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Nutrition

a variety of food and nutrition laid out on the table

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Nutritional Yeast and How to Incorporate it in Our Diet.

Nutritional yeast is a strain of deactivated yeast that offers a nutritional boost. It has quite a strong flavor, making it a popular choice for flavoring food and for the production of vegan substitutes for cheese. It is widely available and is increasingly popular...

Vitamin B Complex Explained.

The B complex vitamins form a group of 8 vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, and cobalamin) related to cell metabolism. At first, it was believed that it was only one vitamin, but later it was discovered that there...

What are Carbohydrates?

What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates can be found in a diverse array of foods such as fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy processed products. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates make...

Nutrition refers to the various nutrients that are found in the different foods we eat and how the body uses these substances in the various processes that it has to undertake to function correctly. Nutritionists are scientists who study what the nutritional content of foods is and try to establish what nutrition we should be taking in, based on the demands of the human body.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states, “Nutrition is a critical part of health and development. Better nutrition is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longevity.”

Why is Nutrition Important?

Not all foods are nutritionally equal. There are some foods that are nutritionally dense, and other foods that are less dense. Different foods have different concentrations of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. If we are to make sure that we are obtaining all of the necessary nutrients that we need to function healthily, then we need to have a good understanding of the nutritional content of what we eat. Luckily, this does not require complicated counting of vitamins and minerals and precise analysis of everything that passes our lips each mealtime. If it were this precise and demanding an activity, humanity would have long since become extinct! There are nutritional guidelines that give us some idea of how much of each food group, vitamin, and mineral we need in order to be healthy. However, all of these demands can be met by having a healthy varied diet rich in fresh produce including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

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Types of Nutrition

Woman looking in her refrigerator looking at the types of nutrition she has

Nutrition is divided up into two different groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.

Macronutrients include what we consider to be the major food groups, protein, carbohydrate, and fat. These are fairly easy to recognize; protein is found in meat, fish, nuts and seeds and eggs. Protein is found in every cell and is essential for growth, energy, muscle function and many other processes in the body which are essential for life. Carbohydrates are found in grains and starchy vegetables and provide energy for the body and fiber for the digestive system to function well. Fats are found in meat, dairy and oils and again are essential to provide energy and many other bodily functions. How much of these food groups we each need and in what ratio, very much depends on a wide range of factors, but all of them are needed for optimum health.

Micronutrients include all of the vitamins and minerals that we require for optimum functioning. Vitamins are organic compounds produced by plants and animals and absorbed or produced by our bodies. The 13 essential vitamins include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and Vitamin B9/folic acid (folate).

Minerals are inorganic compounds that are found in the earth and water and which are then absorbed by plants and animals. Both are very important for human health, contributing to every process that the body has to engage in. From the metabolic system to the nervous system, vitamins and minerals play essential roles. The US National Library of Medicine states,

There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. You need larger amounts of macrominerals. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. You only need small amounts of trace minerals. They include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium”.

Everyone is Different

So, how do we ensure that our nutritional needs are met? Well, before we can establish this, we need to first state that not everyone has the same nutritional needs. What you need to function well, might not be the same as what the person next to you requires. Our nutritional needs greatly depend on a number of factors such as how old we are, our sex, and the kind of lifestyle we have. Just as someone who does a lot of heavy manual work might require more calories per day than someone with a sedentary job, so too do the nutrients each person needs vary. Nutritional needs change as we age, they change during pregnancy, and they change during periods of stress, illness, or development.

Malnutrition

When the nutritional needs are not being met, perhaps because of a limited diet or a problem with absorption, we call this malnutrition. Being lacking in a particular nutrient is known as a deficiency, and this can be treated either by dealing with the root cause of the issue, changing the diet and lifestyle, or adding supplements to the diet. Supplements are a simple way of improving the nutrition that an individual receives, but the body does greatly prefer natural sources of nutrition. Nutrition found in fresh foods is more bioavailable and easier to absorb.

Eating the Rainbow

One of the most commonly offered pieces of nutritional advice is to eat the rainbow. Far from a gimmick, this advice is grounded in science. Studies show that the nutritional content of different foods corresponds with the color of the foods. So, as a general rule, increasing the number of colors on your plate at any mealtime, will also increase the nutritional content. Of course, that is assuming the colors are natural and coming from natural sources such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

You Are What You Eat

"You Are What You Eat" spelled out with food

Understanding nutrition is important; it can help you ensure that you are getting all of the vital substances that your body needs. However, it is important to remember that nutrition is more than just a theory, it is essential for health and designed to help every individual optimize their health and wellbeing. For more information on nutrition from the USA government, see nutrition.gov.

Vitamin B Complex Explained.

Vitamin B Complex Explained.

The B complex vitamins form a group of 8 vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, and cobalamin) related to cell metabolism. At first, it was believed that it was only one vitamin, but later it was discovered that there...

What are Carbohydrates?

What are Carbohydrates?

What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates can be found in a diverse array of foods such as fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy processed products. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbohydrates make...

How to Ensure Good Infant Nutrition?

How to Ensure Good Infant Nutrition?

Original source: https://scalarlightireland.com/how-to-ensure-good-infant-nutrition/Every child has the right to good infant nutrition, but in many countries, less than one-quarter of infants have access to the diverse diet required. Inappropriate feeding contributes...

Top 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Avocado

Top 5 Surprising Health Benefits of Avocado

Avocados have been enjoying a massive surge of popularity in recent years. They have become one of the top food trends of the decade and are often celebrated as a superfood. Avocados may look pretty humble with their dark, bumpy skin, but whether you slice them up or...

The Nutritional Benefits of Alfalfa

The Nutritional Benefits of Alfalfa

Original source: https://scalarlight.co.uk/the-nutritional-benefits-of-alfalfa/The use of herbs and plants in our diet is in fashion. One of the least known is alfalfa, a plant that hides many health benefits such as fighting urinary infections or anaemia. Take note...

The Most Important Essential Fatty Acids

The Most Important Essential Fatty Acids

There is much more to nutrition than just the essential food groups or lists of essential vitamins and minerals. One of the most fascinating aspects of nutrition is the action of essential fatty acids.What are Essential Fatty Acids?Essential fatty acids are substances...

Top 6 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Top 6 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Original source: https://scalarlight.co.uk/top-6-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/Chia seeds have become increasingly popular in recent years, with devotees adding them to smoothies, salads, and even loaves of bread and cookies. The name 'chia' comes from the ancient...

The Importance of Magnesium

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the minerals which is essential for health due to the different functions it performs in the body. The lack of it can cause various complications and diseases, so it is vital to ensure adequate intake. Scientific institutions establish that adult...

Six Surprising Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Six Surprising Health Benefits of Cinnamon

The smell of cinnamon is one of those evocative scents that can instantly transport you to another place. It reminds us of festive holidays, rich puddings, sweet treats, and earthy curry dishes. In fact, we love it so much that we buy candles and home fragrances that...

Sources of Iron

Sources of Iron

Iron is a mineral that has very beneficial properties for the development and growth of children, but it is also essential for adults. Iron is the substance that is used to produce hemoglobin. It is a pigment contained in the red blood cells, to which it gives its...

Four Things Vitamin A is Good For

Four Things Vitamin A is Good For

Vitamin A which is also known as retinol, because it is retinoic acid, is an essential nutrient for the body's health, mainly to have good eyesight. Vitamin a is good for growth, cell division, the heart, lungs, the kidneys, among other functions that make it...

What is a Superfood?

What is a Superfood?

The term superfood is often used to describe a food that is nutritionally dense (has a high number of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial compounds per gram of weight). ‘Superfood’ is often used to describe foods that have special characteristics that set them...

Vitamin List And What They Are Good For

Vitamin List And What They Are Good For

The human body needs nutrients and substances to be able to regulate its functions and to be healthy. Vitamins are one of the most important groups of nutrients for human and animal life, and without them, it would be impossible to carry out certain functions. But how...

What Are The Most Nutrient Dense Foods?

What Are The Most Nutrient Dense Foods?

If you imagine that your daily calorie amount is a little like a budget that you have to ‘spend’ each day, then it becomes quite clear how important it is to seek out and eat the right kinds of foods to give your body the vitamins and minerals that it needs, without...