Nutrition is the relationship of foods to the health of the human body .

Proper nutrition means that you are receiving enough foods and supplements for

the body to function at optimal capacity. It is important to remember that no

single nutrient or activity can maintain optimal health and well being, although

it has been proven that some nutrients are more important than others. All of

the nutrients are necessary in different amounts along with exercise to maintain

proper health.

There are six main types of nutrients used to maintain body health.

They are: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water . They

all must be in balance for the body to function properly. There are also five

major food groups. The groups are: fats and oils, fruits and vegetables, dairy

products, grains, and meats.

Exercise is also an important part of nutrition. Exercise helps tone

and maintain muscle tissue and ensure that the body's organs stay in good

condition. Healthy eating without exercise will not result in good nutrition

and a healthy body - neither will exercise without nutrition. The most

important thing about exercise is that it be practiced regularly and that it be

practiced in accompaniment with a healthy diet. It is also desirable to

practice more that one sport as different sports exercise different areas of the

body. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the sources of energy for the body.

The contained energy is expressed in calories. There are 9 calories per gram in

fat and there are about 4 calories per gram in proteins and carbohydrates .

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body. This energy is mostly

used for muscle movement and digestion of food. Some sources of carbohydrates

are : grains, fruits, vegetables, and anything else that grows out of the ground.

The energy in carbohydrates is almost instantly digested. This results in a

quick rise in blood sugar which is soon followed by a drop in blood sugar which

is interpreted by the body as a craving for more sugars. This sugar low may

also result in fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, and headache. However, not all

carbohydrates do this. Most fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are

digested more slowly. Fats, which are lipids, are the source of energy that is

the most concentrated. Fats produce more that twice the amount of energy that

is in carbohydrates or proteins. Besides having a high concentration of energy,

fat acts as a carrier for the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. Also, by

helping in the absorption of vitamin D, fats help make calcium available to

various body tissues, in particular, the bones and teeth. Another function of

fat is to convert carotene to vitamin A. Fat also helps keep organs in place by

surrounding them in a layer of fat. Fat also surrounds the body in a layer that

preserves body temperature and keeps us warm. One other function of fat is to

slow the production of hydrochloric acid thereby slowing down digestion and

making food last longer. Some sources of fats are meats and nuts as well as

just plain oils and fats. Proteins, besides water, are the most plentiful

substance in the body. Protein is also one of the most important element for

the health of the body. Protein is the major source of building material in the

body and is important in the development and growth of all body tissues.

Protein is also needed for the formation of all hormones. It also helps

regulate the body's water balance. When proteins are digested they are broken

down into simpler sections called amino acids. However, not all proteins will

contain all the necessary amino acids. Most meat and dairy products contain all

necessary amino acids in their proteins. Proteins are available from both

plants and animals. However, Animal proteins are more complete and thus

desirable. Knowledge of the nutrients and their function is essential to

understanding the importance of good nutrition. As mentioned above, there are

six nutrients. All vitamins are organic food substances that are found only in

living things, plants and animals . It is believed that there are about twenty

substances that are active as vitamins in human nutrition . Every vitamin is

essential to the proper growth and development of the body. With a few

exceptions, the body cannot make vitamins and must be supplied with them.

Vitamins contain no energy but are important as enzymes which help speed up

nearly all metabolic functions. Also, vitamins are not building components of

body tissues, but aid in the construction of these tissues. It is impossible to

reliably determine the vitamin requirements of an individual because of

differences in age, sex, body size, genetic makeup, and activity. A good source

of a recommendation is the RDA. The RDA makes it's recommendations based on

studies of consumption of the given nutrient. On the recommendation it will

usually specify what size diet the recommendation is based on, for example, a

two thousand calorie per day diet. It is harmless to ingest excess of most

vitamins. However, some vitamins are toxic in large amounts. Vitamin A is a fat

soluble vitamin which is only available in two forms. Pre-formed, which is

found in animal tissue. The other is carotene, which can be converted into

Vitamin A by animals . Carotene is found in easily found in carrots as well as

other vegetables . Vitamin A is important to the growth and repair of body

tissues and helps maintain a smooth, soft, and disease free skin. It also helps

protect the mucus membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs which reduces

the chance of infection. Another function is helping mucus membranes combat the

effects of air pollutants. Vitamin A also protects the soft lining of all the

digestive tract. Another function of vitamin A is to aid in the secretion of

gastric juices. The B complex vitamins have many known sub-types, but they all

are water soluble vitamins. The B vitamins can be cultivated from a variety of

bacteria, yeast, fungi, or molds . They are active in the body by helping the

body convert carbohydrates into glucose, a form of sugar. B vitamins are also

vital in the metabolism of proteins and fats. They are also the single most

important element in the health of the nerves. B vitamins are also essential

for the maintenance of the gastrointestinal tract, the health of the skin, hair,

eyes, mouth, liver, and muscle tone. The intestine contain a bacteria that

produces vitamin b but milk-free diets, and taking sulfonamides or antibiotics

can destroy these bacteria . Whole grains contain high concentrations of B

complex vitamins. Also, enriched bread and cereal products contain high

concentrations of B vitamins due to a governmental intervention of the whole

food group to ensure that the nation was getting enough B vitamins Vitamin C,

also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin. It is sensitive to

oxygen and is the least stable of all vitamins . One primary function of

vitamin C is to maintain collagen, a protein necessary for the formation of skin,

ligaments, and bones. Vitamin C also plays a role in healing of burns and

wounds because it aids the formation of scar tissue. It also helps form red

blood cells and prevent hemorrhaging. Another function is to prevent the

disease, scurvy, which used to be seen in sailors because of their lack of

vitamin C in their diet. This was corrected by issuing each sailor one lime per

day which supplied citric acid, a source of vitamin C. Other sources include

broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Strawberries, Oranges, and grapefruits . Vitamin E

is a fat soluble vitamin which is made up of a group of compounds called

tocoherols. There are seven forms of it but the form known as Alpha tocoherol

is the most potent . Tocoherols occur in the highest concentrations in cold

pressed vegetable oils, all whole raw seeds and nuts, and soybeans. Vitamin E

plays an essential role in cellular respiration of all muscles, especially the

cardiac and skeletal. It makes these muscles able to function with less oxygen,

thereby increasing efficiency and stamina. It also is an antioxidant, which

prevents oxidization. This prevents saturated fatty compounds from breaking

down and combining to form toxic compounds. Minerals are nutrients that exist

in the body and in organic and inorganic combinations . There are approximately

seventeen minerals that are necessary in human nutrition . Although only about

four or five percent of the body weight is mineral matter, minerals are

important to overall mental and physical health. All of the body's tissues and

fluids contain some amount of mineral. Minerals are necessary for proper muscle

function and many other biological reactions in the body. Minerals are also

important in the production of hormones. Another important function of minerals

is to maintain the delicate water balance of the body and to regulate the

blood's pH. Physical and emotional stress causes a strain on the body's supply

of minerals. A mineral deficiency often results in illness, which may be

treated by the addition of the missing mineral to the diet. Calcium, a primary

mineral, is available through dairy products. In order to get all the other

minerals, one should eat protein rich foods, seeds, grains, nuts, greens, and

limited amounts of salt or salty foods. Nutrition is just one aspect of total

body health. It is important to remember that on must compliment good nutrition

with good exercise and emotional health in order to achieve complete well being.

It is also important to remember that no one part of nutrition will completely

fulfill the body's requirements for health. 

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