Nutrition is one of the characteristics of living things. It is a foundation for health and development because it enables us to obtain and utilize materials for metabolic activities such as growth, respiration, excretion, and reproduction.
Good nutrition, therefore, plays a vital role in promoting and developing the health and survival of both adults and children.
Malnutrition contributes to about 70% of the childhood mortality rate. WHO defined Nutrition as a process whereby living organisms utilize food for the maintenance of life, growth, and normal function of organs and tissue and the production of energy.
By definition, nutrition is the science of food, nutrients, and other substances therein which provides us with energy for normal functioning of the body.
We have different types of nutrition, but we are focused on animal nutrition which has to do with us.
There are two major types of animal nutrition
- Macronutrients: These are required in a large proportion of our diets. They are measured in kilograms (kg) or grams (g) and are the main energy-giving nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats and lipids, and water.
- Micronutrients: These are required in a small proportion of our diets and are the main regulators of body processes such as minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. They are measured in milligrams and micrograms.
Importance of Nutrition to us
- Energy Provision for work
- Provision of material for body structure, repairs, and growth.
- Keeping the body healthy against diseases.
- Regulating and controlling body processes.
The term “poor nutrition” does not only necessarily mean malnutrition. Eating too many calories or ‘anyhow’ can be poor nutrition.
Poor nutrition starts in utero and extends through the lifecycle. Malnutrition through lifestyle during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy negatively impacts the birth weight of future babies. It also spans generations.
A healthy diet helps children grow and develop properly and reduces their risk of chronic diseases. Whereas adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancer. People with chronic diseases can be able to manage these diseases while eating healthy and avoiding complications.
According to the online CDC, most people in the United States do not eat a healthy diet and consume too much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, increasing their risk of chronic diseases. For example, fewer than 1 in 10 adolescents and adults eat enough fruits or vegetables. In addition, 6 in 10 young people aged 2 to 19 years and 5 in 10 adults consume at least one sugary drink on any given day.
Effects of Poor Nutrition
- Overweight and Obesity
- Heart disease and stroke
- Type 2 Diabetes
Let us at this time discuss how to prevent these diseases through the diets we eat. With this, we can know how to watch our diets.
Food substances are classified below:
These include starch, sugar, glycogen, and cellulose. They contain elements of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and are the major source of energy for the body.
They can be further classified into two groups:
• Monosaccharides/ Simple sugars (Fast-releasing)
- Table sugar
- Ice cream
- Sugary cereals
- Some peanut butters
- Most refined foods and Disaccharides
They are called Fast-releasing because each contains one molecule (C6H12O6) of sugar, and can easily be broken down by the body.
Simple sugar foods are considered unhealthy as a result of this. Immediately simple sugar is broken down, enters the bloodstream, and increases the blood sugar giving a sudden burst of energy, followed by a slump.
Some like refined foods lack vitamins and minerals for the body to use properly.
Therefore, perpetual use of these foods is not healthy, especially for type2 diabetes, and should be discouraged. Now, which of the foods mentioned is your favorite? Continuously taking them often may cause problems for your health. Ignorance of this review makes people suffer today.
• Polysaccharides/ Complex sugar (Slow-releasing)
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits
- All-starch foods ( potatoes, corn, cereal, flour, oats, instant noodles, rice, pasta, unripe fruits, etc ).
They are called slow-releasing because each contains more than two molecules of sugar, and cannot be easily broken down. Complex sugars have more complex carbs and fibers. They are not sweet to taste like simple sugars. Their release of sugars is slow as such they are more healthy and should make up 70% of total daily calorie intake.
In most developing countries, carbohydrates are the major source of energy, amounting to about 80% of food eaten.
Now you see, eating complex sugars is more healthy than eating simple sugars.
Carbohydrates and your health
Carbohydrates can lead to diabetes mellitus. Your body breaks down carbohydrates in each meal you eat into glucose, causing the blood sugar to raise immediately. Insulin secreted by the islets of Langerhan located in the pancreas allows the body’s cells to utilize this sugar for immediate energy and storage.
Eating too many carbs over labor the insulin, and eventually, the body may stop producing insulin or may not be able to make use of insulin properly. This is called Insulin Resistance.
However, eating moderate carbohydrates alone does not cause the malfunction of insulin which would lead to diabetes. But, having Insulin Resistance and developing type2 diabetes is when you are overweight or obese.
Reducing the risk
You can reduce the risk of insulin resistance if you eat moderate carbs, maintain good sleeping habits, check your blood sugar level, and exercise regularly.
How many grams of carbs should be consumed in a day?
Carbs are measured in grams. The total carbs of packaged food are on the Nutritional Facts label- which includes the total sugar, added sugars, and fiber.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of the total daily calories.
So if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. In other words, between 225 and 325 grams should be eaten a day.
How to avoid too many carbs
Although, carbs are essential to the body because they provide many important nutrients.
- Eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: Fibers are plant products and are mostly complex sugar (slow-releasing). Many of them have health benefits such as canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar; fresh or frozen ones are also good.
- Eat more beans, peas, and lentils: they are a good source of protein.
- Eat less added sugars.
- Low-fat dairy products.