What exactly is nutrition and why is it important?

Nutrition is the process of taking in and using food or other nourishing materials. It involves three steps: eating, breaking down nutrients, and absorbing them into the body.

The nutrients in foods help to build and maintain muscles, organs, and other parts of the body. They also provide energy for your body.

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is the process of consuming and using food to support growth, healing and all body functions. It includes the intake of nutrients, such as fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, which are required by living things for survival. These nutrients can be found in the foods we eat or obtained from other sources such as supplements. The term diet can also be used to describe a specific nutritional plan or eating pattern.

In humans, good nutrition is associated with improved immune systems, stronger bones and teeth, a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, safer pregnancy and childbirth, a lower risk of hunger and malnutrition, and greater longevity. A healthy diet provides sufficient quantities of all essential and non-essential nutrients, but it is important to remember that an overabundance of certain nutrients can also be harmful.

The main nutrients include carbohydrates (starches and sugars), proteins, fats and water. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for most cells in the human body and are a vital part of our cell-signaling pathways. During digestion, complex carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars and then into glucose, which is the body’s primary fuel. Proteins are a group of molecules that form the building blocks of many different parts of our body, including muscles and skin. We get protein from meat and other animal products, as well as some plant products such as nuts, seeds, beans and grains. Protein is an essential nutrient, but the human body cannot make it so we must consume it regularly.

Other important nutrients are fats, which are primarily stored in the body as triglycerides and released into the bloodstream when needed; vitamins and minerals, which are found in many foods and are essential for good health; and water, which helps transport nutrients around the body and remove waste. Nutrition is particularly important in people with weakened immune systems, people who are recovering from surgery or illness, and people who have limited access to nutritious food. Malnutrition in any form is a global challenge and can have serious consequences for health, such as reduced life expectancy.

What is Nutrition


The nutrients in food provide the energy that our bodies use to perform functions, such as breathing, moving and digesting. The body needs six classes of nutrients for basic health: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. When foods contain the right amount of nutrients, they are called nutrient-dense.

Nutrients are substances found in food that give the body energy and build cells, tissues and organs. They are vital for survival and support all body processes. All living things (plants, animals, fungi and protists) need nutrition to grow and survive. Animals obtain most of their nutrients from food, including the nutrients lipids (fats), carbohydrates (sugars), proteins and a subset of amino acids, vitamins and mineral salts.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the human body. Our digestive system turns carbohydrates into glucose or blood sugar, which supplies the fuel that our cells and organs need to function. The body stores any extra glucose in the liver and muscles for future use.

Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies and muscles, internal organs and skin. Our bodies cannot produce protein on its own, so we must consume adequate amounts of protein in our diets. The human body can only produce eight of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins, so the remaining eight are considered essential amino acids and must be obtained from dietary sources.

Fats are used for energy and also help to form cell membranes, control fluid balance and protect our organs. Like carbohydrates, there are two types of fats: unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats are more heart-healthy because they do not raise our cholesterol levels as much as saturated fats do.

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are needed in small amounts but play important roles in our metabolism and health. The human body uses vitamins to assist in the growth and development of our cells, tissues and organs. The body also uses minerals to strengthen our bones and teeth, regulate blood pressure and maintain normal blood sugar levels.

The best way to get the nutrients we need is by eating a well-balanced diet of whole, minimally processed foods. These include vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils, soy foods, whole grains, nuts and seeds and fish. These foods offer many disease-fighting benefits when eaten regularly, such as lowering our risk of cancer and reducing the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.


Food and drink provide energy that powers the body’s daily functions, from movement to thought. This energy is locked away in chemical bonds and is released when the body breaks down the foods and drinks that are consumed. The release of this energy is measured in units called calories, with one calorie equaling the amount of heat needed to raise 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. Food and drink contain calories from many different sources including carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In order to maintain a healthy weight, consuming too few or too many calories can lead to health problems.

The field of nutrition focuses on the study of the relationship between diet and disease, and how to prevent disease through a balanced diet and regular physical activity. This is an extremely broad area of study that involves scientific methods and concepts like biochemistry, biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. It also encompasses areas such as molecular biology, physiology, and genetics.

In terms of diet, good nutrition is associated with stronger immunity, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risks of non-communicable diseases (like diabetes and heart disease) and greater longevity. However, it is still a global challenge to ensure that all people have access to adequate and nutritious foods.

While calories are often villainized, they play a vital role in keeping the body healthy. They are needed to power the body’s cells and keep it going, but only when they are derived from high-quality foods. Unfortunately, some foods and beverages that are high in calories offer little to no nutritional value. These are sometimes referred to as empty calories, and include junk foods, sugary drinks and some condiments.

Good nutrition is about establishing a balanced eating plan that includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. This eating plan can be tailored to fit each person’s unique lifestyle and needs. It can also be modified over time as a result of life changes, environmental influences and medical conditions. Nutrients can also help reduce the risk of toxic health effects from exposure to certain environmental contaminants.



Water is an essential nutrient that makes up about 50% to 60% of the body. It helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, maintain blood volume and transport nutrients inside the body. Water also flushes waste and toxins from the body. An adult’s recommended water intake is 2 liters (or 8 glasses) per day, but requirements vary by individual and may be higher during times of physical activity, illness, hot weather or other factors. Water should be free of calories, sugars and artificial flavorings. Vegetables, fruits and broth-based soups are good sources of water.

Carbohydrates are a type of nutrient that provides energy for the body. The digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar, which the cells use as fuel. The body stores any extra glucose in the liver and muscles for future use. Carbohydrates are found in many foods, including grains, fruits and vegetables.

Proteins are a group of nutrient compounds that form the building blocks of tissues and organs. They provide the structure for bones, muscles and skin, and they help repair and build tissue. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, are produced in the body and are also obtained from food.

Nutrition is a multidisciplinary field that incorporates knowledge from many areas, such as biology, biochemistry, physiology, economics, ecology, environmental health, public health and food science and technology. Nutritional research aims to understand the relationship between diet and disease.

Adequate nutrition is related to improved child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth and lower risk of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Improving diets can also help reduce hunger and malnutrition, which is an important step toward ending hunger and poverty. Malnutrition has a negative impact on human health, as it increases susceptibility to infection and disease and reduces work performance and productivity. It also puts strain on health care systems and exacerbates already existing social inequalities. It is therefore important to focus on prevention through healthy eating and drinking. The World Bank estimates that reducing dietary risks can save up to 10% of global GDP.

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