There are so many reasons why nutrition is important for our health and wellness. The first, and most obvious, is a simple fact that we need food to survive. However, our food choices can have a direct effect on our overall health.
Our food choices affect our health in many ways. For example, the foods we eat help our bodies with digestion, healing, and brain function. They also supply our bodies with the necessary nutrients we need to survive.
The importance of nutrition for overall health and wellbeing is becoming more and more recognized. In our society, we often focus on what to eat after a workout or how to lose weight, but the overall importance of proper nutrition cannot be overstated.
Putting food on our plate and then choosing what we consume can have a huge impact on our health. Some food choices can make us feel better and some can actually make us feel worse. We will take a look at what nutrition is and the reasons why nutrition is important.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of providing or getting food, for living organisms. We all can’t live without it. It provides our bodies with fuel, which it needs to function properly.
The nutrients from food are broken down into their component parts and then transported to where they’re needed in the body.
Different kinds of food provide us with different kinds of nutrients. Some examples include protein, calcium, vitamins, potassium, iodine, zinc, and iron. There are three main types of nutrients in food: carbohydrates, fats, proteins and water.
Macronutrients are nutrients found in food that provide the body with energy and other essential functions. Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
These nutrients play an important role in every aspect of the body’s health and performance; they allow you to do everything from completing tasks at work to exercising or just being alive.
Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients in the diet. Carbohydrates are sugars that the body breaks down into glucose for energy.
Carbohydrates provide a steady flow of glucose to the bloodstream which is the key to maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
Simple carbohydrates can be found in some fruits and vegetables which break down quickly in the body because these are low-glycemic carbs.
Complex carbohydrates break down more slowly and are usually found in grains, potatoes, and bread.
Fats are another of the three main macronutrients in the diet. Fats are needed for energy and are transported throughout the body as fuel. Fats also help create hormones and regulate our immune system.
Fats can be found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and even in oils.
It can come from plant, animal, or synthetic sources. Fat is a type of nutrient found in food that contains more than twice as many calories per gram than either carbohydrates or protein.
Without it, your body would not be able to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, keep our skin and hair healthy, or produce hormones like testosterone.
Protein is a nutrient that helps with tissue repair and the growth of muscles. It provides energy for all of the body’s processes and is the building block for the cells in your body.
It helps with weight management because it can maintain your appetite, serve as a substitute for carbohydrates, and slow down fat production.
Protein is a necessary nutrient in our diet. Proteins are broken into amino acids, which are the building blocks for cells.
Examples of foods that contain protein are eggs, lean meats, legumes, nuts and beans, soy products, whole grains and milk products.
Water is one of the most important nutrients for humans. It makes up about 60-70% of weight in the average person, daily water intake should be close to 1-1.5 liters each day.
When hydrated, the body benefits from improved immune function, improved digestion and absorption of nutrients, better circulation, and less cardiovascular strain.
Those who drink less than this amount are more prone to fatigue and dehydration, among other things.
Not only do we need to be drinking enough water every day to stay healthy, but we also need to be eating certain foods in order to maximize the benefits of our consumption of water and to ensure that this vital nutrient is getting into our cells and doing what it needs to do.
Micronutrients are nutrients that our body requires in small amounts, such as vitamins and minerals. These nutrients play a key role in our bodies’ metabolism and could help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Today, many people do not get enough micronutrients because they do not eat enough variety of foods or purchase nutrient-rich foods.
Micronutrients are essential to the human body in the sense that they provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes, and other substances. Micronutrients are not produced by the body (except vitamin d) but rather must come from food or dietary supplements.
Some of these micronutrients include magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin K1, vitamin K2 etc. A deficiency in any of these can result in serious health complications such as anemia or osteoporosis.
A healthy diet should consist of all foods that are essential for one’s well-being. The human body needs vitamins to function properly because they are responsible for the metabolic processes that occur in the body.
There are thirteen major types of vitamins and four main food groups (not including supplements) that supply our bodies with these important nutrients.
Vitamins can be either water-soluble or fat-soluble; this dictates how they are stored by the body, and how long they last in the system.
The term “water-soluble vitamins” refers to a collection of vitamins, including vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, that dissolve in water.
|Vitamin||Possible Benefits||Deficiency Causes||Recommended Daily Allowance||Food Sources|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||Energy release, Maintaining nervous system, Growth development, Cell function||Loss of appetite, Constipation, Tiredness, Blurry vision, Heart rate changes, Nausea & vomiting||Men 1.2 mg, Women 1.1 mg||Rice, Wholegrain breads, Fortified cereals, Liver, Peas, Nuts|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||Converts carbohydrate to ATP, Protects digestive tract||Anemia, Sore throat, Skin inflammation||Men 1.3 mg, Women 1.1 mg||Fish, Meat, Nuts, Pumpkins, Parsley, Avocados, Sweet potatoes|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||Increase HDL cholesterol, Lower Triglycerides, Lower LDL cholesterol||Skin inflammation, Diarrhea, Dementia||Men 16 mg, Women 14 mg||Fortified cereals, Chicken, Fish, Brown rice, Peanuts|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||Lowers triglyceride, Increase HDL, Lowers LDL||Numbness, Tiredness, Digestive pain||Men, 5 mg, Women 5 mg||Beef liver, Breakfast cereals, Shitake mushrooms, Sunflower seeds, Chicken, Tuna, Avocados|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxamine, pyridoxal)||Hemoglobin production, Immune system function, Increase mood||Anemia, Itchy rashes, Scaly lips, Weak immune system||Men 1.7 mg, Women 1.5 mg||Poultry, Fish, Organ meats, Potatoes, Starchy vegetables, Fruit|
|Vitamin B7 (biotin)||Treat diabetes, More nail thickness, Better hair health||Hair thinning, Loss of body hair, Eyes rash, Brittle nails, Skin infection, Nervous system disorders, High levels of acid in blood and urine||Men 30 mcg, Women 30 mcg||Meat, Fish, Eggs, Organ meats, Seeds, Nuts|
|Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate)||Reduces risk of cancer, Creates DNA, Prevents neural tube defects, Reduces depression, Prevents heart disease||Fatigue, Neural tube defects, Low birth weight, Anemia, Headache||Men 400 mcg, Women 400 mcg||Beef liver, Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Orange, Nuts, Beans, Peas|
|Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)||Reduces risk of cancer, Prevents heart disease, More Energy||Tiredness, Anemia, Pale skin, Heart palpitations, Loss of appetite, Infertility hands numbness, Nerve problems||Men 2.4 mcg, Women 2.4 mcg||Fish, Meat & Poultry, Eggs, Milk, Beef liver, Breakfast cereals, Nutritional yeasts|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||Reduces risk of cancer, Prevents cardiovascular disease, Lowers risk of AMD, Lowers common cold symptoms||Scurvy, Fatigue, Gum inflammation, Red spots on skin, Joint pain, Poor wound healing||Men 90 mg, Women 75 mg||Oranges, Grapefruit, Red and Green pepper, Kiwifruit, Broccoli, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Baked potatoes, Tomatoes|
Fat-soluble vitamins are a type of vitamin that dissolves in fat and not water. These vitamins are A, D, E and K. Vitamin D can be obtained from exposure to sunlight or through vitamin supplementation.
|Vitamin||Possible Benefits||Deficiency Causes||Recommended Daily Allowance||Food Sources|
|Vitamin A (retinol)||Lowers risk of AMD, Prevents measles||Premature Infants, Eye disease In children, Measles||Men 900 mcg, Women 700 mcg||Beef liver, Sweet potato, Spinach, Pumpkin pie, Carrots, Ricotta cheese|
|Vitamin D (ergocalciferol)||Prevent osteoporosis, Prevent falls, Reduces risk of cancer||Bone pain, Muscle weakness, Rickets in children||Men 15 mcg, Women 15 mcg||Milk, Breakfast cereals, Trout, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel|
|Vitamin E (tocopherol)||Prevents AMD||Crohn’s disease, Cystic fibrosis, Nerve damage, Muscle damage, Weak immune system||Men 15 mg, Women 15 mg||Wheat germ oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Spinach, Broccoli, Breakfast cereal|
|Vitamin K (menaquinone)||Reduces risk of coronary heart disease, Reduces risk of osteoporosis||Bruising, Bleeding, Osteoporosis||Men 120 mcg, Women 90 mcg||Blueberries, Figs, Meat, Cheese, Eggs, Soybeans|
Minerals are inorganic elements that are required for a variety of functions in the body, including enzyme production and blood clotting.
Minerals can be obtained from a wide range of foods that one eats on a daily basis, such as milk and bread. There are two types of minerals: macrominerals and microminerals.
Macrominerals are essential nutrients found in our food or available through supplementation. They include but are not limited to, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, chloride, and sodium. These minerals are often called “macros” because they are required in large amounts by the human body.
|Macrominerals||Possible Benefits||Deficiency Causes||Recommended Daily Allowance||Food Sources|
|Calcium||Supports bone health, Could prevent preeclampsia||Osteoporosis, Rickets, Soft bones, Risk of falling||Men 1000 mg, Women 1200 mg||Sunlight, Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Canned sardines, Kale, Broccoli|
|Magnesium||Lower blood pressure, Reduces risk of heart disease, Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes, Reduces risk of osteoporosis, Less migraine headaches||Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Weakness||Men 400–420 mg, Women 310–320 mg||Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Whole grains, Spinach, Fortified breakfast|
|Sulfur||Reduces risk of heart disease, Reduces joint pain, Reduces muscle pain, Reduces risk of brain disease||Inflammation, Joint pain, Osteoporosis, Poor immune system, Less muscle mass||Men 14 mg/Kg, Women 14 mg/Kg||Eggs, Sesame seeds flour, Cheese, Brazil nuts, Soy protein concentrate, Chicken, Fish|
|Phosphorus||Strong bones, strong teeth, aids muscles contraction, helps muscle recovery after exercise||Loss of appetite, Anemia, Muscle weakness, Coordination issues, Bone pain||Men 700 mg, Women 700 mg||Yogurt, Milk, Cheese, Bread, Brown rice, Oatmeal, Meats, Fish|
|Potassium||Lower blood pressure, Reduced risk of kidney stones, Better bone health||Higher blood pressure, calcium depletion, risk of kidney stones||Men 3,400 mg, Women 2,600 mg||Dried apricots, Prunes, Bananas, Potatoes, Spinach, Lentils, Kidney beans|
|Chloride||Aids muscle contraction, Nerve function, Supports digestion, Body fluid balance, Aids body oxygenation||Body fluid loss, Dehydration, Tiredness, Stomach irritation||Men 3g, Women 3g||Fish, Meat, Table salt, Soy sauce|
|Sodium||Body fluid balance, Supports muscle function, Supports Nerve function||Fatigue, Headaches, Weakness, Vomiting, Muscle cramps||Men 2,300 mg, Women 2,300 mg||Table salt, Canned meat, Burritos, Ravioli, Salted nuts, Canned beans|
Microminerals are minerals that are necessary for human life but that need to be consumed in small doses. Microminerals are copper, fluoride, zinc, selenium, iron, cobalt, iodine and manganese. Microminerals are also essential for the growth of bones and teeth as well as for the production of red blood cells.
|Microminerals||Possible Benefits||Deficiency Causes||Recommended Daily Allowance||Food Sources|
|Copper||Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease||Hypopigmentation, Connective tissue issues, Osteoporosis, Bone defects||Men 900 mcg, Women 900 mcg||Beef, Liver, Potatoes, Mushrooms, Cashew nuts, Sunflower seeds, Turkey,Tofu|
|Fluoride||Reduced risk of tooth decay, Reduced risk of bone fractures||Tooth decay, Bone fractures||Men 4 mg, Women 3 mg||Tea, Coffee, Water, Raisins, Oatmeal, Grapefruit juice, Potatoes|
|Zinc||Supports Immune system, Aids wound healing, Reduced risk of diarrhea, Reduce duration of common cold||Growth retardation, Loss of appetite, Immune system issues, Hair loss, Diarrhea||Men 11 mg, Women 8 mg||Beef chuck roast, Beef patty, Baked beans, Breakfast cereal, Chicken, Pumpkin seeds, Yogurt|
|Selenium||Reduced risk of Cancer, Reduced risk of heart disease, Better cognitive function, Better thyroid function||Heart disease, Male infertility, Arthritis||Men 55 mcg, Women 55 mcg||Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Dairy products, Breads, Cereals|
|Iron||Reduced risk of anemia, Brain development in children, Hemoglobin production||Less hemoglobin, Stomach upset, Tiredness, Less energy||Men 8 mg, Women 8 mg||Lean meat, Poultry, Fortified breakfast cereal, White beans, Lentils, Spinach, Kidney beans, Nuts|
|Cobalt||Aids mitochondria conversion, Supports DNA synthesis, Reduced risk of anemia||Anemia, Nervous system issues, Weakness||Men 1-2 mcg, Women 1-2 mcg||Fish, Nuts, Broccoli, Spinach, Oats|
|Iodine||Thyroid hormone production, Supports infant development, Reduced risk of fibrocystic breast disease||Thyroid issues, Nervous system issues, Fetus growth issues, Stunted growth||Men 150 mcg, Women 150 mcg||Seaweed, Bread, Cod, Yogurt, Milk, Iodized table salt, Egg|
|Manganese||Supports bone health, Reduced risk of diabetes||Weak bones, Poor growth in children, Skin problems, Men hair color loss||Men 2.3 mg, Women 1.8 mg||Brown rice, Oatmeal, Whole-wheat bread, Hazelnuts and pecans, Soybeans, Lentils, Spinach, Pineapple, Tea|
Why is nutrition important for physical activity?
Healthy eating is key for individuals engaging in any type of physical activity. In the United States alone, people spend over $60 billion a year on sports and fitness but only 1 out of 4 people have a healthy diet.
The importance of nutrition for physical activities shines light on the importance of being mindful about what we eat and drink before, during, and after exercising.
A person’s health is directly impacted by the foods they consume. What someone eats can affect their performance in sports, in their jobs, and even in everyday life.
Many people don’t realize that what they eat impacts their physical endurance or energy levels.
For example, studies have found that eating an inadequate amount of protein can lead to fatigue during exercise while eating too many carbohydrates can lead to decreased mental clarity and a crash in energy levels after a meal.
When we eat, our body takes in nutrients from food and drinks that help it work properly. Proper nutrition helps with the normal function of our body.
Tips for Healthy Eating
- Eat a variety of food
- Eat your veggies
- Healthy fats are important
- Protein is good for you
- Drink lots of water
- Cut bad sugars
How many types of diets are there?
The different types of diets out there have varying levels of success. Dieting has been a tried and true practice for many years, but with so many different fad diets available it can be difficult to know where to start. The first step is identifying the type of diet that will best suit your health.
Some people follow vegan, vegetarian, and paleo diets, while others eat gluten-free or atkins. However you want to eat, there’s a diet for you somewhere on the internet.
The great thing about dieting is that it is up to the individual to decide what is right for them and their lifestyle.
In conclusion, staying healthy is very important for our longevity and quality of life. Proper nutrition can help prevent many diseases as well as promote weight loss.
Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as well as drinking water instead of sugary drinks will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Our mental health, including time spent thinking about food, stress levels and stress management, are all affected by our food choices. Follow the advice in this article to help you make the best choices for your health and fitness.
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