Human nutrition is the process through which nutrients that are biomolecules such as vitamins, proteins, and trace elements present in the food substances are transported to the body tissues thus accelerating biological activity including physical and mental essential for human life. The field of nutritional science is interdisciplinary in character, promoting optimal health, regulating chemical processes, preventing chronic diseases, boosting immunity, and reducing the risk of nutritional deficiency diseases. Nutrients are those compounds that the body either can’t make at all or can’t make in sufficient quantity therefore, they can be provided through diet. These substances are required by the body to perform one or more of the following basic functions-
- To provide energy for proper metabolism
- Contribute to body structure
- Regulate chemical and biological processes in the body
These basic functions allow living beings to detect and respond to environmental surroundings, move, excrete wastes, respire, grow, and reproduce. Essential nutrients can be broken into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are eaten in bulk and include the energy-providing chemical substances to coordinate a range of physiological functions. They are carbon-based compounds that supply raw materials for tissue building to maintain body functions and carry out the activities of daily life. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients and perform vital functions. Micronutrients expedite the metabolic processes throughout the body. There are six main groups of essential micronutrients and macronutrients required for the body to function and maintain overall health.
Water acts as a shock absorber and a lubricant that provides the medium in which all the biochemical reactions of metabolism occur. It further improves the functioning of the brain. Water can regulate the temperature and maintain the blood pressure of the body; therefore, water intake is advised especially with increased sweat loss in hot climates or during vigorous physical activity. Carbohydrates are the major supplier of energy to the body composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They are further categorized into simple and complex carbohydrates. Lipids provide more energy per gram than carbohydrates and assist in vitamin absorption in the small intestine. Proteins are macromolecules that serve as the basic structural material of the body and catalyze chemical reactions in the body. Proteins are made of up essential and non-essential amino acids. They are used to build and repair tissues which in turn helps in fighting infection. The body needs organic compounds referred to as vitamins to support its functions such as energy-yielding reactions and facilitating metabolic and physiologic processes. The 13 essential vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Vitamins are required to perform many functions in the body such as boosting the immune system, supporting normal vision, and lowering the risk of lung and prostate cancer. Minerals are solid inorganic substances essential for many body functions, including building strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting, and growth and development. On the basis of nutritional characteristics, food is grouped into cereals, vegetables, meat, milk, legumes, starchy roots, fats, and beverages.
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