Nutrition is the physiological and biochemical process by which an organism uses food to sustain its existence. It involves absorption, assimilation, production, secretion, metabolism, and excretion as part of the entire process of life. It is a study of the relations between nutrition and health. It is concerned with the methods and effects of nutrition on the development of different living organisms. Nutrition has a key role in protecting the health and welfare of the human population.
Nutrition is an interesting branch of science dealing with the relationships between nutrition, health, technology, and food choices. There are many books on nutrition written by numerous authors that can be found in libraries. The first chapter in a book on nutrition is called; “Encyclopedia of nutrition”. A detailed description of the various types of nutrition is included. The term ‘nutrient’ is used in this context to denote any of the substances required for the sustenance of the body. These substances may be inclusive of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins.
The scope of nutrition is huge and varies significantly from one culture to another. In many countries like India and China, the nutrition practices are quite different from those in the Western world. Most of the food choices in these countries are limited to few kinds of rich and creamy foods that are not digestible.
Nutrition is important in ensuring that the diet is well balanced and contains all the essential nutrients for the well-being of the individual. For this purpose different kinds of diets are recommended in different situations. Diets that include a lot of fruits and vegetables are very beneficial to the health of an individual. Fruits are rich in vitamin C and so they have a major role in maintaining healthy skin and teeth. Some of the commonly used fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, green beans, watermelon, oranges, bananas, carrots, melons, and grapes.
A well-balanced diet should contain all the nutrients for the development of young and healthy cells. If the diet does not contain a balance of the right kinds of nutrients the result can be unhealthy skin, weak nails and hair, and an imbalanced constitution of the body. The right kind of nutrients for the growth and development of the cells should be included in the diet. Some of these nutrients are the B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, fatty acids, and the likes.
The main constituents of balanced diets are animal foods and plant foods. The animal foods include meat, fish, milk, eggs, poultry, and hides. The plant foods are vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts. It is important that animal products should constitute the major part of the diet while plant foods make up a minor portion of the total calories. Foods that constitute a major part of the diet but are consumed in small quantities may lead to bad health because of the deficiency of some nutrients.