Health is defined by WHO by the United Nations “The state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity (disability). Optimum amount of nutrition is the supply of essential nutrients in the correct amount and proportion, in accordance with individual requirements. It also implies the utilization of these nutrients in the body in such a way that the highest level of physical and mental health is maintained throughout the life cycle
Malnutrition is an undesirable state of health resulting from an imbalance of nutrients intake. It has been defined as a pathological state (desired state) resulting from a related or absolute deficiency or excess of one or more essential nutrients. Malnutrition can be defined as "The cellular imbalance between the supply of nutrients and energy and the body's demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance and specific functions.” It comprises four forms.
Undernutrition is the condition which results when, over an extended place of time, food intake in terms of quantity and nutritional quality is not adequate enough to meet the dietary and nutritional requirements. It may also happen that the food intake is adequate but the person has a problem of digestion, absorption and utilization of the nutrients in the body.
Overnutrition is the pathological state resulting from the consumption of excessive quantities of the food over an extended period of time risk of overnutrition is much higher as the physical activity is less. It is characterized by overweight, poor body stature (structure), lack of stamina and impared functioning of the body.
Imbalance is the pathological state resulting from a disproportionate among essential nutrients with or without absolute deficiency of any nutrient.
Specific deficiency is the pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute lack of an individual nutrients.
Food, health and nutrition are interrelated and very important aspects of life. Next to air and water, food is basic to our existence. Nutrition is “the science of foods, the nutrients and other substances therein, their action, interaction and balance in relationships to health and diseases.” the process by which an organism ingests, digests, absorbs, transports and utilizes nutrients and disposes off their end products. There are close inter relationships between metabolism of nutrients. The level of intake of one nutrient can influence the requirement of the other. Energy intake must be adequate for proper utilization of protein. When the energy intake reduces protein utilization is impaired. Since several B complex vitamins take part in energy and protein metabolism their requirements would depend upon the intake of energy and protein.
Thus, the requirements of B vitamins such as Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin and in fact expressed in relationship to energy requirements and that of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) in relation to protein requirement. The absorption and utilization of iron depends upon adequate intake of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). There are also metabolic interconversion of nutrients in the body, which are considered while establishing requirements. The well known example of such conversions are conversion of tryptophan to niacin.
Normal range of hemoglobin for men is 13.2 to 16.6 grams per deciliter, women is 11.6 to 15 grams per deciliter. Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 are important for energy production. You require B1, B2, B3 in adequate amounts for glucose to be utilized as an energy source. Protein utilization in the body is dependent on pyridoxine.
Vitamin C helps in iron absorption. Tryptophan is an amino acid which gets converted to niacin in your body. For energy we need carbohydrate intake.
Food and nutrition are very important aspects of life and to know them and consume them correctly is the vital part of the process. It will help people follow a balanced diet, maintain proper weight and stay fit and healthy. Neither would people starve and loose weight nor would they gorge on food and become overweight or obese. There were certain important terms mentioned, which had to be taken into consideration and followed religiously by everyone to maintain a healthy life and avoid maximum disorders or diseases. As if the person eats healthy and also does a good amount of physical activity there is a balanced life lived by the person.
This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Shrushti Mehta.
We thank her for her research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about health and nutrition being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.