Nutrition is the process by which we take food into our bodies and use it as raw materials for growth, fuel for energy, and vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy and functioning properly. It is a delicate balance between what we ingest and our body’s metabolic demands.
Nutrients are the molecules in the food that we eat, which the body uses for the necessary processes mentioned above. Have you ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat?” Well this is true. What you put into your body is what your body has access to. In essence you determine how well your body will function based on the types of foods you eat and the quantities in which you eat them. The food and drink that you consume from day to day is termed your diet.
There are five basic food groups; eating portions from each of the groups listed daily will result in a balanced diet which is a part of optimal body function.The food groups are:
- Protein: the amount needed on a daily basis depends on the age, sex and level of physical activity of the individual. However, the daily recommendation for adult men and women is between 5-61/2 ounces.
- Dairy: All milk and calcium-containing milk products are included in this category. Examples include: milk. cheese and yogurt. Food made from milk, but with little to no calcium are not included, eg. butter and cream cheese.
- Grains: There are two main types: whole grains and refined grains. At least half of the grains eaten should be whole grains, eg. whole-wheat bread. Refined grains include white bread, and white rice to name two.
- Fruits: These can be fresh, dried, frozen, canned or pureed. As long as you are consuming fruits. Example, apples and bananas.
- Vegetables: Not many people like vegetables. They find it a nuisance, but the nutrients derived from vegetables play an essential role in daily growth and development just like proteins.
In addition to the division of the necessary nutrients into five food groups, nutrients can also be divided into macro and micronutrients. This division overlaps with the food group separation.
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats and proteins; and the micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which are just as important as macronutrients.
Another nutrient that when it makes its way into the body can have great benefit is the antioxidant. These help protect your body from damage that comes from the sun pollution smoke and poor dietary causes.
The next topic in this Characteristics of Living Organisms series will be Reproduction. If you have any questions or concerns please comment below!