As you know, we must eat a live. But, we not only eat to live, what we eat should provide us sufficient nutrition to:
- Keep healthy
- Do work
- Be happy
- Live well
Knowledge of what to eat, and in what quantities, is very important for living a healthy and happy life. Nutrition is a foundation for health and development. Better nutrition means:
- Stronger immune system
- Healthy body
- Better productivity at work
- Alert and positive thinking
- Emotional stability
- Better social and family life
Healthy children learn better. Healthy people are stronger, are more productive and in a better position to create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of both poverty and inadequacy in a sustainable way.
Better nutrition is a prime entry point to achieving personal and professional excellence and a milestone to achieving better quality of life.
Nutrition is the science that deals with the dietary components of which food is composed and how proper nourishment is delivered to the body.
It is a common belief that our average nutritional requirements are fixed and depend on such measurable characteristics as age, sex, height, weight, degree of activity and rate of growth. However, it is not true.
Individual nutritional requirements vary to a significant degree depending upon:
- Hereditary factors.
- Increased exposure to environmental toxins due to particular work conditions.
- Hectic lifestyle.
- Individual choice of foods.
- Mental setup.
Food is anything solid or liquid that has a chemical composition that enables it, when swallowed, to do one or more of the following:
- Provide the body with the material form which it can produce heat, or any form of energy.
- Provide material to allow growth, maintenance, repair or reproduction to proceed.
- Supply substances which regulate either the production of energy or the process of growth, repair and reproduction.
Good nutrition requires a satisfactory diet, which is capable of keeping the individual consuming it, in a state of good health by providing the desired nutrients in adequate amounts. It must provide the right amount of fuel to execute normal physical activity. If the total amount of nutrients provided by the diet is insufficient or imbalanced, many partial nutritional deficiencies develop.
Health is defined by the World Health Organization of the United Nations at the “State of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”
Nutrition is one key to developing and maintaining an optimum state of health. A poor diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle is known to be a risk factor for many life-threatening chronic diseases.
Catabolism + anabolism = metabolism
It also focuses on how diseases, conditions and problems can be prevented or lessened with a healthy diet.
Nutrition is present in all processes of life. Right from the very moment a sperm fertilizes an egg, through fetal development in the uterus, to birth, growth, maturity and old age till death.
A nutrient is a source of nourishment, an ingredient in food, which the body can use to generate energy and repair the daily wear and tear of body cells e.g. protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. These nutrients can be broadly divided into two groups:
- Macronutrients – The group of nutrients that the body needs in relatively large quantities, e.g. protein, carbohydrates and fats etc.
- Micronutrients – The group of nutrients that are needed in relatively small quantities, e.g. iodine, copper, iron and zinc etc.
Importance of Nutrition
When I ask people about their diet, almost every time I get the same answer – ‘I take a good diet.’ However, when I ask them to explain or define a ‘good diet’, then it becomes a little difficult for them.
Think about it. This is because we never take this matter seriously. Our knowledge about good diet is limited to what we heard from our parents. This knowledge passes from generation to generation with no modification it all. People only think about nutrition and healthy food when they fall ill and the physician tells them to take a balanced diet.
The need to understand nutrition and its link with health was never as important as it is now. The information we pass on to our children, about food, is going to decide their present and future health status. This applies to our own health status too.
To understand nutrition and its impact on health, first we have to understand what nutritional deficiencies are, how they occur and how they produce illness.
Usually no single nutrient is totally lacking from an otherwise adequate diet, but we might not be getting sufficient quantities of certain nutrients whereas others might be in abundance in our diet. This creates partial deficiency of the undersupplied nutrients. It is common nowadays to have simultaneous partial deficiencies of many nutrients, which are discarded from food while refining and processing.
Research shows that diseases of almost every variety can be produced by an undersupply of various combinations of nutrients. Just as 52 cards can be dealt into hundreds of bridge hands, no two alike, so can various combinations of partial deficiencies result in a number of diseases having different symptoms. The number of partial deficiencies in the body, and the mildness or severity of each, determines whether one disease or another will appear.
Research shows that diseases produced by combinations of deficiencies can be corrected when all nutrients are supplied, provided that irreparable damage has not been done to any part of the body. Research also shows that these diseases can even be prevented, because proper knowledge about nutrition can do much to prevent future illness.
It should also be mentioned that nutrition is never competitive with the practice of medicine, but is an aid to both the physician and the patient.
To eat wisely is different indeed from the home treatment of disease. Self-doctoring can be extremely dangerous because medical attention is postponed.
When any abnormality occurs, two steps should be taken:
- Nutrition should be improved
- A physician should be consulted
Many people believe that rebuilding health through nutrition is essentially a slow process; rarely are results as quick and dramatic as stopping an infection with antibiotics. Yet, studies in which nutrients have been made radioactive indicate that the entire body can be rebuilt much more rapidly than was formerly believed. For instance, calcium taken in food can be deposited in a fractured bone within an hour.
When a person understands the importance of nutrition and starts making efforts to take healthy foods and supplements, he starts thinking that now he is completely safe from every kind of illness of disease.
However, one should not forget that deficiencies created by the diet he has been taking for the last so many years, can not be reversed in a few days or weeks. He has no idea that many prolonged partial deficiencies inside his body have already done enough damage to his body’s tissues, glands, organs and systems, that many minor health problems which he has been experiencing occasionally and ignoring them as just minor problems, are on the edge of taking a big shape.
Diseases like diabetes, heart problems, kidney stones, piles, arthritis, colitis, psoriasis, high cholesterol and other chronic diseases do not occur in a day. They are a result of nutritional deficiencies that have continued for very long.
In the process, these deficiencies usually produce further nutritional deficiencies, because the body works on a policy of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ The body forces its bones, muscles and tissues to sacrifice whatever little stores they have of the missing nutrients to keep the vital organs working.
Many physicians estimate that more than 70% of sickness today is partly emotional in origin. Proper nutrition can help an individual to cope with emotional problems also. It is largely because of feelings about foods and about oneself that few people adhere to an adequate diet.
It is a proven fact that abnormalities like ulcers, arthritis, allergies and colitis, to name a few, are undoubtedly often psychosomatic in origin.
Psychosomatic refers to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes.
Studies have shown that it is usually a combination of faulty nutrition and emotional problems that causes psychosomatic disorders.
In overcoming such diseases, the best results are obtained by combining adequate nutrition with good psychotherapy. People too frequently try to correct an illness unrecognized as being emotionally induced by enthusiastically improving their nutrition, and because the disease persists, feel that nutrition and supplementation have little or no value.
We must understand that long-forgotten anger, ‘stored’ during a lifetime, can cause headaches or arthritis, or that the need to cry, accumulated over many years, can result in sinus infection or hay fever.
Every person have emotional problems of some sort or other, whether recognized or not. Sooner or later, these problems usually cause some form of disease. We can often accept the fact that emotions may bring about other people’s illnesses, yet fail to recognize that we are sailing on the same boat too. Such an attitude is the result of not realizing that are negative emotions can be balanced by wonderful positive ones.
Because we are capable of magnificent positive emotions, we should thing beyond the statement ‘We are what we eat.’ A continuous awareness that we are very much more than what we eat, it necessary to promote health. Within each of us is an immeasurable capacity for love, understanding, compassion, creativity, joy and all positive qualities.
The tragedy of illness is that it prevents the full expression of outgoing healthy emotions and creative abilities. Instead, it focuses abnormal attention inward upon one’s self, causing one to retreat into a body that may become a prison.
Optimum Health Should Be Our Target
The achievement of health is worth considerable effort and expense because it can add happiness and fulfillment to our lives.
It can help us to know love and warmth, music, laughter, and to experience the joy of creativity and the satisfaction of accomplishments. We shall be able to ventilate, when need be, by outbursts of justified anger and tears.
Such health is a reward of good nutrition.
We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.
The Dietary Components
Food is a complex mixture of various substances, which help:
- To provide sufficient energy & heat to our body.
- In growth, repair & maintenance of body tissues.
- In adding bulk to the diet so that it moves smoothly through the digestive system.
Nutrition is the science of food, which deals with the dynamic process in which:
- The food consumed is digested.
- Nutrients are absorbed and distributed to body tissues for utilization.
- Wastes are disposed off the body.
Nutrients are the constituents in food that must be supplied to the body in suitable amounts. In addition, to acquire a sound health one must include a daily routine of consuming a balanced diet comprising of all the food groups and vital components in appropriate quantities.
The main dietary components of food are:
- Fats Minerals
On basis of the components they contain, foods are broadly classified into three groups, they are:
- Energy giving foods: They comprise of carbohydrates and fats, which provide us with most of our energy required.
- Body building foods: These are rich in proteins and are involved in growth and repair of body cells.
- Protective foods: These are rich in vitamins and minerals and are involved in building up the body’s immune system.
Nature has provided various protective substances i our food like antioxidants and phytonutrients which help our immune system work efficiently.
To maintain perfect health, we need to understand the importance of these components of food in maintaining health and the problems created by their absence in our diet.
Did you know that…
After death, the body starts to dry out creating the illusion that the hair and nails are still growing. This is actually the result of the surrounding tissue drying out and shrinking away from the hair folds and hair shafts, giving the impression of growth.