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NUTRITION
 
Water | Carbohydrates | Proteins | Fats | Vitamins & Minerals
 
Human Nutrition, study of how food affects the health and survival of the human body. Human beings require food to grow, reproduce, and maintain good health. Without food, our bodies could not stay warm, build or repair tissue, or maintain a heartbeat. Eating the right foods can help us avoid certain diseases or recover faster when illness occurs. These and other important functions are fueled by chemical substances in our food called nutrients. Nutrients are classified as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
 
When we eat a meal, nutrients are released from food through digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth by the action of chewing and the chemical activity of saliva, a watery fluid that contains enzymes, certain proteins that help break down food.Nutrients are absorbed from the inside of the small intestine into the bloodstream and carried to the sites in the body where they are needed.
 
At these sites, several chemical reactions occur that ensure the growth and function of body tissues. The parts of foods that are not absorbed continue to move down the intestinal tract and are eliminated from the body as feces.
 
 
Once digested, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide the body with the energy it needs to maintain its many functions. Scientists measure this energy in kilocalories, the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius. In nutrition discussions, scientists use the term calorie instead of kilocalorie as the standard unit of measure in nutrition.
 
ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
 
Nutrients are classified as essential or nonessential. Nonessential nutrients are manufactured in the body and do not need to be obtained from food. Examples include cholesterol, a fatlike substance present in all animal cells. Essential nutrients must be obtained from food sources, because the body either does not produce them or produces them in amounts too small to maintain growth and health. Essential nutrients include water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

An individual needs varying amounts of each essential nutrient, depending upon such factors as gender and age. Specific health conditions, such as pregnancy, breast-feeding, illness, or drug use, make unusual demands on the body and increase its need for nutrients. Dietary guidelines, which take many of these factors into account, provide general guidance in meeting daily nutritional needs.
 
"Human Nutrition."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001. © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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