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BASIC NUTRITION INTRODUCTION
Food
is that which nourishes the body; it may also be defined as anything eaten or drunk which can be absorbed
by the body to be used as an energy source, bodybuilding, regulating or synthesizing the protective material.
Intake of the right kind and amount of food must satisfy hunger and fulfill physiological, psychological, social
and sensory needs. It also protects the body from diseases. Foods contain substances called nutrients that are
necessary for growth, survival and different processes of the body.
Nutrients
are the constituents in food that must be supplied to the body in suitable amounts. These include
carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water.
Nutritious Food-
Nutritious food is that which can fulfill the primary functions of food. It provides sufficient
energy and essential nutrients, helps in maintenance of all biological processes of the body, maintains body weight
and protects from invasion of harmful microorganisms and onset of any disease.
Functions of food
: from the nutritional point of view, food must provide nourishment for:
Maintenance of life
Growth and development
Functioning of vital organs
Production of energy
Protection of body
Food also helps fulfills the physiological, psychological and social functions.
Physiological functions of food:
Provision of energy for voluntary and involuntary activities of the body
Helps in the process of growth and development
Maintenance and repair required for the maintenance of cells and to replace the worn out cells e.g. RBC
have limited life span. Once they die out a replacement is required. In case of injuries also a repair or a replacement
may be needed.
Maintenance of body temperature
Maintenance of acid base balance
Support the functions of the hormones and neurotransmitters
Removes metabolic waste products from the disorder
Protection of body from infection, injuries and other related diseases
Psychological functions of food:
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Satisfy hunger and taste buds
Acts as a mean of expression of love, affection and security e.g. a mother expresses love by cooking
favorite dishes of people at home
Provides enjoyment
Provide comfort in depressive mood
Used as a reward/ punishment
Social functions of food:
Creates atmosphere for joyful eating
Helps improve social relationship
Used as offering to God during religious functions and fasts
Main component of any gathering or party e.g wedding
Means of communication and relationship e.g. used as a token of friendship
Means of social prestige
Nutrients
are the constituents in food that must be supplied to the body in suitable amounts. They play a critical
role in health, nutrition and disease. The deficiency of nutrients in diet may have adverse effect on health. Re-
addition of missing nutrients in diet can help ensure optimum health. Nutrients in food are classified as either
macronutrients or micronutrients. These include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water.
Nutrition
Nutrition is the science of food and its components, their actions, interaction and balance within the
body. It includes the study of processing of food within the body such as digestion, absorption, transport, function
and disposal of end products; for its utilization for:
Provision of energy
Building of body tissue and their repair
Protection from microorganism, heat and other stressors
The study of nutrition helps to make healthy food choices by understanding the following:
The role of different nutrients in the body
The nutritive value of foods
Which foods are nutritious and healthy
The RDA for different life stages
What can happen if right type and amount of food is not eaten
How to design nutritious recipes
How different processing methods can alter the nutritional quality of food
Role of food and nutrition in health and disease
Health
Is defined by the World Health Organization of the United Nations as the “state of complete physical,
mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.
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Adequate, Optimum, Normal or Good Nutrition
they are all terms used to indicate that the supply of essential
nutrients is correct in amount and proportion in accordance with individual’s requirement. It also implies the
utilization of these nutrients in the body in such a way that highest level of physical and mental health is
maintained throughout the life cycle.
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is an undesirable state of health resulting from an imbalance of nutrient intake. It
has been defined as a pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute deficiency or excess of one or more
essential nutrients. The WHO defines malnutrition as ‘the cellular imbalance between the supply of nutrient and
energy and the body’s demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance and specific functions’. It comprises four
forms:
1. Undernutrition is the condition which results when, over an extended period of time, food intake in terms
of quantity and nutritional quality is not adequate enough to meet the dietary and nutritional requirements. It may
also happen that the food intake is adequate but a person has a problem of digestion, absorption and utilization in
the body.
2. Over nutrition is the pathological state resulting from the consumption of excessive quantity of food
over an extended period of time. Risk of overnutrition is much higher if the physical activity is less. It is
characterized by overweight, poor body stature, lack of stamina and impaired functioning of the body.
3. Imbalance is the pathological state resulting from a disproportion among essential nutrients with or
without the absolute deficiency of any nutrient.
4. Specific deficiency is the pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute lack of an individual
nutrient.
Inter-relationship between nutrition and health
: Food, Health and Nutrition are interrelated and very important
aspects of life. Next to air and water, food is basic to our existence. Nutrition is, “the science of foods, the nutrients
and the other substances there-in, their action, inter-action, and balance in relationship to health and disease, the
process by which the organism ingests, digests, absorbs, transports and utilizes nutrients and disposes off their
end products”.
There are close interrelationships between metabolism of nutrients. The level of intake of one nutrient can
influence the requirement of the other. Energy intake must be adequate for proper utilization of protein. When
energy intake is reduced, protein utilization is impaired. Since several B-complex vitamins take part in energy
and protein metabolism, their requirements would depend upon the intake of energy and protein. Thus the
requirements of B-vitamin, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin are in-fact expressed in relation to energy requirements
and that of pyridoxine in relation to protein requirement. The absorption and utilization of iron depends upon an
adequate intake of ascorbic acid. There are also metabolic interconversions of nutrients in the body which are
considered while establishing their requirements. The well known examples of such conversions are conversion
of tryptophan into niacin and of beta-carotene into retinol.

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