Health and Nutrition
The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines nutrition as the process by which living organisms obtain food and use it for growth, metabolism, and repair. The stages of nutrition include ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation, and excretion.
This is a very accurate description defining the role nutrition plays in the human body. While the overall knowledge of nutrition and it's correlation to living a healthy and disease free life are becoming more and more widespread, recent studies have statistically shown that a record number of Americans are nutritionally deficient.
Modern nutritional information was developed by Antoine Lavoisier who described the process of metabolism in exact detail. Since then, modern science has continued to publish research related to the understanding and importance of consuming a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required to support good health and wellness.
In fact, it seems almost paradoxical that as more and more Americans continue to learn of the healthy benefits associated with good nutritional intake, the nutritional diet of the average individual in America continues to become increasingly unhealthy. This being said, when combined with a lack of regular physical activity, the results can be witnessed in the average health and wellness of our society, both mentally and physically.
It does not matter what time of day you eat, as your body does not store more calories at night than it does during the day. Effective weight loss is about how many calories you consume throughout the entire day, and how much physical exercise you perform. These are the two primary factors that determine whether you will lose or gain weight. Your body will store additional calories as fat if you consume more calories than your body burns, regardless of when you consume them. If you decide to have a snack prior to bedtime, first consider how many total calories you have already consumed throughout the day.
The goal of this section of our website is to provide you with a comprehensive outline of exactly what is involved in creating a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet. While there is a wealth of readily accessible, common sense information related to nutrition available, many important aspects associated with nutrition are still unknown by the average American. In order to live a long, healthy, and prosperous life it is vitally important that every individual gain an in-depth knowledge of exactly what types of foods provide the nutrients necessary for optimal health.
The data available within this category of our website is a collection of the most up-to-date, relevant, and researched information that science can offer on the topic of nutrition. Consuming foods that are natural, unprocessed, and free of chemicals and pesticides, a person will begin to consume the types of nutrients needed by the body into the body.
By doing so, the beneficial properties associated with the consumption of nutritional foods will be realized virtually immediately and across a variety aspects. In addition, a healthy diet has also been statistically proven, through research, to reduce and eliminate a large number of the debilitating diseases that are currently affecting millions of Americans.
Common Nutrition Terminology
In order for you to gain the most information possible from this section of our website, it is important that you garner an understanding of the general terms that are often used in association with nutrition. The terms generally refer to the major elements of nutrition.
At the highest level, nutrition can be generally divided into a few top level categories: protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber. Below is a brief explanation of each of the top level nutritional categories:
The first term to be discussed, in regards to nutrition, is protein. Protein plays a large role in suppling the human body with the necessary amino acids required to support a wide variety of bodily functions including the building and maintaining all bodily tissues including skin, bones, blood, organs, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
In addition, amino acids, considered the building blocks of protein, are also responsible for the production of various enzymes, hormones, and bodily fluids while also regulating functions including growth, digestion, and even maintaining the body's immune system.
Amino acids can be divided into two groups, essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are not produced within the body and are solely derived from the foods that we consume. Conversely, non-essential amino acids are found naturally within the body and are produced by the body from the essential amino acids or from the normal breakdown of proteins.
Regualrly consuming a well-balanced diet that is high in protein has been clinically proven to support good overall health and wellness. The most common whole food sources of protein include lean cuts of beef, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes (beans), dairy products, and even several types of fruits and vegetable.
Fat is another term that must be fully understood. This being said, many individuals view fat as a nutrient that is detrimental to their overall health and wellness.
In addition, many individuals also believe that consuming foods that contain fat leads to weight gain. However, this belief is untrue as it is imperative that all individuals consume a well-balanced diet that includes fat.
While the over consumption of foods that are high in fat can contribute to contracting a large number of debilitating type diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, the human body requires fat to perform a variety of different bodily functions.
For example, fat plays a large role in, and is responsible for storing and supplying energy throughout the body, regulating body temperature, and insulating the various internal organs.
There are two main types of fat that are generally considered unhealthy: fats that are mostly saturated and fats that contain trans fat. Saturated fats are derived primarily from animal food sources such as red meat, poultry and non-reduced fat dairy products. Trans fat typically occurs naturally in some foods in varying small amounts. However, the majority of trans fats are derived from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. In general, these types of fat are solid at room temperature.
The healthier types of fats are mostly unsaturated and include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats are in liquid form at room temperature. Typical oils that contain healthier unsaturated fats include olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. Foods that are high in fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, ground flaxseed, and a variety of nuts and other seeds.
Carbohydrates have received an increase in publicity with the advent of the Atkin's Diet. In general, carbohydrates play a large role in, and are primarily responsible for, supplying the human body with energy.
However, it is important to understand that not all carbohydrates are created equally. This being said, carbohydrates can be divided into two distinct categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are primarily derived from highly processed foods containing sugars while complex carbohydrates are found in several types of fruits and vegetables, pastas, and grains, to name a few.
One of the primary issues with consuming a diet that is high in simple carbohydrates is that simple carbohydrates are more rapidly broken down by the digestive system and hence, lend themselves to elevated spikes in blood/sugar levels.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are the preferred source of carbohydrates as they are broken down by the digestive system much more slowly, produce smaller blood/sugar spikes, contain healthy fiber, contain a greater number of vitamins and minerals, and are lower in calories when compared to simple carbohydrates.
Fiber is also a very important nutrient that very few individuals take into consideration. This being said, regularly consuming a diet that is high in fiber not only supports a healthy digestive system but, also provides several additional health benefits as well.
When evaluating the types of fiber present in foods, fibers are typically broken down into two primary classes: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and has been proven to effectively lower cholesterol. Insoluble fibers are unable to dissolve in water and have been proven to improve the overall health and efficiency of the digestive system.
Fiber is also beneficial to the human body due to the fact that it is very slow to digest. For individuals that are participating in a dietary weight loss program, daily intake of fairly large amounts of fiber and protein can assist in suppressing their appetite throughout the day.
In addition, regularly consuming foods that are high in fiber have also been clinically proven to be beneficial in assisting in the hardening of the stool, relief of diarrhea, and in reducing several additional digestive related issues.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are not only required for the human body to sustain life, but they are also responsible for a large array of biological functions that routinely take place within our bodies as well.
For instance, vitamins support and provide metabolism for normal growth, the formation of bones and various type tissues, and protect the body against viruses and disease.
Vitamins are also involved in the formation of hormones, blood cells, and numerous chemicals within the human body. In addition, vitamins are necessary for metabolism and support the creation of metabolically active enzymes which are necessary for countless bodily functions that occur.
On the other hand, minerals can be considered vital elements that are required in order for virtually every biological reaction that takes place within the billions of cells within the body to occur.
Additionally, vitamins and minerals have a synergistic relationship. More specifically, both vitamins and minerals must be present within the body before either are able to perform their intended functions. For instance, both vitamins and minerals are necessary to form antioxidant enzymes that protect the human body from free-radical damage.
While several vitamins are produced within the human body naturally, a large majority of them are not and can only be obtained through regularly consuming nutritional foods. However, minerals are not produced within the human body and can only be obtained through the consumption of healthy whole foods. For this reason, it is important to ensure that you are consuming a well balanced whole foods diet that is nutrient rich on a daily basis.
By doing so, you will ensure that you are providing the nutrients that the body requires to effectively perform the various bodily functions required to sustain life, ward off disease, and support a life that is filled with good health and wellness.
In instances where you find it difficult to consume healthy foods or you are looking to increase the level of nutrients that you are providing to body, vitamin and mineral supplements are well worth considering.
The primary goal of this section of our website is to provide you with a vast array of information directed towards defining how to go about consistently obtaining a healthy balance of the various nutrients that are required by the human body to function at its optimal level.
Good health, fitness and mental well-being are obtained through living a lifestyle that regularly engages in various forms of physical activity, regularly consumes well balanced whole foods that are nutritionally rich, regularly engages in activities that calm and center the mind, and regularly receives plenty of rest and sleep.
It is our hope that you will learn as much as possible from our nutritional section, and thereafter, continue to peruse through the other fitness topic sections to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to live a lifestyle that is filled with good health and wellness. By taking the time to do so, you will not only enrich your own life, but the lives that you touch as well.