Nutrition is the bedrock upon which a healthy life is based, and is the body’s buffer against the stresses, strains and the onslaughts of an increasingly toxic environment. Nutrition is relatively a new science. It is the science that deals with digestion, absorption and metabolism of food,i.e., the utilization of food in the body.
It may be defined as “the science that interprets the relationship of food to the functioning of living organism. It includes the uptake of food, liberation of energy, elimination of wastes and all the processes of synthesis essential for maintenance, growth and reproduction. Nutrients are defined as the constituents of food which help us to maintain our body functions, to grow and to protect our organs.
There are six major nutrients in our body. They are:
The human body requires 17 vitamins and 24 mineral elements for various day-to-day activities. The composition of human body is 60-62 percent water, 17 percent proteins, 14 percent fat, 6 percent minerals, and 1 percent carbohydrates.
In Infants the percentage of water is more as compared to an adult. In women, water content is slightly lower whereas fat content is more than in men. Fat deposition in the body increases with age.
Human nutrition is governed by many factors like food habits and behaviour, food beliefs, ethnic influences, geographic influences, religious and sociological factors, psychological factors, food and production, income, national and international food policies, food technology, transportation and marketing. The benefits of good nutrition are health, happiness, efficiency and longevity.
When all the essential nutrients are present in a correct proportions as required by our body it is called Optimum Nutrition or Adequate Nutrition. Optimum nutrition is required to maintain good health.
Health is reflected in a person’s nutritional status. And according to WHO “Good health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”