts come from fluids and foods we consume, and the juices secreted by the digestive glands. The human body has no ability to store water. This is the reason why humans need to supply the body with water everyday for use in metabolic processes. The basis of blood, urine, digestive juices, stools and perspiration is water. The water supply necessary depends on the metabolism and activity levels.
Dietary minerals are chemical elements required in a healthy diet. These mineral nutrients include calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and sodium. The minerals are available in simple chemical forms, and are available in the foods people eat . In cases of huge aggregates of minerals, a further breakdown is required before absorption. Bacteria help in the weathering of primary minerals, an action that allows the release of nutrients for their nutrition and that of other consumers in the environment.
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Digestion and Absorption
Digestion and absorption of nutrients and water occurs in different organs of the body. Digestion of Starches starts at the mouth, where saliva breaks down the starch molecules into maltose, then another breakdown by saliva and pancreatic juices occur in the stomach, converting the maltose into glucose, and absorption occurs at the intestines lining. Vegetables and fruits are the main sources of vitamins and are digested in the stomach and the vitamins are absorbed at the intestines lining into the bloodstream (Rinzler, 2011). Water, salts and minerals are absorbed in the intestines lining into the blood stream. Proteins are first digested in the stomach to simplify the protein molecule, the absorbed in the small intestines. Water is the main ingredient in the digestion and absorption process. Water is essential in production of digestive juices, absorption of nutrients, blood and in metabolic processes in the body.
Nutrition Across Age Groups
There are three major age groups, the children, the teens and the older adult. The groups have different dietary requirements. Children need nutrients for a health growth of organs, brain development and body development. Children require nutrients necessary for development of bones, brain, strong organs and general well being .The teens on the other hand, are very active in all activities. They are involved in educational activities, sports and fun activities. They require more nutritious diets than children because their production is higher and demands more energy. The older adult is the most active in the age groups. These people are included in the working class, where they work all day and spend the remaining time in recreational activities like sports. The diet plan for this age group should incorporate a lot of fluids, vitamins and minerals but with consideration to energy requirements.
Nutritional deficiencies results to chronic diseases. This is the condition where, there is inadequate supply of essential nutrients to the tissues. Nutritional ailments are commonly linked with chronic undernourishment. When a deficiency is identified, a supplement of the missing nutrient is supplied to the person. This reverses the effects of the deficiency. An understanding of the locally available foods helps in identifying the levels of nutrients in every food type. Most processed foods have nutritional information on the products’ label, that assist consumers colligate the amounts of nutrients in such products.
Nutrition is the intake of essential nutrients and sufficient amounts of water to the body for optimal performance of the body . The diet should be balanced to avoid deficiencies which cause deficiency diseases and other chronic ailments. Since there are different types of foods, an understanding of dietary needs in regard to activity levels by the body is important. This ensures that the diet matches with the body’s energy requirements. People from different age groups require different diets because their dietary requirements vary with the activities they do. Good nutrition ensures an optimal supply of the required nutrients to the body and, a balanced replacement of the nutrients should be observed. Intake of excess nutrients should also be observed, this causes severe poisoning. To maintain a healthy nutrition, a person needs to always take a balanced diet.