The study of nutrition is about what you eat and how it affects the energy and vitality you need to enjoy your life. The truism that “Health is Wealth” cannot be overstated. Health is one of those things that if you have it, you can focus on other things, and if you don’t, it will be all that you can focus on. And wellness does not come about by accident. It is a conscious, purposeful approach to living that requires at least a little knowledge about nutrition.
The science of nutrition
Nutrition is a science. It is the study of the substances found in food and how they work in the body. Since it is a science, its findings should be based on reproducible experimentation and carefully controlled studies. Research in the relatively new field of nutrition, is ongoing and nearly every week, a new study comes out revealing some interpretation of recent scientific data.
Confusing and contradictory "nutritional facts"
Unfortunately for us, the average people, these studies can be confusing and contradictory, especially over the long haul. If you have paid attention to nutrition over the last 30 years, you will know that many of the recommendations have changed, partly due to new and better scientific techniques, but also due to what may have been bad science.
Media reporting about nutritional facts
Another culprit in the confusion is the way in which the results of studies have been reported in the media. A perfectly good scientist may conduct a perfectly good study, and publish it for his colleagues in a nutrition or medical journal. The study is picked up by a journalist who may or may not report about it in a way that the scientist would have approved. Thus, there is often a disconnect between the scientific community and the journalistic community that can create confusion for the consumer.
Follow the money
Unfortunately, there can even be a rather sinister component to nutrition research. If a certain company or food lobby has a particular interest in promoting a certain approach to nutrition, a study may be funded that is already biased to produce results favorable to that company or lobby. This is the ugly side of nutrition research that most of us would prefer not to think about, but it does not hurt to be aware, when a new finding favoring a certain food category comes out, of where funding for the study came from.
Of course, this is not to say that all studies funded by special interests are flawed, but it pays to consider all aspects when deciding what we will believe.
Unique and individual
Finally, it is difficult, even with good scientific research, to make a blanket statement about eating healthy that applies to every human being on the planet, because we are all unique and individual with varying genetics, environment and access to the food supply.
Apply the basics
Having said that, there are still some basic nutritional facts that apply, in a general sense, to everyone. If you need more specific information on any topic, you can click on the links provided.
-There are six major nutrients: Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals, Water.
-You need to eat a variety of whole foods every day to provide nutrients from each category.
-A deficiency in any nutrient group will eventually affect your health.
-Protein and Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram, and Fats provide 9 calories per gram.
-Vitamins, Minerals and Water do not provide calories.
-Although, not generally listed as a separate nutrient, Fiber is also necessary for your health and well-being.
-Empty calories are those foods, usually processed, that provide little or no nutrition, but at the same time add calories.
-Vegetables that are lightly cooked or eaten raw have the most nutritional benefit.
-Water is necessary for many of your body’s functions.
-Although nutrient requirements may vary based on age, gender and nutritional status, there is a direct correlation between the nutrients in your diet and your general health.