In this article, we will look at why nutrition is so important, what are some facts about nutrients and vitamins, minerals and how they work together, and which processes take place within our body when converting food into energy. We will also discuss obesity about these facts.
The human body contains around 60 elements that must be present in quantities greater than or equal to a specified level for a person’s metabolism to function properly. These elements are referred to as “vitamins and minerals.”
Vitamins and Minerals
In conjunction with proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, fibre, water and energy intake (calories) are the key components of food. However, not all “food” contains these components. We can split all food into two main groups: plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts etc.) or animal-based foods (meat, eggs). As I mentioned earlier, not all plant-based food is good for us. Cocoa derived from a plant source may be considered beneficial for your health compared to chewing on raw potatoes. It also depends on how much of each component we consume. Eating lots of chocolate might make you gain weight, but the same amount of potatoes might not.
The human body requires around 75 grams of protein per day. This may seem like a lot, but it is only the equivalent of two eggs or 100 grams of Greek yoghurt. We all remember from high school biology that proteins are made up of amino acids, which in turn are assembled in chains. Every food item has its profile of amino acids that it contains. Some people don’t know that the number of amino acids within our bodies is more important than the quantity of protein we ingest daily. For example, 100 grams of tuna contain around 21g of protein, which seems quite a lot. However, looking at its profile, you will see it lacks certain amino acids. For example, tuna only contains 1.5g of body and needs to be supplied through a person’s diet in order Lysine, an essential amino acid that our body cannot produce itself.
Our bodies cannot produce these essential amino acids. We might be able to make some of them, but nine amino acids are essential and need to be supplied through our diet.
Vitamins play several important roles in the body, including acting as enzymes (Coenzyme) that help release energy from carbohydrates, lipids and proteins for metabolism. Some vitamins act as antioxidants that clean up oxidized molecules and protect cells against damaging oxidation. Vitamin C, for example, is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and helps to strengthen blood vessels. They can also help to protect cells from certain carcinogens and toxic substances.
One of the most important roles in metabolism within our body is played by water and oxygen, which break down all foods into electrons, protons, neutrons and electrons. This is called cellular respiration.
Oxidation is when electrons are removed from food particles through contact with oxygen.
Regarding oxidation in our bodies, two substances readily accept the electrons lost during oxidation: organic molecules with low molecular mass and metal ions. The first group contains water, vitamins and enzymes. Vitamin C, for example, is a great antioxidant that can happily accept electrons lost from food particles containing lipids or proteins through oxidation. Iron is the most important metal ion because it plays an essential role in human metabolism as a co-factor of several enzymes whose function is to carry out cellular respiration, for example. Iron can no longer be a co-factor when it gets oxidized, and enzymes lose their function.
The human body has an amazingly complex system for regulating vitamin and mineral concentrations in the blood plasma at specific levels.
For all these components to work together, we need to eat a healthy and balanced diet, which can be achieved by consuming food from all four groups:
- grains and
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to such a varied diet worldwide. In many developing countries, people rely on cereals as their main source of energy supply. This might cause several health problems in the long run.
Dr Alexander Gysler is a Swiss scientist studying nutrition for over 40 years and developed the FMD (Frequency Mapping of Diet) with his team at the University of Bern in Switzerland. He also developed FoodMatrix, an easy-to-use software tool for food analysis with over 32,000 foods from almost any country worldwide. Dr Gysler is a consultant for numerous food manufacturing companies and helps them increase the quality and shelf-life of their products through proper packaging technology.