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The Basic Concepts of Nutrition

Nutrition is one subject that anybody can master in his/her own way. You can have the utmost advantage when you get to learn even the basics of nutrition. You’ll probably get rid of heavy, or strict dieting, as you learn how even the basics of nutrition. It’s a matter of what and how much you eat.

Hogan and Wane (2005), authors of Nutrition and diet therapy, defined nutrition as the foundation of life and health based on food requirements of humans for activity, growth, maintenance, reproduction, and lactation; which further includes the intake, digestion, and utilization of nutrients for tissue maintenance and provision of energy. Their definition simply explains necessity of foods as sources of nutrients, energy, and other substances for growth and development.

Nutrients are chemical substances found in foods. It has six categories namely: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. It can also be classified as essential, or needed for human life; nonessential, or can be utilized by the body but not necessarily required; macronutrients, or those that provide energy; and macronutrients, or those needed in little amount for regulation of many functions of the body. Macronutrients may include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These have numerable functions that support growth and development. They may also be converted by the body to produce energy.

                Going back to the six categories of nutrients, the first one are Proteins.  They are made up of amino acids, and they provide 4 kilocalories per gram, along with carbohydrates, as energy sources. They can be found in animals, eggs, soy products, processed foods like casein and gelatin; and are added to foods such as monosodium glutamate and aspartame. On the other hand, fats, which provide 9 kilocalories per gram, are divided into saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are mainly animal origin like meat, cheese, butter, coconut oil; while unsaturated are more on plant origin like nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil. Essential fatty acids are unsaturated and should be taken since it cannot be produced by the body. Moreover, Cholesterol is fat-soluble found in animals and is produced by the liver. Carbohydrates are sugars which are widely distributed in the body for cellular nutrition.  Vitamins are substances found in foods which aid in body functioning with their enzymatic actions. Minerals also play important roles in body functioning. Examples include Sodium, for regulation of body fluids; Potassium, for cardiac rhythm; calcium, for bone integrity, and many others.   The last one is water, which is essential for life. One may take 6-8 glasses of water everyday.

                The term calorie refers to measure the energy contained in food. It reflects the amount of energy that can be obtained when food is eaten, thereby, it is not considered as a nutrient.             

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