There are about six essential nutrients that are important to keep you healthy. There is not one nutrient that is more important than others and as such, your body need all of them in varying amounts. Remember, cutting any of the essential nutrients can lead to deficiencies and diseases.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the science of food involving ingestion (eating) of food or drinks which your body digest (break down) the so the food eaten can be easily absorbed for transportation to various parts of your body for energy and other essential bodily functions. As such the process of nutrition include this order;
- And utilization.
Why is Nutrition important?
Nutrition is important because through it, we receive our nutrients from food. Every food item contains chemical substances or units that nourish our bodies to maintain and sustain our lives and these units are referred to as Nutrients. Our bodies require nutrients in varying amounts to perform essential functions to ensure we are healthy. Moreover, these nutrients are comprised of six elements;
- Carbohydrates – main source of energy
- Proteins – protein will help build, repair and maintain the structures of your body such as; muscles, organs, bones, skin, and hair
- Fats and Oils – fat provide your body with energy, help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, etc.
- Vitamin – Vitamins are immune boosters, energy provision and are necessary for the clotting of blood
- Minerals – Minerals play an important role in our growth, bone health, balancing of our fluid among other function
- Water – including protecting your body from shock by surrounding your tissues and organs. Your body is able to better disgust, absorb, and transport nutrients from food through drinking water.
How to adopt good eating habits ?
Different food contains varying amounts of nutrients and it is important to eat a variety of foods to allow your body access to all essential nutrients. You need to know that your body need certain nutrients in higher amounts (macronutrients) and others are required in small amounts (micronutrients).
Striking a good balance in eating just the right amount on each nutrient constitute as a good eating habit.
Acquiring good nutrition is a goal for everyone as this is associated with good health. a good nutrition is one where individuals eat diets that is well-balanced with most nutrients in one meal for;
- growth and development,
- disease prevention or treatment
- maintenance of good health
- energy and strength to do your day-to-day tasks, etc.
Food is also necessary for therapy of certain disorders, conditions and diseases. This is done by either eating more of certain foods, or by restricting certain food types to avoid worsening diseases and this phenomenon is called therapeutic nutrition. However, failing to adhere to a well-balanced diet could lead to disorders where overeating lead to obesity, undereating could lead to kwashiorkor or marasmus and these problems are regarded as Malnutrition.
What is Malnutrition ?
This encompass both undernutrition and over nutrition and the world have experienced both these, other continents experience one or both forms.
This happens when people eat insufficient nutrients than the body requires for health. sadly, any deficiency to any of the nutrients can hinder growth and development while compromising your immune system. There are several deaths attributable to undernutrition, particularly in under-developed and developing countries.
What causes undernutrition
It is imperative to look at the various risk factors leading to undernutrition and we will look at the ; immediate, underlying and basic causes.
Immediate causes are: Unbalanced or poor diets.
This is common and mostly affect younger children and adults living in poorer communities where;
- people don’t eat enough food due to lack of food
- eating food that are not nutritious or food with few calories
- for people with infrequent supply of proper food.
Undernutrition could occur to people not living in poorer environment but occur due to ailments and diseases such as;
- Sever and chronic diarrhoea,
- respiratory tract or ear infections (Ear, Nose, and Throat ENT),
- hookworms and other gut parasites
- cancers, etc.
- eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, etc.
Underlying causes of these immediate causes are:
- Failure to secure family food security
- Inequalities in the distribution of food that lead to Insufficient care of vulnerable household members
- Poor sanitation and unhygienic living conditions leading to poor water and food supply which increase the risks of worms and infections
- Poor and inadequate health care services
Basic causes are:
These basic factors could lead to undernutrition if they are not avoided or prevented;
- Lack of information,
- political and economic insecurity
- Living in condition with under-resource in all levels
- Inequalities and inequities, where women, children, the elderly and disabled are more vulnerable
- Experiencing natural disasters
When people consumed more food than the body requires, that is referred to as over-nutrition. If people form a habit of eating more than the body requires, this could cause them to gain weight, and later they will become overweight or worse, obese. That is not a good thing as obesity is associated with many non-communicable diseases and could ultimately lead to death.
The world Health Organization reported the steady increase of over-nutrition and diseases caused by it in developing and in the poorest countries. This is an indication that there is a huge knowledge gap on good nutrition versus bad nutrition and that lack causes people to make poor food and diet choices.
Causes of over-nutrition
There are some underlying causes that could lead to over-nutrition and its diseases.
Although certain people come from families of obese people, it does not mean they will become obese. However, such people will need to be more cautious with what they eat, when they eat and also adopt some physical activities that will prevent gaining weight.
Poor food choices
The people that are too fond of processed, sweetened, saturated and trans fatty acids consume too much calories even though some of these food items seem little, e.g. potato chips, biscuits, chocolate. Moreover, most of these food items are not even filling, and thus people who consume them usually combine these foods with the healthier meals. At the end of the day, these people would have consumed too much calories.
More importantly, when people are; stressed out, going through some life-challenges and other problems, they tend to confide on comfort foods which seem tasty and cheaper. That’s why most stressed and depressed people become overweight or obese.
Addiction to food
A certain study confirmed that over-indulgence to processed foods like sweets, pizzas, etc. could be as addictive as abusing substance and alcohol. When people don’t have power over their food choices, they are headed for health disaster and it will be hard to break such bad habits.
Having higher levels of insulin causes your body to store fat cells rather than encouraging the body to use consumed energy. It is therefore advisable to rather eat a low carb diet with more fiber to ensure your insulin levels are normal. Other causes include;
- Excessive marketing
- Food availability, etc.
Are you a Nutritionist?
Our articles are written with the help of recognized dietitians and nutritionists. However, healthy eating is such a vast subject that we are constantly looking for new contributors, experts in their field! So if you are a nutrition professional, do not hesitate to contact us to join our editorial teams!