Nutrition is an important aspect of health and development. Better nutrition is associated with better infant, child, and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, a lower risk of noncommunicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longer life.
Children who are healthy learn better. People who eat well are more productive and can create opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
Malnutrition, in any form, poses serious risks to human health. Today, the world is dealing with a double burden of malnutrition, which includes both undernutrition and obesity, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Malnutrition can take many forms, including undernutrition (wasting or stunting), a lack of vitamins or minerals, being overweight or obese, and developing diet-related noncommunicable diseases.
What is good nutrition?
Good nutrition ensures that your body receives all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it requires to function optimally. Plan your meals and snacks to include nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods.
Each person has unique nutritional needs based on their age, gender, level of physical activity, overall health, and lifestyle. Consult a dietician to determine which nutrients you should consume more of. You may eat a lot of healthy foods, but your body may not be getting enough of certain nutrients.
Role of nutrition in our life
The study of nutrients in food, how the body uses them, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease is known as nutrition.
Nutritionists study how nutrients affect the human body using concepts from molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics. Nutrition also looks at how people can use dietary choices to lower their risk of disease, what happens if they have too much or too little of a nutrient, and how allergies work.
Nutrients nourish the body. Nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. People are more likely to develop certain health conditions if their diet lacks the proper nutrient balance.
When the body does not get enough nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, this is referred to as nutritional deficiency. A nutritional deficiency can cause a variety of conditions, including anemia. To stay healthy and function properly, the body requires vitamins.
While vitamins can be found in the foods we eat, they are not always sufficient. Some people may require more vitamins than others. Increasing nutrient intake can help to alleviate symptoms and conditions. Multivitamin and mineral supplements are frequently consumed.
Here are seven common nutrient deficiencies explained:
Calcium: Numbness, tingling fingers, and irregular heartbeat
According to the National Institutes of Health, calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones as well as controlling muscle and nerve function (NIH). According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of severely low calcium include numb, tingling fingers and abnormal heart rhythms. However, there are no obvious short-term symptoms of calcium deficiency.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most adults require 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, with women over 50 and men over 70 requiring 1,200 mg. According to Patton, at least three servings of milk or yogurt per day should suffice.
Vitamin D: Fatigue, Bone Pain, Mood Shifts, and Other Side Effects
According to the Cleveland Clinic, this vitamin is also important for bone health and may help prevent some cancers. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be vague, including fatigue, bone pain, mood swings, and muscle aches or weakness.
“Long-term vitamin D deficiency can result in bone softening,” Psota explains. According to Michelle Zive, a NASM-certified nutrition coach based in San Diego, long-term deficiency may also be linked to cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Potassium: Muscle weakness, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and other symptoms
According to MedlinePlus, potassium helps your heart, nerves, and muscles work properly and also delivers nutrients to cells while removing waste. Furthermore, it is a beneficial nutrient that helps to counteract the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure: “It’s important for keeping your blood pressure in check,” Zive says.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you could become potassium deficient in the short term due to diarrhea or vomiting; excessive sweating; antibiotics, laxatives, or diuretics; excessive alcohol consumption; or a chronic condition such as kidney disease. According to MedlinePlus, symptoms of a deficiency include muscle weakness, twitches, or cramps; constipation; tingling and numbness; and an abnormal heart rhythm or palpitations.
Iron: Tiredness, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet, brittle nails, and other symptoms
According to the University of California, San Francisco, iron is required for the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. When iron levels fall too low, there may be a shortage of red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Menstruating women, growing individuals (such as children and pregnant women), and those following a vegan or vegetarian diet are among those at increased risk of iron deficiency, according to Zive.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia can cause symptoms such as weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, a fast heartbeat, pale skin, headache, cold hands and feet, a sore or swollen tongue, brittle nails, and cravings for unusual things such as dirt. The symptoms may be so mild at first that you don’t notice anything is wrong, but they will become more intense as iron stores deplete.
Vitamin B12: Numbness, Fatigue, Swollen Tongue, and Other Side Effects
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 aids in the production of red blood cells and DNA, as well as improving neurotransmitter function. According to Harvard Health Publishing, vegetarians and vegans are especially vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency because plants do not produce the nutrient, and people who have had weight loss surgery may also be deficient because the procedure makes it difficult for the body to extract the nutrient from food.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, symptoms of severe B12 deficiency include numbness in the legs, hands, or feet; difficulties walking and balancing; anemia; fatigue; weakness; a swollen, inflamed tongue; memory loss, and difficulty thinking.
How can we consume nutrition in our diet?
- Consume a well-balanced diet that includes whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of water. One diet that includes these foods is the Mediterranean Diet.
- If a well-balanced diet is difficult to obtain, a multivitamin containing the RDA for several nutrients may be used.
- Do not smoke (or stop smoking if you do).
- Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Regularly engage in moderate exercise.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Maintain a sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Because our body clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps us maintain a balanced circadian rhythm, allowing us to sleep deeper and more restfully.
- Attempt to manage your stress. This is easier said than done, but try to find some healthy strategies that work for you and your lifestyle, whether it’s exercise, meditation, a specific hobby, or talking to a trusted friend. Another suggestion is to practice regular, conscious breathing throughout the day and when stressed.
What are the foods that provide good nutrition?
Choose a diet that is high in nutrients. Foods that are nutrient-rich (or nutrient-dense) are low in sugar, sodium, starches, and bad fats. They are high in vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body requires. They nourish your body and aid in your overall health. They can lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. Getting them through food ensures that your body can properly absorb them.
Eat a variety of foods to get a variety of vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are naturally nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods include lean meats, fish, whole grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Calcium-rich foods include sardines, broccoli, dark leafy greens, dairy substitutes, nonfat and low-fat dairy products.
- Bananas, cantaloupe, raisins, nuts, fish, spinach, and other dark green vegetables all contain potassium.
- Legumes (dried beans and peas), whole-grain products, bran, seeds, apples, strawberries, carrots, and colorful fruits and vegetables are all good sources of fiber.
- Spinach, black beans, peas, and almonds are all high in magnesium.
- Eggs, milk, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe all contain vitamin A.
- Oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwis, broccoli, and red and green bell peppers are foods high in vitamin C.
- Avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamin E.
Where can we get good nutrition?
It’s useful to know what foods are healthy and what you can do to eat the healthiest diet possible. A variety of foods, regular meals, wholegrains, fiber, fruit and vegetables, and limiting your intake of fat, sugar, and salt are all recommended for good nutrition.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines are dietary guidelines for the general population, with the exception of those who require special dietary advice due to a medical condition or the frail elderly. Individual advice from a dietitian or other qualified health professional is recommended for people who have specific dietary needs.
The proportion of the five food groups recommended each day is represented visually in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
The five food groups are as follows:
- Foods made from grains (cereals).
- Vegetables and legumes/beans.
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds.
- Milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or substitutes.
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