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Nutrition

Food and Nutrition

What is food?

any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.

 Food makes your body work, grow and repair itself. The kind of food you eat can affect the efficiency of these processes. Body function and the food that sustains it is infinitely complex. Food is in fact one of the most complicated sets of chemicals imaginable.

Getting to know which nutrients are in which foods can help you to understand something of this complex relationship between your food and your body.

Chemicals in food

Food is composed of many different chemical substances - 'macronutrients' (major nutritional components that are present in relatively large amounts, such as protein), 'micronutrients' (major nutritional components that are present in relatively small amounts, such as vitamins), water, and roughage (dietary fibre). Many other components can also be present in food .

Food may contain colours (natural and synthetic), flavours, pharmacologically active substances (such as caffeine, steroids, and salicylates, which chemically affect the body), natural toxicants (naturally occurring poisons, such as cyanide), and various contaminants (substances resulting from a contaminated environment, such as pesticides). Even characteristic flavours such as those of oranges and passionfruit can depend on the presence of a dozen or more chemicals.

The chemical nature of food is changed by storage, preservation and, especially, by cooking. Food chemicals can also interact amongst themselves within the body. For example, the availability to the body of iron from plant sources depends on the amount of vitamin C present in the food eaten. The way in which carbohydrate is absorbed from the bowel depends to some extent on the presence of dietary fibre, even though the fibre itself is not absorbed.

 

What is the food and nutrition?

Nutrition is the selection of foods and preparation of foods, and their ingestion to be assimilated by the body. By practicing a healthy diet, many of the known health issues can be avoided. The diet of an organism is what it eats, which is largely determined by the perceived palatability of foods.

What are the nutrients in food?

Nutrients are the nutritional components in foods that an organism utilizes to survive and grow. Macronutrients provide the bulk energy for an organism's metabolic system to function, while micronutrients provide the necessary cofactors for metabolism to be carried out.

The 6 Essential Nutrients

Macro Nutrients

Micro Nutrients

What are Essential Nutrients?

Essential nutrients refers to classes of nutrients found in food. Essential nutrients are simply those that are vital for the normal growth, maintenance and development of the body.

There might be a slight confusion about essential nutrients that must be addressed. The term ‘essential’ when applied to amino acids and certain fatty acids, applies to those that need to be taken in the diet as they are not synthesized by the body. Essential amino acids include Methionine, Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Threonine and Lysine. Essential fatty acids are Linolenic acid, Linoleic acid and Arachidonic acid, to name a few.

The 6 Essential Nutrients you can’t live without

Again the term ‘essential’ implies that these six essential nutrients are necessary in order to maintain and develop a healthy body.

These are the 6 Essential Nutrients your body needs daily:

1. Proteins – they make up most of the cell structure including the cell membrane. Genetic information in the cell is stored as Protein in the form of DNA. All the enzymes, that catalyze metabolic reactions in the human body, are protein in nature.

2. Fats – are used in making steroids and hormones. Cholesterol also makes up the cell membrane and provides a degree of rigidity to it. Fats also serve as solvents for hormones and fat-soluble vitamins.

3. Carbohydrates – form the major part of stored food in the body for later use of energy. Glucose which is a monosaccharide is the body’s primary source of energy. When in excess, it is stored in the liver as Glycogen. Carbohydrates are also important for fat oxidation and can also be converted into protein.

4. Vitamins – are mostly co-enzymes which are required for the normal functioning of enzymes. Vitamin C and E are antioxidants, while Vitamin K is required for blood clotting. They cannot be synthesized in the body, so must be taken in the diet.

5. Minerals – are needed in small amounts to make co-factors. These are inorganic ions needed by the enzymes for activation. Other minerals are systemic electrolytes and essential in co-regulation of ATP.

6. Water – serves as a carrier, distributing nutrients to cells and removing wastes through urine. It is also a compulsory agent in the regulation of body temperature and ionic balance of the blood. Water is completely essential for the body’s metabolism and is also required for lubricant and shock absorber.

Of the six essential nutrients you just read about, 3 of them are called Macronutrients, while the other 2 are Micronutrients.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients include carbohydratesfats, and proteins. They are called macronutrients as they are required in large amounts to fuel the body. Energy is measured in calories and they are essential for the body to grow, repair and develop new tissues, conduct nerve impulses and regulate life process.

  • Carbohydrates – are required for energy. Glucose, which is a monosaccharide, is the most essential source of energy in the body. The brain works entirely on glucose alone. When an immediate source of energy is required, glucose is converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver. When energy is needed it is converted into glucose again and used to release energy. Carbohydrates provide 17 kilojoules of energy per gram.
  • Fats – have the highest caloric content. This means they provide the largest amount of energy when burnt. When measured by a calorimeter, fats provide about 37 kilojoules per gram, making them twice as energy-rich than protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates. Fat is also needed to take up fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Proteins–  are the third and last source of energy. They are the last to be used of all macronutrients. In cases of extreme starvation, the muscles in the body, that are made up of proteins, are used to provide energy. This is called muscle wasting. Proteins also provide 17 kilojoules per gram.

Is Water a Macronutrient?

You probably wonder if water should be included in this category. Water might not always be considered a macronutrient, but it sure is an essetial nutrient needed for all body functions in large amounts. 

Water is found in the body’s cells and transports nutrients to cells and removes toxins from our body. Water regulates the body temperature by our sweat. We get about 50% of the water we need from our food. Remember that water contains no calories.

Micronutrients

These nutrients include minerals and vitamins. Unlike macronutrients, these are required in very minute amounts. Together, they are extremely important for the normal functioning of the body. Their main function is to enable the many chemical reactions to occur in the body. Nevertheless micronutrients do not function for the provision of energy.

  • Vitamins – are essential for normal metabolism, growth and development, and regulation of cell function. They work together with enzymes and other substances that are necessary for a healthy life. Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat soluble Vitamins can be stored in the fatty tissues in the body when in excess, and so are not excreted easily. This means that you do not need to eat them as often as Water soluble vitamins. The latter are excreted in urine when in excess and so need to be taken daily. Water soluble vitamins include Vitamin B and C. Green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin B, whereas Vitamin C is found abundantly in citrus fruits. Fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D, E and K. Green leafy vegetables, milk and dairy products and plant oils provide these vitamins.
  • Minerals – are found in ionized form in the body. They are further classified into macrominerals andmicrominerals (or trace minerals). Macrominerals present in the body include Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Sodium and Magnesium to name a few. Iron is a constituent of Hemoglobin which is present in blood. Hence macrominerals constitute a larger percent of the body and are needed in more amounts, as compared to micro minerals. Microminerals include Copper, Zinc, Cobalt, Chromium and Fluoride. They are mostly co-factors, and are necessary for the function of enzymes in the body, but are needed only in minor quantities. Approximately 4% of the body’s mass consists of minerals.

 

Now the Question is,

What is Protein and Why it is so important in building muscles?

Protein is part of every single cell in the human body and is essential to the body’s functioning. Protein helps build and repair tissues like skin and muscle, and it helps produce antibodies and insulin. 

Amino acids can be called the “building blocks” of protein and are an important part of every human body. There are 20 different amino acids – nine of which are called “essential” and 11 of which are labeled as “non-essential.” The human body needs all 20 of these amino acids, in varying degrees, to be healthy and fully functional. All 20 have distinct chemical structures and are used for different roles – such as forming neurotransmitters, forming hormones and producing energy. But their primary role is to build proteins.

 From only 20 amino acids, the body is able to generate many thousands of unique proteins with different functions. Each one of these proteins contains between 50 and 2000 amino acids, connected in varying sequences. After all of these amino acids are joined together, they are folded and twisted to make a specific shape. This unique shape is the determining factor for what the protein does for the body.

So what is the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids? How do they work differently with the body and why is each type necessary?

Essential Amino Acids

First up are the essential amino acids. These are the nine amino acids that your body cannot create on its own, and that you must obtain by eating various foods. Adults need to eat foods that contain the following eight amino acids: methionine, valine, tryptophan, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine and phenylalanine. Histidine, the ninth amino acid, is only necessary for babies.

Instead of storing up a supply of the essential acids, the body uses them to create new proteins on a regular basis. Therefore, the body needs a continual – ideally daily – supply of these amino acids to stay healthy.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Nonessential is a slightly misleading label because these amino acids actually fill essential roles, but since they’re synthesized by your body, they’re not an essential part of your diet. Of the 11 nonessential amino acids, eight are called conditional amino acids. When you’re sick or under significant stress, your body may not be able to produce enough of these amino acids to meet your needs. The list of conditional amino acids includes arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine and ornithine. The remaining three -- alanine, asparagine and aspartate -- are nonessential.

So now – the big question. How do we make sure that we are meeting our body’s amino acid requirements through our diet? The answer is surprisingly simple enough – all we have to do is eat a recommended amount of protein each day and consume a variety of whole foods. Animal proteins are called complete proteins because they naturally contain all nine essential amino acids in each serving. But what about those of us who don’t want to eat meat? What are our options?

Plant proteins, with the exception of quinoa and a few others, are naturally lower in some of the essential amino acids, and are therefore called incomplete proteins. However, by eating a diverse diet of vegetables, grains, and legumes, you can easily create complete proteins. Another great option is including a full-spectrumvegan protein powder in your diet. For example, try sprouted brown rice protein, which is naturally digestible, bioavailable and offers a complete spectrum of amino acids.

However you choose to nourish your body, make sure that your diet is rich in whole foods and plant life. In doing so, you can be sure that your body is receiving a full amino acid profile and is therefore primed to thrive.