Nutrition has a direct effect on the physiological as well as metabolic processes of the body. Nutrition can be defined as the supply of the necessary materials to the cells and tissues to support life. Nutrition mainly comes in the form of food and a proper nutrition is essential to prevent many health problems.
There are six classes of nutrients which play a key role in keeping you healthy and fit. Those six classes of nutrients include: protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Protein, fat, water and carbohydrate are macronutrients because they are needed in relatively large amounts by your body. Minerals and vitamins, on the other hand, are micronutrients because they are needed in smaller quantities. Macronutrients provide structural materials for the cells and provide energy to tissues.
Protein makes an integral part of many animals’ body structures especially muscles, hair, and skin. It also makes an important component of several enzymes that control chemical reactions within the body. Each molecule of protein is composed of amino acids, which further contain nitrogen and sulphur. Not only amino acids help produce new proteins, but they are also responsible for replacing damaged proteins. Some amino acids can not be produced by our bodies and they are categorized as “essential amino acids”. There are 21 amino acids in a human body, out of which 10 are essential and, therefore, must be included in your diet. One needs adequate amounts of amino acids in certain situations such as development, pregnancy, and injury. Important food sources of protein include tofu, soy-products, meats, legumes, eggs, cheese and milk.
A molecule of fat contains several fatty acids. Fats may be classified as unsaturated or saturated. Unsaturated fats are further categorized as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Moreover, unsaturated fatty acids are classified as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Unsaturated fats mainly come from plant sources and are considered healthier than saturated fats which typically come from animal sources. Important food sources of unsaturated fats include flaxseed oil and olive oil.
Carbohydrates may be classified as polysaccharides, disaccharides, and monosaccharide. Carbohydrates include fibre, sugar, and starches. The important food sources of carbohydrates include grain-based products, bread, noodles, rice, and some pulses. Dietary fibre completely absorbs in humans and helps avoid gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea and constipation.
Dietary minerals are mainly comprised of chemical elements other than oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. They can be categorized into macrominerals and microminerals. Macrominerals are those minerals which are essential for your body with a recommended daily allowance greater than 200mg/day. They include magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, chlorine, phosphorus, and sulphur. Microminerals are required in trace amounts with a recommended daily allowance lesser than 200mg/day. They include cobalt, manganese, nickel, fluoride, copper, chromium, iodine, selenium, zinc and iron.
There are different types of vitamins such as vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E and K. Vitamin deficiencies may result in an impaired immune function, premature aging, certain forms of cancer, disorders of cell metabolism and poor psychological health. Important food sources of vitamins include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
You can supply your body with all of the above mentioned nutrients by either following a balanced diet plan or consuming dietary supplements on a daily basis. You should take a multivitamin, protein powder or meal replacement powder on a regular basis to provide your body with protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals and vitamins.