What Is Nutrition | What Nigerians Need To Know About Nutrition & Diet

What Is Nutrition | What Nigerians Need To Know About Nutrition & Diet

July 16, 2018 1 By mcsenior
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What Is Nutrition: Components Of A Balanced Diet

If I may ask you, what is nutrition? Some people don’t really bother to know to details, information about what they eat. We ask detailed questions about specs before we buy any gadgets, electronics, car etc but we don’t ask question about what we eat, yet we eat on a daily basis.

It is a common advice that you should always eat a balance diet. You hear this almost every day for no other reason than the effect of diet or nutrition on your health and general well-being.

Think about it, why do you have to eat every day? Or probably, let’s say why do some foods make you feel better compared to others?

On this post, Natural Remedy Lab has brought to you again, another life saving information on ‘what is nutrition’ that will change your perception and approach to your dining habits.

What Is Nutrition?

Nutrition is the process of giving the body the nutrients its need on a daily basis through the foods and drinks you eat. The primary purpose of nutrition is to supply and provide the food and nutrients the cells need to function optimally.

The Purpose Of Nutrition

Just as indicated earlier, the primary purpose of nutrition is for maintenance of cells for improved health. The purpose of eating is to supply the basic nutrients the body need even up to the cell level in order for the body to function well as well as prevention and healing of infectious diseases.
In other words, the body needs nutrients to promote growth, maintenance and repair of body tissues.

Categories Of Nutrients

Basically, there are two categories of nutrients; it is either macro-nutrients or micro-nutrients.

Macro-nutrients

They provide the energy in form of calories; they are the nutrients the body need in large quantity or amount. Macro-nutrients include carbohydrates, lipids {fats} and protein.

Micro-nutrients

These are nutrients the body need or require in smaller amounts for normal metabolism, growth and physical well-being. Micro-nutrients include vitamins and minerals essential for prevention and treatment of various disease and health conditions.

Read Also:

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Medical Terminologies: Common Terms Used In Nutrition

What Makes A Balance Diet Or Nutrition?

Before you can say a food or meal is a balance diet, it must contain to a large extent the essential nutrients the body requires.
In a situation where you are not sure of meeting up with the daily required amount of nutrients; you may opt for natural food supplements to meet up.

However, a balance diet contains both macro and micro nutrients. The essential nutrients required in your diet are carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins, fats {lipids & sterols}, enzymes and water.

What Is Nutrition: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the major source of energy to the body; most foods you eat are carbohydrate rich. They are called carbohydrate because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

However, dietary carbohydrates can be split into sugars, starches and fiber. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles as well as brain functions.

Types Of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can either be simple or complex depending on their chemical structure.

Simple Carbohydrates

These are carbohydrates that can be broken down by the body quickly. They are often called simple sugars; found in most natural food source like fruits, vegetables and things that gives food sweet taste.

Meanwhile, simple sugars can also be categorized into single sugars which include fructose, glucose and galactose; double sugars on the other hand include sucrose {table sugar}, lactose and maltose.
You should also note that sugars have no nutritional value or benefits other than provision of energy.

Complex Carbohydrates

These are carbohydrates that take longer time before it can be broken down by the body because it contains more nutrients. They are often referred to starch.
It is widely believed by experts that complex carbohydrates are far better than simple carbohydrates because the later increase the chance of developing diabetes.

Good carbohydrates should contain:

*Low sodium
*Low saturated fat
*Low cholesterol
*Low trans fat
*Low refined sugar
*Low calories
*High nutrients
*High natural fiber

Source of bad carbohydrates include:

*Sugary drinks
*White bread
*Fruit juices
*Pastries
*Cookies & cakes
*Ice-cream
*Candies

Source of good carbohydrates include:

Legumes, Whole wheat bread or pasta, Black beans, Oatmeal
Brown rice, Whole fruits, Wheat bran, All vegetables
Sweet potatoes, Apple, Cherries, Broccoli, Spinach, Blueberries

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What Is Nutrition: Carbohydrates Deficiency

Carbohydrate deficiency occurs when an individual is not getting enough carbs the body need either deliberately or by malnutrition. What happens when there is deficiency of carbohydrates?

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As a matter of fact, many people try to avoid carbs due to weigh gain and other health concerns, but carbs are essential nutrients for source of energy to the body up to the cell level.

In the case of carbs deficiency, the body result into utilizing protein and fats for energy. Carbs deficiency can lead to a medical condition called ketosis. It can also cause hypoglycemia and weight gain; signs of carbohydrates deficiency include:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of energy
  • Depressed mood
  • Constipation

What Is Nutrition: Protein

Protein is needed in your diet on daily basis for body growth and maintenance; It is the most abundant kind of molecules in the body. The tissue, organs, muscles and hormones are all made from protein.

The body constructs protein using the essential amino acids. All the essential amino acids must be complete for it to be used up.
The human body doesn’t store protein; it is expected of you to provide the required protein nutrients through your diet from time to time.

Protein Requirement: How Much Protein Do You Need?

Your body weight, gender, age and level of activities will determine how many daily intake of protein your body need.
Since your body cannot store protein, it is expected that you should apply moderation so as to avoid complications. It is good to eat small amount of protein at regular interval during the day rather than serving a full portion at a go.

Protein Functions: What Protein Does In Your Body

*It helps boost muscle mass
*Protein helps in weight management
*Protein helps in boosting the immune system
*It improves the nervous system
*It stabilizes blood sugar level
*It promotes healthy brain function
*It acts as hormone stabilizer
*It aids maintenance of healthy hair
*It is another source of energy to the body
*Protein helps in cell and tissue regeneration
*Good for healthy bone
*Acts as anti aging agent
*It helps in balancing and regulation of fluids in the body

What Is Nutrition: Protein Deficiency

When you don’t eat food rich in protein, you are depriving your body of the health benefits linked to protein which could return into the following conditions:

  • Low energy
  • Anxiousness
  • Slow metabolism
  • Unstable blood sugar level
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Anemia
  • Shrinking of muscle tissue

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Common Source Of Protein

Here are few among various sources of protein:

Beans, Soy, Yogurt, Nuts, Lentils, Cheese, Brown rice

Oats, Milk, Poultry, Seeds, Peas, Mushrooms, White-meat

Sea foods. Cashew, Avocados, Broccoli, Spinach, Almonds

Peanut butter, Eggs, Guava, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Grass fed beef

What Is Nutrition: Minerals

Your body needs minerals in small amount; they are the essential nutrients needed to keep you healthy. Minerals works to trigger enzymes, which are the catalysts needed to convert dietary nutrients to readily usable forms.
Nutrients like vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates would be wasted in the absence of minerals.

Types Of Minerals

Minerals are needed by the body to grow and function optimally. It can be categorized into either macro or micro minerals.

Macro Minerals: These are minerals that the body requires in higher amounts
Micro Minerals: They are the trace minerals in which the body need in small quantity.

The essential minerals include:

Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur,

Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc

Copper, Manganese, Iodine, Selenium

Molybdenum, Chromium, Fluoride

What Is Nutrition: Major Functions Of Minerals 

The major functions of Macro minerals are:

CALCIUM: Strengthens bones and teeth; Muscle contraction; Blood clotting; Water balance; Nerves function
Source: Milk products; Fish with bones; Soy milk; Legumes; Fortified cereals

PHOSPHORUS: Calcification of teeth and bones; Energy metabolism
Source: Meat; Poultry; Fish; Whole grains; Eggs

SODIUM: Promotes acid-based balance; Water balance; Nerve impulse transmission
Source: Salt, Soy sauce; processed foods; Picked foods

POTASSIUM: Facilitates many reactions especially protein synthesis; Water balance; Nerve transmission; Muscle contraction
Source: Meats; Milk; Fruits; Vegetables, Grains; Legumes

SULFUR: Components of protein; Part of biotin, thiamine, insulin
Source: All protein-containing foods

CHLORIDE: Part of stomach acid; acid based balance; Water balance
Source: Table salt; Soy sauce; Processed foods

MAGNESIUM: Involves in protein synthesis; Muscle contraction; Nerve functions; Bone strength
Source: Whole grains; Nuts; Legumes; Chocolates; Meat; Dark vegetables; Seafood; Cocoa, Soybeans; Potato; Whole wheat

The major functions of micro minerals are:

IRON: Hemoglobin formation; Part of myoglobin in muscle; Used in energy utilization
Source: Red Meat; Fish; Poultry; Eggs; Legumes; Dried fruits; Cereals; Grains

IODINE: Helps make thyroid hormone; an hormone that influences growth and metabolism
Source: Iodized salt; Seafood; Bread; Diary products; Processed foods

ZINC: Part of insulin & enzymes; Vitamin A transport; Wound healing; Fetus & sperm development; Promotes enzymes activity & metabolism
Source: Protein containing foods; Red meat; Seafood; Poultry; Eggs; Diary; Grains

SELENIUM: Antioxidant; Works with vitamin E; Immune system response
Source: Seafood; Meat; Grains

MANGANESE: Essential for normal bone development; Activates enzymes
Source: Whole grains; Legumes; Nuts; Vegetables; Meat; Tea; Coffee

COPPER: Helps the body process iron; Necessary for formation of hemoglobin; Part of energy metabolism enzymes
Source: Organ meat; Shellfish; Nuts; Seeds; Legumes; Peanut butter; Chocolate; Seafood

FLUORIDE: Formation of bones & teeth; Provides resistance to dental cares
Source: Drinking water; Tea; Seafood

CHROMIUM: Controls blood sugar level; Enhances effect of insulin; Aids in metabolism of carbohydrates & lipids
Source: Mushrooms; Dark chocolate; Nuts; Asparagus; Brewer’s yeast; Whole grains; Vegetable oil; Broccoli; Potato; Fish

MOLYBDENUM COBALT: Aids in oxidation reaction as part of vitamin B12; Aids in nerve functions and blood formation
Source: Legumes; Cereals; Grains; Organ meats; Milk products

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What Is Nutrition: Mineral Deficiency

Mineral deficiency can be categorized into five i.e calcium deficiency, Iron deficiency, Magnesium deficiency, Potassium deficiency and Zinc deficiency.

  • Calcium Deficiency can lead to:
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Poor appetite
  • Muscle cramp
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue

Iron Deficiency can lead to:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Frequent infection
  • Hair loss
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Swollen tongue

Magnesium Deficiency can lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Seizure
  • Muscle cramps

Potassium Deficiency will lead to:

  • Muscle cramp
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Irregular heart rhythm

Zinc Deficiency will lead to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Impotence
  • Wounds not healing

What Is Nutrition: Vitamins

Every cell in your body requires vitamins on a daily basis for growth and development. Unlike plants, the human body cannot manufacture the required vitamins thus, the need to receive a constant supply through your diet.
There are 13 known vitamins and the best source of vitamins is from food.

Categories Of Vitamins

Vitamins can be categorized into fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

They are stored in the body’s fatty tissue; they can be easily absorbed more effortlessly by the body. The four fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, & K.

Water Soluble Vitamins

They cannot be stored in the body and must be used up immediately. The excess are being excreted via urine. The two vitamins are B & C; however, the only water soluble vitamin that can be stored in the body is vitamin B12.

Types Of Vitamins

Vitamin A: Healthy Bones, Skin & Teeth; Soft tissue & Mucus membrane
Deficiency: Night blindness; Impaired immune function; Cancer; Birth defects
Source: Liver; Carrot; Cod liver oil; Milk; Egg; Leafy green vegetables; Tomato

Vitamin B1: Breakdown of fats into energy; Improved immune system; Healthy heart function; Healthy nerve cells; Metabolize food for energy
Deficiency: Fatigue; Heart complications; Nerve damage; Shortness of breath; Beriberi
Source: Egg; Legumes; Nuts & Seeds; Whole grains; Grass fed beef; Liver, Fish

Vitamin B2: Energy production; Body growth; Production of red blood cell; Healthy skin & hair; Increased blood flow; Prevents diseases; Prevents tumor; Anti ageing; Antioxidant
Deficiency: Throat swelling; Swollen tongue; Skin cracking; Weakness
Source: Vegetables; Liver; Salmon, Mackerels; Mushrooms; Cereals; Chicken; Turkey; Pork; Grass fed beef; Yogurt

Vitamin B3: Healthy skin & nerves; Energy production; Brain function; Healthy skin; Aids digestive & nervous system; Normal heart function
Deficiency: Skin inflammation; Diarrhea; Fatigue; Vomiting; Memory loss; Headache
Source: Chicken; Turkey; Peanuts; Sunflower seed; Fish; Mushrooms; Liver; Grass fed beef; Avocado; Green peas

Vitamin B5: Food metabolism; Production of hormones & cholesterol; Manufacture of red blood cells
Deficiency: Fatigue; Depression; Muscle cramp; Stomach pain; Insomnia; Upper respiratory infection
Source: Avocado; Organ meat; Poultry; Whole grain; Cereals; Eggs; Legumes; Potatoes

Vitamin B6: Proper brain function; Reduces stress; Healthy metabolism; Liver& nerves function; Red blood cell formation
Deficiency: Seizure; Depression; Anxiety; Dermatitis; Microcytic anemia; Weakened immune system
Source: Grass fed beef liver; Fish; Potato; Poultry; Soy products; Nuts; Sunflower seeds; Turkey; Chicken

Vitamin B7: Healthy nervous system; Carbohydrates & fat metabolism; Supports adrenal function
Deficiency: Hair loss; Depression; Scaly red rash around eye, nose mouth & genitals
Source: Nuts; Milk; Yeast; Pork; Organ meat; Legumes; Chocolate; Cereals; Egg yolk

Vitamin B9: Optimal brain function; Production of RNA & DNA; Brain & fetus development during pregnancy
Deficiency: Fatigue; Prenatal & neonatal birth defects; Cancer; Megatoblastic anemia; Weight loss; Loss of appetite; Diarrhea; Seizure; Blindness, Neurological deterioration
Source: Lentils; Citrus fruits; Beans; Green leafy vegetables; Whole grains; Avocado; Wheat bread

Vitamin B12: Protein metabolism; Formation of red blood cells; Maintenance of the central nervous system; Help create and regulate DNA
Deficiency: poor absorption; Pale skin; Fatigue; Mouth ulcer; Dizziness; Blurred vision; High temperature
Source: Milk; Cheese; Eggs; Meat; Poultry; Soy; Organ meat

Vitamin C: Antioxidant; Healthy teeth & gums; Absorption of iron; Healthy tissue; Wound healing
Deficiency: Hair loss; Swollen or bleeding gums; Rough & scaly skin; Megaloblastic anemia
Source: Citrus fruits; Berries; Vegetables; Watermelon; Milk; Fish

Vitamin D: Bone & muscle health; Absorption of calcium; Maintain proper blood level of calcium & phosphorus; Weight management
Deficiency: Rickets; Fatigue; Bone, muscle & back pain; Depression; Impaired wound healing; Hair & bone loss
Source: Fatty fish; Direct sunlight; Milk; Eggs; Mushrooms; Cod liver oil

Vitamin E: Red blood cell formation; Absorption of vitamin k; Antioxidant; Healthy organ & neurological processes
Deficiency: Impairment of the immune system; Neuromuscular problems; Hemolytic anemia; Neurological problems
Source: Nuts; Vegetable oil; Wheat germ; Seeds; Mangoes; Snail

Vitamin K: Bone health; Prevent heart disease; Prevent bleeding; Blood clot formation
Deficiency: Excessive bleeding & bruising easily; Painful menstrual periods; Bone density loss
Source: Leafy green vegetables; Fish; Liver; Cereals; Eggs; Meat

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What Is Nutrition: Fats & Oil

*Your body need fats to provide energy, absorbs certain nutrients and maintains body temperature and other body functions. Fat is one of the three main macro-nutrients {fat, carbohydrate and protein}.

*It serves both structural and metabolic functions as well as good source of essential fatty acids.

*Oil helps the intestine to absorb and store fat soluble vitamins in the body fat. Oil is essential for healthy cell membrane, source of energy and fuel for brain cell.

*Oil is usually liquid at room temperature while fats are usually solid at room temperature.

Types Of Fats & Oil

Vegetable Fats / Oil
This contains all fats / oil that have plant origin. Unlike vegetable fats that are usually solid at room temperature, vegetable oil is always liquid at room temperature.

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Both fats and oil are triglyceride extracted from a plant, they can be consumed directly or indirectly as ingredients in food. It helps prevent heart disease and promote cell growth.

Hydrogenated Oil
This are oil products that has been altered by adding hydrogen and pressure to form a solid fat e.g. margarine. This is usually carried out to increase the shelf life and save cost. Hydrogenated fats are considered bad for human health because it contains high trans fat which has no nutritional value.

Essential Oil
It is called essential oil because it contains scent or essence of the plant’s fragrance which it is derived from i.e. it has the same odor with the plant it is made from.

Essential oils are derived from natural substances for its medicinal and healing properties. Common essential oil contains olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and grape seed oil.

Macerated Oil
It is also known as infused oil, these are vegetable oil that herbs, flowers and other natural matters have been added. The base oil usually contains olive, coconut or sunflower oil. This type of oil is usually used in combination of two or more oil.

Fatty Acids
Fats need to be broken down into fatty acids before it can be absorbed into the blood. They are the building blocks of the fats in your body and food you eat.

It serves as energy storage; there are two known essential fatty acids for human need: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Both cannot be synthesized in the body, thus, must be obtained from food.
The common source of essential fatty acids include: flax seed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, Brussels sprout and fish oil.

What Is Nutrition: Fat & Oil Deficiency

Here are signs or symptoms to show you are not having enough fats and oil in your diet:

  • Dry / Scaly skin
  • Cognitive problems
  • Poor body temperature regulation
  • Indigestion
  • Immune weakness
  • Splitting finger nails
  • Fatigue
  • Night blindness

Trans Fatty Acids Or Saturated Fat

They are usually solid at room temperature; common in products like butter, meat fats, margarine and pre-packaged items. It is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to solidify it thereby increasing the shelf life and reducing the cost.
Trans fat is known to be bad for you because it increases the risk of developing high cholesterol level in the blood, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases.

Unsaturated Fats

These are fats that are liquid at room temperature; they are known to improve your health tremendously. There are two types of unsaturated fats:
Polyunsaturated fats helps the body get rid of newly formed cholesterol and reduce cholesterol build-up in the artery wall.
Monounsaturated fats may become solid when chilled; it helps lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sources Of Healthy Fats & Oil

Avocado, Coconut oil, Extra virgin olive oil, Omega-3 from fish
Nuts & Seeds, Eggs, Full fat diary, Dark chocolate, Walnuts
Salmon, Tuna, Sunflower seeds

What Is Nutrition: Enzymes

Enzymes as well as other nutrients are essential in the body. Enzymes are body catalysts; they speed up a biochemical reaction that would otherwise proceed at a much slower rate.

Enzymes helps transform raw materials into body cells, store clycogen in the liver and muscles, change carbohydrates into fats and transform protein into sugar and fats.

The digestive process of the intestinal tract is those that perform the finishing touches and final preparations before nutrients can be absorbed. Digestion requires three types of enzymes:

Proteins require protein digestive enzymes to break them down into their absorbable amino acid components.
Carbohydrates require carbolic enzymes to break them down into their absorbable simple sugar components.
Fats require lipid-digesting enzymes to break them down into absorbable fatty acids components.

Without adequate enzymes production, digestion might be difficult.

What Is Nutrition: Enzyme Deficiency

Inadequate enzymes in the body will cause the following:

*Brain fog
*Indigestion
*Fatigue
*Insomnia
*Degenerative disease
*Body odor
*Heartburn
*Constipation
*Diarrhea
*Floating
*Cramps

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What Is Nutrition: Water

The human body comprises of 60% water; water is needed to maintain balanced body fluid which aids digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients and maintenance of body temperature.
Water is needed for all general body functions including skin health, hair health, muscle health, digestive process and weight loss.

Water Deficiency

When you are not getting enough fluid or water, the following might happen:

*Dehydration
*Kidney failure
*Fatigue
*Fever
*Premature aging
*Digestive diseases
*Unbalance pH
*Eczema
*Urinary tract infections
*Rheumatism
*Brain damage

Bottom Line!!!
The role of nutrition in disease prevention and control is backed by science. It is high time you started controlling what you eat, how you and when you eat to stay healthy. Just like the popular saying: ‘Health Is Wealth’ and also ‘You Are What You It’. Think and act on this information.

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