What is Nutrition?
Nutrition can be defined as the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. The nutritional stages are ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation, and excretion. The food that you consume has a direct impact on your overall health.
Nutrition and Metabolic Health
Due to increases in sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition and lack of knowledge, lifestyle related diseases are one of the largest healthcare challenges currently.
What you eat, directly affects your metabolic health. According to the Mayo Clinic, shifts in diet and body composition can alter the body’s functioning. Studies have found that an individual can be metabolically healthy and obese while another individual can suffer with metabolic syndrome and considered lean. This shows the direct relationship with the actual nutrients within the foods you consume and your overall metabolic health.
Nutrition and Hormonal Health
Food can affect the production and secretion of hormones by direct actions on the gut, by nervous reflexes, through changes in the concentration of various metabolites in the blood, or secondary to changes in circulating gut hormone levels according to this study.
Certain nutrients can have either a positive or detrimental impact on one’s overall health, specifically their hormonal balance. Fasting and excess calories, and foods with a higher glycemic load are known to impact circulating levels of certain hormones.
Nutrition and Mental Health
Not only does nutrition have a direct impact on physical health, it also has an impact on mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) depression could be one of the top health concerns in the world by 2030.
One review of 21 studies from 10 countries found that a healthful dietary pattern — characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, low fat dairy, and antioxidants, as well as low intakes of animal foods — was associated with a reduced risk of depression. In contrast, a typical Western pattern of eating, high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes, as well as a low intake of fruit and vegetables — was linked with a significantly increased risk of depression.
Sources of Key Nutrients
These nutrients are essential for optimal health and are found in many different foods:
- Egg yolks
- Cod Liver Oil
- Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.
- Sunshine (not a food but the best source of vitamin D)
- Cod liver oil
- Fatty fish like sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Shellfish (oysters, clams, shrimp, etc.)
Vitamin D is pivotal to the absorption of calcium and maximizing bone health. Women suffer greatly from osteoporosis and fractures, which may be decreased by interventions such as vitamin D.
- Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, swiss chard)
- Nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds)
- Dark chocolate
Magnesium helps with muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, and supporting the immune system. Getting enough of this mineral can help prevent or treat chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and migraines.
- Grass fed dairy
- Poultry liver (especially goose)
- Natto (fermented soybeans)
Vitamin K2 contributes to skin health and bone metabolism, promotes proper brain function and prevents heart-related diseases. Vitamin K2 is also important in the body’s use of calcium to help build bones.
- Citrus fruit
- Bell peppers
- Dark leafy greens
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Iodine helps to regulate the production of the thyroid hormones. Getting enough iodine is crucial for preventing low thyroid hormone production and hypothyroidism.
The Bottom Line
Nutrition has a direct impact on various aspects of health and the body function as a whole. Not only does it affect your physical health and can increase or decrease your risk for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and metabolic diseases, it also has an impact on your mental health.