Basics of Nutrition

Nutrition is the concept of selecting and preparing food to be eaten, which largely contributes to the health of the body. Diet is the selection of foods that the body receives and palpability is the taste or perceived pleasantness of the food. There are four macro-nutrients and a few other types of nutrients that the body requires to function optimally.

The body then uses the received nutrients to grow, repair, or maintain itself. All food contributes to the body’s wellbeing and must be processed or broken down through the gastrointestinal tract and expelled from the body. The quality of the nutrients that you consume are directly related to your health, alongside your genetics and medical history. The body is a vehicle of momentum, so dietary changes normally take anywhere from 30-90 days to begin to show, sometimes longer. Exercise will help to expedite the process. A diet is not something that should be difficult to maintain; challenging, maybe, but it should be rewarding because you are feeling healthy and energized. Eventually breaks happen more and more occasionally as you settle into a healthier lifestyle.

Yes, it is more expensive. But it pays for itself in medical bills over the years, in sick days from work, in focus and energy at work. Health is something that allows you to live life more fully and vibrantly, it is priceless. That is my opinion and I know people that live happily and disagree with it so take it with a grain of salt. Just like everything else you hear from people.

There are four macro-nutrients, or big categories of nutrient: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and water. Fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals make up the micronutrients. Poor health can be caused by too little of a required nutrient, or too much of a required nutrient. Each requires balance and agility; adjust to the body based upon its response to what you feed it. The four macro-nutrients should be relatively balanced in each meal, as much as possible. Tweak your diet and ratios depending on the sensations and results in your body. Yoga can help you to tune into your internal organic processes. Remember too much water can kill you, just like overloading on anything else; however, its probably not going to happen. Be careful out there.


Carbohydrates are things like rice, noodles, bread, grain, and really represents sugar. Monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides are all hydrates of carbon, meaning water molecules mixed with carbon molecules. Normally monosaccharides and disaccharides are referred to as sugars, which saccharide means in Greek, and very often the two cause words to end in ‘ose’. Monosaccharide glucose is grape sugar, disaccharide sucrose is cane sugar, and disaccharide lactose is milk.

Most people consider polysaccharides to be complex carbohydrates because they are more useful in storing energy and repairing structural components as opposed to sugar molecules. However, the body is shown to digest both at similar rates so there isn’t too much truth to needing to eat complex carbohydrates rather than the ‘lighter’ carbohydrates. A balance of both is good, but consider carbohydrates to be the primary energy source for the body, whereas fats and proteins are needed more for maintenance and repairing the body.


Fats are long chained organic acids, also known as fatty acids. The longer the chain of acids, the higher the melting point of the fat. Oils, fats, and lipids are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the three: lipid is a general term used to describe all fats, not necessarily limited to triglycerides.  Oil is usually used to refer to fats that are liquid at room temperature and fat it usually used to refer to fats that are solid at room temperature. Fats serve both metabolic (processing) and structural needs.

There are two essential fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid and linolenic acid, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, respectively. Other fats used by the body are synthesized and broken down from these fatty acids. Fats and other lipids are broken down by enzymes called lipases in the pancreas.

Fat is categorized according to the number and bonding of carbon atoms in the aliphatic chain. Saturated fats have no double bonds, while unsaturated fats have one or more double bonded carbon atoms in the chain. Some have more than one double bond and they are called polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can be divided into cis fats, the most common in nature and trans fats, which are very uncommon in nature. Hydrogenation is the process used to bind hydrogen to the fat and creates saturated fat from unsaturated fats. However, during this processes of hydrogenation (which is used to create vegetable shortening) trans fat is also created as a by-product and trans fat is proven to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Try to stay away from hydrogenated oils; they make cooking easier but are not processed well by the body or circulatory system.

Fats store energy for the body, mostly for long term survival, as opposed to short bursts gleaned from carbohydrates. This is why slow rates of metabolic activity tend to target fat rather than muscles. Walking is often more effective at reducing body-fat than running due to the way that the body stores fat and uses carbohydrates before fats for energy. Fat is important in every meal, as it allows for a cascade of chemical reactions that the body requires fat to initiate; Vitamins A, D, E, K, are all fat-soluble, meaning fat is required to process them. Fat is also important for body temperature regulation, insulating organs from shock (think hypothermia), maintains the skin and hair, and promotes health cell function (each cell has a fatty cell wall). Fat is also very useful in fighting disease; fat cells can store unwanted substances to keep it from the bloodstream. Fats are essential for the bodies maintenance and a a required part of balancing your diet.


Proteins are large molecules consisting of one or more long chains of acids called amino acid residues. The functions of proteins are vast including catalyzing metabolic reactions, replicating DNA, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules. The primary difference in proteins is their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the genes of the protein, more specifically the nucleotide sequence, which results in the three-dimensional folding of the protein for its specific purpose.

Proteins have to be recycled because they are constantly degrading, or depreciating against the bodies usage because they are essential parts of organisms and participate in nearly every cellular process. The average half-life of proteins are 1-2 days, sometimes lasting months and other times used for minutes. Abnormal or malfunctioning proteins are recycled faster.

Proteins participate in some of the most complex processes in the body including: many catalyze metabolic reactions, have structural or mechanical functions in muscle fibers and cells, some are important for cell signaling, others for immune responses, cell adhesion, and are extremely necessary in diet because they give the body amino acids it needs to metabolize other foods. The body needs all 20 of the regular amino acids and a few of them are considered essential because they are required by the body to metabolize:

EssentialNonessential **
LeucineAspartic acid
MethionineGlutamic acid


During starvation protein is used to help the body sustain itself, most notably, muscle tissue. Proteins are a necessary element of every meal.

Water is also essential in every meal, but you should also be adding electrolytes in accordance with your physical activity and exertion. Coconut water, bananas, and most fruits are great for replenishing electrolytes.

The micro-nutrients are vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Here are the required Vitamins and Minerals:


Dietary minerals (elements that humans need nutritionally)

Many of these vitamins and minerals are required by the body for functioning and some can only be broken down by complex biological bacteria before the body can use them. Apparently, scientists have only begun to appreciate the role of beneficial bacteria in nutrition somewhat recently. Many of these dietary elements are necessary for the different chemical processes in the body and the amount that the body needs of each can be from kilograms to milligrams.

Too many nutrients can lead to deficiencies and ultimately poison the body. Too little will leave the body malnourished and forced to sustain itself with muscle mass. Balance is the single most important concept in nutrition. Four to six meals a day is optimal, try to drink plenty of water in between each meal. Keep things moving, your body wants to cycle at the rate of the planet. Try to get to sleep at 10 and wake up at 6. Eat heavier at the beginning rather the end of the day because your body uses the time when your awake to process food, and doesn’t metabolize while you are asleep.




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