Concepts of Nutrition and Diet

In many occasions nutrition and diet are used like synonyms, nevertheless they are different concepts.

A diet is a set of food we take, that forms part of our nutritional habits. There are many different diets: for example Mediterranean diet, Japanese diet, there are even also special diets like diets for diabetic people, diets to lose weight.

Nutrition nevertheless, is defined as the set of biological processes in which we assimilate and use up food and liquid for the operation, growth and maintenance of the daily functions of our system. Nutrition therefore includes the processes of digestion, absorption and metabolism of the foods that we take in the diet. (For example,  imagine that we have a diet that is  varied and balanced but is deficient in iron, calcium or some other  essential mineral or vitamin ,this can lead to health problems due to lack of these vitamins or minerals).

Digestion

The digestive system helps to breakdown the complex matters, animal as much as vegetal, in elementary particles. Thus, it transforms proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates in glucose, fructose or galactose and the fatty acid into fats and oils. Also through the digestive system we absorb water, minerals and vitamins directly.

Many scientific studies have demonstrated that between 40% and 60% of the digestive process are carried out before the food arrives at the mouth. We can say that the first stage of digestion is all a mental process. And it is sight of the food and its aroma that stimulates the secretion of digestive juice. For that reason it is absolutely inadvisable to eat watching the television, working on the computer or reading the newspaper. When we are seated at the table, it is good that our attention be focused on the food, because otherwise the digestion process will suffer.

You have certainly heard that it is advisable to chew foods well, because the digestion process begins with mastication. The salivary glands secrete enzymes able to digest some carbohydrates, but when we don’t chew well, we do not give time for this to happen.

Absorption

The main zone of absorption of nutrients is the small intestine. Once the nutrients have been absorbed, it goes to the liver and from there to the rest of the system.

the intestinal flora plays a role fundamental in the absorption of the nutrients, which, has two functions: to contribute to the digestion and assimilation of some nutrients that we eat and to synthesize some of the vitamins that we need, for example vitamin K. Vitamin K is fundamental for the coagulation of the blood, helping to prevent internal hemorrhages and is important in the metabolism of the bones (in some treatments of osteoporosis usually it adds this vitamin).

Another very important function of the intestinal flora is to help protect the intestine from infections.

Advice that will help us to renew the intestinal flora

• take Rich fiber foods: wheat, vegetables, and cereals

• take at least 1 Yogurt a day

• drink between 1 and 2  liters of water daily

• avoid consumption of fatty foods

• avoid consumption of refined flour

• avoid or reduce consumption of caffeinated drinks, like coffee and the Coca-Cola.

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