Importance of Nutrition
Nutrition is important because it affects body development and systems at all the stages of an individual’s life. Diet affects mood alteration, mental development, physical well-being, and behavior. Nutrition affects physical health because the amount and quality of food eaten determine the availability of energy needed and the nutrients. The nutrients in the food are important in coordinating the activities of the nerves and the muscles. Nutrition affects mental health in that the brain requires certain nutrients found in food for proper functioning. Poor nutrition can influence the mind by causing depression, poor sleep, fatigue and poor concentration (Asha et al. 2008)
The six nutrients include carbohydrates that are an energy source and building blocks for other nutrients. Fats are the source of energy and provide body protection, insulation, and heat. Proteins supply essential amino acids and form the basic structural unit, used in antibody, hormone and DNA production. Minerals both major, and minor are needed for protein and skeleton synthesis, enzyme reaction and oxygen transport. Vitamins both water and fat soluble required for enzyme reaction and metabolism. Water is needed for chemical reactions, transport and temperature maintenance.
A healthy diet should be in the right portions (Walsh 2011). A quarter of the plate should contain proteins, another quarter complex carbohydrates, and the half vegetables. Example, one pasta serving should be half of a cooked cup. Healthy diet should contain whole grains that prevent many diseases including cardiovascular and asthma. Example is brown rice. A healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables which provide antioxidants, minerals, fiber and vitamins. Examples, mangoes, apples, and oranges. A healthy diet is also low in fats, especially saturated fats. Example is fats from animal sources. A healthy diet also has limited processed foods that contain high levels of sodium that contributes to high blood pressure. Example canned soups.
Nutrition as a Science
Nutrition is a science because it involves the use of scientific methods to answer research questions. It is a science that investigates the types of foods and how much of the different foods different individuals should consume. The scientific method is used in nutrition by formulating a hypothesis and questions regarding particular aspects that are tested. The results are used as a basis for making recommendations.
Epidemiology involves the study of the past and present diets of populations. It involves correlating the incidence of certain diseases and conditions with diets taken. Intervention studies require the modification of people's diets and or their activity levels followed by studying the effects. Laboratory studies include conducting investigations on animals and animal tissues and making recommendations. Case studies include the analysis of particular groups of people under certain conditions in order to make recommendations.
Pre-contemplation is the first stage of behavior change; there is no intention of changing the eating habit. For example, a lifestyle of eating fast-food. The second phase is contemplation, where a person becomes aware that there is a problem. The understanding that a lifestyle of eating fast-food will cause obesity and heart related diseases. The third stage is the preparation where the person has the intention to take action. In the example, plan to stop taking fast-food. The fourth stage is action where a person makes active modification of the behavior. In the example, a person stops consuming fast foods. The next stage is maintenance where the person has adopted a new behavior and no longer engages in the old one. The person no longer takes fast-food. Relapse is the final stage where an individual may fall back into the old behavior. In the example, the person returns to the old pattern of consuming fast-food.
Competence is important in behavior change because it shows the capacity of the individual to break the old pattern. It is concerned with whether a person possesses the knowledge and the required skills making them adequate to handle the task. Confidence is important in behavior change because it reflects the degree to which the person believes they can break old patterns. The more convinced an individual is that they can break the pattern, the higher the chances of success. Motivation is important in behavior change because it determines the level of success. The desires, needs and reasons causing behavior change push the person to achieve the best results.
- Walsh Roger (2011). Lifestyle and Mental Health. American Psychological Association. 66(7): 579-592.
- Asha M., Ramesh B., Jagannatha Rao and Sathyanarayana Rao. (2008) Understanding Nutrition, Depression, and Mental Illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 50(2): 77-82.