Frederick Alex Croes
Title: Essential of Human Nutrition
Available for Download: Yes
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Nutrition is a nourishing organic process by which an organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and maintenance (Elook Dictionary, 2007). Good nutrition can help prevent disease and promote health (Medical Encyclopaedia, 2007). Consumption of important fruits and vegetables ensures lower level of mortality and reduces various degenerative diseases, for instance, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and immune dysfunction in several human cohorts. In addition to the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, may contribute to these beneficially protective effects (Chun, 2005).
The foods we consume provide our bodies with energy. Just like fuel in cars or cell phone battery, human body requires to be fed every day. Carbohydrate is the main form of energy necessary for human’s body (Jegtyig, 2007).
The aim of nutrition science is to give definitions to metabolic and physiological feedbacks from the body regarding sufficient diet. Additionally, nutritional science is developing into the study of metabolism, which seeks to separate diet and health through the prism of biochemical process (Wikipedia, 2007).
Nowadays, a plenty of nutrition information is accessible to everyone; from diet books to newspaper articles, everyone seems to have his/her opinions about what we should eat.
Food is significant factor to the maintenance, development, functioning and reproduction of life. During lifetime an individual consumes 30 tons of food on average in seemingly endless dietary varieties. According to De Vries (1997), however, digestion splits all the foods found in all this variety of diets into the same basic nutrients.
Food, therefore, is chemistry, and the mixture of chemicals that are represented and divided into four basic categories: (1) nutrients; (2) non-nutritive naturally occurring components (including antinutritives2 and natural toxins); (3) man-made contaminants; and (4) additives. At that, the nutrients account for more than 99.9% of the food contents. The main classes of nutrients are: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins, and minerals. The constituents of food are called macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the major sources of energy and building materials for humans, while micronutrients are only required in relatively small amounts (D'Mello, 1991). Micronutrients can be found in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, and are still required in sufficient amounts to ensure proper functioning of all body cells. In addition, micronutrients, like water, do not provide energy. The majority of macronutrients are essential nutrients for life processes, produced by human body itself. Therefore, these essential nutrients can be received only from the food we eat. Most importantly, macronutrients are constituent and indispensable ingredients of our diets, found in: carbohydrates, fat, protein, water (Wilson, 2005).
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and should constitute the main ingredient of entire daily intake. In actual fact, there are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates, i.e., sugar and honey, and complex carbohydrates, i.e., grains, beans, peas or potatoes. Complex carbohydrates are more nourishing, yet, have fewer calories per gram compared to fat, and cause fewer problems with over-nutrition than fat or sugar. Additionally, diabetics prefer carbohydrates, since they allow better blood glucose control.
Fat provides energy and transport nutrients. There are two types of fatty acids considered as essential for the human body: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These acids are required by the body to ensure normal functionality. At that, they are received from cold-water fish, or fish oil, and any other components that comprise omega-3 fatty acids, and black current seed oil, which comprise omega-6 fatty acids. For example, the typical American diet often includes surplus of omega-6 fatty acids and insufficient amount of omega-3 fats. The increased consumptions of omega-63 oils are highly recommended to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer etc.
Proteins provide amino-acids to build and support healthy body tissue. In fact, there are 20 essential amino-acids, and therefore a body should be filled with all of them to function properly. Normally, the body produces twelve of these amino-acids, however, the other eight are the result of appropriate diet. Foods of animal origin such as milk or eggs often contain all these essential amino-acids, while a great number of plant products should be consumed in a certain combination to provide all these necessary protein components.
Vitamins and Minerals
Nutrition is deemed functional on condition that it beneficially influences various body functions. Functional foods mainly consist of vitamins and minerals normally consumed by humans. Overall, these additives are approved and recommended by most governments, and are well-known to everyone (Food Additives and Ingredients, 2007). To this end, Vitamins are components of organic origin present in food and necessary to our body. The most widely known vitamins are: A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C (ascorbic acid), D, E, and K. The B and C vitamins are soluble in water, while A, D, E, and K vitamins are fat-soluble, and accumulated in the body fat. In turn, minerals are important to our life because they are the main building blocks that create muscles, tissue, and bones. Additionally, they are significant components of many important life systems, in particular, hormones, oxygen transport, and enzyme systems. At that, there are two types of minerals: the main (macro) minerals and the trace minerals. A body in considerable amounts requires Main minerals. Particularly, main minerals include sodium, potassium, sulphur etc, required to build muscles, blood, nerve cells, teeth and bones. The main minerals and trace minerals are required in small amounts due to the fact that they are very significant to our body. These important minerals participate in the majority of chemical reactions run in a body. Additionally, they are important to produce hormones.
A great number of vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants that protect our body against free radicals. As a consequence, these nutrients help us prevent cancer and many other diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, and cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease etc. In this respect, antioxidants are special substances that protect cells against the adverse affects of free radicals. These molecules are produced when a body breaks down food. At that, the radicals can damage cells and even cause heart disease, cancer etc. Antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, and are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, meats and fish (Medline Plus, 2007).
Calcium is one another important mineral. More than 99% of calcium is stored in body, mainly in bones and teeth to keep them strong. The rest is stored in blood, muscles and cells. It is important to get calcium from the foods rich in it, including: milk, cheese and yogurt, green vegetables etc. Those of us who do not consume enough calcium should take calcium supplements. The exact amount of calcium depends on age and other factors; however, children and teenagers need more calcium compared to adults (National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, 2007). Aged women need calcium to prevent osteoporosis, which weakens the bones that are likely to get broken. Half of women and men under 50 get their bones broken due to osteoporosis. Therefore, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D keep bones strong (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2007).
Obviously, all humans require clean and safe water that helps us to regulate body temperature and transfer useful things to cells. Moreover, water releases the body from wasteful ingredients (Answers, 2007). This significant drink is a combination of surface water and groundwater. In addition, surface water comprises of rivers and lakes, whereas ground water comes from underground. However, water quality can vary from place to place, depending on the conditions of the source water and the level of purification, including the additives fluoride to kill germs (Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 2007).
A key to good performance is maintaining hydration during physical activity. However, drinking too much water can cause physical discomfort. It is recommended to drink about 400-600 ml. 2-3 hours before any activity, and 150-350 ml. during physical exercises. For example, athletes consume water before physical to perform better (Wikipedia, 2007).
Under the contemporary conditions of healthcare, diets remain rather important, nevertheless, certain number of people loose the right sense of nutrition in their strive to keep fit. Additionally, we have lost the comprehension that diet is closely related to mental health (McCulloch, 2007). In due respect, women are more prone to eating disorders known as Anorexia nervosa, Binge eating, Bulimia, compared to men. Usually, this tendency starts in the teenage period, and is often accompanied by depression and anxiety disorders. Consequently, these cause heart and kidney problems, and even lead to mortality risk (National Institute of Mental Health, 2007).
Nevertheless, eating a good breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, many people tend to miss breakfasts to lose their weight. Furthermore, people who eat breakfast maintain a healthy weight. A great number of scientists proved that children who eat breakfast produce better results at school, while adults feel and work better too.
Ideally, a healthy breakfast should include some protein and some fiber. As was mentioned above, protein is a component of low fat meats, eggs, beans, and soy. Grains, vegetables and fruits consist of fiber. A perfect example of healthy breakfast is often limited to boiled egg, orange, or low fat milk. As is known, protein and fibre satisfy hunger (Jegtyig, 2007).
Nowadays, most people cannot imagine their lives without caffeine. It is a substance found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, some nuts and medicine. It impacts body’s metabolism, including stimulating central nervous system. The amount of caffeine in two or four cups is not harmful; however, it can make us restless, or irritable. In addition, it can cause headaches, abnormal heart rhythms etc (Medline Plus, 2007).
The main causes of obesity are: the decreased level of nutrients intake, and sedentary lifestyle. In spite of all available information about nutrition in schools, hospitals, Internet, it is apparent that overeating is a problem. For example, the intake of fast food meals tripled between 1977 and 1995, and calorie level magnified four times during the same period. Nevertheless, it is insufficient explanation of phenomenal rise in the obesity levels in the well-developed countries. Overall, obesity is a significant health and social problem, which has reached pandemic levels. In accordance with numerous reports, energy intakes from food in England have decreased over the last 30 years, while the prevalence of obesity has tripled over 20 years, and continue to increase at an alarming rate (Wikipedia, 2007).
A well-balanced diet provides energy and nourishment necessary to lead normal life, and therefore to keep fit. Hence, it is important to provide our body with all the necessary resources and fuels to stay in good health (Lysol, 2006). An unhealthy diet and physical inactivity increase our chances of getting heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, arthritis, gallbladder disease, and osteoarthritis (HHS, 2007).
Recently, it was discovered that French people live longer than Americans. In France the estimated level of heart diseases is lower than in America; despite French people consume more fat foods. Explanations have been suggested by researches: (1) genetic differences allowing the body to avoid fats; (2) regular takings of red wine; (3) less dependence on cars than in USA. Nevertheless, a great number of researches have doubt that the theory about French paradox is right. Statistic collected by WHO (World Health Organization) show that the number of heart diseases might have been similar to the neighboring countries (Ducimetière, 2006).
Alcohol consumption is a problem of 21st century. Certain number of people, including children, pregnant women, people on medicines and people with some medical conditions should not drink at all. However, all kinds of alcohol drinks can be risky, damage health and increase level of injuries and assault. In fact, heavy drinking can cause liver disease, heart diseases, cancer and pancreatitis. As a consequence, alcohol consumption can cause problems at home, at work and with friends (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2007).
According to nutritionist Sass, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, the main nutrition trend is getting away from highly processed foods and back to whole food. As a consequence, move toward so-called “whole healthy” eating – diets that not only help to lose weight, however to live a healthier lifestyle.
Exotic nutrition will not only mean delicious meals at home, but healthier restaurant eating too. At home and restaurants will be used more ingredients, for instance, exotic grains like millet and bulguar, or bread alternatives, like rice paper and pita bread, Spices with а Middle Eastern twist, like cardamom (Medicine Net, 2006).
One more nutrition trend is vegetarianism, which denies all products of animal origin, including eggs and honey. There are few reasons among people in choosing this kind of nutrition: moral, religious, cultural, ethical, environmental, social, economic, or political conviction, and the last health. Additionally, most vegetarians avoiding products that may include animal ingredients, for instance, gelatine (animal bones), some kind of sugar that is whitened with bone-char (cane-sugar), or alcohol clarified with gelatine. It is widely known that those people who eat vegetarian food have higher rate of mineral and vitamin insufficiency. Recently researches proved that a vegetarian diet might help to control body weight and decrease the level of heart disease (BBC, 2002).
Vegetarian diets are generally high in caratenoids, however, low in fatty acids and B12. Nevertheless, high levels of folic acids, vitamins C and E, and low consumption of fat, could be beneficial aspects of this nutrition. Level of iron is similar to non-vegetarian diets (Davey, 2003). Additionally, studies show that those women who eat vegetarian food are more likely to have female babies. However, this fact does not influence populations of the Far East, where soy diets are traditional (BBC, 2000).
Although, leading nutrients instigated discussion by suggesting people who do not eat red meat are risking their health. Meat provides iron for the blood, vitamin D for the bones, and proteins and fatty acids for growth. It is possible that red meat includes many other beneficial nutrients not fully understandable yet. Meat-free diets are generally chosen by athletes, because it improves one’s health (BBC, 2000).
Nutrition for Athletes
A great source of discussion concerning protein requirements for athletes, has reached a consensus among scientists. Athletes have similar protein requirements as sedentary people, nearly 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body mass. This requirements are met by a balanced diet that including about 70 grams of protein for 70 kg man and 60 grams for 60 kg for woman. Active athletes have significantly high protein requirements. Athletes playing power sports (for example football), those who increase their muscle training are required approximately 2 grams per kilogram. Older athletes in order to maintain muscle mass are need 2 or 3 gram. Protein is required to build muscles.
Recently was discovered that women following high-protein diet, lost more weight and receive favorable metabolic effect at 12 months than in other diets, without increasing cardiovascular risks (Burke& Dreakins, 2006).
Nutrition for Teenagers
Teenagers need special nutrients in order to support growth. This period brings dynamic increase in height as well as hormonal changes. Especially significant is iron. Requirement for calcium growth while skeletal mass increases. Calcium is significant for young adults. Teenager’s caloric needs vary depending on their growth rate and activity level. Males generally have higher energy requirements than females due to their larger proportion of lean body mass to adipose tissue (Kid Source, 2007).
It is possible to support Immune System to prevent various types of disease and illness by eating the right foods. Eating variety of fruits and vegetables given by nature will strength the body, and allow healing the diseases.
Proper nutrition will be much more successful in defending body.
This connection between nutrition and Immune System is the key to health. Nowadays, foods are full of chemicals and pesticides, as a consequence, plant food now have nutrition losses (Bio Net, 2007).
Genetically Modified Food
In order to receive optimal health, humans require a various, well-balanced diet that includes a complex mixture of both macronutrients and micronutrients. There are many viewpoints concerning Genetically Modified Food. However, it might be a significant concept for future. Under nourishment and diseases are general problems in less developed countries. It is possible to modify these crops that have some disease fighting properties.
Additionally, it’s providing essential nutrients to the people who eat them. It is important to continue doing research in the field of genetics. Before starting to modify nutritional components in crops, consideration must be given to the choice of main compounds, and whether higher dietary intake could cause abnormal negative health
consequences. For select mineral targets (iron, calcium, selenium, and iodine) and a limited number of vitamin
targets (folate, vitamins E, B6, and A), the clinical and epidemiological evidence is clear that they play a significant role in maintenance of optimal health and are limiting in diets worldwide (Lachance, 1998).
Nearly 81% of soybeans and 40% of corn that were made in the United States of America are genetically modified. In order to improve content of plants, they are modified. For instance, some plants that usually contain great amounts of calcium could be genetically modified to decrease oxalates they produce. Transgenic plants are
researched for safety before farmers receive seeds. This technology is of great potential for saving lives and improving health by making changes to the plants that provide foods (Jegtyig, 2007).
The food processing industry has achieved many technological secrets that help to keep foods fresh longer, and change the fresh state of food. These technologies are applied to keep freshness, and were invented great numbers of technologies that prevent food spoiling.
These technologies involve pasteurization, drying, and salting. Heating techniques (pasteurization and auto lavation) have undoubtfully proved the safety of many foods. These technologies are preventing epidemics of bacterial infections. Nevertheless, processing has some negative aspects as well. Separation techniques, for example, milling, centrifugation, and pressing have a high level of concentration of some components: oils, juices, etc. In addition, these techniques even separate such significant components like fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. These fatal levels of concentration lead to changes of nutritional content of food, saving some nutrients and in the same time removing others. Heating may reduce foods content of many nutrients, for instance, vitamins and phytochemicals, and other undiscovered substances (Wikipedia, 2004). Additionally, processed foods include potentially harmful components, for example, oxidized fats and trans-fatty acids. However, food processing are provides consumers with convenience and variety of choices, involving low fat and low sugar products (Food Additives and Ingredients Association, 2007).
The greatest advantage of processed foods is nutritious, however, it depending on the technology in which they are processed. For instance, frozen vegetable are commonly processed during of harvest. There is a small nutrients loss in the freezing technology, nevertheless, frozen vegetables safe their high vitamin and mineral content. Contrastingly, fresh vegetable that are transported to market lost vitamins over time.
Processed foods, for example, breads, include additives for extra nutrition. High level of interest in health and nutrition caused the production of a new range with nutritional additives. This renewable food technology can make certain nutrients more available. For instance: removing physic acid from grain helps to enhance the absorption of significant element as iron. Processing tomatoes into a tomato paste or sauce increases the level of antioxidants that is required to the body (Asian Food Information center, 2007).
Maternal breast milk has a unique composition that helps protect against childhood obesity, Crohn's disease, lymphoma, leukemia, and diabetes (Gregory, 2005). It also is associated with decreased incidences of diarrhea and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) (Cooke, 2000). Breast milk contains docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid, two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that play a role in visual acuity, growth, and cognitive development. However, breast milk nutrients content is generally stable. It is made in the mother’s bloodstream from nutrients. Woman who breastfeeds her baby uses 400-600 calories a day in producing milk. Breastfeeding has certain benefits for mother and infant: physical and psychological. As a consequence, nutrients and other significant components pass to the baby, and beneficial hormones released into the mothers body. Brest fed infants have a lower risk of diseases, and its composition Include several anti-infective factors, for instance the anti malaria factor para amino benzoic acid. Additionally human milk involve protein, iron and prevent growth of bacteria: for example, Salmonella. Breast milk includes amount of the amino acids, cosine, methionine and taurine that are essential for development of nervous system (Wikipedia, 2007).
Nutritional support has several definitions: artificial feeding, artificial hydration and nutrition, hyper alimentation, parenteral nutrition, tube feeding (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007). The development of technique has been made possible to secure nutrition of severely ill patients (Ford, 1996). However, the eternal or known as oral is preferable. Overall, a great number of patients are unable to get right number of calories and need intravenous nutrition; it is required if human: (1) have problems with swallowing; (2) have problems with appetite; (3) have problems with absorption of important nutrients through digestive system.
Eternal nutrition has fewer short-term and long-term complications. Additionally, this option is not expensive. According to Jenkins (1994) the use of the gastrointestinal tract results in superior fluid homeostasis and - based on results from animal studies at least - function of the intestine is better preserved. In addition, feeding initiates the activity of non-luminal neuronal and hormonal factors, which stimulate the bowel. Parenternal nutrition has been one of the most innovative techniques in the last 50 years. Nevertheless, in compared with enternal, parenternal indicated less often.
Feeding is a special medical method used for patients in order to receive nutrition by swallowing. This type of feeding may be temporary for treatment in the case of chronic disabilities. There are a great number of indications for tube feeding, the main includes: (1) Severe respiratory illness; (2) Cardiopathies; (3) Gastro esophageal reflux (Ferry, 1992). However, it’s includes several complications such as: damage of nearby structure. Nevertheless, nutritional support can have both benefits and risks. The main advantage of it is guaranteed caloric intake. One of sever disadvantages is risk of infection, in addition, high cost management requirements (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007).
Taking everything into account, right nutrition helps humans to achieve health and reduce risk of diseases, for instance, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. Additionally, nutritional therapy may also be included to the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Several studies proved that the importance of nutrition regulate humans health. Consequently, it is significant to understand the importance of nutrition in order to be healthy from day-to day. Nowadays, people are making changes in their lifestyle and include proper nutrition.
As it was mentioned above a healthy nutrition is based on breads, potatoes, and other significant grains and is rich in fruits and vegetables. Additionally, healthy nutrition will include milk and dairy products, meat, fish or their alternatives. However, humans should limit foods containing fat or sugar. Apart from this, no single food can provide important nutrients required by the body. Moreover it is significant to consume a variety of foods in order to provide sufficient amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which are important for health. A high-fiber diet helps prevent the following health conditions: (1) High cholesterol levels. (2) Slows down the rise of blood sugar level. (3) Prevent accumulation of toxic substances that cause cancer (Wilson, 2005). However, pregnant women should consume healthy nutrition at all times, nevertheless specific an advice exists to a great number of foods. Pregnant women require 300 extra calories a day, especially when child starts to grow faster. These calories should come from nutritious foods; consequently, they can contribute to baby’s growth and development. As it was mentioned above, pregnant women should avoid alcohol consumption. Additionally, some vitamins could be harmful (Kids Health, 2007).
There are four food groups: (1) Bread, grains and potatoes; (2) Fruits and vegetables; (3) Milk; (4) Meat, fish and alternatives. Humans who not consume products from these groups are under risk of malnutrition. It can occur due to the lack of vitamins. Starvation is one more form of malnutrition. Moreover, malnutrition can occur when nutrients are adequately consumed, however, one and/or more nutrients are not absorbed properly (All Ref, 2007). Nevertheless, western countries people suffer from illness therefore over nutrition. Those who eat more calories than required suffer from disease (described above) known as obesity. This illness increased level of blood pressure and/or blood sugar (Link Age, 2007).
Nutritionists propose several guidelines of healthy nutrition, for example: (1) Consume various foods; (2) Consume plenty of fruits; (3) Consume food rich in fibre; (4) Reduce consumption of alcohol (British Nutritional Foundation, 2003). Consumption of fruits and vegetable provide significant for humans: vitamin C, Carotenes, Fibre, Carbohydrates, Folate (needed for red blood cells). Bioactive substances (phytochemicals) are commonly found in plant foods. Additionally, they are not nutrients, however, might have beneficial influences on health. Provide protection against a number of diseases, for instance, heart diseases, cancer, etc.
What about fat? It is essential to consume small amount of fat in the nutrition. Fat provides body very important source of energy. Humans with low levels of body fat, for instance, anorexics, can have problem in keeping warm. Additionally, fat is required to prevent immoderate loss of body heat (Women Fitness, 2007).
Salt is required for the body in order to function properly. However, humans consume more than needed. It is recommended that the average intake of salt should contain 6g per day for adults, consequently, less for children (British Nutritional Foundation, 2003). In addition, alcohol consumption is harmful for everyone. This means that the adults should consume maximum 3-4 units per day. However, drinking more than recommended can have effect at human’s health.
The consequences of bad nutrition are numerous: lack of energy, high risk of illness, dizziness. Moreover, improper nutrition causes reduce of immunity leading to infections, for instance, diarrhea and dysentery. Hence, understanding of good nutrition will help to control and maintain human’s health. However, there is a still long way before healthy nutrition is fully accepted.
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