Have you ever tried to know what are the components in our body, animals, or any living organisms which provide us energy and give us enough energy for some particular work?
Well, as we all know the human body has a complex structure consisting of various components that make the whole human body such as muscles, organs, and bones all are composed of nutrients.
In this blog, we have explained nutrients, types of nutrients, nutrition problems, and their solutions. Let's start with what are the nutrients first.
What are Nutrients?
Nutrients are the compounds that are present in foods that are essential to our body, life, and health and drive the biological activity of a human body. Nutrients provide us energy and nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and growth. In a simple meaning, nutrients provide nourishment. Our body depends on what we eat and drink.
Food is the major source of all the energy needed by a body, whether it is a human or animal, or any living organism. We need energy for work, run, jump, sing, and even when we sleep. We get all the energy from the food.
Nutrients are very essential to our body and essential nutrients can not be synthesized in the cell, they will only be provided by the food. In some animals, microorganisms live in the gut and may synthesize essential nutrients, which are further released into the bloodstream.
In many living organisms, nutrients provide not only the energy required in some vital processes but also the various materials from all structural and functional components that can be assembled.
Different Types of Nutrients & Sources
Based on the quantity of the nutrients that every person needs to consume daily, these nutrients are categorized into two groups. These are macronutrients and micronutrients where macronutrients should be consumed in fairly large amounts, and micronutrients, which are only required in small amounts.
The name itself has a meaning that is macro means large. These are the nutrients that people need to eat regularly and in a large amount and add in a daily routine. Nutrients include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, and water.
Macronutrients are the elements in food needed for an individual to grow and function. Macronutrients provide all of the calories that your body wants and you get it from food and beverages - nutrition facts labels use macros grams to calculate what percentage calories are in the food.
Macronutrients are divided into three groups: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Alcohol is additionally considered a macro, it provides calories, but it's not considered a vital source of nutrition, so it's often ignored when counting macros.
Each macronutrient provides a significant calorie amount per gram - 4 grams per calorie for protein and carbs, and 9 grams of calories for fat (alcohol provides 7 grams per calorie). And although all macros provide valuable energy, each macro features a different function in your body.
Have a look at different macronutrients and their sources in detail:
Carbohydrates are essential for the body as they are needed in large amounts by the body. Up to 65% of our energy comes from carbohydrates. They're the body’s main source of fuel because they're easily converted into energy. This energy is sometimes present in the form of glucose, which all tissues and cells in our bodies readily use.
As carbohydrates are the main source, the brain, kidneys, central nervous system, and muscles need carbohydrates to function properly. These carbohydrates are usually stored in the muscles and also the liver, where they're later used for energy.
Sources: bread, wheat, potatoes of all kinds, maize, rice, cassava, Shira, pasta, macaroni, kocho, banana, sweets, sugar cane, sweet fruits, and honey. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds also contain carbohydrates but in fewer amounts.
About 10–35% of calories that our body needs come from protein. Proteins are needed in our healthy diets for growth (especially important for children, teens, and pregnant women) to boost their immune functions. They also play a very crucial role in making essential hormones and enzymes, in tissue repair, preserving lean muscle mass, and supplying energy in times when carbohydrates don't seem to be available.
Pregnant women need protein to build their bodies, which of the babies and placentas, to form extra blood and for fat storage. Breastfeeding mothers need protein to make breastmilk.
Sources: eggs, breastmilk, beans, groundnuts, seeds, lentils, fish, cheese, milk, meats, chicken, etc.
Fats and Oils:
Fats and oils are concentrated sources of energy that are important nutrients for young children who need plenty of energy-rich food. Fats can even make meals more tasty and satisfying. Fats are classified into two groups - saturated and unsaturated fats.
The classification is important to enable you to advise your community about which fats are often consumed with less risk to people’s health. Saturated fats aren't good for a person’s health. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature. These kinds of fats are healthy fats.
Sources: meat, chicken, milk products, butter, creams, avocado, cooking oils and fats, cheese, fish, and groundnuts.
Water is a part of our lives, or we can say that we are alive because of water. People can live without food for a few weeks but a person can not live without water for more than a few days. An adult body needs more than 2-3 liters of water per day. We need water for the proper functioning of our body.
We need water for our whole body to make cells and fluids materials such as tears, digestive juices, and breastmilk. Water regulates sweat from sweat glands for cooling itself. Water is also important for the production of urine, which carries waste from the body.
Many people do not realize that fiber is a kind of carbohydrate. But fiber isn't as easily digested, and can't be absorbed by the body, making it significantly different from other carb types.
There are two main types of fiber available which we use to study, a soluble fiber that helps draw water into your gut, aiding in feelings of fullness and promoting heart health. And insoluble fiber that kind of pushes everything through, supporting digestion and regularity.
Fiber makes food bulky or bigger, this will help a person who is overweight to eat less food. Fiber makes the feces soft and bulky, this will help to prevent constipation
Sources: whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Same as with macro, taken from its name micro means small, these are the nutrients that are needed only in very small amounts. Micronutrients are substances that do not provide any calories but enable our bodies to produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances vital to the development, disease prevention, and well-being.
Micronutrients are commonly mentioned as vitamins and minerals. And the regular intake of micronutrients helps to reduce your risk of chronic disease, promote an extended life and improve your overall wellbeing. Many research even indicates that higher intakes of micronutrients are related to improved mood, energy levels, and appetite control.
There are 26 essential vitamins and minerals from the food that each one contributes to endless bodily functions. This is why correcting even a minor deficiency during a micro can result in drastic improvements in your health and day to day life.
Vitamins are a group of related substances that are produced by plants and animals. It can be classified into two groups: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble - vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K, are more easily absorbed when fat is present and can be stored in your body fat. Water-soluble vitamins are vitamin c and B vitamins that can dissolve in water. You get vitamins from the various foods you eat. Vitamins are a vital factor in your diet.
- Vitamin A: Healing epithelial cells and normal development of teeth and bones.
- Vitamin B: It helps in metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
- Vitamin C: prevention of scurvy, aiding wound healing
- Vitamin D: It is needed for absorption of calcium from small intestines
- Vitamin E: It helps to slow down processes that damage cells, and also work as antioxidants.
- Vitamin K: It is used for blood clotting.
Minerals are inorganic substances, meaning they're found in soil and water and aren't produced by living organisms like vitamins. Because minerals aren't easily destroyed by the elements, they can be transported from soil and water into plants and animals, and so later absorbed by you without losing their structure.
This also means they don’t deform once you absorb them. These are the substances that people need to make sure the health and proper working of their soft tissues, fluids, and their skeleton. Examples of minerals are calcium, iron, iodine, fluorine, phosphorus, chloride, potassium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, and sodium.
Why Nutrients are Needed?
Seven main essential nutrients perform different and unique functions in our body, they all are needed by the body because they work together and contribute to our healthiness. Let's know why nutrients are necessary for our body?
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the major source of energy, that is they provide the energy of our body. Carbohydrates come from the grains, such as rice. Besides this, fruit, root vegetables, dry beans, and dairy products also contain high amounts of carbohydrates.
- Proteins: Seafood, eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, dry beans, and bean products are very good sources of protein as they contain large amounts of protein. Proteins help to build, repair and maintain body tissues. We all know protein is very essential for our body to maintain good health. Regularly intake of the right amount of protein into the body will result in strong bones and good health.
- Fats: Fats are present in meat, fish, seafood, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and oils. Fat also is an energy source that prevents heat loss in extreme cold weather and protects organs against any kind of shock. Fats help to make some of our body cells and transport fat-soluble vitamins in our body.
- Vitamins: Vitamins help our body to grow. Vitamins take part in metabolism. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, Vitamin B1 is essential for producing various enzymes that help break down blood sugar, B2 helps to grow and develop body cells, Vitamin C is necessary for healthy skin, etc.
- Minerals: Minerals are the essential nutrients that help to regulate many body functions such as fluid balance, muscle contraction, and transmission of nerve impulses. Minerals are also needed in building strong and healthy bones.
- Dietary fiber: Dietary fiber helps to prevent constipation. It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and promote gastrointestinal health.
- Water: Up to 60-70% of the human body is water. The major functions of water include the production of body fluids, regulation of body temperature, transportation of nutrients from one part to another, and removal of waste products.
Nutrition Problems and Solutions
Proper nutrition is very important for a child’s health, learning, and development in growth. Proper nutrition also benefits families and therefore the entire community in the long-term. The key periods where a baby is most vulnerable is before birth, and during lactation and weaning, nutrition is most important for them.
Growth and mental problems are caused by undernutrition before the age of two are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
Decreased appetite means lack of appetite, lack of hunger which is going to be a serious health issue and nutrition problem in your body. Appetite control medicines are available to increase your hunger.
- Try to eat more nutritious food that includes more protein and fat, and fewer sugars.
- Eat healthy meals more frequently. Eating 7-8 times a day in a small quantity rather than eating a whole meal 2-3 times.
- Avoid consuming beverages such as black coffee and tea, instead of that you can choose milk and juices.
Weight loss is a common problem in those people who have lack nutrition. If you think that you lost too much weight then look at the tips below:
- Consult with the doctor for the nutritional supplements.
- Drink milk daily because milk contains various amounts of nutrients that are essential for our body.
- Avoid low-calorie products instead of this, use whole milk, whole milk cheese, and yogurt.
Heartburn has been observed in many people who love to eat spicy food, there are also many reasons for heartburn: overeating, taking medicines, or maybe as a result of surgery.
- Eat your last meal early before going to bed.
- Eat in small quantities so that it's easier to digest food and reduces the chances of heartburn.
- Avoid foods that cause heartburn like greasy or fried foods, chocolate, alcohol, and beverages that contain caffeine.
Dryness in the mouth:
Nutrition problems can result in dryness in the mouth. It makes it difficult to engulf food. Fever, cough, medicines, can cause dryness in the mouth.
- Try to add some liquid to your daily food like milk in toast and cookies.
- Take a drink after a bite so that it can soften your food and become easy to swallow.
- Drink water as much as you can.
Sore throat also makes it difficult to engulf food. Mouth infection and certain medicines can cause soreness.
- Eat less acidic foods like bananas, applesauce, or fruit nectars.
- Avoid hard foods that might be hard to swallow.
- Eat cold or lukewarm foods as hot and spicy food can irritate your sore throat.
Nausea is a feeling of sickness that is vomiting. Medicines, pain, constipation, stomach infection, or the flu can cause nausea. Many medicines are available to treat it.
- Get into the habit of eating dry fruits, as they help to relieve some of the discomforts of your empty stomach.
- Avoid those foods whose smells irritate or bother you.
- Avoid fried, greasy, and spicy foods as they take a longer time for digestion.
Diarrhea is caused by contaminated food or an increase in the amount of liquid in the stools. Common cold and flu can also cause Diarrhea. If you have diarrhea, many important nutrients are lost in the body such as calories, protein, vitamins, water, sodium, and potassium are lost.
- Drink more than 7-8 glasses of liquid daily.
- Eat soft food that contains a high amount of liquid like yogurt, pudding, soup.
- Use less sugar and fat products.
Constipation occurs when bowel movement becomes infrequent. It can be caused by overeating, many medicines also can cause constipation.
- Drink some hot water in the morning as it helps to soften the stomach food and might stimulate a bowel movement.
- Increase the amount of fiber in your food.
- Long walks or a few exercises can also help with constipation.