Nutrition is the power source that enables the body to function properly, and keeps it healthy. The supply of nutrition furnished to the body via intake of various food items, enables it to carry out all the body functions appropriately, thereby enabling it to protect itself from invasion of viruses, bacteria, and toxins. From the food consumed, the body absorbs the simple but essential minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water into the bloodstream.
After absorption, the nutrients are broken down and transported to all the cells in the body. Each cell has a specific role to perform in the body. For the body to remain healthy, all these cells need to perform their allotted duties correctly. The type of nourishment provided to the body determines the type of performance of the cell. Opulent nutritional supply not only sustains body health, but also reduces the body's susceptibility to disease and premature death.
Importance of Nutrition
According to science and human medicine, nutrition is defined as 'the science or practice of consuming and utilizing foods'. Nutritional science studies reveal that the body by a process called catabolism, breaks down the food ingested. The broken down material is used to produce new cells, and to repair the damaged cells and tissues, by a process called anabolism. The body's dependence on nutrition for sustenance has been present in all stages of life. From the time the sperm fertilized the ovum, then through the entire fetal development for nine months in the uterus to birth, and the next growth years to death, the body depends on nutrition. Ironically, the death of the human body sometimes even serves as nutrition for other organisms. All living things rely on combustion of food for energy and sustenance.
Once we comprehend what nutrition is, then the answer to why it is important will begin to appear vividly. Nutrients are sources of nourishment available in various food items in the form of ingredients, such as protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrients are classified as macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the ones, that are required in large quantities by the body, whereas, micronutrients are those nutrients, that are needed in small quantities.
Macronutrients: The different macronutrients are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and water. Protein is important for the growth of the body, repair of damaged body tissues, and maintenance of immune system. Low protein levels can spearhead decreased infection resistance and slower recovery process from illness. Proteins are required in greater amounts during an illness for the healing and repair of tissues. Fats and carbohydrates are major energy sources of the body. Daily dietary requirements for essential nutrients depend on the size, age, health, and level of physical activity of the person. Fiber consists of carbohydrates to a great extent, however, its absorption by the body is limited, thus, its sugar and starch do not enter the bloodstream. Fluid and water intake keeps the body hydrated. Dehydration leads to fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children, and irritability and confusion in adults.
Micronutrients: Minerals and vitamins come under this category. They are needed for the proper growth and development of the human body, and facilitate the use of energy by the body. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, iodine, etc. are some of the essential minerals. Vitamins are also required in tiny amounts, and are classified by their chemical and biological activities.
Now that we have understood the different nutrients, we can see how each nutrient has its unique place in the body, lack of which results in deficiency. Various diseases, conditions, and problems pertaining to the body can be prevented and reduced by maintaining a healthy diet. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins furnish the body with the necessary energy to perform day-to-day functions. Proteins are used for repairing and building body tissues. Minerals like calcium are crucial for bone and teeth development. The phytochemicals found in the colorful parts of fruits and vegetables do not help normal body functions, but possess anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties.
Nutrition is important for children as well. This is because their bodies are in the growing and developing stage. However, the sad part is most of the nutrition important for kids is not provided to their bodies. The influence of junk food has deprived their growing bodies of the essential requirements. Junk food furnishes the body with excess of carbohydrates and fats, and less of other essential nutrients. Problems of obesity, malnutrition, etc. can be avoided by maintaining a balanced diet. In case of vitamin deficiencies, one can resort to vitamin supplements. However, excessive consumption of supplements can lead to serious health problems. One should consult a physician before opting for a dietary supplement.