Basic Nutrition

Adequate nutrition is one of our basic needs for survival. The lifestyle many of us have chosen in these busy years often prevent us from receiving the necessary foods that provide optimal bodily function. A good start for promoting good nutrition is to understand what our body needs in the food we eat. Most people are educated about the food guide pyramid. However many people are unaware of how their nutrients need work within the body.

There are 6 catorgories of nutrients essentail for good health.

These are:
Carbohydrates
Lipids (fats)
Proteins
These are our major nutrients

The other 3 nutrients are:
Vitamins
Minerals
Water

Carbohydrates

Most of the carbohydtrates we digest are from plants, with the exception of milk (lactose). The pureset form of carbohydrates are; sugar, honey, sugar-beats, and milk. The more complexed form of carbohydrates are found in legumes, grains, and root vegetables. Carbohydrates are broken down easily in the body and converted to glucose by the liver before entering ciculation. Glucose is used as the body's immediate source of energy.
Cellulose is another form of carbohydrate, however it is inactive in the body, instead providing roughage (fibre) to increase the bulk of our bowel movements. Cellulose also helps to reduce the incidence of bowel disease.

The RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) is still unknown, however around 100g per day is thought to be the minermal amount needed to maintain adequtate blood sugar levels. If there is an excess in carbohydrates that the body does not use for energy, then it is converted to fat and stored in the body (as fat).

Lipids (fats)

There are various kinds of lipids, all of which play a role in maintaining the body's health. They are a concerntrated energy source for skeletal muscles, and are drawn upon mostly when levels of carbohyrate stores are low. Lipids are essential for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K). Lipids also play an important role in the CNS (Central Nervous System). Fats are also essential to cushion the body's organs such as the kidneys and the eyeballs.

The RDI should be less than 30% of the body's total calorie intake.
Most of us have been educated about "good fats" and "bad fats."
Saturated fats (bad fats) should be less than 10% of our calorie intake = to one egg yolk. They are found mostly in animal and coconut products.
Unstaurated fats (good fats) are contained in seeds nuts and vegetable oils, and should be the bulk of our fat intake (due to saturated fats potentially increaseing the incidence of cardiac disease).

Proteins

Protiens are extemely important in making up the structural materials in the body (eg Keratin of the skin, elastin of connective tissue, and collagen). Proteins help to regulate normal hormal function of the body, and are sometimes drawn upon for energy. The supply of amino acids (which are the building blocks for proteins) are essential to produce proteins. If one amino acid is missing the sprcific protein for that chain of amino acids cannot be made.

The RDI for proteins are based on 0.8g per kg of your body weight.
Eg 56g for a 70kg male
48g for a 58 kg woman
Proteins are found in nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables. Most people consume more than their RDI due to the high accessibility in food.
To calculate you RDI check on the back of products containing nutrional information.

The information supplied in this acticle is not about how you can magically lose weight. I have prvided this information in order to supply the reader with an understanding about nutritions and how they are needed for good health. I hope you have learnt some new things about they way foods work in our body!


Louise Ganey (RN)



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