The term food and nutrition is commonly used interchangeably, however they have different meanings.
Food refers to the intake of food itself, while nutrition is a complex biological process that takes place at the cellular level with certain inputs that are known as nutrients and the phenomenon of obtaining, incorporating and transforming them is called nutrition.
Food plays an important role in nutritional status. However, we must also consider other factors such as that both the body assimilates and absorbs them, in this process the state of health intervenes, interaction with other nutrients and medications, among others.
Function of nutrients in the body
To have a global vision it is necessary to take into account the function within the body that nutrients have.
Nutrients that provide energy
Starch, sucrose, lactose, among others.
In the form of triglycerides, which is how they usually appear in food.
What make up proteins.
Nutrients that provide structural components
-Phospholipids, basic material of cell membranes.
Nutrients that exert a catalytic function
-Amino acids (enzymes) and vitamins.
-Inorganic catalysts (minerals).
Some nutrients have the three functions of providing energy, being a structural part and also exerting a catalytic function such as amino acids.
Physiological aspects of nutrition
Nutrients provide energy to the cell, so that the cell can incorporate them it is necessary to fragment these molecules. For example, starch in glucose, triglycerides in fatty acids and proteins in amino acids that are carried out through processes of digestion, absorption (complex process by which nutrients are incorporated into the body) and transport of nutrients.
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You can have an excellent diet, however there are certain conditions and diseases that limit the ability to absorb nutrients in the body, which affects the state of nutrition.
Likewise, when a person’s diet does not meet the quantity, quality, or is not balanced, that person’s nutrition is deficient and their health is at risk.
Poor nutrition from a quantitative point of view is affected both by:
-Excesses, as in the case of obesity, excess calciferol (vitamin D), among many other excess nutrients, hence the importance of only taking recommended doses and under medical prescription.
– Nutrient deficiencies, or malnutrition, which can be present in varying degrees from mild to very severe.
Food groups for a correct diet
Nutrients are found in food. However, no food contains all the nutrients that are needed, that is why the diet must be varied and in adequate quantities to cover the daily requirements of energy and nutrients.
The US Dietary Guidelines classify foods into:
Include green leafy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables.
Whole grains and refined grains. And products made with them.
Like cheese, milk, yogurt, preferably low in fat and without added sugar.
Meats, chicken, egg; fish and shellfish; soybeans, nuts and seeds; legumes such as beans, lentils, peas or peas among others.
Such as oleic oil, safflower oil, olive oil, among other healthy oils.
It is very important to have an adequate diet, which is in accordance with height, goal weight, age, gender, physical activity.
A personalized eating plan like the one offered by MyDiet helps a lot to properly plan your daily and weekly diet. Also consider food preferences and restrictions.
Nutrition status assessment
Food is just one factor to consider in nutrition. In order to assess the nutritional status, nutritionists and medical specialists consider:
-Eating and exercise habits.
It is evaluated through food consumption frequency surveys. MyDiet has a survey of food consumption and exercise habits in the desktop version in the section: “Take your evaluation” and provides an immediate personalized general report. Starting from the usual eating and exercise habits, you will be able to know which habits to maintain and which to change.
-Determination of somatometric measurements and nutritional status.
Determination of somatometric measurements such as: Weight, height, waist and hip circumference, arm and leg circumference, as well as derived measurements of the muscle mass index (BMI), waist-hip index, body fat percentage, muscle mass percentage, among others as well as some indicators such as weight / age age / height are important when considering the nutritional status.
-Clinical examinations contribute to the evaluation of nutritional status.
-Blood, urine and stool tests, among others, are important as part of the evaluation of the nutritional status, among them:
-Blood chemistry of 35 elements (serum glucose, total cholesterol, high-density cholesterol, low-density cholesterol, triglycerides, among others)
-Hematic biometry (hemoglobin, hematocrit, leukocytes, etc.) or Complete Blood Count CSC (FBC, for its acronym in English) that measures different components of the blood.
-Elisa (food allergies, HIV, among others.
-General urine test.
–Fecal examination (stool culture and stool).
-Physical examination as part of the nutritional status assessment
The doctor or health professionals identify, through physical examination, signs to indicate conditions or diseases that affect the nutritional status. For example, state of the teeth, tongue, skin, conjunctiva of the eyes, blood pressure measurement, among others.
-Medical history part of the evaluation of the nutritional status
Knowing your own and family medical history helps in the prevention of diseases and in setting food goals.
For example, if you have parents or grandparents with diabetes, you have a hereditary predisposition, it can be accelerated if there is obesity, frequent infections or it can be delayed or even help prevent through exercise and proper nutrition.
Path to effective nutrition
For effective nutrition, an evaluation of the nutritional status should be considered by a nutritionist or specialized medical professional, which considers current eating and exercise habits, anthropometric measurements (weight, height, body fat, muscle mass, mass index muscle, waist-hip ratio, etc.), laboratory tests, physical signs and medical history.
Once there is an evaluation of the nutritional status, appropriate medical treatment and a personalized eating plan can be followed, as well as establishing exercise routines.
Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, NIH (National Library of Medicine). Nutrition and Food, Bourges H., Editorial Continental. Mexico.