What is nutrition?

Nutrition is the science on the interrelationship between a person’s food intake and their dietary needs. Food has an important role in maintaining a person’s level of health. Good nutrition is a cornerstone of good health and involves an adequate, well balanced diet together with regular physical activity. Oftentimes, poor nutrition in individuals can lead to weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to several diseases, impairment on physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.

What is Nutrition & Essential Nutrients?

Professionals who specialise in nutrition are called nutritionists or dietitians. In Australia, there are no rules that govern the proper use of the terms "Nutritionist" and "Dietitian". To ensure the expert nutrition advice being received, always enquire about the qualifications of a nutritionist or dietitian.

The 7 elements of nutrition

Nutrients are substances that provide nourishment essential for a person’s growth and maintaining life. The following are seven elements of nutrition:

  • Water - 60 % of the human adult body is made up of water. Water is important for survival as the body heavily relies on water. Drinking water helps the body to stay hydrated, remove wastes, and regulate temperature.
  • Carbohydrates - The glucose that comes when the carbohydrates are broken, are the body’s main source of energy.
  • Proteins - They create new enzymes and hormones essential for formation, growth, and repair of muscle and other body tissues
  • Fat - An essential nutrient responsible for boosting the absorption of vitamins and helps in protecting organs
  • Vitamins - They play important roles in several chemical processes in the body.
  • Minerals - Each mineral have different functions but are critical in the normal functions of the body. The seven essential minerals include Sodium, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Phosphorus.
  • Fiber or Roughage - They help in maintaining the body systems and helps in lowering the risks for developing chronic disease.

How does nutrition help your body?

Good nutrition is a critical factor in leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with a regular physical activity, a well balanced diet helps in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risks of developing chronic diseases and promoting overall health.

However, unhealthy eating habits have contributed to a number of health conditions such as obesity. It poses several major health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The risk factors for developing adult chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension are increased. It is highly important to mind the importance of having a healthy eating lifestyle to have good nutrition and healthy weight as well as reduce the risks of chronic diseases. 

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is the negative reaction of a person to a specific food or ingredient whenever it is eaten. The reaction occurs when there is an irritation on the various nerve endings in various body parts. Symptoms for each person is varied but the common ones include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel irritation

It is important to note the difference between food intolerance and food allergies. Food allergies are much more serious as they involve an immune response.

Different types of food intolerance

The following are some common types of food intolerance:

  • lactose
  • wheat
  • gluten
  • caffeine
  • histamine, present in mushrooms, pickles, and cured food
  • additives such as artificial sweeteners, food coloring and flavorings

Natural treatments for food intolerance

If a person has an intolerance for a particular food, the best way to manage is to stop eating the food for a while. Then reintroduce small quantities of the food while monitoring the amount that can be eaten without the symptoms showing up.

If a person is unsure of the food or ingredient he or she is intolerant of, it is best to consult with a nutritionist or dietitian before removing the food from the diet.