The benefits of eating nutritious foods have been well documented over the years. By definition, the provision of life sustaining materials to cells is known as nutrition. These materials have to come from food. A healthy diet is all that is necessary to prevent a host of health problems. Carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and water are the major classes of nutrients. All of them can be classified under macronutrients or micronutrients, depending on the amount required by the body. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water are macronutrients, as they are required in large amounts by the body. Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients and their requirement is less.
Apart from water and fiber, all the other macronutrients provide energy and structural material. Cell membranes are built from lipids while amino acids are required for protein formation. The energy obtained from these nutrients is measured in kilocalories or joules. Each nutrient has a specific calorific value per gram of the substance. However, their net energy will vary depending on digestive effort and absorption. Fiber, water, vitamins and minerals do not provide any energy. Fats and carbohydrates are made up of molecules of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Phytochemicals and antioxidants can also be classified under micronutrients.
Free radicals can form during cellular metabolism. In order to maintain and improve general health, one should consume a healthy diet. Various chronic health risks such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and obesity can be lowered by following a healthy diet. Sports nutrition is quite popular these days. Protein, carbohydrates, water and salts are an integral part of sports nutrition. Protein has several functions in the human body. Nails and hair are made up of this nutrient. It is required for tissue formation and repair. Formation of blood, skin, cartilage, muscles and bones also require protein. Additionally, it is also required for the formation of certain chemicals and hormones. The protein requirements of an individual can vary depending on the level of his or her physical activity. Water aids in the elimination of waste products from the body. As such, it is one of the most important parts of sports nutrition. In order to achieve peak performance, hydration should be maintained during physical exertion periods. The level of water should neither be too high nor low. Excess water can cause discomfort, while dehydration can significantly affect the athlete’s performance.
During exercise, the body uses carbohydrates as fuel. The body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in muscles. Glycogen is a form of sugar and gets used up during periods of physical activity. The imbalanced, excessive or insufficient consumption of nutrients is termed malnutrition. It has been scientifically proven that a healthy diet is directly responsible for acute spatial and cognitive memory capacity. Nutritional supplements have been used in the treatment of mental disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Depression. Most diseases can be prevented by following a healthy and nutritious diet. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible; as such foods have been linked to certain forms of cancer.