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Apart from mouth pleasure, food makes your body grow and repair itself as well as making sure it can function and work. The kind of food you put into yourself can affect how well these processes work.
One of the most important steps to understanding food is to stop attaching moral labels to it, i.e. this food is good/healthy, this food is bad/unhealthy. Food has no intrinsic moral value. It's much more helpful to describe food as calorie dense/calorie light or nutrition dense/nutrition light. A food can have lots of calories and low nutritional value, for example a donut; a low amount of calories but with a high nutritional value, for example water-cress or any of the variables in between. Using these tutorials, you will be able to make informed choices on which foods to eat rather than a casual,"I will eat this because it's healthy."
Food is divided into two categories known as Macro-Nutrients and Micro-Nutrients. Macro-Nutrients (Macros) are known as Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat.
Protein. These are the building blocks for the human body and are needed for growth and maintenance. Proteins can be made up from 21 Amino Acids. 9 Amino Acids are known as essential because the body is not able to produce these and they must be taken in from food. The body is able to synthesize the other 12 Amino acids the diet. Excess protein will be broken down and used as energy. Proteins contain 4 calories per gram.
Carbohydrates. Known as carbs are used by the body for energy. Carbs can be simple which the body will break down and use very quickly (sugar) or complex, for example whole grain which takes longer to digest.
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram.
Fats. Fats (including cholesterol) are used to build certain tissues, especially nerve tissue and are important to regulate hormones. They are also used as a source of fuel.
Fats contains 9 calories per gram.
This describes Macro-Nutrients briefly and I will dedicate a blog post for each Macro to explore them in much more detail.
The human body needs protein and fat in its diet. Without either of these two, it cannot survive. Carbohydrate is not essential because protein and fat can be used as energy if required. Eating fat will not make you fat; in the same way that eating meat won't make you grow muscle. There will be blog posts explaining the metabolic processes in the future.
Micro-Nutrients are nutrients in food which the body needs in small amounts everyday including vitamins and minerals. Neither vitamins nor minerals are able to be produced by the body which is why it's important to get an adequate supply from food.
I've linked here to the NHS Choices website because it's a great resource for neutral and considered information. Vitamins B and C are water soluble which means they dissolve in water. The body cannot store water soluble vitamins and any excess will be removed through urine. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble which means that any excess will be stored by the body in fatty tissue.
The final category is Fibre. Fibre is only found in food that comes from plants. There are two types of fibre, soluble which can be digested and insoluble which can't. Soluble fibre is hard to digest and will soften your poop while insoluble fibre will help push the poop through you. So while fibre is essential for easy and regular pooping, it's important to drink enough water. Dehydration will make fibre have an opposite effect and make your poops difficult.
If you are unsure if this will affect your health adversely, please speak to your GP or a qualified Dietician. Do not confuse a Dietician with a Nutritionist. The word 'Dietician' is a protected by law and to be a Dietician you need to be registered Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
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In this nutrition series:
The information contained in this blog does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to counter advice provided by a licensed medical professional. If you have a health problem, please seek help from your GP and not from the internet. Our Medical Information Disclaimer may be found >here.<