Nutrition is the foundation for health, growth and development. Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and better health. GOOD NUTRITION
Good nutrition can help promote health and prevent disease. There are six categories of nutrients that the body needs to acquire from food: protein, carbohydrates, fat, fibers, vitamins and minerals, and water.
Protein supplies amino acids to build and maintain healthy body tissue. There are some 22 amino acids considered essential because the body must have all of them in the right amounts to function properly. Most of these are manufactured in the body but eight amino acids must be provided by the diet as the body cannot manufacture them. Foods from animal sources such as milk or eggs often contain all these essential amino acids while a variety of plant products must be taken together to provide all these necessary protein components.
Fat supplies energy and transports nutrients. Essential fatty acids are required by the body to function normally. They can be obtained from flaxseed oil, cold-water fish, or fish oil, all of which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Increased consumption of omega-3 oils is recommended to help reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, dermatitis, and depression.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and should be the major part of total daily intake. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates (such as sugar or honey) or complex carbohydrates (such as grains, beans and vegetables). In choosing grains, choose whole grains over refined grains, as refined grains turn instantly to glucose once in the bloodstream.
Fiber is the material that gives plants texture and support. Although it is primarily made up of carbohydrates, it does not have a lot of calories and is usually not broken down by the body for energy. Dietary fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Meat does not contain any fiber.
Although they share some common characteristics such as being partially digested in the stomach and intestines and have few calories, each type of fiber has its own specific health benefits. Insoluble fiber speeds up the transit of foods through the digestive system and adds bulk to the stools, therefore, it is the type of fiber that helps treat constipation or diarrhea and prevents colon cancer. On the other hand, only soluble fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels. This type of fiber works by attaching itself to the cholesterol so that it can be eliminated from the body. This prevents cholesterol from recirculating and being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins are organic substances present in food and required by the body in a small amount for metabolic regulation and maintenance of normal growth and functioning. The most commonly known vitamins are A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin C, D, E, and K. The B and C vitamins are watersoluble, excess amounts of which are excreted in the urine. The A, D, E, and K vitamins are fat-soluble and will be stored in the body fat.
Minerals are vital to our existence because they are the building blocks that make up muscles, tissues, and bones. They also are important components of many life-supporting systems, such as hormones, oxygen transport, and enzyme systems.Two kinds of minerals exist: the major minerals and the trace minerals. Major minerals are the minerals that the body needs in large amounts. The following minerals are classified as major: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, and chloride. They are needed to build muscles, blood, nerve cells, teeth, and bones. They also are essential electrolytes that the body requires to regulate blood volume and acid-base balance.
Unlike the major minerals, trace minerals are needed only in small amounts. Even though they can be found in the body in exceedingly small amounts, they are also very important to the human body. These minerals participate in most chemical reactions in the body and are also needed to manufacture important hormones. The following are classified as trace minerals: iron, zinc, iodine, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium, selenium, molybdenum, and boron.
Many vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, and E) and minerals (such as zinc, copper, selenium, or manganese) act as antioxidants. They protect the body against the damaging effects of free radicals. They scavenge or mop up these highly reactive radicals and change them into inactive, less harmful compounds. In so doing, these essential nutrients help prevent cancer and many other degenerative diseases, such as premature aging, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Water is essential for life. Without it, we could not exist. Some 80% of our body is made up of water. Water helps to regulate body temperature, transports nutrients to cells, and rids the body of waste materials. The ideal amount of water differs for each person. One of the best ways to know whether one is drinking enough water is to look at the color of urine, the clearer and lighter in color, the better. A second way to test for hydration, is to take a finger and go from the back of the tongue to the front. If the tongue is smooth to the touch, you are well hydrated, if however, it is scratchy like a cat’s tongue, one needs to drink more water.
Enzymes are proteins that increase the rates of chemical reactions in the body. Many drugs and poisons are enzyme inhibitors.
Most enzymes are obtained by eating fruits, legumes, whole grains, raw milk and vegetables in their raw or nearly raw state. Cooking, especially at temperatures over 200 degrees will destroy most if not all enzymes in the food.
Unlike plants, human beings cannot manufacture most of the nutrients that they need to function. They must eat plants and/or other animals.
Good nutrition helps individuals achieve general health and well-being. In addition, dietary modifications might be prescribed for a variety of complaints including allergies, anemia, arthritis, colds, depression, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, obesity, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), respiratory conditions, and stress.
Nutritional therapy may also be involved as a complement to the allopathic treatments of cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.