THE SCIENCE OF NUTRITION
A nutrient simply describes that part or ingredient of our food that gives us nourishment.
Good nutrition supplies the raw materials your body needs to maintain fitness, boost energy and stay healthy.
A poor diet can mean the body develops a deficiency of some of the vitamins and minerals it needs. Over time, these deficiencies can develop into more serious health complaints and, if left unchecked, even death.
Serious malnutrition is rare in Australia. However, even minor deficiencies can lead to health complaints, depression, premature aging and an increased risk of illness.
Five A Day
We’re all taught about the five food groups at school: fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains and meat. These form the basis of a balanced daily diet.
However there is another important ‘five a day’.
In July 2013, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The findings confirmed that people who ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day lived longer than those who didn’t. And that eating more than five portions a day added no further benefit.
So there is a maximum nutritional benefit you can gain from your food, while lowering your nutritional intake can have a noticeable impact on your health.
Seven Types of Nutrition
Of course fruit and vegetables only provide some of the nutrients our bodies need. There are seven forms of nutrition, which we need in differing quantities.
These are absorbed by the body in different ways and include a number of different elements. For example, important minerals include potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium — each in miniscule amounts and each with a different purpose in the body.
Healthy Eating and Supplements
Even the best diet can be enhanced by nutritional supplements. Because we can’t analyse everything we eat for precise nutritional information, sometimes a little extra help is needed.
Nutritional supplements give us more control to guarantee we achieve our necessary daily requirements. These may differ for each person. One may require more vitamin D every morning, another may need more fibre, and so on.
But supplements don’t replace a healthy and nutritious diet. They merely make it easier to top up the benefits you get from your regular food.
So the best approach is to eat your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day as part of a balanced diet across the five food groups, with additional vitamins and nutritional supplements as needed, or as recommended by your doctor.
Also ensure your food is fresh and cooked in such a way to retain as much of the nutrition as possible. If you boil away all of the goodness in your vegetables, your five a day may not be as nutritious as you expect.
Therefore, good nutrition relies on three things — the right diet, cooked the right way, and supported by the right supplements.