What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is all about the nutrients and how the body uses those nutrients in foods.Nutrition otherwise called as nourishment or aliment.Nutrition  is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life.

Nutrition includes the process of ingestion, digestion, absorption, metabolism, transport, storage and excretion of those nutrients. It also includes the environmental, psychological and behavioral aspects of food and eating.

Why is Nutrition Important?

Nutrients are very essential for a balanced diet and it also plays a vital role in keeping our body healthier.

The nutrients in our food includes:

 carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

1.Carbohydrates  act as a fuel to provide us with energy and aids in building block for other nutrients. Carbohydrates occur as either starches or sugars. The most useful carbohydrates are those found in cereal foods, such as breads, rice, pasta, oats, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, dried beans and peas. Any surplus is converted by the body and stored as fat.

2.Fats gives energy to our body.It act as a layer on the body for insulation, to keep out the cold and to protect against injury. The chief sources are butter, margarine, cooking oils as well as fats in foods such as cheese, meats and snack foods. The surplus fat we eat is converted into stored body fat, so it is important not to eat too much fat.

3.A variety of Proteins is needed by the body for carrying out its proper growth,repair and maintenance functions. Protein foods includes cereals,breads, milk,cheese, meats,eggs and fish. Functions -- basic structural unit, needed in metabolism, hormone, antibody and DNA production.

cartoon fruits and vegetables basket

4.Vitamins are of two classes,
  • Water soluble -- B & C
  • Fat soluble -- A, D, E, K
Functions -- skeleton, protein synthesis, oxygen transport, fluid and acid-base balance in body, enzyme reactions.Vitamins are highly complex, and fragile, organic compounds which are essential to maintain a healthy body. Small amounts must be absorbed from food each day, as generally they can't be synthesized by the body.The requirement for vitamins increases with age.

5.Minerals are of two classes 1.Major minerals 2. Minor Minerals ,  required for on-going health. Functions -- skeleton, protein synthesis, oxygen transport, fluid and acid-base balance in body, enzyme reactions.

Some of the main minerals are given :

Calcium is found primarily in milk and cheese, but also in vegetables. Calcium plays a large part in the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, as well as playing a part in blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve impulses.

Iron is necessary for the production of blood. Bloods cells are being created and destroyed at a rate of about 2 million per second, with red blood cells having a life-span of about 120 days. Despite this astounding output, the daily requirement of iron is about 0.012g per day, which can be gained from foods such as beef, muesli, wholemeal cereals, nuts, baked beans, oats, eggs and fish.

Phosphorus, like magnesium and calcium, is used in bone and tooth formation, as well as enzyme activity in metabolism. Found in foods rich in protein, it is also found in whole grains, nuts and seed.

Zinc is an essential trace element, which has a variety of functions in the body. It is related to the absorption and action of vitamins, and it is a constituent of many enzymes. It is also a component of insulin. Like all trace elements, zinc is found in protein foods like meats, sea foods, and nuts. Wholegrain cereals, milk and eggs are also good sources.

6.Water is the most crucial nutrient.We have to drink enough water daily for the healthy body maintenance.Water deprivation ---> dehydration ---> electrolyte imbalance ---> death
Functions in transport, chemical reactions, temperature maintenance, lubrication, etc.

Recently Scientists have identified a compounds in plant foods called phytochemicals,not a nutrient but provides a variety of health benefits when consumed as a part of a balanced diet. Examples of phytochemicals include lycopene (the red pigment in tomatoes), isoflavonoids in soybeans and capsacin (the flavor compounds in hot peppers).

Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet. Diet is an important factor in heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, diabetes mellitus and obesity.A poor diet may have an injurious impact on health, causing deficiency diseases such as scurvy and kwashiorkor; health-threatening conditions like obesity and metabolic syndrome; and such common chronic systemic diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes,and osteoporosis.


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